The one-fingered gesture demonstrated by Richard in this photo is the internationally recognised sea kayaking signal for ‘I would be eternally grateful if you would please switch that camera off and delete the photograph which you just took’.
Between the islands of Bryher and Tresco, Isles of Scilly.
The island of St Martin’s in the Isles of Scilly. A few happy days were spent here camping, paddling and loafing around.
*Except that the pub has closed down.
A few of us on the water at 5 am to visit the Western Rocks of the Isles of Scilly.
Round Island is an almost inaccessible rock on the north-west rim of the Isles of Scilly, bearing a lighthouse. So, here are some images of it.
Riding a swell back from the Western Rocks of Scilly, about 8 am last Friday morning. A few of us had launched at dawn to visit this chain of reefs which make up Britain’s outlying Atlantic limit. Now, we crossed open water back to our tents on the island of St Agnes. En route, we passed the jagged shores of Annet, a small windswept island which is preserved as a bird reserve.
We were back in time for breakfast…
An evening paddle to say ‘hello’ to the seal who lives in Poole Harbour. It’s a Common Seal, but it’s actually pretty lonely.
Apologies that the mobile phone photo above is a bit wonky…when I took it, I had been running for about 30 miles and I was half asleep. In fact, I was so tired that I had to repeatedly fight the urge to curl up in a ball beneath a hedge and doze. Anyway, the photo shows St Catherine’s Point Lighthouse on the southern tip of the Isle of Wight. I was taking part in a two-day ultramarathon around the Island, following the hilly 70 mile length of the coast path. Why did I want to sleep so much? Probably because I’d only had three hours of sleep during the night before…
At dawn on the day before the event, I was actually out kayaking at the Western Rocks of the Isles of Scilly…pretty much the nearest point of England to America, out in the Atlantic. The bottom pic shows Bishop Rock Lighthouse, of which more in a future blog post. Anyway, to get from the Isles of Scilly to the Isle of Wight involved a ferry which brought us (wife, daughter and myself) back to mainland Cornwall late in the evening, followed by a four hour drive home to drop them off, followed by a quick gear re-shuffle, followed by an hour drive to catch a 4 am ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight. I snatched a few zeds in the back of the car on the ferry and after arriving at the event base, but fair to say, I wasn’t exactly in optimum physical condition by this point. That’s before we factor in the serious lack of training beforehand…
Day #1 was a 38 mile run from Cowes to Brighouse, heading clockwise around the Island. The start involved a ride on the chain ferry across the Medina River…at the moment the ferry touched ground, we all burst out running. It was all very Saving Private Ryan, and indeed through the short crossing I had to close my eyes and compose myself to prevent myself from vomiting with nerves and exhaustion. The early miles were surprisingly grim, with few views of the coast and lots of my least favourite running surfaces, concrete and tarmac. Things improved when we ran along various holiday resort seafronts, but it was still all hard surfaces, and it was hot. We all had numerous unintended detours (you’d think it would be easy to follow a coast path), which was also sapping on morale. I also realised I was seriously out of my league…for a while I was running with a guy who’d just rowed the Atlantic, I’m fairly sure that some of the muscle-bound guys I ran with for a while did Special Forces-type stuff for their day jobs, and at one point it emerged that I was the only person in the group around me who hadn’t done the Marathon Du Sables! All very intimidating. Several thousand yachts competing in the annual Round The Island Race passed us by, but I was too tired to remember to take a photo. Oh well, take my word for it; it was an impressive spectacle.
Thankfully, as day #1 wore on the running improved vastly, with natural trails winding along cliff tops following the southern shores of the Island. This is what I’d come for, and it was worth the wait. To be honest, I was staggering rather than running now, but the scenery helped me to resist the urge to pull over and sleep. I reached the finish of day #1 after about 7 hours 45 mins (surprisingly, this placed me 20th…I’d assumed I was one of the stragglers), put my tent up and slept for an hour. My alarm woke me for dinner, which I ate with relish, then I returned to my tent and slept for another ten hours, non-stop.
The 32 miles of day #2 were relatively easy by comparison, and hence make for less interesting reading! A good nights’ sleep made all the difference to my energy levels and motivation. My legs improbably still functioned well enough to allow me to enjoy what I’d come to do; namely, to run off-road trails along scenic coast…and there was an endless supply of this, with tarmac stretches few and far between. The cliffs of Tennyson Down and the Needles were a highlight, but frankly it was all good. The run took me about 6 hours 20 mins I think, but I haven’t seen my final time or position…as soon as I’d crossed the finish line I drove to the ferry (blistered feet are sore when applied to accelerator pedals) to get a head start on the journey home…
That’s the longest I’ve ever run (to put it mildly) and XNRG made this challenge possible and accessible. My thanks to them for organising a fantastic event!
*Edit* I’ve just seen the final results…as far as I can make out, I placed about 16th on day #2 and 19th overall. I can’t complain…
Approaching Swanage Bay at the end of a seventeen mile dawn run along the coast path, yesterday. The cloud and haze were quickly dispersing, promising a gorgeous sunny breakfast on the seafront with Mrs R and Baby R. All good.
No blog posts as of late, because things have been somewhat busy on the work and life front. I missed the bank holiday weekend due to work (I took a group of students to Belgium and France, hence the pseudo-arty mobile phone pic of Bruges below) and the following weekend was my daughter’s first birthday…it turns out that these things are on a par with the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in terms of organisation and logistics involved. All good, though, and I might just have squeezed a quick paddle and also a splendid MTB ride in when Mrs R had her back turned.
Still busy this weekend too, indeed I was stuck in work all day today. But the good news is that I spent part of yesterday patching up my sea kayak, with next weekend in mind…we are heading off to the Isles of Scilly! A break is much deserved I feel, and if all goes to plan I will end the holiday week by heading straight from Cornwall to the Isle of Wight and attempting something silly. Nothing can go wrong.
Last weekend we had the pleasure of watching Portland Coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter training along our local coast; after various low-flying and proximity-flying manoeuvres, a crew member (presumably one who drew the short straw) was lowered onto a cliff ledge, and then ‘rescued’ again. Rather them than me. We see this helicopter pretty much every time we head out on the Dorset coast, it gets a great deal of use in rescuing folk in distress. There are however moves afoot to remove the service; see below.
Splendid paddle with a friend from Lulworth Cove to White Nothe and back, before breakfast this morning. We had this glorious coast all to ourselves, apart from a few fishermen.
As I failed to take a card for the camera, you get an old photo instead; it shows the tunnel known as ‘Bat Hole’.
This is my friend Barbara, paddling last weekend. Tomorrow she sets off on a rather long bike ride. Best wishes to her!
Last Sunday was the 2013 Great Dorset Beach Clean. This was my modest contribution…