Archive for April 2011
This event took place on Sunday 17th April this year, and we were there! I usually shy away from organised kayaking events; anything that involves ‘rules’, let alone wearing a bib, really isn’t my thing. However, this was a fantastic experience that Heather and I enjoyed no end, for various reasons;
- Superb organisation – nearly a hundred paddlers were shepherded through 26.2 miles of the Thames Tideway safely (no mean feat, there’d be less hazards crossing the English Channel), yet the feel of the event was relaxed and informal. All this was somehow run on the same day as the London Marathon, whilst London was effectively in lock-down.
- An amazing trip – we’ve done the Tideway before, but it was long enough ago to forget what a unique and exciting trip it is. Most of our capital’s famous buildings and monuments are in view from the river, enjoyed alongside the slightly disconcerting experience of being flung along at high speed by the tide through all manner of fixed obstacles, with the occasional choppy wave train thrown in. You really have to experience it to appreciate what a remarkable journey it is.
- Great people – we met and talked to some nice folk out on the water, as well as catching up with a few old friends.
- Great causes – this one-day event seems to have raised in excess of £22000 for charitable causes…utterly amazing.
Many thanks to all involved, we had a great time and will hopefully be back. Even the SatNav simply giving up on trying to get us out of London, somewhere in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square, couldn’t mar this fine day out.
Heather and I hope that we will be close to our fundraising target, once we’ve added all of the donations received…but any more contributions would be gratefully received. Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton do a fantastic job, and their work holds great personal significance for us both.
More pics here.
This photo shows the island of Ailsa Craig, 9 miles offshore in the Firth of Clyde, up in Scotland.
I usually hate piddling around with Photoshop – the vast majority of pics here on the blog are simply posted up direct from the camera without any editing at all. I have nothing against Photoshop, it’s just that I am lazy and life is too short.
However, visiting this monolithic offshore rock a few days back, I realised that the thing was simply too big to do justice to, up close…if only I’d taken a wide-angle lens! Just now I took three separate pics of Ailsa Craig’s cliffs and stitched them together in Photoshop. I’m not a techie, but it was amazingly easy…took just a few minutes and only one or two clicks. I thought that the end result was pretty impressive too, frankly.
I strongly recommend that you try clicking on the image to see the larger version. Somewhere hidden in the image waiting to be spotted are; an 1100 foot tall island, thousands of columns of granite, 40000 gannets and two small female kayakers.
Just returned from a splendid two weeks of sea paddling that has been diverse, to put it mildly.
First we visited Pembrokeshire in west Wales.
Then, we headed to London and the Thames estuary.
After a quick call in back home, we had planned to head up to NE England or maybe Anglesey in north Wales, simply because that’s the usual place where people go to sea kayak. We had a change of mind en route, and instead ended up in Dumfries, Galloway and Ayrshire in south-west Scotland. I paddled past this area a few years ago and had seen enough to make me want to go back. We didn’t regret our decision, enjoying some wonderful paddling experiences in this beautiful but overlooked area. I will post up some pics in the coming weeks. The above image shows the huge gannet colony on the island of Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde.
One thing which has helped no end has been the remarkably calm and warm weather through the Easter fortnight. Fingers crossed that it continues to next weekend, when we are planning to celebrate the Royal Wedding with a trip to wonderful Lundy Island, offshore of the Devon coast. Fingers crossed…
Last night, I found myself east of London, down in the south-east for the London Kayakathon. I took the opportunity to visit Red Sands Forts, nine miles offshore in the Thames estuary. I was joined by Jen, who was dauntingly fit and fast as she’s doing the 126 mile Devizes to Westminster Race next week.
These remarkable edifices were part of a series of ‘Maunsell’ forts built in 1942 to guard London from air attacks; German bombers could fly up the estuary unharmed in this ’blind spot’. The forts have undergone various incarnations since, including hosting pirate radio stations and featuring in an episode of ‘Dr Who’. More info here.
What can I say to describe this eerie and unique location? Perhaps I should just let the pictures do the talking…
I’m proud to announce that the Second Edition of ‘South West Sea Kayaking‘ is now in print and on sale. The First Edition of my guidebook to the coasts and islands between the Isle of Wight and the Severn estuary was very well received (e.g. see the Amazon reviews), however it recently sold out. I took the opportunity to go through the book with a toothcomb and update/ augment as much information as I could.
What’s different in the new edition? Overall, I made about 450 separate changes to the text;
Out of date information has been updated or removed.
- All phone numbers and web links have been checked and updated. I couldn’t believe how many had changed, about half of the accommodation details for instance.
- Removed references to out of date accommodation and added new ones, including coastal hostels.
- Updated reading/ reference lists.
- Where I could squeeze it in, I added extra details about areas and routes.
- Reviewed some of the tidal info in the last two chapters (more info available now, it was previously a bit thin).
- About half the photos have been changed – I feel that the overall quality is better now, including lots donated kindly by other paddlers.
I hope that this new edition is useful, and helps paddlers to get out and explore the fantastic south-west coast. Thanks to all who helped with the process of updating it.
The second edition is available here.
Just returned from a productive few days based at St David’s in Pembrokeshire. When the weather was dodgy, we worked. When the weather was good, we paddled…
The photo above shows us a few miles out from St David’s Head, the westernmost point of the Welsh mainland, just after dawn. Pictured below is South Bishop lighthouse, our eventual target…
In other news…
*The South West Sea Kayaking Meet will be taking place this year on 9th/10th July on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset (my home stomping grounds), with camping right in front of Corfe Castle. Watch this space for details.
*Heather and I will be paddling in London this weekend. Please consider supporting us.
The Easter hols have arrived and instead of getting stuck in Asia by ash clouds, this year we’ve decided to stay in the UK for a ‘working’ holiday and tour around lugging sea kayaks, cameras, textbooks and laptops.
First stop: Pembrokeshire. Splendid.
This remarkable film about six volunteers at Poole RNLI was made by Jack Collins & Elliott Trent over two months. Elliott – a paddler – sent the link.
Enjoy, and consider supporting their work.
I was nowhere near the coast, this last weekend. However, I did find myself wandering over salt water, past Britain’s busiest lifeboat station.
It’s years since I paddled these waters; looking forward to paddling them again in a few weeks.
These pics show Heather and myself enjoying our first sea swim of the year, last weekend at Studland Bay. Sea swimming is remarkably effective at washing the stresses and strains of the working day away; it’s hard to dwell on things when you are experiencing crushing ice cream head…
We plan to take a dip in the sea at least once each week henceforth, through to the winter. All good.