In which sea kayaker and marine biologist Sarah tells the story of completing a mighty and joyous task.

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There is a longer story to be told and soon of sea kayaking all the way round Anglesey, but for now this is a moment of sheer joy that I would like to share. Joy, pleasure and – frankly – pride, as I have just completed my ‘all areas’ circumnavigation of Anglesey by sea kayak. This has taken me several years to carefully, patiently and in full detail paddle all the coastline of the island, about 125 miles in total.

Yes, you can circumnavigate Anglesey in 12 hours or so – with the right tides – slipping into flow and paddling pretty hard. You can also do it over four or five days… but it didn’t appeal to me to do like that. I wanted to do this slowly, in detail – paddling and noticing every bay, inlet, island, estuary and cave…. and over the last three and a half years that’s what I’ve been doing, gradually filling in the gaps and completing my own personal map of Anglesey, which my kayaking colleagues now refer to as ‘The Map’.

19.11 Anglesey paddledSo this is how the circumnavigation completion happens.

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As of this weekend I had two gaps, both of which have been elusive. One on the east coast and one on the west coast. I have booked two days with my coach and kayaking friend Geth Roberts and I am determined to finish this in 2019.

I have also decided that the west coast gap should be the last gap, so on Sunday me and Geth head to Benllech to fill in the stretch across Red Wharf Bay.

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We have pretty steady NE winds all day, so it’s not a particularly pleasant day’s paddling. But we make it across to the disused quarry beyond Pentrellwyn.

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Lunch is brief but there is time for a quick strand line detour… marine biology  being an essential part of all my kayaking days.

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The tide has now turned, is ebbing and we have challenging ‘wind over tide’ conditions all the way back to Benllech.

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But we arrive back in a buoyant mood, my first ‘gap’ done and with me doing a surf landing to be proud of!

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We are in a triumphant mood and our surfing arrival is followed by a roast dinner for the two of us back in Menai Bridge at The Liverpool Arms. A top day.

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The next day, a Monday morning, we arrive at Porth Tywyn-mawr to do my second gap, and even Geth says the coast looks pretty uninviting.

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But we set off for the last leg… from Porth Tywyn-mawr (Sandy Bay) to Porth Trwyn, and back.

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We have NW winds today. Geth says that Anglesey is determined not to let me finish easily. Plenty of swell, surf and beam waves. Which Geth, in his positive way, tells me is good practice!

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A fair amount of chop and what Geth calls ‘spicy water’. I am moving into my comfort zone in these conditions, enjoying myself. And it’s just here that my second gap is filled, the Anglesey circumnavigation is done.

And having joined up the dotted line on the map (as it were) we turn round and make for a sheltered shingle bay we’ve spotted on our way out. To take the time to mark this moment properly and celebrate.

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It’s a very special moment for me. We talk for a long time, like so often on these days, and don’t feel the cold at all. Time is slippy out here – on the water, in these cracks of the world we can only reach by kayak. We’ve shared lots of these sort of intimate moments. They are magical and special. But we don’t usually have Prosecco!

But the tide turns like always and we reluctantly leave for our final bit of ‘map’ paddling together…back to where we began the day.

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Arriving back in Sandy Bay, I prepare for my final surf landing with a flourish… buoyed up by yesterday’s performance. But this was not to be as Anglesey’s sea has other plans for me. I am unceremoniously – or perhaps ceremoniously – dumped by the surf as I arrive on the beach.

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Geth – poised to photograph my final return to victory – runs along the shore to help me, only to find I have risen from the surf, laughing.

It is done.

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We pack up and return to the beach, holding this special moment. We walk, look at rock pools and talk about shore life. It’s special. What we’ve done is very special. The sun sets and then it’s time to go home.

So!

Huge thanks to Geth Roberts especially for all the fun we’ve had doing this, planning this, talking about this, and our great times on and off the water.

I’m sure we’ll be talking about this for a long time to come during our next paddle adventure. Cheers Geth.

Also cheers and thank you to Geth’s own paddling community who’ve been sending their own congratulations from Geth’s parts of the social media sea kayaking world.

Moments upon moments of sheer joy this was. Some of the most precious of my life. Thank you Anglesey.

And as Sarah said there will be another blog post yet summing up her whole circumnavigation. Soon.

And more ‘Letters From Sarah’ are here.
Geth Roberts is at Sea Kayaking Wales and is very, very good.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

  1. What an amazing journey, in every way. Glad to have been a tiny part of your wonderful achievement, Sarah. Here’s to the next challenge!

  2. Sarah, I had no idea that was your cunning plan. Hope to see you again in 2020 for another bit of marine biology and coast exploring!

    1. Hi Christiane – how did we manage to paddle together and you didn’t even know about ‘The Map’! Hope you find yourself ‘up north’ for some paddling in 2020, it would be great to see you.

  3. Fantastic achievement Sarah. It looks so easy in a photo!
    You may even feel a little flat after the euphoria but the end of something is the beginning of something else. I can’t wait to hear about the next adventure – I’m sure there will be one, after a rest.

    1. Thanks Lindsay! It’s been a great adventure.
      And next… well, it’s the Llyn peninsula circumnavigation (finishing with the mountain railway, but not sure I’ll be able to take the kayak on that)!
      And…. and my first Welsh language course in the new year at Nant Gwrtheyrn (on the Llyn).

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