The latest of Sarah’s sea kayaking posts. This one a gentle meditation on life and death. “A reminder that life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when we are living with nature, tides, and the natural cycles of life and death. This I know,” says Sarah, whose younger sister has just died.
For several weeks now I have been looking forward to May, because May is such a beautiful month and I love the increasing light, the long evenings, the shift in the season to almost summer, the growth, the fresh green, in fact just everything about May is a delight. And I also have the prospect of four days ‘on the water’ to look forward to as well.
For my latest sea kayaking trip I am staying at Ty Cert near Rhoscolyn on Anglesey. It is a barn conversion next to this disused chapel, which is currently being converted into a tearoom and gallery.
My room has its own outside area, a ‘kitchenette’, and bathroom. Cosy and compact.
It also has a graveyard through the blue gate, and a shared garden. It’s perfectly lovely.
Breakfast is had, but the kayak won’t be going out today.
Just before I left for Anglesey I received the news that my younger sister, Karen, has died suddenly and unexpectedly, age 52.
I am reminded of Karen as she was responsible for weaning me onto Marmite, which has become a lifelong taste I love. I feel sad today, and don’t feel up for being in a group of kayakers, so decide to spend the day alone.
I head up to South Stack, to walk from there to North Stack, thinking I will come back again – so not quite a circular walk, more a ‘there and back again’ walk.
The squill is in profusion, as it is here during May.
I walk the coastal path
My first view of North Stack. Me and James kayaked to here – from the Holyhead direction – in March. The tide was flooding, coming towards us and we couldn’t get through that gap between North Stack and the cliffs – looks so different today.
Looking back to South Stack.
I continue down the cliff to the fog signal station, and have an explore.
And I carry on along to the cliff path to the country park. A fellow walker has suggested I do this, rather than walk back to South Stack – where my car is, and that I can ‘just get a taxi’.
Arriving at the country park, the gates are similar to those at Llandwynn.
This is a photograph of the country park – it’s in the open air gallery that is housed in the old brickworks buildings. It’s obviously the site of an old quarry.
The Holyhead Breakwater Country Park was opened in 1990 and is situated on the site of an old quarry which supplied stone for the 2.39km (1.5 miles) Holyhead Breakwater, the longest in Europe, which was built between 1846 and 1873. Part of the park is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
It’s looking pretty quiet now, and no sign of a taxi!
This is the brickworks building, with a lovely brick step.
Walking from here along the path which is signposted ‘Holyhead’, I find myself arriving at a housing estate. I ring several taxis who won’t come ‘out there’ to pick me up, all the way to Llaingoch. I feel unwelcome and lost. By now I’m tired, hungry and strangely emotional, it’s been an odd day reflecting on the loss of a younger sibling, and thinking also of my father who has been dead nearly 20 years. I walk to a main(ish) road, wondering if I might catch a bus, and spot a general store which is open. I go in and tell them about my taxi predicament, maybe I come across as overly emotional, this feeling of being a ‘stranger’. But the very helpful woman behind the counter picks up the phone to ring a local taxi for me. Just as she is doing so a regular customer comes in, and offers to give me a lift. I buy an ice cream and am taken up to South Stack by the customer. I am hugely grateful, the kindness of strangers. He drops me up at South Stack, and I get in my car and immediately burst into tears. It’s been that sort of day.
The next day, Sunday, I am going out on the water with Helen Mason.
I’m spending four days with Helen in Mull in June, so it’s good for us to have some time together. We leave from Cemaes, on the north coast, and turn left.
Although it looks deceptively peaceful on these photographs, it is actually quite a windy day. So we’ve spent time going through the very important exercises of learning what the boat does in wind, and – more importantly – how to turn the boat in wind.
We do more exercises on sweep strokes in the calmer waters in bays and under cliffs, and stop here for our lunch. Although you wouldn’t know from the photo, the Wylfa nuclear power station is just beyond the hill.
After lunch we head back, the wind is picking up considerably.
We find a quiet spot in Cemaes, and it’s time for some jumping in and out of the boats!
A good day, and just what I needed.
I know that the forecast for the next couple of days is VERY windy… it seems so settled today, breezy but not about to be a storm.
But it is…
The next day at Borth Wen, down at the nearest beach to Rhoscolyn. It’s Force 7.
My two days with James have been ‘rescheduled’, I don’t think anyone will be out in a kayak in these seas. I walk up the cliffs for about a mile and watch the sea, it’s a mighty beast.
Lots of seaweed washed up from the depths. And lots of these sac-like structures – I have no idea what they are.
I’ve been to this beach before, and I always notice that it has masses of shells, and in particular, periwinkles. They look like jewels.
And time to head back to Ty Cert, to pack up.
And back to Liverpool. So four days ‘on the water’, that in fact was only one – but it was a good day. And my trip away was also a reminder that life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when we are living with nature, tides, and the natural cycles of life and death. This I know.