Saturday, 3 February 2018

Down Devon Way

Lots and lots of lovely ladies
 I was delighted to be asked to coach at the Women's Sea Kayak Festival South Devon in August. After the fun I had on Bute, I was really looking forward to it - not so much the long drive down! However Ken was coming down with me to join in with the ever popular "Man Creche".
Off we set for the long haul down south, stopping off at an "interesting" B&B, complete with a "Bluesmobile" sitting out back!
We eventually made it down to Alston Farm, our home for the next few days. We pitched the tent and got nicely settled in.
Next day, the festival was opening in the evening. This gave us all a day to go paddling - well what else would we do? Paul was demoing one of his boats, so we joined him with another 3 guys (I did say this was a Womens' Sea Kayak Festival?) We made our way through the very narrow, very busy Devon lanes down to Strete where we launched, then paddled east along the coast passing Blackpool - we haven't paddled that far! We stopped at Willow Cove for lunch, then continued along passing Dartmouth, then onto Berry Head with some wonderful caves before rounding the corner into the full blast of a strong headwind and up to Brixham, our get out and ice cream stop! A great first paddle down south with no photos, forgot the camera!!!!!
Back at the campsite, things were getting busy, lots of lovely ladies were arriving!
Sunny lunch time

Checking out the cave

Next morning, everyone was divvied up into their various groups. Then the organised chaos of  everyone loading boats onto masses of vans and cars ensued followed by the mass exodus all through the narrow campsite gate! I think the other campers were all agog at this, but this being a women's event, meant that it all went remarkably smoothly! (thanks to the Man Creche for helping with humphing!)
Our group was the short day paddle heading out from Dartmouth with Zoe, Anges and umpteen ladies. We headed out down the river and into the bay, catching a few chances for rock hopping before getting out into slightly bumpier water, stopped for lunch before returning via a tiny cave entrance. This opened up into a lovely large cave, a nice finish to a lovely paddle. It was then back to the campsite and a superb dinner in the marquee.

Next day we were having a Paddle Skills workshop. After the organised chaos was once again over, our group made our way down to North Sands in Salcombe, only for most of us to meet back up. There were a few groups leaving from North Sands, it was a busy place! We had a great time going over different strokes, how to improve them and putting them to good use round the rocks, into the ever increasing wind, across the flow, then back again into the shelter of the bay again. We pulled out a bit early this day, the weather was just getting so bad, we retired to the cafe for a very large hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows - yum!
It's so good getting back to the camp knowing that  the tea has been made for you and tasty too! That evening we had wonderful entertainment where everyone showed 5 photos each, what a variety of trips there are to explore!

On the festivals last day the weather was glorious, thankfully the previous days mingin' weather had moved on. This days session was all about getting wet!, that should possibly have been yesterdays title! Once again well organised chaos ensued, once again we were down at North Sands along with most of the ladies - and the Man Creche. A superb day for generally playing, having a giggle and finishing it all off with icecream.


Another busy beac

Loving your boat

Kate's balancing act
Smiley Eryl

 A great day to finish the festival off with, here's an independent view on it.

The festival was over, but we were staying down a bit longer so next day Jo, Anges, Ken and I wound our way through more very busy, narrow Devon lanes eventually arriving at Lannacombe. We made our way along, through the rocks with Anges explaining about the different seaweeds and which ones taste nice. We stopped at Start Point, where the Channel meets the Ocean, had our lunch below the lighthouse, then made our way back. Superb place to finish, a fresh water stream was running down to the beach, perfect chance to rinse our kit, then off for a lovely icecream in Kingsbridge.
Next day we decided we would have a day being tourists in Plymouth which meant we had to have cream teas! Very tasty!

Next day it was time to start the long haul back up the road, but not before we had a wee detour round by Peter Tavy in Dartmoor to collect a wee Grandchild sized river boat. As the seller turned the boat over to let us see, there was a tiny grass snake slithering around - a wee snake for a wee boat!
We eventually made it back to Scotland having a detour round by Easdale for another weekends paddle with Andy and Co out through the Corryvreckan to the Garvellachs and Belnahua.

Night paddle?
Approaching Garvellachs

Nice to see you, to see you nice!
Approaching Corryvreckan
Coming through the Corryvreckan
 We did eventually come back home!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Gigha - via Alaska - Ping 4

So back in Scotland, what was the first thing we were going to do? well, collect the car - and boats! Then what? - go paddling!

Before Alaska had been finalised, we had organised a camping trip out to Gigha with FCAG  and rather than cancelling it, we decided to carry on with it, after all we were on that side of the country, we had all our camping kit with us (might be a bit smelly though!) and we had all our paddling kit (probably equally smelly!).
 Off the plane and into the supermarket to stock up on nosh, then it's off to Tayinloan to meet up with John, Barry and Young Trevor. It seemed a good idea at the time to say we would carry on with this trip but now that we were driving over to the west, having sat on a plane for hours, the tiredness was now beginning to hit home. We took it in turns to drive and snooze, before we arrived in time to have coffee and cake in the wee tearoom.
We did eventually muster up enough energy to pack the boats and get launched a couple of hours later than planned.

4km later, we were over at Gigha (God's Island). We were heading anti clockwise following the coast round. Once we were rounding the north tip, we were beginning to get a bit of clapotis, John was off, paddling like a Duracell bunny to get through it, Barry paddling with sheer determination, Young Trevor paddling through everything just as he always does, no matter the conditions, whilst Ken and I seemed to plod through half asleep! We eventually made it round Eilean Garbh and into the little sandy bay. I was so looking forward to my bed!!

Next morning we were greeted by some of the locals who seemed to take a real interest in Trevors tent!

Locals taking up kayaking?

John waiting for high tide?

The weather today could only be described as mingin' ! Heading over West Tarbert Bay was blowy!
We made our way  round the coast taking a break just below Achamore Farm. The weather just wasn't improving!
This was John and Barry's first stint at wild camping and the weather certainly wasn't dampening their enthusiasm.
By the time we had reached the south of the island, the weather was eventually drying up, the wind was still there though. We picked our way over to Cara Island to camp the second night.
We were just getting the tents up when "Ping!" yes it had happened yet again - except it wasn't our pole this time, but Trevor's.

Cara Island

Could be a tropical island!

 The evening was lovely and dry.

Cara locals
Next morning our plan had been to carry on round Cara, however once at the south end, the look on Barry's face told me he wasn't too happy with the conditions, so we back tracked up the shelter of the island and back across to Gigha and up to Ardminish bay. We made our way up to The Boathouse as it had advertised Gigha icecream - yum! Once we got there, the staff were less than enthusiastic and only sold the Gigha icecream in their restaurant, their cones only had "Mackies" a bit dissappointing!
It was then time to head the 4km back to Tayinloan, a long car journey home - then my own bed again - bliss!