Challenging is the new normal, at last


For the second part of her sea kayaking holiday Sarah heads south, from Mull to Anglesey, and finds she is now comfortable in challenging waters that would have terrified her even a few weeks ago. Well  done Sarah.



Having been back from Mull for a day, I’m off again to Anglesey. I arrive at Pobty Cottage for my two days here where I will be having coaching with James Stevenson, of Adventure Elements.


It is a delightful place, right on the beach.


And equally delightful inside, cosy and compact. Perfect. High tide is around 11pm, and it’s not often you can step outside in your pyjamas and wellies and go for a paddle. Which I do.


The next morning I meet my coach, James Stevenson. He has plans for us.

Today I am in the lovely grey boat, it’s a Romany Classic, the same model as mine, but it’s newer, and it also has a skeg. So for those of you who don’t know what a skeg is – and why would you? – it is a ‘fin’ that projects from the bottom of the boat at the rear. A skeg is retractable, so you can put it down when you need it, and take it up when you don’t. It is used to help control the boat in wind. I have noticed while I was in Mull that having a skeg would have helped considerably.

(I might as well add this, as Ronnie the editor would probably do so anyway, the upshot of this is either I get a skeg fitted to my boat, or I look for a new boat that has a skeg…..more shopping, it’s called kayaking needs).


We head up into the lagoons in the straits where we can move in and out of wind, and explore the use of the skeg. And – for me – to marvel at the copious amounts of seaweed.


Skeg and wind are explored. A new boat is definitely under consideration.

In the afternoon we head up the straits to the bridges.


We play here in the last of the moving water at the end of the ebb tide.


Reinforcing my newly acquired ‘moving water’ skills. And I end the day happy.


And cosy in Potby Cottage.


This is the cottage next door where Maggs lives, she owns Potty Cottage, and this is her lovely garden which she has been enjoying creating this last year. This is amazing given the exposed windy and salty position it is in.


It’s time for me to leave here this morning and meet James up at Trearddur Bay.


Where it has turned into a blue sky day.


We get the boats ready. And I have a surf entry, which would wake up anyone!


And then we find a quiet bay and discuss James’s plans. After getting familiar with the boat yesterday, James has warned me that he’d like to take me into some more challenging conditions – wind and swell. We do this from the safety of our bay, gradually moving into deeper and windier conditions. If I had done anything remotely like this even a few weeks ago, I would have been terrified.

I have suffered with anxiety since a car accident – now two years ago – that left me sensitive to potentially dangerous situations. I’m glad to feel that my sensitive amygdala has finally reset – as the wonderful Dr Michael Scott – we did several CBT sessions – assured me it would, if I can give myself some non-dangerous memories of being in conditions  My learning in Mull and the skills I have been gathering with my weekly sessions have all paid off, and finally I am comfortable in bigger swell. I am delighted, and James, having not seen me for a few months, is equally delighted and glad for me. ‘Awesome,’ he says.


We return to this quiet bay and have our lunch here.



And then set off up the coast, so I can experience a short journey in challenging conditions. It looks very deceptive from our starting point, the sea is calm here.


But once we are out into more open water the swell and wind pick up.


And off we go. Conditions too challenging for photographs!


Arriving about 40 minutes later at Porth Dafarch, having done a surf landing. As we land on the beach a woman, a similar age to me, comes up to me and says, ‘You are so brave!’ I was very touched and James just smiled.


I am feeling very pleased with my progress today.


And have some time on the beach while James walks back to Trearddur Bay to collect the van.


The quiet meditation of observing seaweed, one of my favourite aspects of a rock shore.

And a great two days in Anglesey. Thank you James for the coaching and thank you Maggs for the lovely cottage.

Sarah stayed at Pobty Cottage. 

See all of Sarah’s sea kayaking posts here.

Join the Conversation


  1. I think that ‘raging against the dying of the light’ is something our generation is getting to grips with. When my parents were my age (I’m coming up on 60 in a few weeks and my other half is a few years older than me), they were talking about “winding down to retirement”. Well, this year, my other half has taken up ballet, something she always wanted to do when she was younger but wasn’t able to. I’m very pleased for her and proud of her.

    As for me, I’ve changed job twice in three years, and that’s quite enough challenge for me, save that I now have to tackle whole new areas of work and keep up with colleagues half my age. Winding down? I think not…

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