Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Club Together

Manchester Canoe Club is based in Marple on the banks of the river Goyt to the east of Stockport. This was where I some of my formative paddling years learning all about moving water, slalom and river touring.

Last weekend I was joined by some of the Manchester gang on Anglesey, for what was to be the first time in a sea kayak for many of them.

On Saturday morning, having collected kayaks from 'Summit to Sea', we headed off to Bull Bay on the north coast in search of rockhopping and adventure.

The rockhopping was great fun but the brickworks at Porth Wen was a real treat where we found plenty more small gaps to get stuck into.

Thanks to to the gang for filling the weekend with so much entertainment and good fun. I'm sure we'll do it all again very soon.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Twitter

I have never known the birds around my flat to be so lively. Over the last 6 weeks I have heard robins and great tits singing from 3 o'clock in the morning.

Just outside my bedroom window there is an oak tree. This is where a pair of courting crows chose to declare their partnership to the rest of the neighbourhood. Once they had woken me up (around 5am) they would fly away and quietly find their breakfast.

The antics of the smaller birds like blue tits, robins and goldcrests always keep me entertained. When the Goldfinches turn up there is never a dull moment. With that flash of colour, it comes as no surprise that their name in Gaelic translates as 'light of the forest'.

The star of the show put in an appearance earlier this week. I had heard him a week earlier making his rat-a-tatt drumming call. I'd love to find out where this greater spotted woodpecker is nesting but he is secretive and good at hiding.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Over the past few months my good friend Trevor has been busy getting involved with the Marine Conservation Society and their Beachwatch scheme.

Trevor has chosen a stretch of beach on the Lleyn Peninsula. With some voluntary help from friends old and new, he hopes to conduct regular surveys and organise clean up events.

Today we conducted a detailed survey into the beach litter along a designated 100 metre stretch of Porth y Nant beach at the foot of Nant Gwrtheyrn.

Whilst the survey litter was being sorted and listed, the rest of us continued to clear plastic debris from a one kilometre stretch of beach.

It is really quite satisfying to see the visual difference that we have made. It was exhausting carrying the 32 bags of rubbish up the hill but we'll be back!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring is springing!

What a relief! At last the weather seems to be warming up a little. The banks of the river Mersey are beginning to dry out a little and signs of life are popping up in sheltered places.

Of course the snowdrops have been flowering for a while now but they look all the more dazzling lit by shafts of late winter sunshine.

Its always a nice surprise to find a solitary primrose bursting its way through the leaf litter on the edge of oak woodland.

In spring time crocus colours never fail to amaze. However, this part of the Mersey Valley is famed for a variety that flowers in the Autumn long after the leaves have died back.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

There may be snow on the hills

Driving up the A5 towards the mountains of Snowdonia it was difficult to see whether there was snow on the tops or not. We could see a dusting on some of the higher slopes but anything higher was cloaked in low cloud.

As we scrambled our way up on to the cold and gloomy heights of Pen yr Ole Wen, the ground became littered with snow granules like polystyrene. It wasn't worth hanging around on this inhospitable summit so we headed north east along the ridge towards Carnedd Dafydd.

Just as we arrived we were treated to a few breaks in the cloud giving us teasing glimpses of blue sky and brief 'peek-a boo' from Anglesey. During our lunch break the cloud broke almost completely leaving us in dazzling sunshine with the peaks of Snowdonia revealing themselves one by one.

In spite of the warming sun it was too chilly to stop for long so we headed east for the next peak on the ridge. Carnedd Llewelyn is inhabited by a lone raven that has developed a liking for hill walkers' snacks, especially chocolate biscuits.

Once satisfied, the raven allowed us to leave. We quickly descended along the ridge that leads to a short scramble up Pen yr Helgi Du. From this last peak we cruised down the gentle grassy slopes to the A5 and back to the car with 'Llewelyn the mighty' bathed in the last of the days wintry sunshine.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Winter break and festive frolics

Christmas time is my cue to escape the festive norm get as much fresh air as possible! Christmas Day was spent mountain biking with Chris and Jill around the moors near Darwen in Lancashire. We got all sorts of weather in one day so I was grateful to finish up at their house with mulled wine and a fish supper.

Photo: Chris Bolton
The next day I left sanity behind when I attended the Manchester Canoe Club annual Boxing Day paddle dressed as a Christmas fairy complete with too-too and wand. I'm still trying to work out how I'll ever live that one down!

The embarrassment being to much to bear in my home town, I headed off to Anglesey... right into the teeth of a howling gale! Strong winds and heavy rain pounded the Anglesey Outdoors Centre to the extent that I couldn't sleep for the noise and movement in the building.

Between storms I managed to get out to do some paddling. I joined Liverpool Canoe Club for a pleasant trip along the coast near to Moelfe and Dulas. This was a bright and breezy trip which took in a visit to Ynys Dulas.

A couple of days later I joined John, Aled and Steve on one of their lung busting race training sessions on the Menai Strait. Circuits, sprints and recovery... all rather similar to track sessions with the local running club, only this was in strong tidal flow, and at night!

Finally, I dashed through a whistle stop tour of Llanberis, Brynrefail and Porthmadog before seeing in the New Year with a sizeable dram next to a bonfire on Criccieth beach. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Burrs

As winter begins some of my paddling is becoming more inland based. There are a few entertaining venues close to home. One such place is The Burrs Country Park near Bury. There is a cafe which serves hot drinks, cake and snacks. The Brown Cow pub is nice and warm for apres paddle drinks and pub grub.

The river Irwell provides a short stretch of grade 2 water that begins with an 18 ft sloping weir. Great fun to slide down.

Either in your kayak...

Or without your kayak!

There is also the convenience of a canal so when you have reached the bottom of the site, you can paddle all the way back to the top to do it all again. However, the canal is infested with weed!