Over this past year I’ve learned a great deal about sea kayaking. Without of course putting myself to the trouble of going out on the open water, or any water. No, my strenuous tasks have been to listen to Sarah talking about her developing enthusiasm (she even does the tide plans for these trips now) and to write these introductions to her beautiful collection of blog posts about her sea kayaking adventure. This time she’s got her very own boat. That was always going to happen wasn’t it?
It’s the first weekend of 2017, and I’m off to North Wales for my first sea trip of the year. It’s been a very windy first week to the year, too windy to be out in the sea on a kayak, but the weather forecast for the weekend is good, calmer, with windy weather arriving the following week. So we are in a lull between fronts. Lucky.
And this is a very significant trip for me, as it’s the first sea trip I’ll be making, in my own kayak.
Here is ‘my’ kayak which arrived at our home last October, and has now safely got it’s own storage place near to the docks – I am very grateful to Dan who has helped me with that.
Owning a 15 foot long boat poses some complications – like where to keep it (although it did neatly fit in our hall from front door to kitchen for a while), and how to carry it. I’ve solved both of those, with the storage solution from Dan, and a Kari-Tek roof rack, thanks to another friend, Dom, for help with that. So now I’m ready to make trips with my own boat. Which feels great. It’s a Romany Classic boat, which was made in Anglesey by Nigel Dennis. It’s quite old, but that’s fine, it’s now mine.
(Editor’s note: Sarah’s kayak only ‘fitted neatly’ into our hall if you overlook the fact that the hall is used constantly by the two humans who live here. So I make no apology for the drops of red wine she’d occasionally notice on the seat of her kayak. Carrying glasses of wine around is difficult when it involves stepping delicately over a sea kayak.)
I’ve taken the kayak down to the docks here in Liverpool, so yes it floats, but now I’m off to spend two days with my coach James, which we’ve been doing regularly since last August.
We start day one at Cemaes Bay. Wylfa Nuclear Power Station visible in the distance, it’s currently being decommissioned.
And here we are. Me and my boat take to the open sea for the first time together.
James is in a rather fetching pink boat. We set off round the corner to go along the north coast. We have set off around low water and expect to have our trip aided by the flood (incoming tide) from late morning.
Remains of a limestone quarry visible here.
Our lunch stopover at ‘Hell’s Mouth’.
Passing Porth Wen – a disused brickworks – I paddled here on my beginners course last May, lots more photos here.
As we leave this bay we notice a strong back eddy, but it is fine. James has already had me practice going in to a flooding tide to get the feel for it, and treading water (in a kayak), and I am feeling much more relaxed in different sea states, and learning how they will feel.
Very nice cave on this stretch.
Returning into the (now familiar) Bull Bay, where we have shuttled our transport, and the end of my first day with my own kayak.
And a calm end to the day here at Bull Bay.
The next day, is a bit of a contrast.
It’s grey and drizzly, but the weather conditions, particularly the wind forecast, are suitable for a trip round Great Orme at Llandudno. Seems a highly unlikely starting point for a wild sea trip!
Our back yard contains lots of stones from this beach. East Shore at Llandudno.
We’ll be setting off towards the pier and round the Orme.
This is the view back to Little Orme, and it’s quite a misty day.
But as we get on the water, the sun comes out.
We leave the pier and are soon out of view of the town.
Passing the Orme’s limestone cliffs.
The Great Orme is actually home to a herd of Kashmir goats, they were given to King George IV and at the time their wool was in demand for cashmere shawls. (There is a blog post here giving more information about the history of the goats). We do spot a couple grazing happily on the cliffs, they look like sheep if you didn’t know otherwise. (In the photo above there is a goat, just visible as a white dot on on the far left in the grass on the top of the cliff.)
There’s a lone seal on this beach, but he/she seems quite happy.
The cliffs are dramatic, they are Clwyd limestone, which runs from the east coast of Anglesey to Llangollen.
And as we approach the far side of the Orme, just after midday, the sky becomes a most lucid blue.
There are hundreds of seabirds on the cliffs – seems far too early for guillemots, says James. They do nest on these cliffs. The noise is amazing.
Passing now down the far side of the Orme, approaching West Shore. North Wales coast is visible in the clouds on the horizon.
Just visible in the left of the above photo is a group of people, they look like walkers, but they are all looking intently at boulders and carry mats on their backs. This is a ‘sport’ called bouldering, a form of rock climbing, the mats are used for safety.
We land on a rocky shore shortly after this stretch, and have our lunch. We then set off back the way we came.
And are soon back at the pier.
Where we harvest some mussels for James to take home.
Arriving back at the promenade in Llandudno just before 3pm. We can see that there are vehicles along the prom, and think they might be VW camper vans.
On closer inspection we see it is a display of classicMini Coopers. How quaint!
And two pointy boats ready to go home after another good day.
Thank you James for the interesting trips and the expert coaching.
Sarah went kayaking with James Stevenson at Adventure Elements.