Monday, 26 August 2013

Around Wales With Simon - Llangranog to Poppit Sands

 I had every intention on working this bank holiday Monday.  I had hoped to get out in the boat on the weekend.  The past few weeks had been excellent for kayaking but for some reason the winds pick up over the weekends, and this weekend had been no different.  This was Nash Point on the Saturday...  
Jim and Chris were also keen to get out and a plan was quickly formulated for Monday.  Somewhere along Cardigan Bay Simon Ford was enduring a north to south paddle of the entire Welsh coastline.  The plan was to intersect him at Llangranog and keep him company until Poppit Sands where we camped the night before.
Me and Jim arrived late Sunday night to meet Chris at the Allt y Coed camp site at Poppit Sands.  After searching around the camp site in the dark we finally found Chris, pitched the tents and chatted in to the early hours with a few cans.
Jim getting a rather personal wake up call from Chris.  While we packed up the tents and organised breakfast, Simon was already on the water.  We loaded the boats and headed off to Llangranog where we would meet him.

Introducing Simon...

We only knew of Simon from our the social networking sites on the internet and never met him before.  It appears the reasons for undertaking this challenge has captured the hearts of our close knit kayaking community.  

Inspired by Tarans around Wales expedition Simon and his fiancĂ©e Linda had hoped to possibly undertake the adventure together someday.  Sadly Simon lost Linda to cancer in March of this year.  Remarkably in April Simon took to the sea for the very first time and trained hard before setting off in early August.  Simon hopes to raise awareness and money for Velindre Cancer Hospice in Cardiff Wales, and is very near to his £10,000 target.  You can donate to his cause by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.   
We arrived at Llangranog beach and before long Simon appeared in the distance.

We ventured up to the nearest cafe for a very welcomed bacon roll and got to know Simon.
We could afford to be unmindful of the time because the tides here are negligible but we had a long way to go.  So we finished up at the cafe and were on our way.
Looking north.  I have only paddled north as far as Cardigan Island, our destination for today, so this was a welcomed stretch to paddle.  The sun was out and the forecast looked good, no cags today.
Chris and Jim setting off from Llangranog.
Cheesy smiles from me thanks to Jim for the photo.
Less than a kilometre from Llangranog was this untouched beach cut off by the cliffs, perfect for a lunch stop one day, but far to soon today.

We decided to cut across the immediate bay including Aberporth and explore from there on.  On approaching the distant headland I thought I noticed a fin.  I have a habit of picking out logs and all sorts mistaking them for dolphins, so kept my mouth closed.
That was definitely not a log, everyone's faces instantly lit up.
There was a pod of at least three, maybe four or five, including a calf hunting off the moving waters around the head.  They seemed to work there way back and fourth the same area, completely uninterested in our close presence.
We sat for ages watching them surface every few moments, all trying to get a decent shot in the brief few seconds they spent above the surface.
At one point they must have been directly under my boat as I could clearly hear their clicking.
Simon and Jim trying to get the shot.
Here is a very doggy video I took, mind you don't get sea sick...
We could have sat there all day watching them but we had to move on, someone had to small task of getting around Wales.
As we ventured into the firing range a thick blanket of fog descended on us instantly turning what was a beautiful sunny day into a choppy mess.

We spotted this Lions Mane jelly fish on the surface, a first for me.  With the recent promise that Chris would happily pee on me if I ever got stung I wasn't feeling the need to get to close.
The miles seemed to drag on between the steep cliffs and mist but we finally managed to take a welcomed lunch break at a busy Mwnt beach.
Refreshed and refuelled we were back on the water, this time with our cags.  It was only another three kilometres to Cardigan Island and about another three into Poppit Sands.
Not far to go we spent the time exploring the nooks and crannies and enjoying a spot of rock hopping along the cliffs.
Paddling a gully next to Cardigan Island.
My attempt at a group photo but my big head got in the way.  It was only a short distance across the bay into Poppit Sands where we would finish up for the day.
I think Chris enjoyed that one.
Although our faces quickly changed when we realised the carry that was involved.
The RNLI lifeguards on duty kindly allowed Simon to store his kayak in a cargo container overnight while he camped in a nearby camp site.  Simon bought us all a round in the nearest pub for the company out on the water but the pleasure was all ours.
Almost 13 miles on the water, and about double that for Simon today.  It was an absolute pleasure meeting Simon and he is an inspiration for the challenge he is taking on and the reasons for doing it.  I take my hat off to him, only paddling since April and taking on such a big challenge.  I wish him all the luck for the rest of his journey and hope to catch up with him along my home stretch of waters before he finishes.

If you would like to donate towards Simon's charity please do so by clicking here and you can keep up to date with his progress by joining our Sea Kayak Cymru Facebook page here.  Thank you.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I met with Elan again for a late afternoon paddle.  It was about an hour after low water and the tide was on the flood.  The forecast was poor, a fair size surf and strong winds.  Elan came to pick me up and we headed to the nearest launch-able beach, Llantwit Major.  There was no point arranging a shuttle with the cars for any decent size trip due to the poor conditions.  So we decided to paddle against the wind and tide west and take it as it comes.
Today Elan was taking out Up&Under's P&H Cetus, available for demo. 
It was very messy, waves breaking left right and centre.  It was obvious from the off that we wouldn't be going far.  We made slow progress toward Nash Point.
Off Nash Point the waves normally break quite far out on a calm day so I had no intentions of rounding the point.  I doubt very much we would have made any progress against the tide anyway.  So we turned back surfing the waves back in toward Llantwit Major.

A group of wind surfers were enjoying the conditions near the landing point, flying past at some speed.

No distance covered but a good session in some rougher water is always good practice.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Three Cliffs Bay

Elan had to make a kayak delivery at Port-Eynon on the Gower and asked me to tag along.  Well it would be rude not to do a little paddling while we were there.  Getting there took a bit longer than expected with motorway closures and heavy traffic.  The forecast was for heavy thunder showers and strong winds but on arrival the sun was out and the beach packed with sunbathers.
Elan wanted to fill a gap in the coastline near Three Cliffs Bay so the plan was to head east from Port-Eynon with the flood.  Elan was trying out a P&H Aries available for demo from Up&Under.
The gentle conditions soon turned choppy as we reached the outer bay.
Elan had rigged up a Go-Pro on his rear deck to capture some of the trip.  After rounding Oxwich Point we landed briefly to make some adjustments to the camera.  We then carried on around Oxwich Bay to Three Cliffs.
There is an arch in the cliffs which leads to a beach on the other side.  Elan wanted to land through this arch even though there was a good 4ft or so of surf crashing through.

The water wasn't quite deep enough so we came around the long way for a short lunch stop.
Apparently due to the recent warm weather there has been a surge in Jelly Fish populations.  We saw plenty of them out on the water and they were being swept on to the beach in numbers also.  This is a Moon Jelly Fish.
Elan was determined to paddle through the arch and the water was just deep enough now if he timed it right.
Here he is coming through the arch.
We set off again into a strong head wind and large swell this time heading in a direct line back to Port-Eynon Point.
Perfect conditions for the P&H Aries.

The large waves kept the long slog interesting as we battened into the wind.

From the point we glided back into the bay on the waves where sunbathers were still making the best of the sunny weather.  So much for the heavy showers.
A cracking day on the water, thanks Elan for the invite.