THE LLEYN PENINSULA & BARDSEY ISLAND

12th to 15th July 2019

A last minute Club calendar entry seizing the good weather opportunities! Pete and Linda set off to the Lleyn, a relatively undiscovered and beautiful corner of North Wales. This place is well worth a visit. There are safe and sheltered trips to be found, but a lure for me is Bardsey Island and the rugged exposed mainland coastlines. 

There are various approaches to Bardsey and they all need diligent trip planning and settled weather due to the strong currents, confused waters and over-falls in the sound. Great info in the Welsh Sea Kayaking guide.

We made the crossing from Porth Oer on the north coast. A great day out with just the right amount of excitement. On another of our days we did an Aberdaron based loop, with seals, puffins, dolphins and a great selection of the anticipated sea life.

I don’t intend detailing the trips here. Just to say really…..give the Lleyn a try if you haven’t done so already! I’m happy to pass on any wisdoms, which of course includes campsites, hostelries etc. And I’ll be going back!

Pete Riley

Circumnavigation of Anglesey

June 27-29

I had planned the route to start at Rhoscolyn or Porth Dafarch but ……

Searching for somewhere to start, with a Force 4 blowing hard from the East and forecast to do that for a couple of days.

At Penmon Head ( E tip of Angelsey) the wind and waves were steaming in from the East. Thought about going NE up the island in an anticlockwise direction but settled for a trip to the South East down the Menai Straits. High tide was very early; we were up early, but took a time to drive over and get packed on day one. As we needed the ebb tide to get down the straits, and despite our start at 07.15 we were being a bit late in the  tide,  we passed Plas Menai just before Carnaervon the engine was turned off, the tide turned. We got out, made a brew or two and had forty (180) winks whilst waiting for the tide to turn -rather pleasant sheltering from the worst of the hot sun under the shade of oak trees.

Off we went again round Abermenai Point and out past Llanddwyn Island with the Lleyn Penninsula in the background. Found a very flat campsite at 8pm on grassy top of an old stack with a great view – strangely Scottish but without the midges. 35km.

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Next day saw us off at 09.00, covering 20 km before collecting the tidal stream. At one point an odd flapping ‘flag’ was noticed poking 30cm out  of the water. Intrigued we paddled slowly towards it, speculating as to its identity; then, with a flurry, it was gone. An ocean sunfish had been snacking on the abundant jellyfish, with only it’s tall dorsal fin showing, until we’d disturbed its lunch. Further highlights were the raucous auk colonies on the Penryn Mawr and the Stacks as we cruised effortlessly by on the benign tide race formed on a windless neap. Avoided a close encounter with the Seacat racing in from Dublin. Karma restored by a graceful passing from a Dolphin and its calf.

Another fine campsite 200ft on a rocky outcrop by the beach – time for a refreshing dip. 40km. Evening walk around Carmel Head with entertainment provided by a family group of 6 noisy chough.

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The final day was another split day getting up early . Set off at 07.00 to catch the last of the tide, into Cemlyn Bay, brews, sleep, chat and bird watching at the amazing tern breeding colony. Off again at 12.15 into a bit of a pea souper – interesting navigation with 100m visibility! The fog cleared and slowly but steadily the weather improved, jet skis spoiled the peace and the seals no doubt and then as forecasted a bit of a wind picked up as headed across Red Wharfe Bay.  Now 19.15 40km done, the forecast was for more wind the following day and it seemed the sensible to thing to do and push on through round Penmon Point, the weather now had changed to a lovely bright clear summers evening.  A final grunt heading into a force 3 up the channel to some very welcome cars 52km and off for fish and chips.

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A great trip for Brian, Mike H John H and Mike P

Thanks to Brain for the inspiration.

 

MORECAMBE BAY MEANDER

ULVERSTON TO ARNSIDE – 6th July 2019

An early start – Mike, Ian, Brian, John, Rob, Pete, Linda and guest, Rick Stanton met at Canal Foot and set off into the calm, cloudy greyness at 0730 (15 mins after planned departure time)!  

All was great for an hour, doing between 4 and 7 mph without really trying, until we ran into shadows  and  a dead end somewhere opposite Aldingham. A variety of portage techniques, from brute force, tugging, to relaxed trolleying, we toiled on foot for 15 or 20 minutes to re-discover our lost, active channel.

Re-invigorated, but fearing for our lost time, we carried on south at around 4 mph for 50 minutes or so until we started to feel the impact of the incoming tide. With an unreasonably long and apparently infinite sandbank to our east there appeared to be no prospect of turning east. With Peel Island getting ever closer, and Heysham Power Station still way over to our left, Mike declared “we might not make it”. 

But persevering, on southwards, doing little over 2 – 2.5 mph, the infinite sandbar eventually petered out and we turned east to face Heysham – Peel Island no longer our unwanted prospect. But the speed remained disappointingly low, despite the force 3 to 4 westerly gusting on our backs. Still toiling east, the optimists intermittently declared that the power station was getting closer. At some point around here, I asked Mike where the point of no return was. He cheerfully replied: “that was ages ago!”

At just under 3 ½ hours into the trip, at 1055 ish, the god of nice currents looked down…….and like turning on a switch, our 2.5 mph transformed into an easy 4+, as we aimed NE towards our intended goal. We’d had around an hour of low speed travel. With our new fortunes we were back at between 5 & 7 mph. With a trip average age probably around 60, concerns now turned to the inevitably bursting bladders. An entertaining sand bank landing in the 4 mph current allowed a lighting of load……but alas no time for sustenance. 

Maintaining our decent speed we suddenly realised we had picked up the mighty bore – a 6” high wave that we all cheerfully sat on for a while. Bore petering out – it was butty time on a grassy sandbank at Grange. oh  teh main channel afr to the East, where it has not been for years, 20 minutes later we were off again at a decent speed – soon to arrive at sunny Arnside……..and it’s welcoming ice cream van. A total of 7 hrs 10 and 45.4 km after setting out from Ulverston – a mere 14km as the crow flies…….but a hell of a portage!

A superb, memorable trip. Throughout – a variety of feelings: mystery, interest, solitude, adventure, and camaraderie. Thanks to Mike for his experience, knowledge and superb judgement for making this work.    

Pete Riley

FOOTNOTES / TRIP DATA 

  • HW Liverpool 0211 & 1441 BST – 9.2m tide – planned departure 0715 (actual 0730).
  • Travelling south, we were slowed down about 2 ¼ hours into the trip opposite Aldingham (includes 15 – 20 minutes walk). Around 1 ½ hours after Jim Krawiecki predicts the flood to start at Heysham and Walney.
  • The channels and sandbanks shown on the current OS maps do not reflect the current geography. They are vastly different. 
  • Total trip 7 hours 10 mins – 28.2 miles – moving time approx. 6 hrs 30. Moving average over 4 mph. Max speed 10.6mph!
  • Arrived with around an hour spare before the ebb at Arnside.
  • Trip data recorded on a Garmin GPSMap 64 with OS 1:50k mapping.