Wednesday, March 28, 2007

North West Sea Kayakers Pre Season Meet 2007

North West Sea Kayakers hold meets early each spring and late autumn, to mark the beginning and end of the popular sea paddling season. These meets act as a social event with paddling activities, slideshows and plenty of drinking over 2-3 days.

On Friday, 23rd March Dave and I met up with Andy from Jon, Mark and Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Co. The plan was to paddle round the Little and Great Ormes of Llandudno before heading off to Anglesey and although the sea was quite choppy around the steep cliffs we managed a shorter, but nonetheless entertaining day out.

Not satisfied with 3 hours paddling at Llandudno, I was eager to make the most of the conditions upon my arrival on Anglesey. I teamed up with my long standing friend Peter Roscoe for an evening paddle from Trearddur Bay to Rhoscolyn and back. Departing well after sunset with a stunning orange glow at our backs meant that our return to Trearddur Bay would certainly be in almost total darkness. The magic felt as you glide through the blackness brings a whole new sensation to your sea kayaking experience. Where normally your eyes inform you as to the state of the water, at night your ears now begin to take over. The reaction of the water on your kayak feels so more enhanced too. Your spine an hips tingle with sensory overload as you become aware that you are feeling the will of the sea through your feet. A crescent moon and myriad of stars guided our return but sadly upon entering Trearddur Bay the velvety night sky was shattered by the obtrusive security lights on nearby buildings.

On Saturday morning a group of us went for a paddle from Porth Dafarch around 'The Stacks' and back. A cool northerly breeze hid the dangers of the strong spring sunshine from us, I'm certain that nobody had thought of sunscreen given the recent horrific weather.

Penrhyn Mawr is a headland between Porth Dafarch and South Stack and has a reputation for its strong tidal stream and associated overfalls.

Parliament cave is the only place to land near North Stack and even here you have to be careful. The wash from high speed ferries entering and leaving Holyhead can take your boat from the beach within the cave if you leave it too close to the waters edge. (photo - Maurice Hoare)

Upon our return to Anglesey Outdoors on Saturday evening we tucked into a splendid evening meal. This was followed by slideshows made up from photographs that our group, and others had taken on the day's various paddling trips. The party went on well into the night..........

...........but the excitement proved all to much for the latest winner of the Polish Association of Reluctant Paddlers' Award for Aquatic Excellence!

On the Sunday morning we launched our boats into the sea once more for a breezy paddle in the sunshine in search of somewhere sheltered to devour our remaining butties. (photo Andy Harpur)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Sights and Delights of the Bridgewater Canal

Like many others I like to keep padddling right through the winter but because the sea seems such a long way off, I sometimes use my local stretch of canal to keep fit during the darker months. I live fairly close to the Bridgewater Canal where it passes through the south Manchester suburb of Stretford. A return trip to the Thelwall Viaduct near Warrington provides me with a 21 mile workout in a variety of settings.

The urban settings can be just as visually engaging as tall sea cliffs and bold headlands by the coast. The gasholder beside the University of Manchester Rowing Club provides one of the many contrasting features of urban canal life.

Rowers from the Trafford Rowing Club enjoying the broad, straight stretch where the canal runs alongside the tracks of the Metrolink tram lines.

Fibregalss Cows in the grounds of one of the latest Urban Splash Designer Appartment Developments close to Altrincham town centre.

The scenery becomes far more open and rural around Dunham Massey. After paddling for just over one hour I can be in the heart of the Cheshire countryside enjoying the sights and sounds from the seat of my sea kayak. One of the rewards of arriving at Lymm is the chip shop, which is less than 50 metres from the canal bank. You just can't beat a bag of chips washed down with a scalding mug of tea for fuelling the homeward journey.