Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hilbre Island

A welcome window in the recent unsettled spell of weather prompted me to meet up with Barry and go for a paddle in what is effectively his back yard. Hilbre Island lies at the mouth of the Dee Estuary close to West Kirby. Hilbre seems to get invaded by anything, anyone in spite of tide and weather. Below half tide it is possible to get to Hilbre on foot. It is possible to get there by kayak only 2 hours either side of high water, and even then you need a spring tide for extra depth over the many sandbanks.

Hilbre and the other nearby low lying islets are nature reserves and important sites for wading birds and wildfowl. Barry and I were careful not to disturb the many wading birds that roost here when high water covers the mudflats and sandbanks upon which they feed.
The sea was flat pretty much flat throughout the day except at the end of the island where there are overfalls and some surprisingly choppy conditions.

We landed briefly on the island before setting off to return to West Kirby leaving plenty of time before the tide went out. As we arrived at the marine lake it seemed like a typical Sunday afternoon for the local folk out for a walk along the promenade and lake wall.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yr Eifl - The Hills of the Lleyn Peninsula

Last summer I managed to share my passion for the Lleyn Peninsula with the readers of 'Summit' magazine, the journal of the British Mountaineering Council. The Lleyn Peninsula is the part of north Wales that juts out into the Irish Sea just to the south of Anglesey. Not only is there a stunning and varied coastline but there is a treasure trove of hills. Explore this peninsula, you will not be dissapointed, indeed you'll find a return visit hard to resist.

I have wrote one article about kayaking around the Lleyn for 'Ceufad', the journal of the Welsh Canoeing Association and another for 'Paddles' magazine. More importantly I eventually consolidated my knowledge of the north Wales coast with my contribution to the 'Welsh Sea Kayaking' guidebook.

So it was a great pleasure to have an article published in a magazine that entertains a completely different readership. You can read the article here, download the whole of 'Summit' issue 47 here, and view a wider selection of photos here.


Friday, January 04, 2008

New Year Adventures

Once Christmas is over and done with it time to take proper advantage of the seasonal holidays and head for the hills. Following a pleasant walk in the Longdendale valley in the Peak District, Ian and I headed off to North Wales to meet up with a few others. On the way to our bolt hole in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park we stopped off in the Vale of Clwyd for a spot of white water kayaking on the river Elwy. This is a scenic river unburdened by the stresses of many of the classic whitewater runs in the national park. It is still sad to see all of the "No Canoeing" signs. One would have thought the in this day and age of forward thinking and tolerance that mankind could find a way that our beautiful countryside could be shared for the many, not just kept for the privileged few. The weather was foul and nobody came to challenge our 'trespass'.

With kayaks well secured to the roof of the car we moved on to Capel Curig where we made our temporary home in the Siabod Longhouse. A solid evening of re-acquaintance fed by a large pot of polish Bigos all washed down with a beer or two preceeded a good nights sleep.

The next morning's weather forecast promised clear skies. This prompted an assault on the north ridge of Tryfan and Bristly Ridge.

Alas, the weatherman had it quite wrong and halfway up Tryfan mist came in and it began to rain. Rock became so slippery we may as well have been climbing with roller skates!

The prospect of scrambling up Bristly Ridge no longer seemed fun so we drove to Anglesey in search of better weather and a possible sunset.
The Siabod Longhouse is a short walk from the Tyn y Coed Inn, which serves fine ales has a pool table and a Jukebox. What more do you need for evening of entertainment?

Following the previous day's washout Chris and I made for the coast of the Lleyn Peninsula and enjoyed a pleasant walk along part of the newly opened Lleyn Peninsula Coastal Path. while others went mountain biking.

New Year's Eve seemed quieter than last year in the Tyn y Coed Inn but the celebrations were rounded off nicely with a terrific firework display, closely followed by another display from the near by Cobdens Hotel.

Before the New Year's Day hangover could kick in Chris and I scurried off the climb Snowdon in the mist and drizzle. Without rucksacks and associated clobber we made a quick job of it.
With only the inside of a big cloud for a view we made swift our descent. Before long we were heading back to Manchester along the A55 listening to football commentary on the radio. The next day would see me back in the office, back down to earth with a bump.