Monday, October 24, 2011

Mud-day mud-day mud-day

My last day of guiding at the 6th Storm Gathering sea kayaking event was spent in the Menai Straits. The trip went well with Steve and I dispensing a string of 'top tips' as we paddled from Gallows Point towards the Swellies. We soon realised that by the time we would arrive back at Gallows Point it would be low tide revealing 400 metres of muddy shore.

Steve and I dropped the group at an easier landing beside the Gazelle Hotel. We then continued to Gallows Point to get the van and trailer. I was quietly hoping that we would get away with a shorter carry somehow.

However, the tide has recessed just as much as I had feared. Carrying and dragging the boats across the muddy shore was painfully hard work. We got plastered in mud, and that mud really stinks.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rock Hopping and Trip Guiding

Strong southerly winds have continued to entertain the storm gatherers on Anglesey throughout this weekend. I have had the pleasure of sharing guiding duties with Greenland expert Martin Rickard and Manchester based coach Richard McEvoy.

The north coast of Anglesey has been the perfect venue for introducing paddlers to these shores.

In the last couple of days we have explored every nook and cranny between Bull Bay and Porth Wen. We have threaded the eye of every needle there is and slotted into caves of all sizes.

Some brave moves left Neil high and dry, and a little embarrassed.

Before landing some have taken the opportunity to do some rolling practice.

...and some have been experimenting with some more unusual paddling techniques.

At the end of each day paddlers have returned with indelible beaming grins.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Storm Gathering Celebration

Following a stunning array of activities on the water, we began the traditional Saturday evening bash. The 'Round the Stacks Quiz' was more than a paddlers pub quiz.

The evening descended into chaotic rapture when Kate Duffus and Justine Curgenven competed for men's underwear whilst bound and blindfolded.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Storm Gathering Eve

Friday before the storm (gathering) saw Paul Kuthe, Tim and I setting off along the cliffs between Bull Bay and Porth Wen. The cliffs gave us shelter from the strengthening southerly wind along with plenty of rock hopping fun.

Paul Kuthe - Paddling coach from Oregon USA
Paul Kuthe - paddling coach from Oregon USA

Just as we set off from the bay, channel 16 crackled out the words "securite, securite, securite" which preceded a gale warning.

We kept our paddling journey short but sweet. That's enough excitement for today. We now wait to see what the Storm Gathering (proper) with have in store.

The Menai Challenge

The Menai Challenge is an open time trial for sea kayakers and is the brainchild of local paddler John Willacy. The standard course runs between the slipway at Gallows Point south of Beaumaris and the slipway near to the Anglesey Sea Zoo across the water from Caernarfon. The advanced course runs between the same points but includes a return lap of The Swellies.

At no point did I believe that I would break any records but I was keen to give it a go to see what time I could manage.

In the end I completed the 21km course in a respectable time of 1 hour, 52 minutes and 49 seconds. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoons paddling. Have a look at the website and give it a go!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shelter From The Stormy Seas

Yesterday the sea was too rough to go paddling so I went for a refreshing walk along the cliffs that lie either side of Rhoscolyn Head.

The waves were spectacular and the wind whipped up spray and foam high into the air.

Overnight the wind has taken on more of a northerly direction and the drop in temperature is quite marked.

Today I have been paddling in the shelter of the Menai Strait in the company of Pete Baars from the 'Summit to Sea' kayak shop, and Franco Ferrero from 'Pesda Press'.

It seemed as though the weather could not make it's mind up. Short blustery showers were soon followed by dazzling autumn sunshine.

We stopped at 'The Gazelle' hotel for a warming cup of hot chocolate before heading back to Y Felinheli where we had started.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Blistering Gale

Today started breezy with gales predicted in the afternoon. This made it easy to designate this as a rest day. Following a leisurely breakfast of bacon butties washed down with plenty of coffee, I set off to the canoe shop in Valley to say hello the owner, Pete Barrs.

One mug of tea and a good natter set me up for an afternoon of short blustery walks. Trearddur Bay was truly wild with huge foaming waves surging over the rocks and on to the beach.

The waves were smaller than I expected at South Stack but the wind was blistering as it tore past a myriad of rocky promontories.

Sunny Weekend Surprise

The North West Seakayakers end of season meet is often held in the midst of some horrendous autumn weather. This time we were blessed with a mini Indian summer.

It was breezy but warm in the golden sunshine and on the Saturday there was just enough swell to make the rock hopping fun and sporty.

On Sunday the southerly wind dropped just enough to allow a group of us to paddle from Rhoscolyn to Rhosneigr where we had tea and cakes in the sun. Before heading home many of us chose to bid farewell to Rhoscolyn by paying a visit to the celebrated 'White Eagle' pub.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Last weekend the weather was less than suitable for taking a trip to the coast. I stayed landlocked but managed to get nearly 30 miles of paddling done. I often paddle the Bridgwater Canal between Stretford and Warrington to keep active. I can trolley my kayak from my home to a convenient launch site in less than 20 minutes.

Sometimes when I see houses for sale along the way, I wonder if I would like to live beside the canal. It would be a little like having leisure facilities right on your doorstep.