Saturday, 22 August 2015

Plan C - Ramsey Island

It seems people still find this blog of interest even though I haven't written anything new in over a year.  So for you here's a trip we did back in August (writing this in November) and thank you very much for your continued reading.

Elan and myself jumped in his car early morning to head over to St Davids, Pembrokeshire, to meet up with Jules and James for what was forecast to be a perfectly settled day.  So perfect was the forecast that we intended to paddle out to the Bishops and Clerks, a committing trip to a group of offshore islands approximately 5km off St Davids Head and Ramsey Island.  Eager to get underway we left the still waters of the harbour entrance into... 
..a lively looking sea state, not the smooth still waters we were expecting.  So eager was I to get on the water I left my day hatch open and flooded the contents, great start.
Jules heading on toward Carreg Fran in his P&H Delphin.
Through Carreg Fran we made a beeline into the oncoming swell for the most southerly tip of Ramsey Island, Ynys-Bery, the 'Enduring Island'.
In open water the conditions remained choppy but we remained on course as planned.

Picture by James, Eland and myself discussing our options. 
We could spot some white water off the tip of Ynys Bery.  We decided to continue on but it looked unlikely we would be heading any further offshore to the Bishops.  Alternatively Plan B was to head up the west side of Ramsey with the remaining flood tide.
Leaving the sheltered eddy behind the small island of Ynys Eilun (Idol Island) it became immediately obvious the Bishops were a no go.
James in his P&H Cetus at the most southerly tip of Ynys Bery.  Elan and Jules were just a little ahead.  The sea state was big, bigger than any of us (except possibly Elan) were comfortable with.  Me and James agreed we should turn back.  We signal to the other two who also came to the same conclusion.  Plan A and B were off, time for plan C... turn and PLF (paddle like f#@k)
As soon as I had confirmation we were all turning with our tails between our legs I was gone.  The tide was pushing forcefully against us as it wrapped around the island but fortunately we were able to surf the waves into less committing waters.
One last push through the swell as the heavens opened brought us safely into the tranquil waters of Ramsey Sound.

Midland Gap the gateway between east and west or today heaven and hell.  James and Elan decide to slip quickly though the gap and wish they never had, the push back through against the tide was apparently a little harder.
 A seal popped up to see what all the fuss was about while we were waiting for the other two.
On our way again up the east side of Ramsey, continuing on not wanting to disturb the lazing seals on the south beach.
A bull made certain we were moving on as they so often do.  This is the only way your going to get a picture of a pursuing seal.  
The Bitches never seem to loose their menacing appeal, even on a calm day in the sound.
Actually this is how I prefer it, small and fast.
Picture of James and me on the Bitches by Jules.
Elan showing off.  
James breaking though the eddy.
Jules riding the wave.
After enough fun we landed on the only permitted landing spot providing there are no seal pups hauled up, which there weren't.  
After a bit of lunch we continued on up the east side of Ramsey exploring various caves on the way.

By the time we reached the north east tip of Ramsey the conditions on the west looking over to the Bishops looked far more inviting.  However the tide had now turned and it was far to late for that.  So we opted to cross over the sound and explore the shoreline side of the sound, which some of us hadn't explored before.  
We were lucky enough to encounter a porpoise with a calf at it's side mid crossing.
Elan launching his new P&H Aries from the St Davids lifeboat soon to be redundant slipway.
And Elan loves life boats so much he even got the matching colours.
 A few more caves and we were soon back on the home stretch again toward Porth Clais.

Ah yes this is my new sail and this was it's first outing, except there wasn't anymore than a slight breeze.
Picture by Jules.  Elan with his Flat Earth Code 0 mounted to his P&H Aries and myself with my Flat Earth Trade Wind 8 mounted to my Tahe Marine Greenland T.  

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Marsco - Isle of Sky Day 3

With the success of yesterdays paddling so early on in our trip and with the prospect of improving conditions throughout the week, I was happy to take a day off from the boat and join my dad in the hills.  We woke to a bit of light drizzle and cloud and the forecast for the day wasn't perfect so we settled on one of the easier peaks in the Red Cullin Hills, Marsco.
Marsco stands at 736m (2,414ft) just to the rear of the Sligachan hotel and camp site.
A gravel path leads from the car park up through Glen Sligachan alongside the River Sligachan, which eventually leads out near Loch Coruisk, where we so often visit by boat.  
After about 3km up stream we head off up a tributary to the river between the peaks of Marsco and Beienn Dearg Mhor.
The drizzle eases off, it gets warm, and the midges come out to feast.  The path is not as obvious as the one leading through the glen and is very boggy in places.  According to the guide book we are looking for the second main stream that runs off the mountain where the path leads us up to the summit.  The trouble is due to the dry summer we've had the steams are completely dried up.
The first stream tumbles down a vertical craggy crevice, we don't want to come down that way later. It's not obvious but along the stream we have been looking for is a faint path that follows a line of iron posts to the top.  The views so far are are pretty good and would be even better on a clearer day.  
It's a steep but easy accent to the top with great views of the Black Cullin Ridge opening out to our left.

The posts lead out on to a flat ridge with the main summit a short climb on the right.  It is worth going off to the left where a plateau provides great views of the black culling ridge.
The views behind me here looking toward Loch Corisk with Elgol and the islands of Rum, Canna and Eigg in the far haze.

We head up the line of the ridge to the main summit of Marsco where the wind picks up and the temperature drops. 
The summits is crowned with this modest cairn where we find evidence of the two Golden Eagles we spotted on our accent.  It seems like a regular perching spot with large droppings containing small animal bones and fluffy white down feathers.

We walk down onto the saddle on the far side of the summit for lunch and to work out our decent.  According to the guide book we follow the line of a ridge that runs steeply back down into the glen below.  There are another couple of walkers coming down from the summit following what looks like the only feasible way down.
The steep scree slope that takes us down off the saddle come to an abrupt end with steep vertical rock.  We aim off to the right which naturally follows a valley down into the glen.  This of course was where we saw the first stream where we said we didn't want to come down.
Now this how accidents happen.  Rather than returning to the summit and going back the way we came, most people do as we are and attempt to find a way down.  This can sometimes lead you to a place where you can not go back up or go down, or worse a slip.  We manage to scramble down the wet rock with a few risky moves and peer back up to the other couple finding the same problem.  We later discovered that other guide books suggest the only safe way to descend is back down the way we came up.
Back onto the grassy slopes we are rewarded with a sighting of a heard of Red Deer.  They quickly pick up our scent and are on their way up the glen.
Back in the glen the wind drops and the midges come out in force, it becomes almost unbearable to stop even for a photo.  The path seems to go on forever.
The decent delays us by about two hours.  The sun goes down behind the hills as we approach the car park and it is soon getting dark when we get back to camp.  A really enjoyable day and a nice change to give the arms a rest and exercise the legs for a bit.