Sarah goes sea kayaking with seals

kayak_sealYes she does! A five day stay on Anglesey this time, including a course, a day off in the sunshine and two days of individual coaching, culminating in the baby seals around Puffin Island having a play around the kayaks. So read on.

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I’m taking two weeks off work as a funeral celebrant – to recharge myself, and to sea kayak and visit Poland. First the sea kayaking. My adventure continues, this time with Adventure Elements, run by James Stevenson and based on Anglesey.

I’ve booked myself four days kayaking. Two days on an improvers course and two days coaching with James.

After a good sunny week in Liverpool I arrive in Anglesey to be greeted by persistent rain and wind. This is not good for sea kayaking! So on day one the conditions are so rough we can’t go out on the sea, and neither can the more advanced 4 star group who are also training this weekend. So we go to Llyn Padarn near Llanberis and I begin my kayaking here. I am in a group of three, and our coach is the lovely Stuart Leslie, who coached me on my beginners back in May this year – post here. My five days on Anglesey provide a very varied experience:

 

16.08 Map Anglesey

Fortunately on day two the weather has improved, but there are still windy condition over on the west coast of Anglesey so we go up the west to Moelfre.

I am in a Romany Surf kayak again – it’s the dark blue boat with the orange coaming, the previous model was green.

We set off from beach and turn up the coast for some rock-hopping.

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Stopping for lunch. And then we head into Benllech which has a nice small beach but also a handy beach wall where the waves break and we are able to try out some surfing!

And then we head back down the cliff edges.

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Ending the day where another group of kayakers have also landed.

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On day three I have my first solo day with James. Again the wind is up on the west coast so we are going to the very top corner of Anglesey, to Point Lynas. We begin in the sheltered beach below the cliffs.

As I have put myself in ‘sea kayak immersion’ since May this year I’m feeling a bit overloaded with the different strokes and so James is able to give me some nice simple technical coaching. And also some advice on stretching and improving strength. After these nice technical exercises in the shelter of the bay, we head out of the harbour and into open water.

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This is the only photograph I took of our trip along the coast to Amlwch, as the sea was fairly ‘dynamic’. It was quite a challenge, and there were some choppy sections, but I am comfortable and James is carefully stretching my comfort zone. We arrive into the calm of the old port of Amlwch.

This port grew rapidly in the 18th century as copper was mined nearby at Parys Mountain. Note the very unusual construction of the stone used vertically. Now, it’s a quiet port, but the pilot boats start their journeys from here to guide bigger ships safely into the port of Liverpool. We leave and head back into open water.

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We retrace our journey along the cliffs, crossing tidal races and navigating headlands. We then head across the bay and nose around Point Lynas – there is a very strong tidal race visible and I am learning to recognise what water is doing and how tides and currents behave, and how they will affect me and the kayak. We then make our way back to the beach along the rocky coast, which is full of caves.

And the day ends peacefully, this is the view from my bedroom that evening.

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The next day, day four, is a day off from sea kayaking and I am having a rest day. The morning arrives with promise of lots of sunshine. This is the view from my bedroom window.

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I go to the beach at Newborough, one of my favourite places.

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It is nearly high tide and it is a lovely walk along the beach to Llanddwyn Island. The tideline is covered with clumps of tangled seaweed.

The afternoon burns on.

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Until reluctantly it is time to head back and return home.

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For my last day here, day five and another day of solo coaching, I have asked James if we can go to Puffin Island, which is off the far east corner of Anglesey. James had predicted that today would be the best day to go, that the weather and wind would be good for us. The straits at Beaumaris look calm this morning and I go to meet James.

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He arrives with our boats and we plan our day.

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Arriving at our launch at Trwyn y Penrhyn – it’s perfect conditions.

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And we set off into the gentle waters, staying close the the coast in the calm eddies.

But we are soon in deeper and more challenging water. We are huddled here at Perch Rock as James prepares to push my comfort zone again.

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After we spend some time playing here in the tidal race. We return to the far coast for lunch and then we are back to begin our circumnavigation of Puffin Island.

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Heading out into the water north of the island, which is ‘dynamic’ for sure, but I am here to test and improve my skills….

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We arrive at the far end of the island, and are noticed by the wildlife.

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Although the seal below doesn’t wake from his slumber for some time.

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But there are plenty of other seals, here a couple have noticed James (they are to the far side of his boat).

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It is so beautiful here.

And the seals are charming and playful.

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“Here I am!” And the next minute, “I’ve gone!”

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We paddle on.

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But not without our seal friends saying farewell. They seem very fond of the toggle on the back of the boats.

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We are back crossing the sound. This is Perch Rock, the red marker, and Trwyn Du lighthouse. The bell on the lighthouse sounds every 30 seconds.

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And we are now on the homeward stretch.

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And my trip to Anglesey has come to an end. A very satisfied Sarah.

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Thank you James. And thank you Anglesey, for brilliant seas and coasts, for great sea kayaking coaches, and for the friendliest seals.

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Sarah went kayaking with Adventure Elements.

And stayed with Franki at AirBnB in Beaumaris. Thank you Franki for your hospitality.

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