Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Shores of Flat Holm

SUNDAY 2nd OCTOBER 2011

It's been an unusual week for this time of year and I plan on making the most of it while it lasts.  Hot dry weather means a very busy week in work and plenty of catching up.  Low water is about 17:20 and it's just coming out of spring tides so they are still big.  After a couple of drive byes I manage to grab a space on a hectic Penarth promenade two hours before low water.  Shorts and T-shirt job today, much to warm for a dry suite.
The water is still and glassy but clearly moving fast casting swirls of silt into whirlpools and boils.  I get a little weary as the venture jets speed past after one very unfortunate incident to a gentleman on the kayaking forum.
I make a good wide ferry angle allowing for any mistakes but it's still a hard push at the final leg to get around Castle Rock.
I paddle past the usual landing spots and pull up on this nice shingle beach enclosed by a steep cliff in the shade.  It only took 35mins to get here so I have another hour and half to spare.  Usually I would probably venture out to Steep Holm but I decide to stay here and take it easy, the weather is fantastic after all.
I scramble around the cliff to the left of the beach and suddenly notice how quiet and peaceful it is.  Not a single gull in sight!  With the water still retreating I decide to explore the coastline.  I have been to Flat Holm more times than I wish to think and never explored the island from shore level.
Normally I would be a few meters higher taking pictures from inside this cave.  It's feels weird walking into it.
Looking out you can see how high up I am and how low the water is.  Like I said I would probably be another 6 feet up on the surface of the water.  The inside is covered in a this layer of mud.
Around the next corner and the light house comes into view above a lovely sandy beach.
Underneath the old TB hospital and barracks is this large overhanging cliff.  Hard to judge from the photo but it's really steep and huge.  Difficult work in my flat soled wetsuit boots.
Up inside this crevice the cliff walls are buzzing, hundreds of bees all flying about between the cracks.  It's the same storey for the rest of the caves and cliffs around here.  A few month earlier and I would be getting my eyes pecked out up here!
The floor is scattered in a mix of finds.  Here some ammonites remain fossilised in the pebbles.  I found most of a car, a fridge and tons of scrap metal.
Carrying on the beneath the lighthouse one of the old WWII lookouts comes into view.  The rock now turns into a lethal sharp volcanic kind which is painful on the soles of my soft shoes.  Rock shoes next time I think.
Looking up the steep cliffs to the light house from part of a wreck.  There's nothing flat about Flat Holm!
I get to one last headland that reveals Cardiff in the distance and decide to turn back.  The tide will be turning soon and I don't want to be cut off.  If I had planned it I would have done a full circumnavigation by foot.  I turn around and scramble back along the sloping cliffs.
I notice a dark crack in the cliff on the way back.  I have to breath in to get through and it's very narrow inside.  There's a light at the end of the cave where there is a small window leading out on the opposing cliff.
I don't think I would get a boat in here.
The lines in the rock are fascinating, like something has carved it's way over the rocks.  Again this island is far from flat.
Looking across the haze to Steep Holm, that would be a great scramble around that shore line, definitely need a pair of rock shoes for that one.
Amazed how far the tide has gone out in the last hour or so.  Not much of a scramble onto my beach anymore.
She's still there, always a worry.  I walk over the other side of the beach to see if a circumnav would have been possible.
An island sheep make a noisy appearance up on the steep cliffs.
Note the high water mark here!
More sea junk.
Back in the boat and the water is still as it reaches slack water.
It may be unusually warm for this time of the year but a low sun in the sky shows it's nearing the winter.
Looking back on my trip there doesn't seem to be much flow as I head directly for Penarth.  The wind starts to pick up as predicted over the radio.
The sun dips lower in the sky as my trips comes to a close.  Not quite the dramatic scenery of Skye but great in its own right, and nice to be back on home waters on such a beautiful day.

2 comments:

Taran Tyla said...

Deja'vu, Looks Kinda Familiar ;D

Fancy the Knap to Ogmore on Sunday???

Noel said...

Always good to read about a different take on a local landmark. The conditions looked superb, gutted I was working that weekend.