Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day 3....What a Difference a Day Makes! 25/07/2010

The rain continued on and off through the night but as I was packing the tent up patches of blue sky began to appear through the cloud and the forecast was for lighter wind. Hopefully today would be a better day.
I follow the coast for a bit before paddling northward out toward Stack Rocks, the outline of the camel can be clearly seen to the left of the rocks. The Little Haven ILB, out on a jolly, came over for a quick chat as I approached the rocks.
I don't know so much like a camel, more like the Loch Ness Monster. As I paddled around Stack Rocks numerous Shags and Gulls were taking advantage of the early morning sun.
Leaving Stack Rocks I paddle back across to the mainland and look Eastward with the Howney Stone in the foreground, then the headlands of Ticklas Point and Borough Head with Little Haven in the distance.
I stop in the SE corner of St Brides Bay just before the entrance to Little Haven and look back into the Goultrop Roads which is sheltered from the prevailing SW gales, hence the vegetation almost to the water's edge.
Carrying on I paddle across the small cove of Little Haven and then the larger expanse of sand of Broad Haven.

Just past Broad Haven there are some caves and arches to paddle to, but today the tide is too low so I have to paddle past these and the Sleek Stone, which is like a large pipe running into the sea.

As I paddle northward the cliffs grow in stature but look very crumbly in places. At Black Point there is a large arch, but again the tide is too low to access it from the small bay.

I paddle to the front of the arch and there is just enough water to paddle backwards through the arch and take a picture looking back out to sea.

As I approach the beach of Druidston Haven, the cliffs are no less impressive, but again don't look too safe especially in the top photo.

Passing Nolton Haven and then Rickets Head I have a 2.5 nautical mile paddle across the vast expanse of the sandy beach of Newgale until I reach the NE corner of St Brides Bay.

I now start paddling Westward past the headland of Dinas Fach and Dinas Fawr with the small island of Green Scar marking the entrace to Solva, well on the homeward stretch now.

I paddle between Green Scar and the entrace to Solva harbour where the tide is right out, it should be just right to see the wrecks about a mile further on.

The tide is just right to see what remains of the most intact of the 3 tugs that were wrecked in October 1981. The tug has broken into 3 pieces but the name of their home port, Liverpool, is still clearly visible on the stern section.

The massive engine block is still pretty intact but the bow is on it's side and starting to break up.

I paddle into Caer Bwdy bay where the distinctive coloured slate for St David's Cathedral was quarried, there is also a similar pipe shaped rock formation like the Sleek Stone near Broad Haven.

Paddling across the crowded Caerfai Bay I then head into St Non's Bay to the cliffs under St Non's Chapel said to be the birthplace of St David.

I paddle across the entrance of the small harbour of Porth Clais and when I round the headland of Carreg Fran the South of Ramsey Island comes clearly into view.

I paddle into Ramsey Sound at the small period of slack water but as I approach St John's Point, althought flat clam my speed picks up as the Northerly Flood tide starts to flow.

It is only a short paddle to Porthsele to end a paddle of 19.5 nautical miles (36km or 22.5 miles) in much better conditions today.

A cracking 3 days of paddling covering a lot of the Mid Pembrokeshire coastline in varying weather conditions with a total distance of 57.5 nautical miles (approx 108 km or 67 miles).

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Day 2....The Joys Of The British Summer 24/07/2010

Waking to a very different day to yesterday, with higher winds and drizzle it was not such a good way to start the day packing everything up in the wet.

Paddling around Watwick Point and West Blockhouse Point I was slightly concerned about the paddle out of the Haven and around St Ann's Head and my concerns were well founded!

It wasn't until I reached Little Castle Point, just over 1 nautical mile from St Ann's Head, that the camera ventured out again! I wasn't too worried as the Angle Lifeboat passed me on their way to the Yacht Voyager, so at least they were already out if required!
My decision to paddle straight along this stretch of coast line yesterday without taking any photos backfired on me as the conditions today were far from ideal for exploring and taking photos.
I paddle close into Marloes Sands where it seems a little bit more sheltered and take a photo of what I think are the Three Chimneys, vertical beds of alternating sandstone and mudstone.
As I paddle up to around Gateholm Island news comes on the VHF that the Angle Lifeboat now has the Voyager safely under tow and is returning back to Milford Haven.
Rounding Gateholm Island I paddle into Albion Sands, named after the wooden Paddle Steamer Albion with some of the remaining wreckage sticking out of the water. I decide to land and take a closer look forgetting about my skeg which I rarely use but have done today because of the wind and choppy conditions, b******s!!!
The Albion was wrecked in April 1837 after hitting a rock in Jack Sound was then run aground on the beach and became a total wreck short after.
Still cursing, I leave Albion Sands and paddle over towards Rainy Rock where the solitary boulder is still perched precariously at the top of the smooth cliff face, one day I will paddle past here and it will be gone.
Despite the slightly inclement weather I have reached Jack Sound a lot earlier than I had planned and the tide is flowing at just about full force against me. However staying close to the mainland I manage to get through but cannot explore the numerous caves as the tide is too low.
I decide to paddle into a deserted Martin's Haven to fill my water bottles and warm up some Rice Pudding as I wait for the tide to ease before crossing Jack Sound to pay the Puffins a visit in North Haven.
Paddling into North Haven there are large numbers of Puffins outside their burrows on the cliffs, on the water and flying around. The two staff in Lockley Lodge ( the Wildlife Trust shop at Martin's Haven) who kindly filled my water bottles informed me that, the Puffins are preparing to leave Skomer to winter somewhere in the North Atlantic.
I spend a while just drifting amongst the rafts of Puffins, I could sit and watch them for hours but I guess I had better set off on my way again.

As I paddle back along the Neck of Skomer there are still large numbers of Puffins in rafts, I suppose maybe taking a last rest before they fly off until their return next March or April, hopefully see you all then.
I paddle close to the cliffs along the North facing cliffs of St Brides Bay into Musselwick Sands with it's black cliffs very different to the red sandstone around St Ann's Head.
Paddling Northwards from Musselwick Sands up to the Nab Head the cliffs change back to the red sandstone again, it's just a shame about the weather not being ideal for taking photos.
From the Nab Head it is only a short paddle to St Brides Haven where I had decided to spend the night. I have camped here before and it is a lovely little sheltered bay.
I manage to pitch the tent and have a wander around the picturesque little bay before another band of mist and rain confines me to the tent for the rest of the evening.
A paddle of just over 15 nautical miles (30 km or 18.5 miles) with not as much exploring as I would have liked due to our temperamental British so called Summer weather!