Friday, 12 June 2009

South West Sea Kayak Meet - Day 1 12/06/2009

Leaving Cardiff on a sunny Friday morning Eurion and myself had high hopes for our weekend in South Devon organised by Mark following the success of last year's launch of his South West Sea Kayaking book.

The further we drove south though the worse the weather got and on arrival at the campsite at East Prawle visibility was down to about 100 yards and it was raining, marvellous!

After sitting in the landrover for a while we decided to brave the elements and pitch the tents with Eurion finding another use for his split paddle, to clear the grass of animal excrement, we think sheep, though bears and even werewolves were mentioned!

After pitching the tents we decided to drive towards Dartmouth and try and find somewhere with less fog to paddle from.

At Torcross we stopped at the Sherman Tank Memorial dedicated to the 946 men who lost their lives during Exercise Tiger in April 1944 training for the D Day landings.

It was in the early morning of 28th April that a convoy of 8 LSTs (Landing Ship Tanks -slow flat bottomed 4500 ton assault ships capable of carrying several hundred men, lorries and tanks) were attacked by 9 German E Boats (fast moving torpedo boats).

LST 507 was torpedoed and burst into flames sinking in about 45 minutes, LST 531 was hit by 2 torpedoes and sank in 6 minutes and LST 289 was also torpedoed but managed to make it to shore.

More men lost their lives during the exercise than did on the actual landing on Utah Beach on 6th June 1944 and it was not until almost 40 years later that the full details of the incident were made public due much to the efforts of Ken Small who found and raised the Sherman Tank 3/4 of a mile out at sea in 1984.

A very poignant reminder especially as last weekend was the 65th anniversary of the D Day landing!

Driving on further we reached Blackpool which was nowhere near as commercialised as it's Northern namesake. It was here that John Hawley and his army of local peasants defeated a 2000 strong force of well armed French knights at the Battle of Blackpool Sands in 1404.

It was good to finally get on the water and with the fog lifting and then coming back down we set off in the direction of Dartmouth.

Reaching Dartmouth we paddle past Dartmouth Castle built in the 1400's to prevent marauding Frenchies from entering the harbour.

Just around the corner we are greeted by Miranda the Mermaid sat on a wall just above the high water mark.

We paddle about a mile up the River Dart and then head back down river to Kingswear Castle and then back across the entrance to Dartmouth.

Just before Compass Cove we paddle under a small footbridge through a narrow inlet into a cave which Eurion explored.

Approaching Meg Rocks we spot what looks like a cross on the cliffs. Paddling in it is a memorial to somone but we can't get close enought to read it and as yet I've had no joy in finding out anymore info on it, if anyone can shed any light on it I would be very grateful.

We are soon back at a deserted Blackpool Sands where hopefully the fog is starting to lift.

A short paddle of nearly 7 nautical miles but at least we managed a paddle and were able to see some of the sights through the mist.

It is now back to East Prawle and sample the delights of the Pig's Nose Inn.

1 comment:

kayakr said...

Nice pics and really cool spots!