We’re off to Spain for a few days of visiting family (plus there are some mountains there we’ve been exploring in stages without maps, good fun). Then we’ll be in north Wales with friends over New Year, paddling and reflecting on a few things.
Ted will be fed and cared for by a student of mine (the job has its benefits), incase you were wondering.
Have a good one, all.
I haven’t been in my sea boat for some time, as the rivers of Dartmoor have been flowing rather well. However, a spell of dry weather kept me at home this weekend, with the plan being to get out on the sea and try to remember how a sea kayak works.
Three of us met early today at Swanage, bracing ourselves against a very cold and blustery north-easterly wind. With winds up to Force 7 forecast, we weren’t convinced that our intended paddle around the Purbeck cliffs to Kimmeridge was such a great plan, or indeed that it was viable at all.
Paddling through the tide race at Peveril Ledges was rather daunting, with spray being blown skyward off the tops of the waves, and surf breaking hard over the shallows. The point of no return for this trip is Durlston Head, a mile further; we decided to approach the tide race at the Head gingerly and if necessary, run away with our tail between our legs back to Swanage. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was a clean passage to be had around Durlston, rising and falling on a sizeable swell.
We were now sheltered under the cliffs for the next two hours all the way to St Alban’s Head, and (with the sun finally out to warm us) it was really rather pleasant paddling. The tide race at St Alban’s caused us no problems, although it was a bit of a slog turning north back into the wind. We allowed ourselves a short comfort stop on a stony beach just beyond, and the final hour to our finish point was a lurvely sheltered run along the shallow Kimmeridge Ledges, dodging or surfing the occasional small breaker.
‘This is the Comfort of Friends, that though they may be said to Die, yet their Friendship and Society are, in the best Sense, ever present, because Immortal.’ – William Penn, Fruits of Solitude.
Chris Wheeler was a close friend and paddling buddy of mine. Despite his modesty, he was an expert paddler, among Britain’s most experienced expedition kayakers. Two weeks ago, Chris was paddling his favourite section of river at his favourite level; the upper Dart in high water. He became pinned upon a tree. Those of us who were present with Chris were unable to free him before it was too late. On Friday, Chris’ funeral was held in Reading. Around four hundred people attended, a mark of the respect that Chris and his achievements are held in.
Whilst Britain’s whitewater paddlers will likely have heard of Chris (or know him by his infamous nickname, ‘Magic Knees’), sea kayakers may find his name less familiar. He actually did a considerable amount of sea kayaking, especially enjoying it as it allowed him to share his passion for paddling with his partner Julia. Despite sea kayaking trips overseas to Ireland, Britanny, Croatia, Oman, Greece and Vietnam, Chris best enjoyed sea kayaking the South West coast and Pembrokeshire. Incidentally, it’s Chris who is pictured under the arch of Durdle Door on the cover of my book.
The photos below show some of Chris’ sea paddling exploits in the past year or so.
We miss him dearly.