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.
December 2016. The Shining Shore, Dee sailing club slipway visible in the distance.
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.
Over the years we’ve observed the cliffs erode, the marsh becoming larger. And the tidal flow in and out of the cut through the marsh. During our years of walking I didn’t imagine that I would enter the marsh through this cut. But this weekend I did. Continue reading →
Over this past year I’ve learned a great deal about sea kayaking. Without of course putting myself to the trouble of going out on the open water, or any water. No, my strenuous tasks have been to listen to Sarah talking about her developing enthusiasm (she even does the tide plans for these trips now) and to write these introductions to her beautiful collection of blog posts about her sea kayaking adventure. This time she’s got her very own boat. That was always going to happen wasn’t it?
It’s the first weekend of 2017, and I’m off to North Wales for my first sea trip of the year. It’s been a very windy first week to the year, too windy to be out in the sea on a kayak, but the weather forecast for the weekend is good, calmer, with windy weather arriving the following week. So we are in a lull between fronts. Lucky.
And this is a very significant trip for me, as it’s the first sea trip I’ll be making, in my own kayak.
Here is ‘my’ kayak which arrived at our home last October, and has now safely got it’s own storage place near to the docks – I am very grateful to Dan who has helped me with that.
Owning a 15 foot long boat poses some complications – like where to keep it (although it did neatly fit in our hall from front door to kitchen for a while), and how to carry it. Continue reading →
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.
If you know me you’ll probably know that Sarah and I are on holiday in Cornwall this week. If you’re expecting a postcard well don’t. I won’t be sending any as I’ve got too much reading and walking to do to be bothered with all that. But here’s one anyway, via the blog.
We arrived on Sunday evening.
I’d forgotten how beautiful St Ives is.
A place that is sacred to the two of us.
When Sarah got her life-threatening cancer diagnosis, nearly ten years ago now, we adopted St Ives as our safe place to come before and in between major treatments and results. So that rather than sit and worry at home in Liverpool, we’d come here and walk the beaches and the hills together. Embracing what we had of life, however long or short that might turn out to be.
It has so far turned out to be long. So here we are back in St Ives for the first time in eight years. Continue reading →
Yes 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:
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.
I’m in a blue boat this time, and I’ve taken all the photos on day one – so there are no photos of me, but plenty of the bow of my blue boat. Continue reading →