Stacks and Skerries

 

In her second sea kayaking post of June 2018 Sarah sea kayaks through the place that first inspired her to want do this, South Stack off Anglesey:

‘In June 2013 I looked down from these cliffs to see a group of kayaks in the sea and said, ‘I want to do that.

Many adventures have followed, and the frustrations of learning something new too…. but I knew that one day I would like to be in a kayak, paddling under the bridge past South Stack lighthouse. And – five years later – I am.’

Here then is the story of Sarah, paddling through and beyond her dreams and then out to the far islands where that beautiful red and white lighthouse is waiting.       

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I am back on a kayaking trip, this time on what I now think of as ‘my’ home paddling area – Anglesey. I have two days with coach Steve Miles. Conditions are very fair – no swell, and very light winds – so we have plenty of choice about where to go. We decide on ‘The Stacks’ for our first day.

Just out of Porth Dafarch and we meet Richard Janes on the water – one of the team from Sea Kayaking Wales. I will be out with them in July on their weekend ‘Exploring Marine Diversity by kayak’ .  As usual we pause whilst kayaking banter is observed, and then we are on our way  up the north coast – where I have not kayaked before, to South Stack and North Stack, or ‘The Stacks’. This north coast of Anglesey is particularly interesting from a geological point of view – and all I can do is be amazed, without the knowledge to describe what we can see here! Continue reading “Stacks and Skerries”

The Long Light & The Deep Quiet

A serious treat here for blog readers already following my partner Sarah’s sea kayaking adventures. Her story of three weeks in May and June, out in the Western Isles looking for what she found:

‘Here I have calm and deep peace. Time for me. Time to consider life. I have craved, needed, wanted this  – so much. To give myself some perspective, to reflect that life is short. Too short to not do what gives you joy. Too short to get side-tracked by the diversions that don’t matter.

I have a craving for quiet. I find it here.’

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Here then is Sarah’s beautiful story of ‘The Long Light and the Deep Quiet’

I have just returned from the land of the long light – having travelled the length of the Outer Hebrides (also known as the Western Isles) and up to the Summer Isles. From the islands sprinkled far out into the Atlantic Ocean to an archipelago in the North West Highlands. 

My trip begins in Oban, where I am camping for the first time alone, and with my new tent. I send a photo to Ronnie who says it looks like a ‘tent brochure’! Little do I know that I am about to camp in a number of locations that could be the setting for tent brochures in some of the most stunning scenery, with few or no nearby tents.

It’s that sort of adventure.  Continue reading “The Long Light & The Deep Quiet”

In Liverpool: One Sunday Morning

Sunday morning always seems like such a special time to me. An in-between sort of time with nothing in particular to do, so you can do anything. No one’s likely to ring or email and there’s definitely nothing in my diary, so I begin the day by enthusiastically doing nothing at all. I’m good at that.

Before long ‘nothing at all’ turns into turning on the radio, which delights me by playing a couple of 13th century favourites, both of them about warmer days to come. Making me realise I’ve once again not turned the central heating on, for the severalth day running. Summer’s not yet ‘icumen in’ as the second of the songs claims, but spring is.

Book packed and camera charged up I go out.

Into Greenbank Park and along Greenbank Lane spring is poking its many coloured heads towards the sun. Though its obvious from the soil on their stems and leaves and more than a few battered petals that our new visitors have had a harsh time with the unexpected snowfalls this past week. Anyway, you are all welcome here. It always makes my heart glad to see you bringing in another spring. Continue reading “In Liverpool: One Sunday Morning”

Exploring the littoral: On Sarah’s Birthday

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“Although I am always happy to recognise that I have lived another year of my life (and there were times in the last decade when that was not always to be taken for granted), birthdays have now become a reminder of the ‘missing years’ as I now think of those years of treatment. And, I still find, I am surprised at my age, as most of those ten years seem to have simply vanished – some to treatment, some to depression. I am not ungrateful that I am still well, or for the treatment and care I received during that time, but the shadows of those days remain. The recovery was long and the impact on our lives lasted for years, for both me and Ronnie in so many ways.”

Sarah, on her birthday, 2017

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I like it here, in the littoral zone. Always have. On childhood holidays the beach always had a special lure, a pull, whatever the weather. Whether it was paddling barefoot, swimming or exploring rock pools. I have always been happy in the littoral.

No surprise then to find that decades later I am still exploring rock pools and the shore, endlessly fascinated by what I can find here. One of the delights of my sea kayaking adventure is how close it brings me to nature, to the watery delights of the littoral. For my birthday weekend I am spending two days on a ‘Sea Kayak Sea Life’ course with Dr Lou Luddington (marine biologist) and Jonny Eldridge (sea kayaker and coach).

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I am welcomed to my temporary home in Anglesey by my AirBnB host Caroline, staying in Menai Bridge this time.

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Our group of nine meet on Saturday morning and spend some time discussing the littoral and strand line, and being in the marine environment. Lou also introduces us to her ‘top ten’ marine things, which is fascinating. She encourages us to think about our own ‘top ten’ after we’ve spent some more time exploring.

We then go down to the beach, at Porth Dafarch. Continue reading “Exploring the littoral: On Sarah’s Birthday”

Seals and swell

Sarah returns to Anglesey for some serious sea kayaking,  including dealing with some very big swells and only mildly interested seals!

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I’m back in Anglesey – at last – for a few days, for my next immersion in sea kayaking. First up, two days on an improvers course, with Steve Miles, running this for my regular coach James Stevenson. We begin our first day up at Bull Bay.

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With our boats ready to go – Steve, me, Neil and Rhys.

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I’ve done this trip a few times now, so it’s along this fairly familiar north coast… stopping along the way to go into this cave. (I came here on my very first day in a sea kayak last May). Continue reading “Seals and swell”

Challenging is the new normal, at last

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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.

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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.

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It is a delightful place, right on the beach.

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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.

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The next morning I meet my coach, James Stevenson. He has plans for us. Continue reading “Challenging is the new normal, at last”

Kayaking off Mull: Silver seas and golden skies

Sarah and her kayak head for the Hebrides this time. To the island that sits in my own memory as ‘the most beautiful place on earth.’ Other than Liverpool, obviously. Let’s see how she gets on?

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So my last ‘four days on the water’ were not to be and tinged with sadness, and now I am off to Mull for another ‘four days on the water’. I hope it will be a better tale this time. I have driven up to Oban, and am catching the ferry across to Craignure, where I will be staying during my time on the Isle of Mull.

I haven’t been this far north since 2009, when Ronnie and I first came to Mull, twice in the same year, we loved it. As I drive north I have the sense of really getting away. Things slip into irrelevance. It is a good feeling.

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Passing the lighthouse at the end of Lismore.

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And I arrive at Pennygate Lodge, my home here on Mull.

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The view from my window. Continue reading “Kayaking off Mull: Silver seas and golden skies”

Sarah goes sea kayaking: Four days that weren’t

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.

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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.

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My room has its own outside area, a ‘kitchenette’, and bathroom. Cosy and compact.

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It also has a graveyard through the blue gate, and a shared garden. It’s perfectly lovely. Continue reading “Sarah goes sea kayaking: Four days that weren’t”

Inner workings

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Another post in Sarah’s sea kayaking adventure. In which she explores her ‘worry mind’ but gets out on the sea in Liverpool Bay and around Anglesey anyway. She says, “It’s a lesson in life, as an evolving human. And I am immensely grateful for that.”

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It’s been two months since my last report of my kayaking activities – with James in Anglesey in the Menai Straits and up to North Stack. However, this doesn’t mean I’ve not been getting out on the water. In April I had a trip up to Anglesey, with a group from the Liverpool Canoe Club, and we did the classic north coast trip to the brickworks at Porth Wen.

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April 2017, Liverpool Canoe Club at Port Wen.

This was one of the first sea trips I did, that was last May on my beginners course – my post here.

Now, my lovely yellow boat and I are getting to really know each other.

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North coast of Anglesey and my boat.

But I have also been having regular weekly sessions with my new coach, Mark Mason. Mark runs Venture-7 with his partner Helen Mason – they are both passionate sea kayakers and coaches. This has been a great find for me, as they are local and I am able to have regular sessions, closer to home.

As a novice/improver kayaker, the things that I most need are time on the water, and guidance, so that I can build up my confidence. Continue reading “Inner workings”

Sarah goes sea kayaking: North Stack, Anglesey

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These days I am a kayaking widower. Long evenings by myself here, muttering to no one about empty homes, while Sarah and her yellow boat are off on their adventures. Here’s one that includes kayaking bravely around some coastal cliffs I get dizzy just standing on!

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It’s been a busy time for me and my kayak. No sooner have I washed my muddy boat from the trip to the Marshlands, I am out again mid-week in New Brighton Marina with Mark Mason, a local coach who runs Venture 7. I am then off to Anglesey for my regular two days with James Stevenson of Adventure Elements.

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I’ve booked these days for a Monday and Tuesday in early March, it feels special to treat myself to coaching on two weekdays. Me and James meet at Waitrose in Menai Bridge (Editor’s note: A leading sea kayakers rendezvous location) and discuss plans for our two days – first day will be mostly technique, and then a trip on the second day.

We begin day one launching at the slipway in the Menai Straits. Continue reading “Sarah goes sea kayaking: North Stack, Anglesey”