Exploring the littoral: On Sarah’s Birthday


“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


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).


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


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!



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.


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


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


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. Continue reading “Challenging is the new normal, at last”

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.


Anglesey May_24

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.

Anglesey May_01

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

Anglesey May_02

Anglesey May_03

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


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.”


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.

17.05 brickworks
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


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!


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.


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”

Sea kayaking – six months in


In which Sarah Horton reflects on her much beloved adventure on the waters of Western Britain. And reports in on this week’s experiences back round Anglesey once again.


I am now used to paddling ‘home and away’ as much of my kayaking experience this year has been on the sea, in Anglesey and Cornwall, but also closer to home here in Liverpool, in the docks.


And although this can’t match the adventure and challenge of the sea, I find great pleasure in observing the familiar from a completely different angle.


This year I decided to ‘learn to sea kayak’ after seeing these kayaks in summer 2013 from the cliffs near South Stack on Anglesey.


How long did I imagine it would be before I did anything quite so exciting? I had no idea, so when I first got into a kayak this year, on the 11th of May 2016, little did I know I was beginning such an amazing adventure.

As in all adventures, highs, lows and frustrations have followed. Continue reading “Sea kayaking – six months in”

The “Missing Years” and the importance of sea kayaking


Those of you who remember and treasure the post on here where Sarah, the expert shopper, began gathering her kayaking kit, will rejoice in the opening statements in what follows about ‘my kayaking needs.’ Yes, she’s still shopping. But there still isn’t a pointy boat hanging up in our hallway. Not yet anyway.

But do read on. She’s having a great time out on the ocean waves. After her “missing years” she’s having the time of her life, at last x



My latest visit to Anglesey at the end of September is for two days sea kayaking with James Stevenson of Outdoor Adventures. I spent two days with James in August when we met the friendliest seals (amongst other adventures), the post about that is here.

I enjoyed the one to one coaching with James, in fact, so much that I’m back already for some more! I arrive in Anglesey on the Sunday afternoon and go up to a shop called Summit to Sea in Valley, up near Holyhead. It’s a treasure trove for those with ‘kayaking needs’ and my birthday present this year is a pair of dry trousers. We’ll hear more about them later.

Having dealt with my kayaking needs, I then head down to Penmon Point on the far south east corner of Anglesey. The Penmon lighthouse is the distinctive black and white tower, and the red marker is Perch Rock, and Puffin Island is off this coast. James and I paddled here last time, and paddled round Puffin Island which is where we found the friendly seals.


It’s a beautiful place. And it’s interesting to me to observe the water and the eddies, having been paddling in it.


Today the light is strong and the sky fills up with rain clouds. I’ve chosen to come here to observe the ritual of eating the first slice of my birthday cake, given to me by my friend Jayne Lawless. Thank you Jayne. I get a cup of tea from the café and sit on the beach in peace. Continue reading “The “Missing Years” and the importance of sea kayaking”

Sarah goes sea kayaking with seals

kayak_sealYes she does! A five day stay on Anglesey this time, including a course, a day off in the sunshine and two days of individual coaching, culminating in the baby seals around Puffin Island having a play around the kayaks. So read on.


I’m taking two weeks off work as a funeral celebrant – to recharge myself, and to sea kayak and visit Poland. First the sea kayaking. My adventure continues, this time with Adventure Elements, run by James Stevenson and based on Anglesey.

I’ve booked myself four days kayaking. Two days on an improvers course and two days coaching with James.

After a good sunny week in Liverpool I arrive in Anglesey to be greeted by persistent rain and wind. This is not good for sea kayaking! So on day one the conditions are so rough we can’t go out on the sea, and neither can the more advanced 4 star group who are also training this weekend. So we go to Llyn Padarn near Llanberis and I begin my kayaking here. I am in a group of three, and our coach is the lovely Stuart Leslie, who coached me on my beginners back in May this year – post here. My five days on Anglesey provide a very varied experience:

Continue reading “Sarah goes sea kayaking with seals”

The Swellies: Sea Kayaking with Sarah

In which our redoubtable Sarah Horton continues her marine adventures in pointy boats.


It is with much enthusiasm that I take my second training course in sea kayaking in Anglesey. Having done my introduction course with Stuart Leslie at Sea Kayaking Anglesey in May, as posted here, I am now in Anglesey again to do my ‘IntrOmediate’ sea kayaking course with Roger Chandler of Coastal Spirit.

16.07 kayaking post_05

By coincidence I am in a similar kayak, and the same colour as last time – a Romany Surf designed by Nigel Dennis, made here in Anglesey. I am comfortable in this boat.

(Editor’s note: Those of us who remember the day Sarah went shopping for her basic kayaking kit can clearly see the inference here that a green Romany Surf boat is now very much in her shopping cart.)

We are going to be spending our weekend on the Menai Straits. The weather forecast is for windy and unsettled conditions, so Roger tells us we’ll be able to find shelter in this stretch of water. Continue reading “The Swellies: Sea Kayaking with Sarah”