Monday, June 23, 2008

The windy way round the island of Walney

I had originally planned for an overnight trip to camp at Peil Island and paddle round Walney. These plans were all but abandoned due to the onset of some pretty foul weather. Nevertheless Mark insisted on not staying at home and completing another circumnavigation just the same. We were joined by Bill & Royanne who met us at the village of Biggar on the island of Walney.

We started from the west shore at 'Cross Dike Scar' and paddled round the south east point amongst plenty of chop and swell generated by the strengthening force 4 southeasterly wind and opposing tidal currents.

We landed briefly on Peil Island to make sort out misplaced footrests, jammed skegs and other associated maintenance . Mark and I found time for a swift half at the Ship Inn too!

The flooding tide and freshening force 5 (gusts of 6/7) wind rushed us up the Walney Channel. It seemed that all we had to do is steer and surf all the way to the shelter of North End Haws where we took a short sandwich and chocolate break.

Progress along the west shore was fine at first in the lee shelter and with some assistance from the ebb tide. As time went on, and as the coastline turned more southeasterly our progress slowed. The last 2km took nearly half an hour!

In the interests of keeping with tradition the post circumnavigation briefing was adjourned to the nearest pub. The Queens Arms at Biggar was perfect!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Strong winds and a change of plan

I took the whit week off work with a plan to paddle north along the east coast from Yorkshire to the Scottish border. With the winds forecast to be east or northeast force 4-6 for most of the week, the chances of making it from Flamborough Head to the Scottish border in one piece weren't good. Tide tables were consulted and following some head scratching we made a last minute decision to start the week with some paddling on the southwest Lake District coast.

I was joined by my friends Glen and Andy. We started at
Arnside following the shallows of the Kent Channel into Morecambe Bay where we met the rising waters of the incoming tide. Once we had waited out the initial rush we turned west and made an 18km crossing from Kent Bank to Piel Island.

We made camp for a couple of days to weather out the strongest of the strong easterlies.

Ravenglass on the west Cumbrian coast was our next destination and having endured all of the fresh air one could wish for on Piel, the serenity and shelter of Ravenglass was well appreciated. High tides were in the evening and early morning so we took the opportunity of paddling up one of the estuaries to find a quiet spot to camp for the night.

As the winds dropped we took a paddle from Whitehaven to look at the cliffs at St Bees Head before heading over to the east coast via Ullswater.

Our first paddle on the east coast was a trip down the tidal section of the River Tyne following the ebbing tide through the city of Newcastle beneath the historic bridges old and new.

As the swell on the North Sea was dying away we decided to brave the
Northumbria Coast with our final day of paddling. We paddled from the beach just behind the post office at Beadnell to Warkworth Beach just over a mile to the north of Amble. A strong northerly wind kept our hands firmly on the loom for most of the journey and especially through an exciting surf landing at the end of the day.

Its a shame we couldn't finish the objective, but that's difficult if the weather conditions won't even let you begin.

There are more photos of the trip to be seen here.