Saturday, 22 May 2010

Port Eynon to Mumbles Head

With a giant high pressure covering the UK this weekend and minimal wind I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to do the Worms Head trip from the Welsh Sea Kayaking guide book. I've wanted to do it for ages but have been waiting for perfect conditions as this area of the south east coast of Wales can become quite exposed.
Little stow away
Up at 6am, kids already up! Don't they sleep. Aim to get down to Llangennith beach for the start of the south east flowing current. All the beaches in this area of the Gower are known for surf and as I catch the morning weather report there was a mention of a good swell today for surfers. I arrive at Llangenith and take a trek down to the beach (I mean trek it is miles away over sand dunes!) and the surfers are dwarfed by the waves. I head around to Broughton Bay and it's pretty much the same storey. It didn't look like I was going to find a bay west of Worms Head so I flick through the guide book and head down to Port Eynon.

Great no surf and not to far to walk to the sea. £4 parking mind! I think I'll do the Worms Head trip backward if I come here again and launch from here and take the north west current.

I go west anyway around Port Eynon Point to test the current and arrive at East Helwick buoy. The current is flowing about 1.5kts which is about right and will only get stronger in the next hour.

It was very hazy and I could just make out my intended destination in the distance. I double back out of the eddy behind the buoy and rocket off at 5kts heading east.

No I have not landed, this is foam. There were miles of this stuff stretched right out along the coast in long streams. If anyone knows what causes this can you let me know. I always thought foam was caused in rough conditions.

I make a bee line from the buoy to Oxwich Point.

There are hundreds of these common moon jelly fish just floating bellow the surface. These jelly fish are not dangerous to humans, they have a sting but it can't penetrate our skin.

I sail across Oxwich Bay for Pwlldu Head past Three Cliffs Bay. As I reach Pwlldu Head I am greeted by a Porpoise. Porpoise are a lot shyer than dolphins and have a rounder beak. It was happily surfacing just ahead of me, I tried a few shots but every time he surfaced the swell got in the way. I have a blurred shot but not worth up loading.

Around the headland I decide to take a break to stretch my legs. Pwlldu Bay is just around the corner but as with all the beaches around here it was pretty packed. Another pair of kayakers pinch a small beach just around the headland. As I make my way to the bay I notice a very small beach behind a rock completely deserted, that was until a family had the same idea. I land here for a stretch.

I got to be honest the Gower hasn't really appealed to me, it's very beautiful from the shore but out at sea it's not very eventful. There are not many dramatic cliffs and caves to explore, it has loads of long sandy open bays and the wildlife doesn't match what you get out west.

Today completely put me off the area for kayaking. If your idea of sea kayaking is dodging speed boats, the smell of diesel from noisy big yachts, cans, bags and anything else you can find floating in the water, and rammed beaches with barely any room to land then this is the place for you. I much prefer paddling out into a quite clear blue sea with no sign of life apart from the odd ship on the horizon and deserted bays apart from the odd seal or sea bird cut off from the hustle and bustle of sun seekers.

I usually pick out any litter I see floating about in the sea, but I would have had to have a trailer in tow with the amount of rubbish out there today. And as for the close calls with yachts, speed boats and jet ski's, it was like all the boy racers and BMW drivers had all descended on the sea.
Enough of me moaning I head on past Caswell and Langland Bay in to the watchful eye of the coast guard station and light house at Mumbles head.

At the Pier the beach was packed so I head off around the small islands off the head for a quieter landing spot. At high tide there wasn't really any place to land so I head back to land just off the Pier.

A quick bite to eat and the blood flowing again in my legs I make my way back. I realise the difference in speed as I sail effortlessly past kayak after kayak. There were loads of sit-on-tops but I didn't see any sea kayaks about. I make a steady 4-5kts all the way back, keeping well out from the coast line in to the main flow.

At last I arrive back at Port Eynon, much busier than it was this morning. Landing on the beach my legs cease to work. I don't know if it was the distance or the fact it was in the mid 20's but I was knackered. It was a heavy carry up the beach as I had loaded my kayak this morning in an attempt to improve the handling. I also had to side steep sun bathers and kids as I almost decapitated a few with my stern. A round trip of 20.51 nautical miles or 38km or 23.6 miles and paddling time of 5hours 20mins.

Quick tip: if your going to put sun tan lotion on do it before you get in your boat. Getting a grip on your paddle otherwise is a nightmare!


Anonymous said...

Hopefully picking up an Easky 15 next week after a couple of years on a sit on top. Have to admit, your blog inspired me into getting a tourer and as I live close to the Gower will be trying some of the routes you've done!! Well done, keep logging those routes!!


Stuart said...

Hi Martin, It's great to here my blog has inspired someone. It doesn't feel that long ago I was writing the same thing before I got the Easky. You'll love it, it served me well. Not done a lot at the Gower, should get back out there this year, worms head maybe. When you get it give us a shout and join us for a paddle if you want - Good luck.