Saturday, 13 June 2009

South West Sea Kayak Meet - Day 2 13/06/2009

After waking to find everything still shrouded in mist we all met at 9.30am with Mark outlining some suggestions for the day's paddling, everyone descended on the small car park at Hallsands.

We split into smaller groups with Eurion taking advantage of the numerous demo boats kindly laid on by P&H by trying out the Scorpio for the day.

We paddle towards what remains of the once thriving fishing village of Hallsands and looking up there are a row of precariously placed houses with the end one up for sale, I can't see too many people queuing up for that one!

A few hundred yards further on, the full carnage of what happened on the nights of 26th and 27th January 1917 is clear to see. The village used to be protected by a steep pebbled beach but this disappeared due to the dredging of shingle needed for the expansion of the naval dockyard near Plymouth in 1896.

After protests from the villagers dredging was stopped in 1902 but the damage was done and despite the building of sea walls in January 1917 a combination of easterly gales and exceptionally high tides swept the houses into the sea with miraculously no loss of life.

We continued paddling southwards until we reached Start Point with its battlement style lighthouse, which was built in 1836 and became fully automated in 1993.

We are joined by a couple of inquisitive seals who keep a watchful eye on our progress as we round Start Point and start to paddle westward.

It is now that Eurion decided to put his Scorpio demo through its paces, whilst rockhopping he is caught by a larger than usual wave which breaks carrying him sideways towards the awaiting jagged rocks. He braces but is turned and capsizes, for a moment I get a little worried, not the best place for a rescue but he rolls up first time, very impressive.

Paddling on following the coast with the mist rising and falling, I am quite surprised on the height of the cliffs.

We soon reach Prawle Point, the most southerly point of Devon with its Coastwatch Lookout Station and the large arch which looks a bit like an elephant's head.

Rounding Prawle Point the swell picks up a bit as we are more exposed and this is evident as we soon pass a mass of rusting metal which once was the MV Demetrios that was wrecked here in December 1992.

Approaching Gammon Head we paddle into the shelter of Maceley Cove where we stop for a spot of lunch.

On the return paddle the mist descends even thicker making sightseeing pretty impossible but there is something special paddling in conditions like this.

Even with the mist Eurion still manages to spot a few interesting places to explore.

We knew we were getting close to Start Point as the foghorn was getting louder with the lighthouse just about visible through the mist and the resident seals also making an appearance as we paddle past.

We are soon paddling past the ruins of Hallsands and back to the steep shingled beach where we had launched from earlier today.
It was then back to East Prawle where the mist had cleared enough for the local cricket team to finish their match, something to watch from the tent. We then went to the Pig's Nose where we sampled more local brew and some interesting talks from Chris and his exotic paddling locations, Olly with his extreme climbing, kayaking and an occasional gun! Mark on what he did on last years 6 week break (teachers hey!) and then Jim rounding off an excellent evening with his "Northern Delights".

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