Archive for December 2011
The mobile phone pic above was taken early this morning with a couple of friends at Old Harry Rocks, halfway through an extremely muddy bike ride. This route screams off the Purbeck ridge directly towards 500 foot cliffs, and then turns to follow the line of cliffs down to Old Harry.
Grim grey seas and skies have a been a bit of a feature of the past two weeks, hereabouts; mild Atlantic weather has made for lots of grey damp windy days. No worries, this has been good riding and running weather…by running up and down Swyre Head and by strictly staying off the Quality Street and Roses, I might just be the first person ever in History to have lost weight over the Xmas break. All part of the Grand Plan…
Best wishes for a Happy New Year…hope that 2012 hold great things for all of you.
The tide race off St Alban’s Head, this morning. A great Christmas Day walk (taking in the Square and Compass pub at Worth Matravers!) but I would rather have been out on the water…
Like the card says.
We’ve had a wonderful and productive year, getting some writing done, sharing some great adventures and embarking upon one or two new adventures also. 2012 looks to be an amazing year too.
We wish you all well and hope that you have a good one, also!
Photo taken here in Purbeck in 2009…no snow right now, unfortunately. I’m now off to surf in the bay depicted, Kimmeridge…
A friend from oop north was visiting today, so she and I had a pleasant paddle out to Old Harry Rocks, to play in the tide race. We chose this spot as it was relatively sheltered from the strong winds forecast. We then got out the bikes and rode up onto Swyre Head and the Purbeck ridges, where the wind happened to be blowing 40+ knots when we arrived. It was all fun, but my only two photos show grey rain on a grey sea, and me looking windswept, wet and muddy, up in a cloud. To spare readers (and myself) from contracting Seasonal Affective Disorder, I dug out some images from last summer instead.
During our visit to the island of Islay, we called in one evening at Kilchoman church, which is not looking too healthy right now. The tall cross in the churchyard dates from the Middle Ages and apparently looks like this when clean. There is also a relatively new distillery nearby, which Heather visited later in our trip.
After visiting Kilchoman, we headed to Machir Bay, a couple of miles down the road. We surfed until after sunset.
This afternoon, a couple of us enjoyed a great paddle from Kimmeridge to Swanage. Having read internet reports of zero surf over at nearby Bournemouth, we were surprised to find a moderate rolling swell. This certainly kept us awake. We surfed a few good waves along the Kimmeridge Ledges, and after rounding St Alban’s Head, paddled amongst exploding surges at the base of the limestone cliffs. Splendid fun.
Naturally, the camera appeared and photos were taken only during the calm and sheltered moments, so you’ll have to take our word for it.
I’ve just been writing about otters, which prompted me to dig out these images.
Britain’s otters are not marine animals. They evolved as river animals, but have successfully adapted to survive and even thrive in UK coastal environments, especially areas with few major rivers. Otters are part of family mustelidae, which includes stoats and weasels. There are nine species of otter worldwide, divided into three tribes. Britain’s otters are Eurasian otters (lutra lutra, tribe lutrini). They should not be confused with sea otters (enhydra lutra, tribe anoychini) which are not found outside the Pacific Ocean.
We saw otters almost daily whilst paddling in Shetland last year. Nevertheless, I didn’t come remotely close to taking a worthwhile photo of one.
Yesterday I launched from Swanage in the rain, paddled in the rain, played in the Peveril Ledge tide race in the rain, rockhopped beneath Durlston Head in the rain.
Whilst paddling the coast between Mousehole and Land’s End, give thought to the agonising sacrifice made by the small community of Mousehole on 19th December, 1981. The coaster MV Union Star had suffered engine failure and was being blown ashore west of Lamorna Cove by a hurricane. The Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne launched. The all-volunteer crew had no illusions about the undertaking; Coxswain Trevelyan Richards had refused to allow the son of one crew member to board, saying “No more than one from any family”.
Richards managed to bring the Solomon Browne alongside the Union Star through 16m breakers, the lifeboat actually being flung onto the deck at one point. Four survivors were picked up, but when the lifeboat returned for the remaining crew, it was tossed skyward and pitched into a rocky trough. The Union Star later capsized. All eight crew of the Solomon Browne were lost, as well as all eight crew of the Union Star.
The lifeboatmen were posthumously honoured with medals from the RNLI, and a national appeal raised £3 million to support the widows and families.
From South West Sea Kayaking.
“The greatest act of courage that I have ever seen, and am ever likely to see, was the penultimate courage and dedication shown by the Penlee when it manoeuvred back alongside the casualty in over 60 ft breakers” – helicopter pilot who witnessed events.
The photos are all in horrible colours because my camera phone’s white balance was accidentally set to, ‘fluorescent’.
This morning I left the house at dawn and ran 10.5 miles; up onto the ridge in the photo above, down and across the valley and then up onto and back along the ridge you see behind (top right in the pic). There was about 1500 feet of ascent to huff and puff through, but I loved every moment. It was a glorious frosty morning, the scenery was stunning and the sea was blue.
I’ve just entered an offroad coastal ultramarathon (34 miles and lots of hills), taking place in South Devon in February. I tried a half-marathon version of one of these events a couple of weeks back. Despite no training I somehow survived … based on this, I decided to enter the ultramarathon in two months’ time. I’m a bit overweight (too much sofa time!) and indeed there is no way I can do the kind of proper extended training that such an event properly demands, but basically I’ll just ‘give it a go’ (in true amateurist fashion). Nothing can go wrong.
I’m trying to raise some funds for the DSRT Ashburton, who were among the volunteer rescue groups who came to the aid of my good friend Chris Wheeler and carried him out of the Dart valley on the night of 21st November 2009.
Many of you generously donated when I ran my first marathon for this great cause, last year – I was blown away by peoples’ support.
Please consider supporting the DRST Ashburton, using the link below. In return, I promise that I will suffer considerably for your amusement/ satisfaction!
Any support for the DRST Ashburton welcomed and appreciated.
I just enjoyed a great start to the Christmas holidays with friends on my favourite river, the glorious Dart.
Paddlers judge the water level at ‘The Ledge’, a bedrock slab located just upstream of Newbridge. The Ledge is the put-in for the Dart Loop section (forgiving Grade 2 and 3) and the takeout for the Upper Dart, an outstanding section of Grade 4 in a deep valley.
In the past two decades I’ve paddled the Upper Dart hundreds of times, at levels ranging from ten inches below the ledge (bump and scrape) to 3-5 feet over (frankly terrifying). Today the water was exactly level with the ledge, which equates to a pleasant low-medium level with just enough water to pad out the rocks nicely.
Passing Sark’s lighthouse early one morning; if I remember rightly, we were due to be at the northern tip of this Channel Island at 0746 am exactly, to begin an open crossing.
The dodgy photo quality is because these were taken by mobile phone, lit by my mountain bike headlights. I took them on the way home from work tonight, during which I managed to detour and take in a muddy ridge-ride back to my village.
The pictures show Bond’s Folly (aka Grange Arch), located atop the ridge at 199 metres above sea level and accessed by a long thigh bursting gradient. Although I’ve ridden past it many times, I didn’t realise until just now (thank you Google) that it’s a listed building, and it dates all the way from the early Eighteenth Century. It overlooks the stately home of Creech Grange at the base of the hill, with an avenue having been cleared through the trees to make it visible from below.
I disturbed a herd of deer from their grazing upon my arrival, watched the lighthouse of Portland Bill, and nearly ran over an owl as I left.