Sunday, 12 December 2010

Sheep, Bitches And A Seal 12-12-2010

I had to run the gauntlet of a herd of sheep and an assault course of various fences and barriers before I was able to launch from Porthsele. 

I paddled close to the cliffs into Ramsey Sound and took the short cut between Ynys Dinas and the mainland into St Justinian. 

I paddled across a deserted St Justinian and over to the arch by Ogof Mary. 

The tide was just right to paddle through the arch taking care to time it right as the occasional wave came through exposing rocks below the water. 

I took a slight detour toward Horse Rock but keep my distance as it is looking pretty lively today.

As I paddled up to Pen Dal-aderyn Ramsey Sound was running pretty quickly but I managed the ferry glide across to Ramsey okay. I was tempted to carry on around Ramsey but was quite surprised how strong the wind was when I reached the small arch at Penrhyn Twll. 

Turning around I let the North flowing flood tide take me back toward the Bitches. 

Reaching the Bitches they were starting to ease off so paddle in 1 hand and camera in the other it is time to try out the rapid shot function.  

I managed to stay upright and the camera seemed to work pretty well, will have to try it when the Bitches are a bit bigger! 

I played about for half an hour or so in the rough water but the tide flow was decreasing all the time but still good fun.

There were no pups on the beach at the landing jetty so I stayed close to the cliffs as I paddled Northward. 

I don't often paddle this close to the Island along this part of the coast due to nesting birds and seal pups but today it is deserted. 

As I am about to paddle through the cave between Rhod Isaf and Rhod Uchaf I am joined by a very inquisitive young seal. 

The seal accompanies me through the cave and stays around for a while before getting bored and disappearing back into the cave. 

As I paddle Northward along Ramsey I encounter more sheep complete with thick woollen coat. 

I paddle out to Gwahan and then back into the mainland passing Carreg Gafeilliog before returning back to a deserted Porthsele, just how I like it.

It is then a matter of running the gauntlet of the sheep and obstacles again. A paddle of 7.5 nautical miles (8.6 miles or 14km) a good way to finish another great weekend of paddling in Pembrokeshire.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

All Quiet On The Castlemartin Front 11-12-2010

With light winds forecast, very little swell and most importantly the guns on the Castlemartin Range not firing today it seemed an ideal opportunity to paddle this stretch of the Pembrokeshire coastline. 

I paddled out of Stackpole Quay and headed Westward stopping on the way to photograph the headland riddled with holes.

Stackpole Head is very calm with the tide in my favour and just the right height to take a short cut through the headland. 

I paddle straight across the bay to St Govan's Head which again is flat calm which is a relief as it can get a bit lumpy here at times.  

I paddle along the impressive limestone cliffs which are very popular with climbers but today like the guns it is all very quiet. 

I soon reach the diminuitive St Govan's Chapel nestled amongst the large boulders and steep cliffs.

It is only a short paddle to the Huntsman's Leap a small inlet in the steep cliffs with sheer sides that is very easy to miss from the sea.  

Paddling through the narrow gap it opens up inside with a pebbled beach at the back. Legend has it that a horseman leapt the gap and when he looked back at where he had just jumped died of fright. 
As I round Saddle Head I can see right along the desolate limestone cliffs apart from the odd sign here and there that it is a MOD firing range. 

All along the cliffs there are caves and openings with many opening up inside with holes in the roof and other passages going out to the side.

At the Castle headland I can take a short cut by paddling straight through what must have once been a cave, the roof of which has now collapsed, pretty breathtaking. 

Bullslaughter Bay is one of the few places to easily land along this coast. I don't know if it is named after a happy bull or a dead one!

Leaving Bullslaughter Bay I paddle toward the Moody Nose an outcrop of rock with a hole piercing the top.

Paddling across Flimston Bay I can look back along the coast I have just paddled. 

At the Flimston Castles peninsula I can take another short cut through another collapsed cave known as the Cauldron and paddling in it is appropriately named.

The Cauldron is bigger than the one at the Castle headland with other passages off it. Paddling through the main passage I paddle out into a small pebbled beach. 

Paddling out of the Cauldron I am met by the tall pinnacles of rock of the Elegug Stacks. Elegug is the Welsh name for the Guillemot which nest here in great numbers. 

Almost immediately after the Stacks is the Green Bridge of Wales a huge natural arch which in many years will eventually  become stack. 

The tide is too low to paddle through but even from a distance it is an awesome stucture.

Paddling on there are more arches to paddle through with the Green Bridge nicely framed by another arch.

At the Wash I was going to paddle onto Crow Rock another stack just visible in the above picture but although calm the tide was against me so I called it a day and began my paddle back.
I paddle straight back across to Saddle Head only taking a few photos on the way as the camera's battery is getting low. 

Paddling past St Govan's Chapel the sea is still glassy flat calm as I paddle up to St Govan's Head and around it aided by the tide. 

I paddle out to the aptly named Church Rock and then back into the coast passing small bays only accessible from the sea.

Approaching Stackpole Head I am limited to the amount of photos I can take as the camera's battery keeps running out.
I have to paddle around Stackpole Head as the tide is too low to paddle through the arches that pierce the headland. I manage  to take one last photo of the headland at Barafundle Bay before the camera's battery finally gives up the ghost.

One of the best days paddling of the year covering a distance of 15 nautical miles (17.2 miles or 27.7km) along a spectacular stretch of the Pembrokeshire, what a cracking day.