Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Stackpole Sea Kayaking Festival

Following a week of kayaking and walking in north Pembrokeshire, Kirstine and I met up with around 80 other sea kayaking enthusiasts at the outdoor centre known as 'Stackpole for Outdoor Learning'. The centre is set in beautiful grounds, just back from the coast in the rolling south Pembrokeshire countryside.

The emphasis of the weekend was on 'Paddling Lightly', or in other words; enjoying our sport with the minimum impact upon, and with the greatest respect for our wild and beautiful marine environment. The modern sport of kayaking can involve heavy use of motor vehicles. But last weekend's events showed that with careful planning impact upon narrow lanes, small car parks and the wider environment can be minimised.

The events on the water were largely organised by Pembrokeshire's collective 'Sea Kayak Guides'. The staff at 'Stackpole for Outdoor Learning' were amazing too. Louise Smithson and the rest of her team were extremely efficient, especially when it came to meal times when great food was turned out in plentiful dish loads.

Peak UK and P&H Custom Sea Kayaks turned up in force to support the event and brought kit and boats to try & buy, a splash of colour and a bouncy dog called Georgie!

On the Saturday the blustery weather kept the paddlers in sheltered waters of the Cleddau and other sheltered shores. In the evening we were kept well informed by a local wildlife expert and local sea kayak guide Nigel Robinson. Afterwards the adventurous Olly Sanders recounted tales of how he clung to walls, paddled amongst icebergs, caused an explosion in a hunting cabin and watched helplessly as his compatriots were kidnapped by murderers.

The stories grew taller and taller and and we drank late into the night ...

On Sunday a more adventurous group went to circumnavigate the exposed island nature reserve of Skomer. The tides here proved as entertaining and tricky as a bucking bronco. Circumnavigating the monks haven of Caldey Island, or traversing the rugged coastline between Solva and Porth Clais was quite enough for mere mortals in the chunky rolling swells of the day.

The evening started with a sumptuous barbecue before descending into a musical furore instigated by a local ceilidh band.

Bank Holiday Monday was more sedate. A few more gentle palling trips before tea and cakes and home to reality. Ho hum...

There are more photos from the weekend on the festival Facebook page.

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