Friday, September 30, 2011

The Mists of Man

During the last couple of days of our visit to the Isle of Man, Kirstine and I set out to explore the south west shores.

On Wednesday we started from Port Erin and braved strong southerly winds by sheltering beneath the cliffs of Bay Fine before taking a sneaky peek at Calf Sound.

Along the way we took the opportunity to explore the many deep caves along the way.

On Thursday, we started from Port Erin again but this time we headed north. With the wind and tide behind us, we quickly found ourselves beneath the towering cliffs of Bradda Head.

The Manx mists descended giving the towering rocky buttresses and eerie air. It was an exciting bouncy trip with gusts of Wind whistling around our ears. It was a great relief to reach Fleshwick Bay where we landed briefly for a quick bite to eat. We knew that the return would be challenging so we set off in determined fashion.

The wind buffeted off every headland slowing our progress but our persistence paid off as we crashed through the last few waves entering Port Erin for the last time.

It's sad to be leaving Keirron at Adventurous Experiences and his family at Ballabrooie behind. We have had a wonderful time here and we'll look forward to another visit very soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Isle of Man - Sea to Summit

When visiting an island, it can be easy to be consumed by the urge to circumnavigate.

However, during this particular visit, the weather will not be suitable. Taking a day off paddling we headed to the east coast town of Laxey with the aim of walking from the seafront, up the glen and over the moors to the summit of Snaefell.

The first challenge was to navigate our way through the narrow winding streets and lanes.

The best local landmark en route was 'Lady Isabella', the famous Laxey wheel. From there we found a quiet back road that led to a footpath that runs to an old abandoned mine at the head of Laxey Glen.

This is where we met the cloud base and lost the shelter of the steep sided valley.

This is what I would refer to as proper British hill walking conditions...

...the pass-time of stumbling around in a cloud looking for a mountain!

Eventually, after much stumbling we found the top of Snaefell, where it had always been, towering 621 metres over the Isle of Man.

Not only that, but the cafe was open for business (which we duly patronised) and there was a train waiting to take us back to Laxey!

The carriages are made mostly of teak and are all around 100 years old.

It is a noisy and ricketty experience as the train groans and creaks it's way back down the Glen along a precarious narrow gauge line to the coast.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Seals of Maughold Head

Seeking shelter from the strong southerlies, Kirstine and I headed for the north east corner of the Isle of Man.

YouTube Video

We launched from a pretty little bay called Port Lewaigue along the southern reaches of Ramsey Bay. The rocky shoreline rises to impressive cliffs that culminate to the island's most easterly point, Maughold head.

YouTube Video

When we arrived we found the wind a little too much, so we turned back paddling gently among the rocks and shallow lagoons.

YouTube Video

Our slow, quiet progress during the return meant that we could get close enough to some grey seals to watch them at play at really close quarters. Although this had only been a short paddle, our encounters with the seals had left us with wonderful lasting memories.

9th Isle of Man Sea Kayak Symposium

The Isle of Man has been a favourite kayaking destination of mine since I attended a symposium back in 2006. The warm welcoming nature of the people here along with the stunning coastline keeps me coming back for more. If only the weather could be relied upon!

On Saturday, Kirstine and I joined Nico and Jukka's group for a short trip along the south coast from Port St Mary. Throughout the day Nico and Jukka along with local guide, John Keggin dispensed valuable wisdom and a host of top tips to keep everyone informed and entertained.

After a blustery grey start to the day, the skies cleared to reveal a breezy sunny day with blue skies. The overnight winds left us with enough swell for some challenging rock hopping and some fun in the surf.

The evening entertainment started with a delicious barbecue dished up by the Ballabrooie crew followed by a talk on American kayaking history by Tom Bergh and a talk on motivation in paddlesports by Nigel Dennis. Drinking, singing and dancing went on into the wee small hours...

Sunday brought in freshening winds from the south so the west facing inlet of Port Erin became the venue of choice. Hangovers were soon cleared making way for more action on the water. More skills sessions including four star training culminated with more surf action in the bay before many of the paddlers began heading home.

In the meantime Kirstine and I are staying on for the following week for some more adventures.