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.


Ian said...

Looks like you had a cracker of a day Richard; I reckon that stretch of coast could give some "interesting" conditions in a big swell?


Richard said...

It sure was a good day's paddling. It can get a bit interesting in a big swell and there are pretty strong tides on some of the headlands which can add to the fun!