Friday, 30 March 2018

Day 6 and 7

Day 6 29/03/2018 Aberdaron – Llanbedrog
I woke up with the wind howling through the tent, I already had my alarm for two hours before high tide as the waves were crashing and I wanted to check on my boat. I left my kayak on the beach, it was safe; but for my own peace of mind I scramble with it up some steps and got it onto the promenade. Then I crawled back into my sleeping bag for a few more hours sleep.
Weather was due to settle in the afternoon but no too motivated to get on the water I go for a wander in the village and enjoy a cooked breakfast in the café. The café had a plaque on the wall to say it has been a working kitchen for centuries. The pilgrims would stop there before going to Bardsey Island. Quite impressive.
After filling my belly with my favorite food.. cooked breakfast, I head back to the tent. The tide had dropped a bit and the wind had died down a tad. So I decide to pack up my stuff and get going. Not much use just hanging around for the day. Much better on the water.
The first bay i crossed is called devils mouth. And it is huge. If marina bits are still floating around I’m sure the jaws of the devils mouth are waiting to snap them up. So I stayed out and headed across to the headland. After an hour or two of crossing in wind and waves I finally turn the corner to head north east to Llanbedrog. It was going from 4* conditions to 2* conditions amazing.
Forward paddling to me is much to do with the feel. The feel of the catch of the blade entering the water and pressure going on the blade. I was having some trouble with my right catch something just wasn’t right. So I spent some time playing around with my paddle length. Happy to be using my Celtic 600s and I love having the variation of length. I found just by changing the length two centimeters my paddling improved. I was finally feeling I had better posture and rotation and finally the cruising speed was back up to scratch. Better than feeling like a sack of spuds for the first few hours of the day.
After hells mouth the coastline was beautiful. Full of stacks, covers and caves and I’m sure the cliffs are filled with bird life as we get closer to the summer. I passed Tudor island which is a trip to go back and do.
Just as I was landing in Llanbedrog the rain started to come down. Oh no.. setting up camp in the rain. I quickly came up with a technique to keep the inner tent dry and get everything inside quickly. Once I was out of my wet gear and in the tent, that was it.. lights out.

Day 7 30/03/2018 Llanbedrog – Barmouth
I woke up so the sun trying to beam through the clouds, much better than the evening before. Ready for action. So I packed up my kit and got on the water at high tide. I follow the coast for while, still wakeing up and getting into the paddling grove. My hands are starting to get sore with a few blisters here and there. So I decide to get my gloves out. I don’t usually like glove but the ones I got from Kokatat are actually not that bad. So I saved my blisters and keep them on.
Just outside Pwllheli I’m joined by a few sailing boats as the get ready to set sail, nice to see some others enjoying the good weather.
Now to make the decision of when to cross over. Do I follow the coast or shall I set a bearing and go for it. Winds were calm and waters almost like glass, I could see land, and winds aren’t due to pick up until late in the evening, and when they do from the north pushing me in the right direction. So I double checked my map and compass and set off towards Barmouth.
Crossings are not my favorite just because it’s boring, nothing much happened out there. Just paddling, and more paddling, then some birds circled around me for a while, probably trying to decide if I was food or not, and that was it.
Getting closer to Barmouth I felt myself getting tired and was happy to get onto land. Starting at high water was great but finishing at low water wasn’t so fun. Luckily I got one of these cool trolleys from Nigel. So I worked out if I take the kit out of the stern, my end, then it’s lighter to push. I set up camp and head to the pub.
Just sat in the pub writing blogs and checking Facebook and a little girl comes to sit next to me. I think it was my pink and blue iPad that caught her attention. But I offered her some paper and a pen. She sat there ages and drew me a picture. How sweet.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Days 4 and 5

Day 4 27/03/2018

It was forecast to be a bit windy in the night and a confirmation from waking up with the tent blowing onto my face; it was indeed windy. My tent had a small accident one year at the paddle festival where it went tumbling into the sea.. leaving behind many tiny hole which I have patched up. With rain through the night I made sure everything was packed up except me and my sleeping bag; to my surprise I did not wake up to any puddles. I had a late start as the forecast was windy but due to drop off by the afternoon.
I went for a little stroll to the local shop to get some breakfast. I’m not having too much luck with my morning porridge; it worked well for Ireland but I think that was it. So I find some flapjack bars which I scoff down with a strawberry milkshake and made my way back to the beach. I did pass the pub I had been in the day before and of course went in. “A cup of tea please?” The bar man asked if I’d like some toast too.. mmm yeah go on then thanks. He comes out with five slices of toast, on the House. Wow I had just eaten breakfast but I think I can demolish this toast too. Growing girl ha ha.
I get back to my tent and start packing up. Once everything is ready to go into the kayak and I’m dressed in my kit I decide to check the weather again. Unlike my earlier forecast the wind wasn’t going to drop. So we got 20mph winds and a soon to be flooding tide. Do I.. don’t I? Well I’m dressed and ready.. I could at least try and worst case I would get pushed or blow back by the wind and tide to where I started. So I get on the water.
To my surprise it wasn’t that bad. I stayed close to the cliffs which were stunning. Signs of spring with birds chirping away. Some lovely long beaches and I passed Nant Gwrthaein where we went with the school as kids. I can’t believe we didn’t even step food on the beach when we went, the school took us to slate mines and train stations.. really.
Anyway I wanted to make it to Ty Coch the famous pub on Porth Dinllaen so I paddled on, starting to feel the pinch against the elements. I made it to the lifeboat station on the small peninsula of Porth Dillaen. Beautiful beach all to myself and a short walk to the pub. Not a long paddle but I’m sure the pub will be worth it. So I packed my little bag and walked along the rocky path back to the pub to find it only opens 1100-1700 and it was 1740. How disappointing. Never mind. The bay is absolutely beautiful. And its top of my list to go back.

Day 5 28/05/2018 Porth Dinllaen – Aberdaron
High tide was a 0730 so the earlier I got on the water the better. The alarm goes at 0540 but the snooze button went off a few times until eventually I got up and was on the water by 0720. Lucky for me the rain started to hammer down just as I am coming out of the bay, it was almost hail stones. That’s great all my things are nice and dry in my boat. And I got my super duper kokatat jacket on to keep me dry, except I took the hood off and put it in my boat.. somewhere?...
Onshore winds and an ebbing tide. Not bad. Waves were sharp and steep in some places from the waves coming back off the rocks but it was nice to have a little bit of action. After disappointment of the pub my next stop was the café at the squeaky sand beach. And yes it was open. Wanting to get back into the tide I had a quick cup of tea and of course cake, leaked sand and salt water all over the floor and I was back on the water. Towards Bardsey sound her I come.
Coming into the third and fourth hour of the tide hitting each headland was hitting a new tide race, exciting to be thrown up in the air and getting sprayed with water. I think Tom the dragon needs a rain hat too. I did manage to get a wave crash down my front. That was a little cold but woke me up. Coming around the headland into Bardsey sound I was going around 6knots.. flying along, but not wanting to go out to the island I quickly get into the eddy and follow the coast along to Aberdaron. Beautiful sunny afternoon to do some sunbathing and drying on the beach. I stopped for a sandwich and the first thing the guy said about kayaking was there was a guy solo circumnavigating the UK who had also stopped there a few years ago. I wonder who that was.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Now being a student you have the luxuries of lots of time off and long holiday.. So I thought to myself as a warm up for this summers expedition in Norway I would spend my Easter holiday exploring the coast of Wales. See how far south I get and hopefully get picked up before I have to go back to Uni.

Day 1 24/03/2018 Holyhead to Rhoscolyn
After the devastation of recent storms at the marina it was hard to leave everyone behind, there is still not much progress, frustration and stress don’t even cover a little bit of how people are feeling.
It was a lovely day, sun shining and a light breeze from the north.. perfect help to the start of a trip. Was also join by Lee for the first day which was nice to have company. It’s been a while since I have done a solo. The stacks were calm and beautiful, with the seals there to guide me around as normal.
 We followed the wind down to Rhoscolyn and set up camp for the night on a little beach just east from the main bay. Nicely a short walk to the white eagle for a night cap. A stranger at the bar commented on my hair.. thanks Eila for styling it.. you got a compliment on day one he he.
With clear skies the temperatures got down to minus 4. Not what I was expecting at the end of March. Little bit chilly but hopefully there won’t be too many nights that cold.

Day 2 25/03/2018 Rhoscolyn – Llanddwyn Island
After a cold night it was nice to stay in the sleeping bag a while whilst the sun came up. Loosing an hour in the day too. It was around 1300 before I got on the water. Still lovely sunny weather and a light breeze. Lee went his way to the car and I went south east towards Llanddwyn Island . Today was the first day in many without having a coffee. On trips I like to cut back as I prefer the warmth of my sleeping bag to making a good coffee. So after a few hours of paddling the headache began.. ouch.. tired also from the cold night wasn’t the best combination.
I paddled past the church in the sea, very beautiful scenery and again a helping hand from a few seals who were playing with the toggle at my stern. Sad to see the small pellets of polystyrene, which I tried to pick out of the water but not too easy to get them all.
Not feeling the best but I could see the lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island. It would be great if I could get there. So I plodded on and eventually made it. Just approaching the beach I was a little bit sick. So noted for next time.. give up coffee a few days before. I quickly got my tent up and had a few hour sleep before exploring the island and dinner.

Day 3 26/03/2018 Llanddwyn Island - Trevor
Crossing over to the main land. Lucky for me high water was at 0530 and I was aware of a strong breeze coming in the afternoon. So I managed to get my but out of the sleeping back at 0430 to catch the tide. The wind still light and the stars shining in the sky it was complete silence getting on the water at 0600. Not long before the sun came up. As I left the island there was a breeze from the south.. I can handle this it’s fine. So I made the decision to head straight to Trevor. Long and boring crossings I tend to set a 60minute alarm to stop have some water and a bite to eat. Getting closer to land the wind picked up. Tying to work out which bit of land was closer. I’m sure I did a big curve away from land, that’s what it felt like. But with a slight change in course along the way and battle against the head wind I was happy to make it to Trevor. Greeted by the dog walkers when I landed at 1030. Still not even lunch time I went for dinner instead. One of my favorite summit to eat meals.
Wind forecast to pick up I decided to make camp and head for a wander. I found a very welcoming pub Y Tŵr where I had company from the bar man, I was well fed and watered and a good opportunity to charge my batteries, body and electrical.