Through Kendal paddle on the Mint and Kent.

Monday 9tn August

George, Mike.Eric, Kate, Sue S, Richard S, and Roy headed down the Mint. Scraping, and getting stuck on rocks, we all passed over the 4 rock steps without incident in spite sometimes having to encourage the kayaks and canoe over the steps. 

Arriving at at the junction with the Kent with more water, everyone had a play in the currents and stoppers, there being plenty of room. I attempted with a little success a few manoeuvres with Mike’s encouragement, I am sure things will improve with practice.

Onwards and down stream, avoiding the many rocks just below the surface with instruction on how to spot the rocks just below the surface and avoiding them. Yes Mike I remember sweep, edge, Low brace and drive forward , and I must remember to edge correctly when crossing the current, I was lucky not to get dumped! Probably would have done had the water been deeper and running faster.

We had to portage around the weir just below the Riverside Hotel, quite a feat, and having traversed the weir we continued down stream. A couple of times we provided some amusement for children on the river side. Continued down stream with enough water to avoid grounding. I am no expert but I believe we were on the limit of the river being navigable. Mike had been keeping an eye on the levels prior to us setting of.

After approx 3 hours of us meeting up, avoiding rocks and lots of playing in the currents and waves, we arrived without incident at our destination at Wattsfield Road, just below the Romney Road bridge, where we carried the kayaks up the bank.

The weather had been OK, a little rain for a time but nothing to spoil the trip.

There was enough water down the Kent to provide some reasonable paddling and we all enjoyed the trip, with some bumpy rapids. I had a long first day on a river and it was immensely rewarding, looking forward to the next trip.

One thing I have recently learnt is river/white water kayakers are like ducks they love the rain, no rain no paddling! I enjoyed it immensely and could not have had a better introduction to paddling on a river, great fun thanks Mike.

George W

Intro to White water

Monday 9th August

George had been so keen to get onto water, joined by Maggie at Mint Weir, gauge on 0.46, a fine level for first timers. Mike set some tasks, designed to get the kayak turning when it was required. Maggie having already done some rivers honed her skills to perfection, whilst George picked up the basics.

In the morning Maggie and I met up with Mike at the Rugby Club and following a briefing of what we were about to do, together with a safety briefing, we launched our kayaks above the weir on the river Mint.

It was my first time on a river and on moving water so I was a little apprehensive.

Mike took us through numerous exercises to enable us to control our kayaks on moving water and on moderate white water. We ran the weir a number of times both with our kayaks and without our kayaks, the latter to experience and carry out rescue exercises. We also practised rescues with a throwing line, being rescued by a kayak and generally having a good time both on and in the water.

It was a very good session and we both appreciated Mike’s very competent coaching.

I asked Mike if I was good to go for the through Kendal river trip and was very pleased and excited when he agreed to me joining the trip down river, albeit the levels were quite low and only just passible in places.

I felt like a youth again messing about with boats and being in the water, were does the time go! I had just celebrated my 70th birthday a couple of days prior so it was marvellous to behave like a kid again!!

Anyway on to the afternoon:

So down the weir to utilise the moving water. Ferry glides, figures of 8 all reinforced the paddle sequences.

Coffee. Then more breaking in with S turn exercises.

To finish, some basic WWSR. active and passive swimming and basic self rescue. Maggie and George took turns suing throw lines and two to best be rested using them

Noon saw the session end with big smile and reflections on many new skills acquired.

Roeburn

Sunday 8th August 2021. Whilst awaiting the shuttle on Saturday, Mark hinted that he fancied the Roeburn on Sunday. Heavy showers obliged, in fact the only real option.

Mark M, Ian Mc Mike ,Brian, Steve, Duncan Liam and guest Sally split into pairs and looped through the first km or so.

Always rocky, always continuous with small eddies the fun never stops. Soon a tributary doubled the volume leading onto the slabs and small stoppers. Group dynamic now became read and run. All coped well until particularly awkward series of rocks forced a delay to recover the pieces.

At the advisory inspection, the S bends, that lead to the main event, trees and fallen into the river adding to the challenge.

Mark started to saw an old log blocking the entrance, Until Brain appeared mimicked ‘ that’s not a saw’ moment from crocodile Dundee!!

Inspection completed all happy to make the fall, which went without mishap.

Just below an awkward branch blocked the sneak route around a chaos of rocks which soem how we all found different routes through.

The final long slide past the old weir concluded the excitement before coffee and cakes at Wray cafe.

Mike H

Paddling with the Saints – Bardsey Island and Llyn Peninsula

The LCC team – Duncan Goulder (leader), Mike Hayward, Rob Hitchmough, John Hooson, Andy Murphy and John Soady (trip report).

Saturday 31st July – A westerly 3-4 and slack water in the Sound at 0925 meant a crossing to Bardsey was on. Setting off from Aberdaron an hour before slack gave the advantage of a ‘young flood’ stream that pushed us southwest along Aberdaron Bay to Pen y Cil headland, our embarkation point for crossing Bardsey Sound. From there we entered the Sound on the end of the SE-going ebb with Manx shearwaters in escort, and with near perfect timing hit slack water at around the halfway point. A transit and GPS track showed a strengthening NW-going flood starting to push us rightwards, but a tweak to our heading brought us under the northeast cliffs of Bardsey’s Mynydd Enlli – bang on target. 

 Bardsey west coast

So far, so good. Just one more crux move remained on a circumnavigation of the island, which was to round Maen Du – its southwestern tip – against a now full-on flood stream, with wind-over-tide just to make it that bit more interesting. Sun glinting on breaking waves in the overfall added to the drama, but 50m of effort saw us through that and then into Henllwyn bay for a four-and-a-half hour stop-over until the tide turned; keeping company with the 20,000 breeding pairs of Manx shearwater and 20,000 saints who reputedly rest here.

A leisurely walk up Mynydd Enlli (Wales’s smallest Marilyn) gave fabulous views over the Llyn peninsular and the Snowdonia mountains, and the white water of Bardsey Sound on the flood.

Bardsey’s Welsh name, Ynys Enlli – the ‘island of the currents’ – is apt. Despite rigorous tidal planning and advice from the ferryman, our return crossing was not easy-going. The supposed dying flood stream was still running quite strong producing confused breaking chop, and Bardsey – rather than being directly behind us – was soon over our right shoulder. Slack water never seemed to happen; however, after some quite technical paddling we found an anticipated early ebb stream close-in to the coast that conveyed us back to Aberdaron and a cool wet evening on the campsite.

Sunday 1st August – despite a northerly 4 gusting 5 over a north-going flood conspiring against most route options, a good day was had with a paddle from Abersoch via the two St Tudwal’s islands to Trwyn Cilan

Leaving St Tudwal’s East for the West island

– the most southerly point of Llyn – and back. Though Abersoch on a sunny weekend is not to be recommended, on the return leg having to run the gauntlet of petrolheads on full-throttle jetskis and powerboats.

Monday 2nd August – the wind having dropped to a northerly 3 plus a later flood tide meant a paddle from Aberdaron through Bardsey Sound and along the northwest coast of Llyn was on; giving time to set up a car shuttle. This is a superb section of coast, with numerous headlands, with the odd choppy race, and long unbroken miles of kittiwake, cormorant and guillemot adorned cliffs and caves (plus the odd turnstone, rock pipit, sandpiper and whimbrel). The Whistling Sands beach at Porth Oer provided some surfing entertainment, and two headlands later we finished at Porth Colmon – a leisurely 18km overall.

Duncan on the finish straight to Port Conlon

All in all, a great weekend in great company, with particular thanks to Duncan for organising and planning.

Jura – and a bit of Islay.

Well. Tom promised us a plan for a circumnavigation, but didn’t at any time mention wall to wall calm seas or daily temperatures into the 20s. This was a special trip in every way. Virtually ideal conditions; Scottish menagerie at it’s best (well almost – we saw no whales); and a superb variety of geomorphology and geography

Starting out at Kennacraig
Just 2 of the many eagles

DAY 1 – The ferry to Port Askaig landed at 1730 and we were away promptly for the 16km or so to our first camp at Glenbatrick Bay – next to one of David Cameron’s spare houses. A bit of a headwind but the north going flood soon whisked us away up the sound. And the wildlife scene was set; a pair of bottlenose dolphins led the way; white tailed eagle; a herd of deer; and plenty of singing seals to give great atmosphere. Dammit. I ought to mention the welcoming party of midges.

A tranquil Sound of Islay – and some Paps!
We saw plenty of these

DAY 2 – Nature at it’s best. Nature at it’s kindest. We’d promised ourselves an exploration of Loch Tarbert, which splits the island virtually completely in half, apart from a 1km or so isthmus at it’s east end, which also conveniently provides a portage escape route in foul weather. First sightings of wild goats, otters, stags and arctic terns. From here on in, Linda became our official otter spotter. We had enjoyed a perfectly flat sea and had managed to escape the midges and found a perfect camp up the west coast. But they would be found further up the coast, ganging up with the cleg flies.

Captain Tom planning his next move
A fine Paps view again – Paps galore

DAY 3 – A big day today. Up at 0600 to make ground for the famed Corryvreckan, 16km away, and then down the east coast a similar distance where we knew there is a shortage of decent camps. More eagles. A haunting mist awaited us for the passage of these legendary waters, but the ‘Hag’ was kind. 40 minutes early, we set of against the flood using eddies, glancing northwards occasionally to spy the violent, audible waters in the north west of the sound.  The mist was still there and Scarba was only visible at very low level but as soon as we rounded the corner to head south the sun was out again and the sea sparkled.

After a pleasant encounter with Catriona and her hostile 6 year old son Noah, battering us in his 80s first generation plastic river boat, we set up camp in Lussa bay, where young Tabitha, Kitty and Scarlet informed us we weren’t allowed to camp. In spite of their authoritative advice, we stayed. We also discovered the clegs that evening.

Never seen so many white goats
A very satisfied punter leaving the Gulf of Corryvreckan – and it’s mist trail

DAY 4 – Awakened early to hot sun, Tom’s ritual frying of the pig and the arrival of Andrew (to open up Tabitha’s et al. Lussa Bay honesty café). We were informed that sea kayakers were bad news. Apparently we leave the bothies in a state and even remove the internal wooden cladding to burn in the open hearths. I can’t help thinking that Andrew (who works for the Estate) has got his facts wrong. His parting action was to hammer a post into the ground with a sign declaring ‘No Camping’.

One pie too many?
Don’t touch

But he did accept that we were of the ‘genuine camping’ sort and not festival goers, and because we only stayed one night were entitled to be there!

Otherwise another textbook day. Flat seas, eagles, otters and the rest. And even an ice cream in a rather busy Craighouse – the capital of Jura! And more wildlife in Craighouse. A large, menacing looking lady puffing on a fag and swigging from a 2 litre Iron Bru bottle.

We never got fed up with the otters – here seen dismantling a crab
Whelks sir?

A rather tight camp that evening, just a couple of km from the sound of Islay.

DAY 5 – ‘Wang Day’. We all know the official SI Unit of speed for the sea kayak is ‘wang speed’ where to be ‘wanged’ is to exceed 10kph. Indeed we were shot up the Sound of Islay on a lovely (much closer to springs) current. Reaching a maximum of 18kph at one point we decreed that to exceed 15kph is to reach ‘warp speeds’.

When on Islay……
North Islay

En route – more eagles and otters etc. And a picnic on an oversized Alice in Wonderland bench owned by the golf club. Incidentally, if you want to play a round (with the statutory clegs) you’ll need to stump up £500. And if you’re staying in the hotel, that’s a paltry £2k per night.

The amazing north coast of Islay
Sanctuary from the midges

Arrived on a beautiful beach on the north coast of Islay. Surely the easiest 27km.  one can do in a kayak?

North coast Islay
Mike, competitive…..???

DAY 6 – It’s getting even hotter. A beautiful view over Oronsay and Colonsay from Islay. Tom still wearing his wellies – and no midges or clegs at breakfast. Mike wants to know who Larry is. Because he’s as happy as him. More otters and eagles (and swans today??). A relaxing jaunt west and back exploring what is the most amazing piece of coastline.

Yoga – of sorts – on the beach!
More tranquillity – and fine stratification

Many swims were had by all. But only deliberate ones to keep cool. The nearest the trip got to a swim ‘swim’ – Ian fell out of his boat at the shoreline. Linda was amused to the point of abuse. Care in the community – gone wrong.

We finished the evening with a civilised game of boules, making creative use of washed up buoys. Finishing our bagged wine, brandy and various tipples we had carried along the way.

North coast Islay
Cormorants

DAY 7 – All good things come to an end. A force 4 wind during the night had me affixing guy ropes and re-pegging. Calm by morning, it was a straightforward drift into a steady headwind which produced the lumpiest seas of the whole week, past the distilleries again, with the help of the ebbing current in the sound.

A satisfied team

What a week. It would be hard to repeat that one.

A special thanks to Tom for organising, and for Mike, Ian and Linda for keeping me on my toes, keeping me amused and for providing excellent company.

Pete Riley   

More Photos on My Flickr