Thursday, April 11, 2013

Northumberland - A Weekend of Two Halves

It was hardly believable! Following a cold, frosty night in the tent, the weather on Saturday morning was wall to wall blue skies, light winds and plenty of warm sunshine.

The North Sea was lively with swell as always. This held our attention as we lined our boats up ready to launch from Stag Rocks just to the north of Bamburgh Castle.

Once we got out through the first few breaking waves we were on our way to the Farne Islands. The first stop was a small rock called Megstone. We paddled through the gully that runs through the middle. Inquisitive seals watched as we passed through. A few then swam after us as we punched out through a few waves breaking on the outer reef.

After passing the Wamses and Harcar islands we arrived at the Longstone for lunch beside the lighthouse with plenty of time to explore the Farne's distinctive outpost.

Our return took us past the Pinnacles of Staple Island. Although most of the breeding population of auks have yet to settle. Kittiwakes are already paired up and competing for precarious nesting sites.

As we approached the Inner Farne, the skies became a little more dull. With views to the snow clad Cheviots inland, the day soon took on an Arctic feel. Once we has landed through the surf at Bamburgh, it was time for fish and chips at Seahouses before planning the next day's paddle in the pub!

Sunday morning was a little dull with the occasional glimpse of sun through the cloud. We set off from Beadnell aiming for Craster.

Heading out from Nacker Hole it was apparent the the swell had increased overnight. This provided some excellent reef breaks for those brave and skilled enough.

After passing the reefs of Football Hole we headed in to Low Newton for a quick break and to consider paddling the next stretch of coast.

As we took on the headland upon which Dunstanborough Castle stands, the wind increased and the skies took on a menacing look. It got colder and began to rain. This gave us a choppy approach to Craster Harbour.

When we arrived, landing through rafts of stinking rotten kelp, all we could do was huddle in the shelter of a beached fishing boat. It took us a little over an hour to do the return journey in one straight line. When we arrived back at Beadnell the temperature read 3 degrees Celsius.  Time to head home!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Cold and wintry Easter

Trevor and I started the Easter trip with some fun and games in the mountains of Snowdonia. Snowy scenes greeted our arrival at Capel Curig so we grabbed our boots, crampons and axes. We headed our way to have a look at the east side of Moel Siabod. My old plastic boots decided to retire (loss of sole) just before we began to ascend the icy east ridge. We retreated to the warmth of the pub!

We returned the next day to explore the snowy lower slopes on our skis. Once again our activities were curtailed due to technical failure. This time, one of my ski boots began to fall apart! Nevertheless, we had plenty of fun in the snow.

The rest of the Easter break was spent based at Anglesey Outdoors and paddling on the southern and western shores of Anglesey.

The idea was to meet up with the team that will be going to East Greenland later in the year. Although there was a biting easterly wind, we managed to paddle in amongst the rocks and find plenty of shelter.

It was great for everyone to get to know one another, discuss equipment and sample some of the Clif Bars that will help keep us sustained on our expedition.