Sunday, 11 April 2010
Paddling on a course for Gwahan we let the southerly flowing ebb tide bring us down onto the north end of Ramsey Island.
At Twyn-Sion Owen the northern most point of Ramsey we feel the effect of the ebbing tide and before we know it we are resting in the calm water of Abermawr with North Bishop and Carreg Rhoson in the background.
Paddling across Abermawr we meet up with Tim of Venture Jet, we stop for a quick chat and after informing him of the Puffins I saw yesterday he speeds off to North Bishop a lot quicker than me yesterday.
We let the last of the ebbing tide take us effortlessly along the western side of Ramsey in the unusually flat calm sea as more often than not there is a bit of a swell here.
I usually paddle on my own but with Martyn as company today the magnitude of Ramsey's cliffs can be really appreciated as they dwarf Martyn's kayak.
Paddling towards the headland of Trwynmynachdy Martyn breaks away to do some rockhopping as I paddle on to wait to take a photo of him paddling into Bay Dillyn. I wait for a bit but Martyn doesn't appear, paddling back I find him out of his kayak in the water obviously trying to cool off! For a more detailed report check out his blog.
After cooling down enough Martyn gets back into his kayak and I finally get my picture.
With Martyn fully refreshed we paddle through the large cave that pierces Ynys Cantwr and encounter our first bit of adverse tide as we paddle through Twyll y Dillyn.
It looks like we have our timing right as the tide is starting to flood and aiding our progress northward up to the Bitches.
There are numerous seals hauled out on the pebbled beach below Foel Fawr, they are moulting at the moment so we keep our distance but a young bull decides to join us.
He keeps following nudging the back of our kayaks as we paddle along though he is a little camera shy and his eyebrows look like they could do with a little trim.
He follows Martyn through the Bitches and even has a little play in the rough water before finally leaving us to return to his mates.
The paddle back up through the Sound is made more interesting by the wind increasing and whipping the sea up a bit, it could be a bit lively later when the tide increases its speed.A paddle of 7.5 nautical miles (nearly 14 kms) a great way to end a cracking weekend's paddling, it looks like Martyn could have a good week as long as he doesn't get too hot and needs another dip!
Saturday, 10 April 2010
Reaching the Head there is a small swell and the sea is a bit confused but as I begin my ferry glide across to North Bishop the sea begins to calm as I move away from the mainland.
After 45 minutes and a distance of 3 nautical miles I am dropping down onto North bishop with the Clerks and South Bishop in the background.
Paddling along the seaward (NW) side of the rocks that make up North Bishop, I encounter quite a fast tide race and a fair swell.
As I round the southern end of North Bishop and paddle back up the SE side of the rocks the conditions calm down considerably.
I stop in the calm water behind the largest rock and watch a group of Puffins bobbing by and look southward at my next destination of Carreg Rhoson. I am sure the Puffins could find a bit more homely residence I bet it gets a bit grim out here in a gale!
I paddle back out into the southerly tide flow which takes me down towards the first of the Clerks, Carreg Rhoson.
I break out of the main flow behind the solitary rock of Maen Rhoson and paddle over to Carreg Rhoson and again stop for a rest at the southern end of the group of rocks.
Paddling back into the tide flow again I am swept southwards again and after thirty minutes I am fast approaching the solitary rock of South Bishop.
I reach the steep North facing cliffs after three hours on the water and having covered a distance of 8.5 nautical miles.
I paddle into the small landing jetty where there is a Gannet who has a damaged wing, it has probably hit the water at the wrong angle whilst diving. It didn't seem in any distress but I couldn't have done too much to help it anyway.
I have been out here before but have never paddled right around the small island and today the conditions were ideal althought I hit a bit of turbulence under the north cliffs.
The lighthouse was designed by James Walker and built in 1839, and converted to electric in 1959 with a helipad being built in 1971 and the light being fully automated in 1983.
The lighthouse was built in the path of migratory birds with the bright light drawing many of them to crash into the light and many being killed. Trinity House along with the RSPB building special perches on the lantern for the birds and as a result the bird deaths dropped considerably.
Taking a last look back at South Bishop I proceed on my paddle back across to Ramsey Island encountering more confused water, the wind is only force 3 or 4 today, I wouldn't like to be out here in force 5 or 6!
As I was in no rush to get back I didn't attempt to ferry glide across to Ramsey but just paddled straight at Ramsey and let the tide take me wherever.
It was a leisurely paddle back across and I was joined a few times by Porpoises but as usual as soon as I get my camera they disappear!
At the last the moment I decide to paddle around Ynys Bery rather than into Bay Dillyn. This part of Ramsey is usually missed out but there are impressive high cliffs to paddle under.
As I pass through the gap between Ynys Bery and Midland Isle I meet four kayakers paddling around Ramsey. Instead of joining them as they paddle up through Ramsey Sound I am a bit anti social and paddle up the west side of Ramsey.
I stop in the calm water by Ynys Gwelltog for a well deserved drink and a mars bar, I am joined by a few seals who watch me from a distance.
Feeling suitably refreshed I have a sedate paddle along the west coast of Ramsey aided by the recently turned north flowing flood tide.
Reaching Trwyn Drain-du at the NW of Ramsey I see the St David's Head peninsula which I left five hours ago but I am not finished yet and decide to carry on down to the Bitches and add almost a trip around Ramsey to the day's paddling.
As I paddle along the east side of Ramsey I spot a lamb and it's mother, I wonder if it's the same one I saw last Friday sheltering from the wind and rain, what a difference a week makes!
The sea nearing the Bitches is glassy flat, it doesn't get much better than this in the middle of summer lets hope it continues and we are not having our summer now!
The tide is just starting to run as I reach the Bitches and resting behind one of the rocks I watch the wave starting to build in an hour or so and with today's conditions it will be a cracking surfing wave.
I have a leisurely paddle northward back up through Ramsey Sound aided by the flood tide and before I know it I am back at Porthsele after a fantastic paddle of 18.5 nautical miles (nearly 21.5 miles or 34kms) around some of Pembrokeshire's remotest islands what a great day, life is good.