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.


Derek said...

Hi Richard

WOW what a coast line, where did you get the range info from? so we don't get blasted out the water by a tank.

And what state of tide did you set off?

Richard said...

Hi Derek

It sure is a spectacular bit of coast. They normally don't fire on weekends but you can phone range control on 01646 661321.
I think I left Stackpole Quay at about Milford high water, if you go there pick a day with low wind and little swell so you can explore all the caves etc as it is an exposed coastline.