Sunday, 14 July 2013

Waves & Wheels

Another weekend of settled conditions were promised and I wanted to fill the gaps, the south coast of Pembrokeshire was my next target.  We finished our last paddle along the south coast at Stackpole Quay.  The tide was flowing east to west through Caldy Island sound at around 0940 so a trip from Tenby to Stackpole Quay was formalised.    

Jules was the only one keen to join me and it seemed silly to take two cars just for a shuttle.  Jules suggested cycling and the thought had passed though my mind also.  I wasn't keen on leaving my bike chained up while we spent the day on the water but what other option was there? 

Our carefully laid plans were almost foiled however.  Upon driving to Stackpole to drop off the bikes we noticed road closure signs.  It just so happens a marathon was being held from Tenby and the surrounding roads were due to be closed for most of the day.  What was plan B? We didn't have one...sod it! So it was a race to get back to Tenby before the race started.    
Our next hurdle was parking.  One reason I put of this trip off for so long.  None of the car parks would allow a van for whatever obscure reason.  We eventually found a van friendly car park right on the beach. We quickly packed up our boats and were finally on our way.
We launched from a busy South Beach and took a slight detour north east to St Catherine's Island.
There is a cave passing through the middle of the island I remember from spending my school summers here on the beach as a kid.  There was a current already picking up speed through the cave.
From here we decided to aim for the east corner of Caldey Island and paddle clockwise around the island.
Jules with Caldey Island, St Margaret's Island and Giltar Point.
We brushed along the north east corner of Caldey and around on to the south of the island.  We were already thinking about lunch when the lighthouse came into view, after all we had breakfast about five hours ago around 5am.
 Horse flies were a constant problem along the shores of the island.
We stopped off at Sandtop Bay at Caldey's western corner for a brief rummage of the snack rations.  
Re-fuelled we left Caldey and headed straight for Lydstep Point keeping an eye our for cetaceans, or as I like to call them, dolphins and stuff.
Heading for Lydstep Point
I have heard the waters around here can get quite lively with wind on tide.  It was lovely and calm on a day like today but the tide wasn't half moving.  The limestone cliffs beyond Lydstep Point rose vertically from the calm waters allowing us to explore the caves and arches.    
Paddling around Caldey Island we noticed the island was clearly in two half's in regards to it's geology.  Even to the untrained eye there was a clear contrast between the grey Carboniferous Limestone in the north of the island and the Old Red Sandstone in the south.  This was also the case for most of this section of coastline.
This map shows the different rock types, the darker green being the Carboniferous Limestone, here we found impressive caves, crevices and arches.  The lighter green is the Old Red Sandstone, from the south of Caldey and along the final stretches of our trip today.
So we continue to explore the cracks and caves in the Limestone cliffs.
This cave had a collapsed roof and an entrance at the rear also.

Paddling through an arch.
From Old Castle Head the rock turns from Limestone to Old Red Sandstone, beautiful but not as exciting to explore up close.  So we cut across many of the sandy bays passing fishing boats and.....Jet Skis! They had been a constant nuisance on this trip, another reason I've put this trip off for a while.
We consider stopping off at Manorbier but the beach was packed from end to end with sun seekers and more jet skis.  So decide to push on to the next bay in search a quieter break and land at Swanlake Bay.
After a quick bite to eat we push on toward Stackpole Quay.  We swap some Lycra for some more Lycra, lock the boats to a pretty sturdy bench and hop into the saddle to return the 13 miles back to Tenby.
It was a bit hot with a few steep climbs but all in all it was a pleasant ride through rural Pembrokeshire.  We got to Tenby just as the last two stragglers were finishing the marathon and opening the roads.  
We made it, all that planning and faffing about and we pulled it off.  15 miles by kayak and 13 miles on the bike to complete a circular trip of 28 miles over about 6 hours.  Thanks Jules for the company, really enjoyed that trip.
Well for me that only leaves one more section between Martins Haven to Freshwater West before I complete the Pembrokeshire Coast.  Then there's the two open crossings between Porthcawl and Mumbles and Gower to Tenby to link them all up.

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