Thursday, 28 May 2009

St Brides Bay - Day 1 28/05/2009

With the wind and the sea conditions of the last 2 days finally easing and with the prospect of settled weather for the next few days I packed my camping gear and set off through Ramsey Sound.

The plan was to use the southerly flowing ebb tide to take me through the Sound and straight across St Brides Bay to Skomer Island, camp somewhere around there and then follow the coast around St Brides Bay back through Ramsey Sound and onto Porthsele.

It was an overcast day with Skomer just visible through the mist as I left Ramsey Sound.

Looking back at Ramsey Island after I had paddled for about 30 minutes, the Island was also disappearing into the mist.

Progress was good across St Brides Bay passing 2 ships at anchor. The first Katja, a general cargo ship and the second Antarcticgas an LPG tanker.

Nearing Skomer the bird population increased with a couple of birds floating in the water.

On reaching North Haven the numbers hugely increased with vast numbers of Puffins, the occasional Razorbill and Guillemot just bobbing about.

They let me drift amongst them, only disturbed by the trip boat shuttling people back to Martin's Haven after their day on the island.

The puffins would struggle to take off, circle a few times and then plop back onto the sea very ungracefully, unlike when they are underwater looking for their staple diet of sand eel.

After spending far too long watching the Puffins (but they are such fascinating birds, hard to believe in just a few weeks they will disappear to spend the winter somewhere in the Atlantic, hardy little birds) I paddle along the North side of Skomer up to the Garland Stone where numerous seals are hauled out awaiting the rising tide.

Glancing at my watch I have a shock as time is getting on and I have to find somewhere to pitch the tent. I head eastwards passing Martin's Haven and Musselwick Sands, and then northwards to Tower Point and Nab Head.

Both were ancient settlements with flint chippings dating back to around 5000BC being found around the Nab.

Passing St Brides Haven, a possible campsite, I paddle onto Mill Haven, my proposed camping stop, the beach is covered in very smelly seaweed and the grass is very long, far from ideal.

I decided to paddle back to St Brides Haven only a short distance which proves to be a much better option and pitch the tent on an almost perfect spot.

I am soon settled in and enjoy a meal watching the glassy calm water of the incoming tide creep up the beach.

A great end to a day's paddling of 19 nautical miles (approx. 22 miles or 35.5km).

Todays route is shown in red.

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