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.
In which brave Sarah goes out into the more than choppy waters of the Dee Estuary and the boundaries of her comfort zone are well and truly pushed.
One of my favourite places in the whole world is ‘The Shining Shore’ – the shining waters and mudflats of the Dee Estuary. Me and Ronnie have walked all along this shore, from Parkgate to West Kirby, and have a default walk which starts at Thurstaston, goes inland through lanes and woodland, and emerges on the beach and the cliffs at Thurstaston for the last stretch. We’ve done it so many times in the last six years I feel I could probably do it blindfold. We also walk further up the shore, further inland where the marsh is gradually encroaching, and we call that part ‘The Marshlands’. And yet each time we walk here there is always something to see – wildflowers, the change in the light, the birds in the estuary…. Here’s a selection of photographs of this part of the world from the last five years.
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.
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.
Even today at Granby Street Market people were asking me ‘How’s Sarah getting on with the sea kayaking?’ Well this is how. She’s been to Cornwall. And in a couple of weeks she’ll be back in Anglesey. In her element, literally.
This year my personal mission has been to learn to sea kayak. This sea kayaking mission began three years ago in Anglesey where we were walking, and I saw these boats from the cliff.
And I said, ‘I want to do that.’ So this year has been my year of doing just that. It began in the River Dee on Wednesday evenings, moved closer to home in the docks here at Liverpool with Liverpool Canoe Club on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings, and then the ‘real’ adventures began. My beginners course in Anglesey where I am on open sea for the first time – post here, then my intrOmediate course, again in Anglesey with a different coach where I go into the swellies – post here. And I’ve just done another intrOmediate course this time in Cornwall.
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.
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.)
While I spent this last sunny weekend doing the kind of walking you’d probably expect of me, around North Liverpool, Sarah was up to something entirely different. Fulfilling a big dream out on the sea waters around Anglesey for the first time. Fortunately for the rest of us her camera is waterproof.
“I arrive at 9am on Saturday morning with the list of kit we’ve been asked to bring, feeling as nervous as anyone on the first day of anything, let alone something as new and different as sea kayaking – Sea Kayaking Anglesey provide the essentials of wetsuit, cagoule, buoyancy aid and spray deck. (OK, I am not a complete novice as I have had a few hours experience as I’ve been kayaking with a local club, which has included me getting some of my own kit).
Our coach Stuart Leslie puts us all at ease and I meet my fellow kayakers – who are all complete novices, Martin, Steve, Dan and Vicky. After some initial discussions we’re off on our first voyage. We are in good spirits as we prepare to set off, wetsuits and general kayaking gear is donned, as well as lunches and cags stowed, and plenty of water and suncream. Stuart, our coach, asks if it’s OK to take photos…so many of these are by him… and so our day begins.
We are at Trearddur Bay, and it’s surprising really, we don’t look like complete beginners as we take to the water.
“Do you fancy coming to Widnes tomorrow, I need some kayaking kit?”
I have no real idea what this might mean or why Widnes is the obvious place to go for it. But then I’m not an expert shopper. If a shop contains no books, records or food then I’m out of my depth. Sarah, in contrast, can shop for anything and treats it as an art form.