This photo is a bit of a con. We were all walking/ staggering up the hill, until we spied a camera being pointed at us, seconds before. Obviously we started running, right away!
This was about 19 miles into a 34 mile trail race, and we were ascending Beachy Head, the summit of the tallest chalk cliffs in Britain. Sadly, Beachy Head is most famous/ infamous for something else entirely…at one point, I found myself running past small crosses and bunches of flowers arrayed along the cliff edge. Despite these sobering memorials it is a truly spectacular spot, with a classically striped red-and-white lighthouse at its base. I didn’t stop for pictures, but one competitor did; photo and report.
When I saw the results a few days after the ultra-marathon, I was extremely surprised to find that I’d come 16th out of 62. Not bad for a novice/ occasional runner on the wrong side side of 40, I reckon!
I ran the ultra-marathon to raise funds for the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton, a charity of personal interest to me. If you wish to support them in their great work, please consider following this link; the fundraising will remain live for a few more days…
Anyway, the following morning I eased my sore limbs with a short swim in a chilly and swelly sea. Here’s a picture of my wife, discovering that the sea is wet and moves around when you are not looking…
On the Saturday night, everyone trekked down to the beach at Studland bay, taking advantage of the stones laid out for public barbeques, and the (relatively) warm water…for those brave enough.
A great relaxing evening, and once it was all over, there was still the pub…
Here follow some details on the South West Sea Kayaking Meet 2011…I will supply more details in the coming week, keep checking this blog.
- Thanks for coming! Hopefully it’ll be an enjoyable and sociable weekend. I’ve limited the numbers to about 85 paddlers.
- This year’s event is being held from 8th to 10th July 2011 at Corfe Castle, Dorset.
- The event starts at 9.00 am on Saturday morning with a briefing in the camping field, but the campsite will be open from mid-afternoon on Friday 8th July.
- The weekend is non-profit-making and is run simply for the fun of it by volunteers. We will raise some money for several charities, including the Dartmoor Rescue Group. The fundraising aspect is the main and over-riding aim of the weekend.
- It’s primarily a social event, an informal get-together of friends and soon-to-be friends. It’s not a Symposium or a Coaching Festival. There are no workshops or clinics. It’s just some people going paddling and getting together socially. I’ll do my best to make it all run smoothly (generously aided by volunteers) but don’t expect a tightly choreographed event.
- The weekend is aimed at folk who just want to go paddling and enjoy the wonderful south Dorset coast. The paddling will not suit novices. If you have not been paddling in recent months, please get out in a kayak prior to the event and warm up. Last year, we had to rescue one or two paddlers who had blatantly not been in a kayak for a long time…
The campsite is a field in front of Corfe Castle in Purbeck, Dorset BH20 5EZ. See this map. The camping field is directly behind the marker on the map. There will be an open gate on the main A351 road signposted for the field; basically, as soon as you see the castle infront of you, the gate for the field will be on your right (opposite and just before the Castle visitor centre).
It’s a farmer’s field with very limited facilities; I have hired a couple of portaloos and there is a very weak tap; consider bringing water containers.
Please park and pitch your tents close together as quite a few of us will be camping. The owners ask for quiet in the evening. No fires are allowed, in boxes or otherwise. More details to follow, once I have met the gentleman from the National Trust in a few days’ time.
Your donation has already paid for your camping (through a donation to the National Trust. The remainder will go to the charities involved).
Food and drink
There are cafes and pubs in Corfe Castle village (5-10 mins walk away).
If you are there Friday night, we’ll be in the Greyhound Inn up in the village, come say ‘hello’.
On Saturday night, there will an evening get-together at Studland Bay, a local beach; this will include a sea swim (bring a wetsuit, if you have one!) followed by a barbeque. Bring food to cook, I will be bringing along a large group barbeque down to the beach (there is an official permitted BBQ spot) and you are welcome to bring food to cook on it and be sociable…the whole point of the weekend! Later in the evening we shall return to Corfe Castle and enjoy the hospitality of the Greyhound Inn…
We will get out on the water on both days, it is of course the reason why we came! There is a fantastic range of paddling in the area. During the briefing meeting, there will be discussion of the local trip possibilities. Weather and tidal information will be available, as will photocopied maps.
You will have the choice of either…
* Signing up to join a small guided/social group (led by experienced volunteers)..
* Planning your own day trip.
I would strongly encourage paddlers to plan trips which are ‘out and back’, i.e. starting and finishing in the same location. The reasons for this are both environmental and practical (small lanes, limited parking in many places).
All groups going out on the water will be expected to follow a few safety rules outlined at the briefing, e.g.
- Bring appropriate equipment, clothing and safety gear.
- Wear something on your legs; last year, I fished a guy out of the sea wearing nylon shorts…
- Consider bringing a helmet if you like rockhopping.
- Complete a simple trip plan and leave a copy with the event organiser (i.e. me).
- Groups have a designated leader. This may not be a coach, simply an experienced and sensible paddler.
- Carry appropriate communication equipment.
- Paddling groups no larger than nine on the water.
- Groups paddle and remain together at all times.
- The Coastguard will be informed of all paddlers on the water and their plans – I will take advice from them on the day, on whether they wish for contact from individual groups or from me collectively for all groups.
- All paddlers participating accept full personal responsibility for their own safety (as frankly, you should do every time you go paddling…. )
- These safety rules are non-negotiable – please do not attend the event if they do not suit.
Any queries – post them at http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=219332064746170
I will add more details soon…keep checking back…
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.
Last night we walked to a favourite spot on the coast just a few miles from our house, Dancing Ledge. Extensive quarrying in the last two centuries opened up a sizeable chink in the Purbeck cliffs here, and the quarrymen even carved out a small tidal swimming pool for local schoolboys. We donned wetsuits and sampled the pool, before leaping out screaming and jumping instead into (oddly) much warmer sea.
We camped, as always enjoying a much more restful and lengthy sleep than we might have managed back at home. As the sun went down, I convinced myself that I could see shore lights 65 miles away right across the English Channel, including those of the island of Alderney (where we hope to be paddling in two weeks’ time). Heather was pretty sceptical, and was irritatingly proved right when it became clear that the lights were moving up and down the Channel…
Early this morning, I grabbed my camera gear and climbed along the cliffs to the location of Purbeck’s small puffin colony, in the hope that they might perform for me. However, rather unobligingly, they proved unwilling to make an appearance. After a while of peering fruitlessly at their ledge through a very long lens, I began to notice the maritime plants around me. I changed lens and pointed the camera in a different direction …
“Try everything once except folk dancing and incest.” – Sir Thomas Beecham
I’ve paddled the coast between Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove dozens of times, indeed I love the area so much that I used a photo of Durdle Door as the cover shot of my book. Yesterday, I was privileged to experience the same coast from a very different perspective as I joined a ‘Social Swim’ organised through the Outdoor Swimming Society. This group was set up by well-known wild swimmer Kate Rew (who also swam).
As I hadn’t swum further than a few hundred yards on the sea in my life, I was simply terrified; it’s 1.5 miles from Durdle to Lulworth. About 40 of us walked to the stunning Durdle Door arch and dipped into amazingly warm blue water; perfect conditions! Seeing this very familiar coast from water level (literally) was quite a revelation, I felt like I was rediscovering it all over again. However the swim took a lot longer than expected, and not just because I can only do a rather lame breast stroke; the tide was flowing against us at about 1 mph; sometimes we simply weren’t making headway! My local knowledge came in handy once we’d crossed the open water of St Oswald’s Bay; we hugged the rocks and cliffs closely to avoid the worst of the tidal flow as we clawed our way upstream to Lulworth Cove.
I needn’t have worried about the swim beforehand, it was actually a remarkably enjoyable experience and I had a few good friends on the water to look out for me. Splendid fun, maybe try leaving the kayak at home next time and give wild swimming a try yourself …
I’m spending all of my weekends paddling near home recently; partly because I need to save money and get (slightly less un-)fit for my summer holiday paddling … but also because I really do rather like it around here.
This weekend saw various friends visiting to paddle, walk, swim, run and cycle around the Isle of Purbeck. I paddled the splendid Kimmeridge to Swanage trip, but also managed a bit of walking and a couple of quick dips in the briny. My new toy – a birthday present from Heather – is a shiny black triathlon-style wetsuit. Although you’re unlikely to see me entering into that sort of fitness nonsense any time soon, I’ve really been enjoying our recent series of sunset swims around our coast.
Two weeks left before I fly north to spend several weeks (hopefully) getting down the east coast of Scotland, picking up where I left last year. If I survive that, I’ll then be meeting up with Heather to head north into the Orkney and Shetland islands for several more weeks. My kayak is already up at Thurso, having been shipped up to Cailean a few weeks’ back.
All good, just need to survive these last two weeks at work without going insane.
PS Enjoy a little bit of diversion, from Deb Pinniger. It’s about the beach at Falmouth, Cornwall. Highly recommended.