Sunday, July 26, 2009

A sunny paddle round Walney

I set off with a group to circumnavigate Walney Island off the south west part of the Cumbrian coast. Walney is around 13km long, under 2km wide and lies across a narrow channel from the industrial town of Barrow-in-Furness.

We set off from Earnse Point when the tide still had a way to come in. Walney is made up from glacial deposits and the west side is one long beach made up of sand, shingle and pebbles.

The south part of the island is a nature reserve where Eider Duck nest in relative peace under the protection of their Herring Gull neighbours.

We passed Piel Castle but felt obliged to get an update on the renovation project on 'The Ship Inn'. While we were there we it seemed rude not to stop for a drop of lunch.

The flood tide was building in the Walney Channel so we hurried back on to the water to make our way north.

We were barely half way to Barrow when we discovered this leggy beast bearing down on us.

This is what remains of a slag heap that used to be much bigger. This is where hot waste was dumped from the foundry at the north of Barrow. The glow from this heap could regularly be seen from the Isle of Man at night.

We stopped for a short break at the north end before nipping across the have a look at 'Lowsy Point'. There are a collection of huts amongst the dunes and grassland.

Some are residences and some weekend retreats, but all of them are someones beloved pride and joy. It does seem as though some of the buildings are held together with mostly pride, and not so much text book construction techniques.

We left Lowsy Point on the ebbing tide with just 4 km remaining before we landed back at Earne Point, where the ice cream man was waiting for us.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Entrance to the River Tees

The coastline between Saltburn and Hartlepool requires a degree of imagination to blend with a sea kayakers' sense of wilderness adventure. The extensive surf beaches form the boundary between the wild rolling swells of the North Sea and the wild tangled industrial interior. We arrived at Saltburn to find a larger than expected swell generating around a metre and a half of surf.

From the car park this didn't seem to be much of a daunting prospect, but contact with the first wave brought a gritty sting to the eyes, adrenaline to the blood and a fresh burst of power to the blade. Not all of us made it beyond the break which left a daunting but eventually entertaining ride back in to the beach.

Having had all the excitement we could bear at Saltburn, we relocated to South Gare at the entrance to the River Tees in search of an easier launch. The steelworks dominates a desolate landscape here.

There is an eclectic collection of buildings here in precarious existence amongst the dunes and along the breakwater shore. The yacht club beside the old lifeboat station has an old style cafĂ© that serves a traditional range of greasy delights for cold hungry yachtsmen. Kayakers are welcome too but don’t expect to find muesli on the menu.

We crossed the river past Seaton Carew and into Hartlepool Bay. The brightly painted Georgian buildings along the Hartlepool Headland made for a jolly backdrop to the end of our journey.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Quest, to bring the boat home

I have joined the P&H Custom Sea Kayaks paddlers team. I have been paddling a P&H Sirius for over 8 years now and it has seen me through some tough trips in that time. I feel the need for a change now so its time for a new boat!

I have chosen a P&H Quest LV which I collected from the P&H canalside base near Runcorn on Saturday morning. It was like christmas and birthdays all rolled into one as I cut through the wrapping to meet my new pride and joy.

What better way to get my new kayak home than to paddle the 32km along the Bridgewater Canal, though the beautiful rolling Cheshire countryside, to within a few hundred meters of my home in south Manchester.

I'll have to wait at least a week to get it out on the sea...

Thanks to Sam, Pez and the rest of the P&H team, and also to Jim from Kayaks North West for helping me with the unveiling. Thanks to Chris Krawiecki for the photos.