A number of folk have asked me why this blog has gone quiet…apologies, we moved house and it turns out that BT aren’t capable of re-connecting you within a month (or more)…normal service will resume eventually. I hope.
In the meantime, I’ve been maintaining sanity by playing with a new toy…
Fenella is (apparently) a character from a Walter Scott novel based around Peel Castle, on the Isle of Man. The tombolo beach connecting the castle to the island’s mainland is called Fenella Beach, and a wooden carving of Fenella overlooks the beach.
Last pic (of Yours Truly) from Lizzie Garnett…
Like the heading says…paddling off the west coast of the Isle of Man on a windy day. There were swells in which I was happy to risk using my expensive camera, and swells in which I wasn’t. The latter are obviously not pictured…
Milner’s Tower stands atop the huge cliffs of Bradda Head, near Port Erin on the Isle of Man. It was built as a viewing tower to commemorate one William Milner, and renovated last year. We walked to the tower in very strong winds; it turns out that in such conditions, it acts as a giant out-of-tune musical instrument. The sounds inside and atop the tower were simply indescribable.
On a later day, we paddled far beneath the tower…
The photo above shows our ride leaving, having dropped us off in Dolpo, a remote region of Western Nepal, 2010.
The landing was memorable. Seven of us and seven kayaks were crammed into the fuselage of the plane…hence we had somewhat limited views, but briefly glimpsed high Himalayan peaks as we flew up a sheer-sided gorge. What we certainly didn’t miss, was the terrifying sight of an immense cliff directly in our flight path. The pilot flew directly at it, before at the very last moment climbing steeply to stall the plane so that we could drop onto the airstrip perched atop the cliff. This airstrip was a stony patch of land inclined 30 degrees uphill, barely length of three football fields.
Surprised to have survived the flight, we assembled our kit: kayaks loaded down with camping gear and a weeks’ worth of food. Far below us in the canyon, a hundred miles of incredible white water awaited on the Thuli Bheri River…
Launching from Bembridge, we faced a 25 mile slog west along the waters of the Solent, back to our cars. This stretch of water is never dull however, as you are never alone…
This was an unusually big tide, so with only leisurely paddling effort (including a toilet stop) our group covered the 23 miles back to Hurst Castle (completing the circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight) in under four hours.
We awoke on Sunday, to a murky misty morning. Before we could launch we faced a leisurely wait until midday, when the tide would be flowing our way along the Solent. Luckily there was a cafe a short distance away, so on this occasion we did not have to resort to foraging, hunting or cannibalism for our breakfast.
After our afternoon kip on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, we launched again and bobbed through the tide races around Saint Catherine’s Point. The cloud was so low that the top of the lighthouse was brushing against it. Only a slight orange tint to the gloom indicated that (somewhere in the grey murk) the sun was setting.
We paddled for a few hours after dark, before camping at Bembridge. Tomorrow, the Solent awaited…
Given that we’d landed and camped at some time approaching 2 am in the morning, we didn’t rise early on Saturday. The weather was uninspiring too, meaning that breakfast, packing and launching was a drawn-out languorous affair.
We paddled along the somewhat samey low red cliffs that fringe the SW side of the Isle of Wight. The cloud was low and no one was particularly motivated; we just needed to clock some miles. Occasional entertainment was provided by surf over the intermittent reefs, and one of the group caught a fish which later served as his lunch.
After a couple of hours, we landed on a bit of beach that looked just like the bits of beach that we’d been plodding past all morning. We cooked some lunch and then went back to bed.
Dodgy quality mobile phone pic, taken at 11 pm on Friday night. We were off to paddle around the Needles as the first part of a paddle around the Isle of Wight.
The white rock of the Needles and the 500 foot cliffs behind are quite a sight, viewed by the glare of a full moon. Likewise, the multi-coloured beams of the Needles Lighthouse are something to behold, close up at midnight. But you’ll have to take my word for it, as the camera stayed packed away.
After paddling around Anglesey, our last few days on the island were spent doing day paddles, and assorted tourism.
I refused to leave the island until I’d made a pilgrimage to the place above, hence fulfilling an ambition cherished since infant school; a teacher included a photo of Llanfair…etc. in an assembly about his homeland, a rainy place full of sheep with unpronounceable place names.
The dynamic Czech duo, the Maderas (Maderovas?) were in town on Saturday, so I escaped the exciting spreadsheet I was working on and nipped out for a quick paddle at the Peveril Point tide race with them and their friends. It was a pleasure to catch up with them, as always.