Sunday, 24 May 2009

St Ann's Head 24/05/2009

After an invite from Sue and Colin of Cardiff Canoe Club, we met up with Nick, Hywel and Steve at Martin's Haven on another glorious flat calm day.

Paddling through a very sedate Jack Sound Skomer Island looked very inviting but the plan today was to follow the coast to St Ann's Head and round to Dale.

Almost straight away we are greeted by the entrance to a huge cave which Sue and Hywel eagerly paddle into. It is not a very deep cave but there is a smaller entrance to the left as we paddle into it.

Rounding the next headland there is a good example of cliff erosion with the last piece of rock perched precariously at the top of the cliff, who knows how long it will remain there, another month or another 100 years!

Paddling on towards Gateholm Island the island of Skokholm again looks very inviting, but it will have to wait for another day.

We paddle into Albion Sands, just north of Gateholm Island hoping to get a closer look at the last visible remains of the paddle steamer the Albion which hit rocks in Jack Sound and was ran aground here on April 19th 1837 where after 2 weeks was written off as a total wreck.

It was here that a few of our party nearly also came to grief as a set of large rogue waves appeared from nowhere.

Gateholm is only an island at high tide and once supported a large community in the Iron Age, there may have been a Christian monastic community here.

We stop for a brief rest in the crystal clear water to the south of the island. It is then a leisurely paddle along the vast beach of Marloes Sands.

Rounding Hooper's Point we paddle into Westdale Bay where we stop for a lunch break looking out at Skokholm Island in the distance.

Leaving Westdale Bay we soon sight the coastguard lookout at St Ann's Head passing numerous inlets, one, I think, could be the Cobbler's Hole.

Soon the lighthouse at St Ann's Head comes into view, there first was a coal fired light in the late 17th century but was discontinued after it's owners were caught extracting illegal payments from shipowners.

It was not until June 1714 that 2 towers were built, after cliff erosion the front light was rebuilt in 1841 and is still in use today, but the other tower was closed in 1910.

Rounding St Ann's Head we enter Mill Bay where in 1485 Henry Tudor landed and 15 days later won the English Crown at the Battle of Bosworth.

It was here that Hywel, Steve and myself decided to paddle back to Martin's Haven, leaving Sue, Colin and Nick to paddle onto Dale.

On our return paddle we decided to paddle a direct route, instead of hugging the coastline, calling in at the southern side of Skomer Island to say hello to the numerous puffins bobbing about in the calm water.

After spending a pleasant time being entertained by the puffins we paddle northwards through Little Sound and back to a congested Martin's Haven.

A paddle of 14.5 nautical miles (approx. 16.5 miles or 26.5km) on a glorious day for paddling. Thanks again to Sue and Colin for the invite and to Hywel, Steve and Nick for the company.

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