Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Conwy Ascent

The Conwy Ascent Race is run every year by Dyfryn Conwy Paddlers which is a club with a contingent of K1 racing paddlers, but also some sea kayakers. The Beacons car park near Conwy Marina was a hive of activity with kayaks being unloaded and carried to the steep shore. The theme running through all of this mayhem was one of camaraderie in the face of adversity. The south-westerly wind was building and threatened some choppy wind against tide conditions in some of the early stretches.

As soon as the briefing was over the staggered starts began. A few waves breaking on the shore made for a soggy start for some K1 and K2 paddlers. When they eventually got underway, it was the turn of the sea kayaks. I love the 'Le Mans' style start. A mad dash for the shore, drag the boat to the waters edge, jump in and paddle like mad! (The spraydeck can wait until later).

Upstream of the Conwy Castle and under the bridges, the waters began to get choppy. I was thriving on the conditions. I quite like battling into the wind (for short stretches). However, up ahead I noticed that one of the rescue boats was taking a K1 and its unseated occupant ashore. Then out of the spray I could a Double sea kayak helping a K2 crew. I stopped to help until another rescue boat arrived then, having lost several places resumed the 'race'.

The finish at Dolgarrog was followed by tea and sandwiches. Most paddlers dispersed by road but a few of elected to return to Conwy on the water to take in the late afternoon sunshine.

This is a great event and I'm sure to be back next year. I'm not sure what has kept me away for so long.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Saints and Islands of Southwest Anglesey

A warm and settled day greeted our small group as we arrived at Newborough beach. Llanddwyn Island was our first stop. The low craggy shores provided some excellent rockhopping fun with some gentle swell running in from the south.

Llanddwyn is not strictly and island because it is only cut off from Newborough Forest by only the highest of spring tides. The 'Island' takes its name from St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers, who lived there as a hermit during the 5th Century.

Having spent some time exploring, we headed off across the bays of Malltraeth and Aberffraw in search of St Cwfan's Church-in-the-Sea. There has been a church here since the 7th Century but the present building dates back to the 12th and 13th Century.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Yesterday's downpours kept me close to home for most of the day. I couldn't get inspired to get outdoors much. I made a trip to Kayaks North West to get some spare bits and pieces before settling down to watch an afternoon movie.

Later in the day the rain broke up into showers with a few sunny intervals. The change in the weather was echoed in the garden. Bird song was at a frantic dawn chorus level and not surprisingly there were slugs and snails everywhere.

The still evening air was filled with refreshed scent from the early blooms of summer. I have to keep in mind that the place that I live in is beautiful as well as those special places that I have visited, and hope to explore.

The Long Weekend

The Queen's Jubilee brought about one of those special weekends that you need to make the most of. Anxious to avoid the crazy traffic jams that had been forecast, Kirstine and I headed for the relative ease of a trip to Anglesey and the wonderful hospitality of our friend Marcus Demuth.

Our mission for the weekend was to do as much rockhopping as possible. This could be useful practice for dodging sea ice during our forthcoming trip to East Greenland. Over the first day the gaps we paddled, surfed and wriggled through became narrower and shallower. Gentle swell surging amongst the reefs kept us entertained throughout the first day but as we landed we could see bad weather coming in.

It rained for most of the night and by the Sunday morning strong winds had set in too. A restful morning and a gap in the rain inspired a walk along the eastern shores of Cemaes and Llanbadrig. The north coast of Anglesey is wild and bleak but littered with carpets of wild flowers.

By the following morning the sun had returned and the wind had dropped too. We grabbed our kayaks and got back to rockhopping. Things began to get a little more ridiculous when we tried to paddle through solid rock. At this point we decided that these were actually our attempts at rocky landings.

Although sad to leave, we headed back home early on the Tuesday but not before making a short trip around the Great Orme at Llandudno. 

More rockhopping and rocky landings were interspersed with kayak caving. Both the Great Orme and Little Orme are riddled with intriguing gurgling caves which gradually become exposed at the tide goes out.