Saturday, October 21, 2006

Paddling Round The Great Orme - Windbroke!

Back in the late 80s and early 90s I used to play Bass Guitar and Percussion in the then revolutionary music scene in Manchester. One of my long standing friends from those days is the acclaimed Irish Flautist and Uielean Piper Michael McGoldrick. I had been showing off the kayaking guidebook that I have recently completed, 'Welsh Sea Kayaking'. Mike was so impressed he asked me to take him out for a paddle.

We arrived at the west shore of Llandudno on Saturday morning and hauled the mighty Aleut 2 double sea kayak from the roof of the car and down to the beach in readiness for our trip round the limestone cliffs of the Great Orme. We were joined on the excursion by another Mike, a flutemaker from Australia on a holiday and fact finding mission. (Australian,) Mike Grinter followed us on foot along the road that runs along the cliffs.

Soon after we set off we began to see plenty of Birdlife. This photo shows hundreds of Oystercatchers.

The towering cliffs of the Great Orme are riddled with caves and gullies and are wonderful for exploring. I managed to manoeuvre the kayak so that Mike was quite close to a gurgling blowhole, with which Mike was quite intrigued. All I had to do is wait for a larger wave to come and then, "Whoosh!" Mike was sprayed with gallons of seawater from the back of the amazing farting cave. Keeping the theme of flatulence I raised a question I had wished to pose for some time. On Mike's second album 'Fused' there is a tune called 'Windbroke'. Of course its nothing to do with 'trouser trumps', its Mike's dad's expression for being out of breath. This expression was frequently used as Mike's flute playing skills exceeded those of his father who found himself breathless and unable to keep pace with the young embryonic McGoldrick talent.

Hooray! we made it! Once we had landed beside the Pier on Llandudno promenade beach, it was time to get out the camping stove and make a rewarding pot of hot coffee followed by a large pot of Chilli Con Carne.

It wasn't long before Australian Mike joined us from his walk along Marina Drive and we celebrated with yet more steaming mugs of hot coffee. Mike McGoldrick was feeling a little pooped after his kayaking adventures, so Australian Mike took over in the front seat for the return journey Mike McGoldrick walked the sort cut back to West Shore.

The return to West Shore began with smooth glassy seas, (Australian) Mike was amazed by the abundance of birdlife along the shores. I explained that it is relatively quiet at this time of year. During Spring and Summer you can hardly hear yourself think for the cacophony generated by the thousands of seabirds that nest on the cliffs here.

As we rounded the end of the Great Orme, we noticed dark clouds gathering so we stopped to put on some extra clothes. We battled against a force 5 sqall then waited in a sea cave until the rain and wind abated. The sqally conditions had left the sea quite choppy which made for some added interest for the last mile or so.

In true style the shower clouds parted and the sun came out right on time, just as we reached the beach at West Shore.
Bathed in golden late afternoon sunshine, there was just enough time for another tune or two, to mark the end to a wonderful day of adventure around the Great Orme at Llandudno.

For more information on sea kayaking around the Great Orme and other areas of the Welsh coast consult the great new guidebook 'Welsh Sea Kayaking'

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