Lunch on the sands

Searching for a group of strangers …  with kayaks. Found at Arnside for ‘Lunch on the Sands’: a sea/social trip on Sunday 27th June. 

With introductions done and feeling trepidation at a range of 10 sea kayaks dwarfing (in length) my lonely river boat, we set off in sunshine and dancing clouds.  

Rhythmic arms and core rotation had us following a low tide channel out across the bay almost to Grange, meandering round a rocky island, inadvertently alarming the odd seagull and egret, and proceeding out into the estuary. Sometimes using the lesser-known paddling technique of hands either side of the boat to push it across sands, we avoided having to get out and pull boats … or in my imagination sink in quicksand and flounder in mud! 

In deeper water we had a lovely paddle along an eroding sand bank until we found a place to stop and ‘disembark’ for brunch. There is a surreal wonder at being in the middle of Morecambe Bay: a sandy expanse across to Heysham Power Station and Blackpool, the distant twee tents along Grange promenade and a sense of spaciousness all the way to a horizon of shape-shifting clouds. 

At a more prosaic level chatter abounded, and with no obvious public toilets squatting on the sand had to suffice. Mike’s pep talk for the way back instilled a sense of seriousness to negotiating with the power of the incoming tide: we waited on the water for the bore which looked impressive as it raced across the sands but actually arrived with us as a rippling murmur. I was amazed at the speed with which it gathered us up and carried us back. Some impressive surfing on the wave by some.

A decisive line to navigate the sand banks and channels back, a little bouncy turbulence round the island and a strong right across the bay bringing us back along the Arnside shoreline.  

There is freedom and a certain sense of privilege in moving on and with the water while Sunday strollers crowd the shoreline. Yet, all too soon we joined them on shore and most of us carried boats back to roof bars (three went on up the river) and returned home to more earth bound pursuits. 

Thank you for the warm welcome you all gave me and here’s to the next outing … 

Deyna 

paddled with Mike H, Sten Sture, Annette Morris, AngelaS, JohnS, Christina Martin. RachelT, ChrisB, JohnH

Ullswater Mizzling

JUNE 23rd

The annual June circumnavigation of Ullswater (well, second year), started from the new and expensive Dunmallard carpark in mist and light rain.
RobH, RoyG, RayC, AndyL, ElsieR, JohnG, ChrisB and JohnS got kitted up on the bank of the River Eamont with brown trout playing in the shallows, but not a fisherman in sight. At 9.30 we set off into a very gentle current and headed slowly up stream towards the lake.
Six sea kayaks and kayakers of varying pedigree and one double  carrying Elsie and Andy. The two piece Valley Aleut est tres gentille, and is a beautiful double sea kayak by Valley.
We headed down the East side of the lake with the hills hidden by the mizzle and low cloud. I had told Ray that Ullswater was the most beautiful lake to paddle, but this morning there was little to admire.

………….this morning there was little to admire

Very few boats out on the lake, just an occasional ferry to break the glassy calm of the water. One very sad yacht, two feet under water, loomed out of the mist like a miniature Mary Celeste marked by several buoys.

Mary Celeste ?
Retreat from the midges

By 11.30 we reached Scalehow and stopped for a coffee break. After fifteen minutes the fierce midges drove us back to the boats for the last hours paddle to our lunch stop at the inlet of Goldrill Beck. A light breeze had cleared the midges away and put a few ripples onto the surface of the lake.

 After a sociable half hour break on the shore, we set off for the return trip at 1.00pm down the west shore. The following breeze from the SW allowed Andy and Elsie to raise their sail and glide along with minimum paddling. The rest of us just managed to keep up!

“That’s the way to do it !”

The breeze dropped as the lake bends east and the sail had to be furled. One more break at Skelly Neb by the Outward Bound Centre, left a further hours steady paddle to get us off the water in steady rain by 4pm.

A 16.5 mile paddle in about 5.5 hours.

Great company and conversation, must repeat in June 2022.

JohnS

Glenfinnan to Mallaig (Not the NORTH AND SOUTH OF BORDER TRIP)

Sun 13 to Fri 18 June (5 nights, 6 days)

Paddlers: Tom P (leader), Alistair H, Annette M, Andy M, Mike P

Report by Mike P except Day 5.

Day 1 Sun 13 June

This trip was billed as the NORTH AND SOUTH OF BORDER TRIP, but problems in finding a suitable Northumbrian campsite led Tom to change coastlines. We met at the Pier at Glenfinnan, a small village west of Fort William with a monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie commemorating the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. This is at the head of the 28km Loch Shiel, where our adventure began. We were on the water at about 4:45pm, after leaving 2 cars just off the lane under some trees 200m up from the pier (a place some locals recommended) and 2 cars at Mallaig, which has long-term parking at the East side of the harbour wall. It was murky and wet as we paddled down Loch Shiel with the wind in our faces, a rather miserable journey. The rain mercifully eased 3 hours later as we put up our tents at the delta of Glen Aladale, 12km down the lake, the only flat ground we had seen since starting. Annette improvised an effective rain hat from a waterproof blue bag (see pic). We quickly retreated to our tents from the combination of heavier rain and midges.

On the shore of Loch Shiel in the rain
Day 1

Day 2 Mon 14 June

After a night of heavy rain we were on the water at 10:00am, with a Force 3/4 wind against us. We crossed the lake 4 times today as we attempted to find the best lee shore. On an island called Eileen Fhianain we found the ruined St Finan’s chapel, dedicated to a monk of the 7th Century (hence Glenfinnan). There was also a burial ground with a mix of ancient and modern gravestones. As the lake turned West there was no respite from the wind, but Tom spotted a couple of caravans on a site on the North side, at Langal. He had a quick word with a caravan owner, and the flat ground 2 fields on turned out to be an excellent free camp spot, but near enough to use the site’s fresh water taps. The wind died down, enabling a more sociable evening until the midges arrived at about 9pm.

Day 2

Day 3 Tues 15 June

High tide was about 10:00am today, which dictated our day’s timing for 2 reasons. Firstly, we wanted to take the rapid at the sea end of River Shiel at high tide, to avoid a drop like the library pic in our laden seakayaks. Also, our route was north of the island Shona Beag, a passage that dries to a ford like the library pic as the tide ebbs.

This meant an early start so we were up at 6:00am for an 8:00am start, to catch the high tide. Aided by a SE wind and then current, we surged down Loch Shiel and then onto its river to the sea. We passed 2 bridges and 1 friendly fisherman, then inspected the rapid at the bottom of the river. There was a good track on the N side to avoid it if necessary, but the rapid was smooth at high tide and easily negotiated. We were confronted by the large ruined Castle Tioram on an island in Loch Moidart. This is officially closed to visitors due to the danger of falling masonry, but we had no time anyway as we wanted to get past the ford to Shona Beag at high tide. I wanted to turn over the map in my map case, so rafted with Alistair. My paddle drifted away in the wind – basic error. Tom showed us a hosepipe loop he has made for the front of his boat to keep his paddle safe while rescuing others. There were great views of the Sgurr of Eigg as we headed out via the North Channel, and we then turned North at Rubha nan Clach Dearga. It was about 12:30pm when we stopped about 1 km north of this headland at a sheltered beach of white sand on the N side of a spit into the sea, near Eileen Coille. Alternatives considered at this point:

· Strike across Arisaig Sound with following SE wind. But gusts of Force 6/7, too hairy

· Camp at Glenuig, maybe with a pint at the hotel. But no room for 5 tents

· Paddle towards Loch Ailort, looking for camping. But 3-5 hours of rain were forecast starting ~2pm.

After due consideration, we decided to stay put for the night. We had a choice of more exposed grass versus a more sheltered area that looked like it might turn boggy. After Tom’s tent blew away down the beach and Andy’s main pole snapped, we chose the bog, avoiding treading on a valiant orchid between the tents. In the heavy rain it was easy to collect water in our billies as it ran off the flysheets. Andy made an impressive bivouac from a lightweight Alpkit tarp, his seakayak blocking the wind, and slept well in his bivvy bag, despite the rain. Too warm, he said! (see pic)

Day 4 Wed 16 June

Today was always going to be the trickiest, with winds up to Force 7 forecast. Tom wanted us on the water for 7:00am, to get some distance in before the really high winds arrived, so we set our alarms for 5:00am. This was no hardship, as we had all been in our tents since early yesterday afternoon. At least it was dry. Turning the headland called Rubha Ghead à Leighe into the Sound of Arisaig was a bit bumpy, then we encountered a strong Southerly as we paddled into Glenuig. We landed on the West side of the beach next to the village hall, the outer part of which the village Community Association kindly keep open for the needy: toilets, showers (coin needed) and a fresh water hose (Donation provided, Visitors Book signed, see pic). On the sheltered verandah we enjoyed our second breakfast. We walked past the Glenuig hotel (now under new management this year) to the smokery, where we bought salami, paté and cheese from the nice lady from Hamburg who had been there 16 years. I bought 4 smoked salmon chunks, a lump of smoked cheddar and a small jar of gooseberry jam, and was shocked to discover it was £23! It benefits the local economy, I suppose. Again we discussed our options. We wanted to stay at the Penmeanach bothy site but it has a rocky beach which was exposed to the strong SW winds, so the plan was to bimble slowly along the protected south coast until the wind dropped later in the day. As Andy said, ‘why have an epic when you don’t need one?’ We found Erlean Buidhe island and killed a few hours there most pleasantly, out of the wind, in the sunshine. Later the wind dropped as forecast, so we easily beached at Peanmeanach. We met a lady walking her dogs. She is staying at the bothy, which is no longer free and must be booked online at £10 per person per night. The Laird who owns it has done it up, apparently. A worrying precedent?

Day 4
Locked part of Glenuig village hall with Sgurr of Eigg mural

Day 5 Thurs 17 June, by Tom P

After a pleasant night’s camping in front of the former Peanmeanach bothy the team were packed up and ready to go, awaiting the tide to float our boats for a getaway at 8.45 am. Quick progress was made westwards towards the headland of Rubha Chaolais in a pleasant and interesting sea that allowed some playing. We rock hopped and surfed our way up the west coast of the Ardnish Peninsular, exploring Port an-t Sluichd, discovering a small dead dolphin on the way. A break was taken for elevenses at the head of Loch Nan Uamh by the concrete railway viaduct in time to see the Hogwarts Express go past on its way to Mallaig. We then headed westwards in a stronger than predicted 3/4 wind, taking shelter behind the Burrowdale islands. It was noted that we had not seen a great deal of marine life on the trip so far. A late break was taken at Camas Ghaoideil beach. The camp site, which was at an unnamed beach just West of Camas Drollaman, enabled Mike the opportunity to finish off his lovely but expensive Glenuig bought smoked salmon and to ‘fess up to his wife before she saw the bank statement! The salmon’s packaging and lovely smell may have had something to do with our later encounter! A pleasant evening was spent exploring and sitting taking in the view which enabled us to see much of our previous day’s paddling as well as views out to sea. Night five saw Andy’s third and most impressive improvised bivvy, utilising rubber pipes and picturesque pieces of wood as well as meeting the design requirement of a steady airflow to disperse the anticipated marauding midges. A great campsite with an unexpected wildlife encounter to come during the night. Another varied and interesting day.

5th night campsite
Day 5

Day 6 Fri 18 June

Annette was woken by a noise at 4:00am. It was a fox, and they made eye contact. It sniffed around the tents, and kept looking back at her tent to see if she was moving. Finally it found my waste bag just next to my flysheet and ran off with it. Not much in it, except, except the wrapper that held my (eaten) salmon with 2 skins in it, which the fox family will enjoy. I slept soundly through all this, and got up at 4:45am, trying not to be last on the water for our 7:00am start, but I still was.

It was a bright sunny day with a F1 wind; payback time for the harder days. We had a gentle paddle around the Rubh’ Arisaig headland and now had the advantage of a 2kph flowing tide up the Sound of Sleat, as high tide was 12:30pm. Fantastic views of Eigg, Rum and Skye, with the big peaks free of cloud. Flat water. We were about 2km offshore, making most use of the flowing tide, when we saw a dolphin-like shape heading out to sea. I reckon it was an Orca as it looked too big for a dolphin and had a white streak. Tom suggested a coffee stop so we found a deserted white sand beach just N of Rubh’an Achaidh Mhoir. We stayed around 30 mins there then a quick run to Mallaig, arriving at this busy little port around noon. Andy suggested switching on the radio to pick up any imminent shipping movements. We found the slipway in the SW corner, and a busking bagpiper with limited repertoire struck up noisily as we carried our stuff up the slope. At the top was an ice cream shop and Alistair kindly bought us all a cone to celebrate finishing our 100km journey, all recorded on his GPS.

Day 6

A great trip, sometimes in difficult conditions, thanks for the leadership and expert guidance!

Easy River Trip – Lancaster Canal

Saturday 19th June 2021

With a complete lack of water and a committed date for an Easy River trip, options were considered. The moon was all in the wrong place, so estuaries were not really on, the lakes would probably be full of holidaymakers but canals have canalside pubs, so it was decided.

We met at Tewitfield for a couple of hours meander down the Lancaster canal and back. We were JohnS our valiant leader, MaggieB, ChrisB and Eric. We should have been a few more but sickness, injury and forgetfulness reduced our number. But four is a nice friendly group for chattin’ and avoiding narrow boats.

Talking about the trip to MikeH the day before, he said “ah, watch out for the angry swan”; at our put in briefing John said “watch out for the angry swan” and shortly after we set off SueS appeared on the towpath on her bike and said – I kid you not, “watch out for the angry swan”. So terrified of anything white and swan shaped we carried on. Soon enough we came around a bend and there were two swans; but which was the angry one? They appeared to be asleep rather than angry so we snook past and carried on rather smugly.

It was a lovely summer’s day not too hot but paddling in shirt sleeves, the banks were lined with carpets of water lilies and we just drifted along watching the ducklings, myriad damsel flies, and soaking in the wildflowers. On the way out we counted 8 Goosander chicks and on the way back still 8, great Goosander parenting.

We must have made good progress because we arrived at the Canal Turn pub before it opened – oh well on to the next one. Around another bend; Ooh that swan isn’t asleep, it’s very not asleep, it’s not happy and it’s heading straight for Chris. How does the saying go, “you don’t have to be able to outrun a swan, just to be able to backpaddle faster than Chris”, which we all managed to do! Rethink, we could just go back a bit and wait for the Canal Turn to open or we could just man up and take on the mythical creature. Man up we did, that swan was all talk and no action.

Arriving at the second pub at lunchtime we found the canalside gate padlocked and a sign that said – Welcome, this gate is locked please go round to the front, it’s only a 5 minute walk; with a 17 ft kayak, I don’t think so. So we had a pleasant but abstemious lunch on the opposite bank.

Not so much of taking a knee but holding onto one
Chris sits on a captured football

Wildlife observations continued on the return with the highlight being Maggie’s spot of a large terrapin basking in the sunshine. And although we passed Mr Angry and the swan family starboard to starboard on the return there was no further incident to report.

Deep in’t Lancaster swamp

All in all a great summer day out, thanks to all and especially John for taking charge.

The wilderness of Pooh corner

The wind god Anemoi proved rather unhelpful in allowing us to play on the west of Skye. As a result we opted for a tour de Knoydart.

Part 1. As we packed the kayaks in Mallaig beach on Sunday afternoon, Neptune sent a messenger from the sea with a chart indicating a  range of wild campsites, some of which we were unaware.

A short 6km NW to Sandaig Bay found a delightful white sandy beach with flat grassy terraces ahhhh.  Sten located an antler and Mike a through cave. The views South the Rhum look enticing. Cuckoos.

Now just where will I put those antlers. Anemoi was persistent with his southerlies, So north, saying close in, but still pushed by the waves and wind. A wild got watched us glide by. Just past Creag t Sagairt fish farm, so many pods , so many fish, but they refused Priley’s request for a free offering. Lots of cuckoos all day.

Into Loch Hourn and across the wind Linda found out the hard way the advantages of an evenly weight packed kayak. Lesson learnt for us all. The narrows at Coalas Mor provide fine flat camping area with cuckoos and fresh whelks to supplement dinner.

Views East to Knoydart, enticed the next day.

I have 12 tics, funny I have 8 …. is that all?…..…

Into a slight head wind, the end of Loch Hourn was attained where some tried in vain to paddle up the river and we spotted Scots and Norse.

The wind pushed us back to camp where we took a 2 hour lunch. Sten decided the antlers were in excess so passed their baton to Mike. More cuckoos. Wind behind another easy paddle to Croulin via free cuppa and water at a Loch side house. Midges descended at dusk, but this was to be their only appearance this trip. Linda spotted a cuckoo, wonder how many there are? The more gating, rock hopping in the surf. Didn’t know they might swim

The morning , as predicted brought a NE wind which pushed us nicely back to Sandaig Bay and beyond, in fact lunch near the Madonna monument and on for ice creams at Inverie. Then south into Loch Nevis where one again cuckoos welcomed us. The narrows provided camp, this time near a wee hoose at Pooh corner, and fresh cockles and mussels to supplemented dinner. The morning tic check push dsoem over 20 for they trip as cuckoos sounded as if in jest.

The morning saw the lads head East into a stiff force 4 aided by the current through the narrows, where wind met tide and the occasional waves rolled over the deck. Using small headlands we made reasonable progress to reach Sourlies Bothy at the head of the Loch in under 2 hours. The wind assisted return 75 minutes where a seal greeted us, with rather a large fish in its’ mouth

No antlers Mike? they’re in the hatch! Crossing Loch Nevis was kinda fun with the following winding waves, until the Madonna greeted our overnight stay.

Knoydart is designated as one of the forty national scenic area  in Scotland, which are defined so as to identify areas of exceptional scenery and to ensure its protection from inappropriate development. Unfortunately reality doe not match this. Many old sites with ruins have now been improved into modern holiday homes, which punctuate either shore of Loch Hourn and Nevs, with rather more regularity than need be.

The Friday Morning cuckoos saw us pull into Mallaig before driving south to Kilchoan after dropping a car at Ardtoe, where parking at £1 per day seems reasonable.

Part 2. Setting of from the jetty at Kilchoan in a SE force 2 wind with a force 4 sea, the waves having been set up in the sound of Mull for 15km.

As we headed west the wind increased, clapotis confused the situation. But the Mishnish peninsula on Skye decreased the fetch, so the wind driven waves subsided, only to be replaced by a 1.3 m swell form the west. However the long wavelength made the rise and fall somewhat enjoyable, as the SE wind and north bound current took us along at a swift rate.

The Ardnamurchan lighthouse, rushed by, overfalls? no just a line of froth. The west-most  point of the British mainland yielded without too much fuss.

You will have to ask Linda how a locked bike, sea kayak and camper van all need up in the wrong place. Perhaps it was good thing she had time, having opted out of the final day paddle.

The NW coast guidebook stated ‘a fine campsite’ just round from Sanna Bay, cool. Until it rained for 3 hours, and we realised arriving at high tide offered different  prospect to leaving at low water with rocks exposed. A fine sunset over the Hebredies and a blow hole kept us entertained. Camping fine, launching not so.

Anemoi proved kind today. A westerly to push us east, under km of cliffs, with the face of a spectre menacing us. Sandy bays and even a little rock dodging. A sea eagle circled Ockle point which proved a little more lumpy, before lunch, when the wind increased to 4. North to Rubha Aid Druimich, with beam sea, which again brought waves across the deck. The point rounded, all became calmer, before Pete left to rejoin Linda at Ardtoe.

Not to many campsites here. But for those that persevere reward indeed. Sandy beaches, flat salt marsh and forest pitches all rejected, until we located flat grassy and breezy pitch on a small headland- super.

Mike H, Sten, Angela, Pete and Linda visited the wilderness of Pooh corner.

Easy Rivers; Lune Glasson to Lancaster and back

8th June 2021 

Serendipity n. – the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.  

With our planned leader for the day having to drop out who do you pester to look after us on the trip. Rob H was signed upon the calendar; ask him. “Oh, sorry I must have pressed the wrong button” he replies, “I didn’t intend to do the trip – but yes actually I’d be happy to lead, how about the Lune ?, I was planning a circumnavigation but up and down on the tide would be good” 

So it was that Rob, Tom B, Annette, ChrisS and I met up with Alistair and Jane Hornsby on a sunny and flat calm Glasson morning. Alistair was heading off for the circuit with Jane joining us. 

A short wait for the water to avoid mud plugging and we were off. There was a bit of a difference in speed with Tom and Eric in open boats plugging away at the back, and the rest of our team in sea kayaks gliding along easily on the flowing tide. Meanwhile Alistair was disappearing into the distance on a very racy looking blue thing which he said he’d chosen as it was light for the portages – that’s as maybe, I’d be more concerned about it falling over! 

Rob had promised coffee and loo’s and even the option for a beer at the Golden Ball but the site fencing and boarded windows didn’t bode too well as we approached. Ever resourceful we resorted to flasks and bushes for our various needs. Sadly, this is also a popular spot for jet skis so we soon moved off through the testosterone to quieter waters. A little further up one of them had broken down; so sad. 

The wind started to kick up a little, and with the return in mind we stopped for lunch on the old quay outside the maritime museum. The initials and numbers carved in the huge stone blocks probably tell fascinating tales of times long gone by. For the return into the wind Tom and Eric doubled up, a move which meant everyone stood a chance of getting back by dark! 

A chance to check the wildlife saw a large number of young herons, lined up on the bank, socially distanced at what looked like a fishing school. Egrets, Eider, Lapwings, Oystercatchers, and Terns added to the usual suspects. 

Despite what seemed like hard work on the way back we must have made good progress as we were ashore by around 2pm. Just like the Top Gear Challenge, as we arrived we looked around, no sign of Alistair – back first, yeah,  but no,  just like the Top Gear Challenge he comes sauntering down the beach, – oh no beaten ! 

Back in the car park, sunshine, ice creams, chips even for some. 

Many thanks again to Rob and to serendipity for a great trip. 

Barrow’s Victoria Bridge to Haws Point, Walney Island,

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Five of us launched beside Barrow’s Victoria Bridge. We started on the ebbing tide and rapidly moved down the west side of Walney Channel, keeping clear of passing motorboats. Eider ducks we abundant, bobbling on the tidal flat water, herons and cranes launched upwards and off to less conspicuous posts. We were moving at a fair lick and before we knew we were on the shore of Piel Island. We then progressed out of reach of the seal colony to Haws Point, where we lunched on the sandy beach, watched at a distance by curious seals, heads popping in and out of the water. With the wind picking up and turning westerly, we traversed past Piel Island through choppy water to Roa Island and then up past the docks and boat yards of Barrow. A great day out and thanks for Andy for leading.

Ulverston to Roa Island, via Foulney Island

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Canal Foot, Ulverston is one of those interesting places to get to: through the back of Ulverston, past the Glaxo factory and then, finally, the expanse of Morecambe Bay hits you. At the water’s edge, with a quiet pub at its side, the adjacent canal lock, long past waiting for the incoming tide, sits, a relic of Ulverston’s industrial past.

After the 25-minute shuttle for the one-way paddle, we were keen to be out on the water, with the high tide about to ebb away and take us to Roa Island. So, a breezy start, blue sky and eight out on the water. 18 km was the length of the trip.

On our way to Foulney Island, for the most part, the landscape was ordinary. With its extensive mud flats the shallow water of the estuary felt as though it was shifting around and “bubbling” under us. We were also fighting a westerly wind that was whipping up the surface of the outgoing tide. Yes, we saw Hunterston, Blackpool Tower and the hamlets of Newbiggin and Baycliff, but for the most part our eyes were fixed on Piel Castle, out transit target. We landed on the gravel and cobbly spit of Foulney Island, careful to stay below the high water line to protect the nesting birds. The tide was running away from us and the boats were left high and dry by the time we had finished lunch.

An alternative landing at Roa Island involved coming up the slip at the end of Foulney Street, near Bosuns Locker Café. At £1.80, a cone and two scoops of Lakeland Ice cream put more smiles on the ruddy cheeks. Thanks to Mike for leading the trip from Rob W, Julian, Eric, Anette, JohnG, TomP, and JohnS

Rob Wilson

Ravenglass and the River Esk

Sat 29th May

A Spring day, sunny sky and sea air. We started paddling up stream as planned, on the incoming tide, two hours before high tide, with lots of enthusiasm. The water was flowing, the Eskmeals Dunes looked magnificent and then, we ran out of water, just before Eskmeals Viaduct! We stood on the sand bank for 20 minutes while we waited for the incoming tide to gather pace: a salutary lesson – start 1.5 hrs before HT.

The onward journey was overlooked by the magnificent Muncaster Fell, and the river/estuary banks were canalized by wonderful deciduous trees and flat pasture with skipping lambs. So, having twisted and winded our way onward through the ancient rock cut channel to Hinninghouse Bridge, we ground to a halt against the gravel river bed.

A high tide turnaround didn’t help with our return journey. Herons and white storks were spotted, followed by jelly fish near Eskmeals Viaduct, stranded on the mud banks. By then, the rapidly ebbing tide didn’t feel like battling with.

Thanks for Tom for leading our effort. A great Spring day out.

It’s not pants on the bore

The tidal bore that runs up the Kent Estuary to Arnside is a fickle thing. There are so many, seemingly, random variables contributing to its formation that I have begun to wonder if the colour of the underpants being worn by participants on the day may even make a difference. One main and fairly obvious factor is the predicted tide height. The tide on Thursday was predicted to be 9.67m, now I have been out in the estuary when there was a barely a sign of a change in the flow as we met a tide predicted to be 9.7m. With this memory I was not at all sure we would have a bore to ride.

We paddled out for over an hour in beautiful almost glassy calm conditions, in a channel deep enough to allow progress without the often required walk dragging a boat through the shallows. Then a brief stop for coffee (I do enjoy a picnic) and a recce for Mike’s Lunch on the Sands outing at the end of June.

Then the phantom bore in the distance sightings started. “Is that the bore or water on the sands?” So back into our boats and a drift in the outgoing river flow for another few minutes until a definite sighting and the anticipation of a distant approaching wave. Strange how the bore always looks big from 500m.

Did I mention it can be a fickle thing? Well my doubts based on past experience of similar tides were completely unfounded. We met an initially small wave all the way across the 100m wide channel. The wave grew and varied in intensity peaking as a 0.6m high breaking wave capable of bongo sliding a sea kayak and forcing the occupant to work hard to escape its grip. Anybody with the stamina could ride it continuously for around 35 minutes all the way back to Newbarns bay.

Smiles all around a brilliant trip out. The only incidents being two successful rolls. No names.

Somebody must have had the right colour pants on.

Sten Sture