Saturday, 25 September 2010

Nash Sand Bar

Inspired by the trip done by Richard, Adrian, Eurion and Jim back in February I have wanted to get out to the Nash sand bar for ages. I have paddled up through the passage plenty of time but never landed on the sands. With one sole aim I launched from Llantwit beach near low tide.
Within no time I was rounding Nash Point lighthouse. The wind and tide picked up around this headland as it usually does.

Looking out to the bar I could see some impressive waves lapping up where it should be but couldn't see any sight of the sand. I landed my boat at Nash Point (something I've also never done) and took a short walk up the cliffs for a better view.

It was just a small slither of sand, a bit less than I had hopped for but at least this side seemed sheltered from the surf.

Within moments of leaving the beach I landed on the very steep sloping bar. What a weird feeling. It wasn't very big a present, at low tide spring I thought it would have been bigger??

The surf was pretty impressive on the exposed side and within minutes of landing I was running for my boat. The same way an unexpected wave fills your wellies when your a child trying to dodge the waves, a big one came in swept past my feet, up over the bar and down the other side slowly taking my boat and paddle with it.

Luckily I grabbed the toggle and the water drained off the sand again. I jumped in and mad a dash for it before the next one came in. I paddled through the choppy waters of the race with some huge waves, gutted I didn't put my tripod and camera on my day hatch.

Carrying on toward Southerndown I didn't seem to be going anywhere. I stopped off at this bay for some lunch and for the first time this summer I was cold, Autumn's on it way.

Achieving my sole goal for today I turned back for Llantwit with the flooding tide.

Rounding Nash Point just past St Donnats Castle there was some huge swell coming in. Only about 2 sets every 5 mins or so but they seemed to travel straight up the channel rather than toward the beach.
Reaching Llantwit beach there were a lot of surfers enjoying the effects of this swell.

Unable to land where I launched from earlier I paddled out around the point and landed on the north beach.

I had a fair trek back to the car park. Only a short paddle but achieving another goal.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Steep Holm with Company 18/09/10

After paddling to Flat Holm in his wedding dress Taran fancied a trip out to Steep Holm. I met him on a perfect sunny morning at Penarth a couple of hours before low water.
Before we knew it we were past Flat Holm and crossing the shipping lane toward Steep Holm. There was a slight breeze and a following sea to push us along.

Landing on the beach on the north end of the island we headed up to the steps.

We climbed the long path zigzagging up the cliff to the top of the island for some superb views over the channel.

We followed the track along the west side of the island to a set of steeps leading down the steep cliff to the old WW2 look out post. We couldn't make it all the way down it was too overgrown.

Admiring the view we noticed what we can only think to be a seal with an eel. This is on full zoom from the cliff plus zoomed in off the computer so the quality isn't great.

Carrying on anti-clockwise around the island we come across this old anti aircraft gun complete with rounds!

Further along there is more evidence of Steep Holms military past. Having spent over an hour on the island we got a little worried how far the tide had come in down at the beach.

Rudder Rock on the south of Steep Holm
Back in our boats thankfully we headed around the island.

Looking up to the watch post where we were earlier

Taran was having a little trouble with the crosswind having to constantly edge and paddle on one side. His rudder was stuck down with a cable tie.

Nice to have a picture with me in it, courtesy of Taran.

Just out into the flow from Flat Holm we were on a head on collision with the Challenge Wales boat (this isn't the first time it's crossed my path out here). We held back and let it slowly sail past with a friendly wave.

Boat envy

We pass another tall ship just raising sail as it leaves Cardiff dock.

We finally land back at Penarth beach after what seemed like an eternity. A perfect day with good company.

Isle of Skye - Part 4

DAY 7 - Thursday 9th September 2010

It is our last day on Skye before we commence our long trip back home. It sounded like it poured down last night and the mountains are capped with black clouds.

I wanted to get out from Portree harbour seeing as we have stayed here most of the week. The water was glassy and smooth inside the harbour walls.

The forecast for today was force 3 to 5 south westerly backing 5 to 7 southerly.

The aim was to head out to the end of the headland enclosing the harbour and paddle over to Rassay Island.

I was just about to make the crossing when I saw these three caves side by side at the end of the headland. Paddling toward the cliff I hear a very distinctive bird call and spot something big perched on the cliff top.

It was a sea eagle otherwise known as a white tailed eagle. This was taken at full zoom and when he flew off over the top out of sight I missed the picture. The sea eagle is Britain's largest bird of prey. It was made extinct from the UK in the early 19th century due to illegal hunting. It has since been re-introduced and there are currently 42 breeding pairs. I was hoping I would see one here as there are lots of 'sea eagle boat trips' at the harbour.

After staring into the empty sky and scouring the cliffs for the next 10mins I went in to explore the caves.

Looking down the sound to the cloud capped Cullin mountains
Leaving the mainland I headed out into the Sound of Rassay for the 3.5km crossing to a bay which I made out on my huge 1:155 000 nautical chart.

After a quick half hour I land on a nice pebbled beach on the Island of Rassay. Rassay is approximately only 4.8km at it's widest point but 23km long topped off at the end like a letter 'i' by the island of Rona.

After a photo opportunity with a dead sheep I studied my chat to decide whether to go north or south. It's a three day trip to circumnavigate the both islands so I will just be exploring a snippet of it today.

If I went north the sound widens to about 7kms and with a possible wind force 7 on the books I decide to take the safer option. If it does get choppy the sound at the south narrows to a much shorter 1km crossing back.

A small shower breaks overhead which gives me the chance to try out my hood on my cag for the first time.

There is a spit of land ahead which I later find out is in fact a small island but because of the spring tides it is joined to the mainland.

Inside this island the water is very still and a few seals pop up. On taking this photo of a seal above I notice a hereon in the background on the beach. I have been trying all week to get a shot of one but they always seem to see me before I see them and fly off.

A bit further down the coast is another landing point and some small cottages.

I make a very awkward landing through a load of sea weed which deceptively looks shallow!

Looking out across the sound there are two small rocky islands just ahead.

I found a very neat circle of pebbles completed with table and chairs including backrests.

I sit in my boat trying to work out where to cross back over. There is a little bay almost opposite where I was now which looked like a good place to head for. Peering over the map I notice the tide I gone out a fair bit.

Crossing back over the sound

View to the south of the sound
View to the north

About half way across the wind whips up again slowing my progress to about 2kts. It takes my a very shattering 1 hour to cross back over.

I crash out on this muddy beach only to be spat at by a razor fish/clam right in the face. There were jets of water shooting up from the beach in all directions. I take a seat up on a rock to have my lunch and work out my next leg of the trip.

A jelly fish (was)

I return to my boat covered in sand from the trigger happy razor fish and head further south.

I reach an area of low cliffs where the sea and air is completely still. You can make out the glistening white sand on the sea bed and fish jump out of the water up ahead. A few seal heads pop up for a look and splash back down again. There is nothing for miles apart from a few fishing boats further out getting mobbed by gulls and the mountains in the distance. It was absolutely stunning, life is good.

A few more cave but with the tide being so low there was no chance of exploring them today.
I noticed I was being followed by a grumpy large bull seal all the way down these cliffs.
View over my shoulder

Up ahead is a huge rounded bay sheltered inside a spit of land. This marks the point of the Narrows of Rassay. Here is one of the very few places where there is tidal flow. It runs through these narrows at 3 knots at springs. It was springs and I had no idea of the tide times.

So I took this opportunity to make my way back. I took a direct line toward the headland at Portree up the middle of the sound.

I had the wind behind me giving me a little push but there was also clouds gathering.

Before I knew it I was donning my hood again.

I was quite refreshing paddling in the rain, I haven't done it much before.

Up ahead is an amazing boulder field, just like at the bottom of a mountain, but this one had water at the bottom. The boulders were huge and I had fun finding my way through the maze. I must have been having fun I didn't take any pictures.

There was just enough room to pass through these two.

Past the boulder field the shore line went straight up. Cliffs, overhanging trees I thought to myself this is perfect eagle territory. And just as I said it....

I followed him with my eyes to a ledge on the cliff, to far to see with the eye.

I paddled up still fixed on it's location and there he was. I have about 20 or so of these pictures and picked the best ones. At full zoom the quialtiy isn't great. Whilst gazing at this one notice another just a few hundered feet accross another.

They just sat there gazzing around. When they did finally take to the air I missed them everytime!! Further along I spotted another pair doing pretty much the same.

This was the last one of the day. You can just make him out in the tree. He was plucking what looked like a rabbit until he noticed me and took to the skys. His dinner was quickly mopped up by the crows.

I mannaged to catch this blurry shot. This size of this bird is amazing. This one flew quite high over my head but all I got was a shot of blurry sky. I have latter learned that I can turn my cammer onto digital zoom and fine zoom and get a lot closer shots, damn it!!
Paddling back with a huge grin on my face I landed back at Portree. My dad was already off the hill after a very disapointing day because of the low cloud and I found him in our local pub.

I have no idea how far I traveled because I turned my GPS off to save the battery. Probably about 30km or more looking at the map, I'm just glad to get this post done.
DAY 8 - Friday 10th September 2010
Well as far as weather we were extremly lucky. Even though we had gale force winds not recomended for kayaking or walking at least we were able to see the mountain tops, which is a rearaty on the Isle of Skye otherwise known as the Misty Isle.

And that is exactly what it was today. We paked up out tents in the rain and made our way south.

Duart Castle, as seen in the film Entrapment with Sean Connery
We took our time, a bit of shopping on the way back and taking in some more sights.
We stopped off at a camp site at the foot of Loch Lommond, which had it's own pub.

But a short walk down the road was a better one, the famous Drovers Inn, which was apperntly visited by Rob Roy.

After a few pints my dad was anybodys!
Inside it was more like a museum, with stuffed animals and swords ect...We had a nice meal and nice pint (or more) and the entertainment was about the only thing that wasn't traditional. A guitarist sporting an ACDC t-shirt takes the stage playing the like of Santa, Hendrix, Pink Floyd etc etc, a perfect end to a great holiday. Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read these last few posts, they have been a bit on the long side. I have a back log now so more posts to follow shortly.