Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ramsey Island first of many......hopefully 21/02/2010

After the heavy rain and sleet through the night I woke to yet another glorious day. The tides were just right for a paddle around Ramsey so I thought I would paddle over to the Island and take it from there.
Rounding St John's Point I get my first view of Ramsey Island basking in the February sunshine.
It is the next headland of Penrhyn Dalar that gives a good indication of how fast the tide is flowing as it flows right up to the cliff. Today with a little sprint I am round with no trouble, things are looking good.
I am aided by a counter eddy until I approach Pen Dal-aderyn when I again have to paddle against the tide until I reach another counter eddy.
This takes me up to the southern end of the Ramsey Sound mainland, where the northern flowing flood tide is forced between the narrow gap between Ramsey and the mainland.
It is then another sprint into the main tidal flow and paddle like crazy to ferry glide across it without getting dragged too far north towards the Bitches. Yet again all was going to plan and I didn't lose too much ground before I reached the calmer water at the SE of Ramsey.
It is then a steady paddle against a little adverse tide to SE corner of Ramsey passing numerous seals hauled out on the pebbled beach at Foel Fawr, today only one half heartedly follows me for a bit until returning to bask in the sun with his mates.
I take a slight detour on reaching Twll y Dillyn (the Devil's Hole) and paddle out at Ynys Eilun the large rock to the SE of Ramsey.
There is a bit of a swell to the south of the rock but some great views of the south of Ramsey and of Ramsey Sound with St David's Head in the background.
As usual there are standing waves as I paddle through Twll y Dillyn but with the tide in my favour it is an easy passage into Bay Dillyn.
After a few hundred yards the confused water calms down and I can admire the ruggedness of the cliffs at the southern end of Ramsey Island.

Rounding the headland of Trwynmynachdy and with the tide aiding my progress I can paddle with little effort taking in the views.
As I paddle northwards, the cliffs start to get higher and the numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill and Fulmar start to increase already trying to claim their tiny nesting site on the sheer cliffs.

The further I paddle up the west of Ramsey, the cliffs become no less impressive and if anything, the bird numbers increase which can only be a good sign, though it must be a touch chilly perched up on those cliffs in the middle of the night.
Between the headlands of Trwyn Bendre and Trwynllundain, the water becomes a little confused again but it all adds to the enjoyment.
I am soon paddling into the large bay of Abermawr where the sea conditions calm down a lot.
I paddle into the large cave before Trwyn-drain-ddu where it was surprisingly rough causing a lot of spray in the caves hence the not too good picture quality.
Paddling round the headland of Trwyn-drain-ddu there was a large patch of foam, time for some arty photos! What wind there was totally dropped off as I paddled along the north of the island and was soon paddling across a flat calm Ramsey Sound at the very short window of slack water.
Before I knew it I was paddling into a deserted Porthsele (the way I like it) in a short time it will be a different story. A paddle of nearly 8 nautical miles and hopefully the first of a few paddles around Ramsey Island throughout the year, weather permitting! Lets hope this period of weather isn't our summer come early, doesn't get much better than this. A great way to end a cracking weekend.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Porthgain to Strumble Head and back 20/02/2010

It was a perfect day with a good forecast as I paddled out of the small sheltered harbour of Porthgain with the now empty hoppers which used to store the crushed granite in a bygone age when Porthgain was a busy port.

I decided to paddle straight to Strumble Head taking advantage of the last couple of hours of the NE flood tide so I paddled quite a way from the coast to get the full benefit of the tide flow.

After about an hour and a half of easy paddling I was approaching Strumble Head Lighthouse perched on Ynys Meicel, a small islet separated from the mainland by a narrow gap of sea.

I paddle through the narrow gap which is flat calm today but can get a bit turbulent on rougher days. The lighthouse was built in 1908 to provide greater safety for the increased amount of shipping between Ireland and the new Fishguard Harbour.

I paddle around Ynys Meicel and as usual the sea is a little choppy and the tide is just starting to flow the other way just right for my paddle back.

Rounding the headland of Pen Brush I can now do a bit of exploring of the very rugged coastline on my way back to Porthgain. As I paddle into Porth Maenmelyn in the shadow of Garn Fawr 213 metres above sea level, I notice a movement on the rocks to my left, it was an Otter. I paddled towards it but before I could get my camera out it disappeared into the sea. I stayed for a bit but the otter didn't reappear more's the pity.
Paddling over to Ynys Ddu I notice a cave going straight through the small island but the tide was too low to paddle through so there would be no shortcut today.

Paddling out of the cave I look back at the cliffs where I saw the Otter, it's hard to see where he manages to get up and down those cliffs or he must be a very strong swimmer to find somewhere where the cliffs are less high. I have tried to find a bit more info but so far haven't had much joy.

Paddling on I pass below the Pwll Deri Youth Hostel perched half way up Garn Fawr making it one of the most exposed hostels in Pembrokeshire. Reaching the headland of Penbwchdy I look back along the high cliffs some 450 feet high that stretch for over a mile back into Pwll Deri.

The next stretch of the coastline has some quite interesting geology (well I think it looks a bit different though I know very little of geology!) a lot of the rocks are in vertical layers as if they have been forced upright.

I stop for a spot of lunch on the very secluded beach of Pwllcrochan, this is one of the many things I love about sea kayaking being able to land on places that are otherwise inaccessible.

The next port of call (excuse the pun) is the little harbour of Abercastle, one of the many on the Pembrokeshire coast that was used by trading vessels well into the 20th century. Today there was only 1 fishing boat anchored well out of the harbour.

Paddling out of Abercastle I approach the jagged headland of Ynys Deullyn and on rounding the headland I get a good view along the St David's Head Peninsula.

Just after Ynys Deullyn there is a small arch through a small headland which I am just able to paddle through weaving through a few submerged rocks.

The large sea stack of Ynys- Fach also has a large cave which runs right through the rock but the tide is too low to paddle through.

It is only a short paddle till the 2 white beacons that mark the entrance to Porthgain come into view, with the ruins of the old brickworks silhouetted in the background.

A great paddle of nearly 16 nautical miles with some cracking scenery, with the highlight of the paddle, seeing the Otter, although it was a shame not to get any photos but he was pretty nimble. After the day's exertions I thought it would be a bit rude to pass the Sloop so I stopped and sampled a pint of their ice cold Guiness a perfect end to a perfect day.