Thank you all

There’s quite a few thanks that we need to give to various people. A huge thanks must go to the friends and families of Rob, Steve, Kay and Rosie who have shown fantastic support. In particular is Janice, Steve’s wife, and Dave, Rosie’s Dad for providing transport down to Chepstow and pick-up in Chester (as well as sorting a very convenient exit from the Dee in the centre of Chester). A massive thanks to Eila Wilkinson and Nigel Dennis for providing Rosie with a Pilgrim Expedition for the trip, and for the fab Lendal paddle. Thanks also to Ann Turner at Kari-tek for providing a set of paddle blades and dealing with last minute requests. Thanks for all the support from numerous members of the Snowdonia Canoe Club, to everyone who followed the blog and for all the great comments and feedback sent to us. It’s fuelled our enthusiasm for the trip, and kept us entertained. And lastly, thanks to everybody on the trip for making it so memorable. Without that wok Kay, the Come Dine with Me competition just wouldn’t have been the same.

And Finally

We thought it might be of interest to put some final information about our kayaking adventure. These apply to Rob, Kay and Rosie’s final details, Steve might like to add statistics for his solo voyage north of Aberaeron. So here goes:-
Total of 25 days on the trip, of which there were 17 paddling days, and 8 bad weather days
Total distance paddled = 655 km, average distance paddled = 38.5km per paddling day
1 Sudbrook (Chepstow) to Sully Island 47km
2 Sully Island to Kenfig Sands 48km
3 Kenfig Sands to Mumbles 18km
4 Mumbles to Porth Eynon 21km
5 Porth Eynon to Tenby /Caldey Island 42km
6 Tenby /Caldey Island to West Angle 46km
7 West Angle to Solva 31km
8 Solva to Newport (Parrog) 56km
9 Newport (Parrog) to Cwm Tydu 41km
10 Cwm Tydu to Aberystwyth (Sarn Gynfelin) 40km
11 Aberystwyth (Sarn Gynfelin) to Shell Island 41km
12 Shell Island to Porth Oer 53km
13 Porth Oer to Gyrn Goch (Trefor) 33km
14 Gyrn Goch (Trefor) to Beaumaris 38km
15 Beaumaris to Llanddulas 38km
16 Llanddulas to Flint 41km
17 Flint to Chester 21km

Flint to Chester – the final day

Woke to possibly yhe warmest morning of the entire trip. A long lie to half seven was followed by a leisurely breakfast, trying to eat what we could of the left over food. The evening before Kay and Rosie cooked a veritable three course feast, complete with wine.
Rosie’s father was due to pick us up in Chester around four in the afternon. This meant paddling against an ebbing tide in the Dee. With the pick up time in mind, we set off paddling at 10:00. The paddling started with an sixty foot plus seal launch ! Once in the Dee we paddled for all of a few hundred metres before deciding that it wasn’t such a great plan. The speed of flow, together with the very low depth made for hard paddling. So we got out and walked. After about a futher fifty metres we gave in, and went and sat on a sand bank. After waiting half an hour, we started on what turned into a long slow haul up the Dee. It wasn’t until a couple of kilometres before Chester that we noticed any tidal assist. The 20km that we covered on Wednesday was covered at an average speed of roughly 1.5 knots. Suffice to say Chester was a welcome sight.
As you may imagine, paddlingup the Dee felt strange, almost surreal. We seemed to be suddenly surrounded by industrialisation, people, and commercial enterprises. After a month travelling on the sea it felt very alien.
We set foot on dry land at about 17:45. Rosie’s dad had got the car to witin twenty yards or so of the river, which made life so much easier. He then produced coffee, pasties, and cake.
Some mixed emotions at the end … On one hand a feeling of achievement, on another, sad that it had came to an end. But at the same time, looking forward to running hot water, a comfy bed, and seeing family again.

Finished …

Just a quick note to say that we finished at Chester tonight just before 18:00, crossing the Welsh / English border at 17:10. Kay did try and update the blog earlier this evening but for some reason it’s not updated properly.
More tomorrow ….. A hot bath beckons …..

Monotony, perseverence and reward

Left Llanddulas at 8am for a four hour paddle against the tide past Rhyl and Prestatyn. Kept looking across and Rhyl Sun Centre was still there. To add to the tedium it chucked it down on us too. Finally Point of Ayr made an appearance. Passing Mostyn we started to benefit from the now flooding tide and enjoyed the increase in speed of progress. We are camped just outside Flint tonight, in a delightful spot. Just waiting for the first two courses to go down before desert. Doing our best to finish the bag of Pinot Grigio.

Had a very comfy night in a lovely place belonging to a friend of Gwyn’s in Beaumaris last night. It was completely unexpected and amazing (check it out at Today paddled to Penmon then across to the Great Orme. Had a real Llandudno seaside experience with a visit to the amusement arcade on the pier (to visit the loo) and ice creams. Had a sleep on the beach at Rhos on Sea and ended the day with a Thai green curry, a San Miguel and a fire to accompany a tranquil sunset. Mixed feelings about the trip coming to an end.

Down and Out in Caernarfon

We left Whistling Sands Thursday pm for windy paddle to north of Trefor. Chilled in Cofi Roc with Mike on Friday, are getting fed up with being weather bound and leaving tomorrow,giving Anglesey a miss due to weather and time Chester being our priority if possible.Managed to get Rob in the buff,

A Friendly Pilgrim

A quick update. We are at Porth Oer after a long day from Shell Island yesterday. Kay had a close encounter with dolphins, so close you could almost reach out and touch their fins. Got all psyched up to go through Bardsey sound, and then found it flat calm and friendly. The pilgrim Expedition feels like it’s nearing home now. Going to try and get up towards Trefor today. We’ve just had a Whistling Sands breakfast which should help. Trying not to take too much of this squeaky sand with us.

Dolphins, and a bacon buttie too far

Finally left Pembrokeshire and were welcomed into Ceredigion by dolphins. No shooting at Aberporth thankfully as it was a Sunday. Stopped at Cwm Tydu and bumped into Marcus searching for turbidites. Monday, and paddling on to Aberaeron for bacon butties and cappucinos and check the forecast. Steve then decided to make a push for rounding the Lleyn before the bad weather arrives. The remaining three are continuing to coffee shop hop and had tea in the evening sunshine in Aberystwyth. Currently (almost midday Tuesday) sipping jet boil coffee in Tywyn, powering to paddle to Barmouth against the tide.Hoping all is well with Steve.

It’s not getting easier …

We are still in Newport. Think we need to move on to give our livers a rest. Spent yesterday on a guided tour with our campsite owner in Cwm Gwaun brewery, then onto the Dyffryn Arms, reputedly the oldest pub in Wales. Spent all afternoon with many interesting characters and my stomach muscles now ache from laughing so much (thought the paddling would have sorted these out by now). We met Charles’s Darwin’s great great grandson, an international peace prize winner, a south Walian harbourmaster and Bessie the famous landlady of the pub.
I have no idea how many units of alcohol were consumed. Today has been much more sober. Explored Newport, and gently declined an invite to be taken to Bessie’s again. Big news, the girls won this round of come dine with me. Psyching ourselves up to move on tomorrow. Will be sad to leave Pembrokeshire.

Solva to Parrog

After a bar supper at Solva, and a discrete camp beside the coastal path, we were on the water for just after eight. Paddled through Ramsey Sound, past St David’s Head, past Strumble Head and Dinas Head, and on to Parrog. Arrived at Parrog sometime after eight, and took about two hours to get boats and gear up to the campsite. With the incoming weather, the chance of a bunkhouse was grabbed, and by around eleven at night were sitting down to some welcome curry, followed with banana malt loaf and rum laced custard :-) . We then shared some whisky with the owner…. and treated to some home made cider in return. We slept well.
After a lazy start on Thursday, spent the day being a tourist.
Today (Friday) will be spent watching the wind and rain, and drinking lots of tea, as the whisky is all but finished.

Tuesday 12/6th The day after the night before.

We woke up in West Angle after getting to bed at 3 am,to find ourselves on a nice beach with a carpark,dog walkers and toilets.A bit of a leisurely start across Milford Haven to St. Ann’s Head meeting the firing range patrol boat again offering us assistance,but we didn’t fancy a coffee in the middle of Milford Haven so we declined Jack’s Sound on slack, across to Solva with many Puffin’s a navigational debate ending with Rosie and K owing the boy’s a pint, rather good camp spot.

Pembrokeshire Heaven

Wow, an amazing last few days. We left the Gower behind with a 30km open crossing from Worm’s Head to Caldey Island. Caldey provided spiritual enlightenment, it’s a very beautiful place. Next up, after dodging the firing range at Penally we were met at Barafundle by the Castlemartin patrol boat. As the range was very active we were kindly escorted 3 nm out to sea, and then back! The swell and wind had picked uup sufficiently to hamper progress. Paddling in a chunky following sea with a 3 m swell with tanks firing ringing in our ears will be a memorable experience. So after a rethink on a beach by St Govans Head we decided the best plan was to paddle round Castlemartin on the evening tide. Paddling around the huge cliffs and the Green Bridge of Wales sea arch in the setting sun was sublime. Navigating into West Angle at midnight in the fog was a very interesting experience.

Patience …

Plan is to cross to Tenby on Sunday. Three nights at Port Enyon have filled the stomachs but emptied the wallets ! The local pub and cafe have had more than one visit.
Out for a walk round Worms Head today.

Porth Eynon

We have been stuck at Porth Eynon, before worms head, for a couple of days and the weather forecast isn’t great. The next stage is a big crossing of Carmarthen bay.
Rob is the winner of the first round of Come Dine With Me.

Marooned at the Mumbles

Well it has been an interesting couple of days. Left Sully Island and handrailed the coast to Porthcawl. Decided not to stop and pushed on rou d the coast. After a twelve hour day, eventually found a break in the coast that allowed us to land through some surf. The boys were on the tea and fire duty. Suffice to say the the boys are winning the first heats of ‘Come Dine With Me’, although the girls are expected to win soon. The wine was all but finished, and the sloe gin is all gone. Rum and whisky left….
Today was the crossing from Port Talbot, which was ‘interesting’ at times. The sea kicked up a bit, so stopped at the Mumbles. After asking at the RNLI, scrounged a ‘camp’ at Mumbles Sailing Club.

Cous cous everywhere

First day of paddling today. Launched from Black Rock picnic area into a very misty Bristol channel. The tops of the bridge pillars disappeared at one point. After handrailing the Welsh coast we decided to go for it over to Denny Island. Top speed 9 knots. After getting the forecast decided against staying on Flatholm, difficult decision as we passed very close to the island. The wind had picked up and typically was in our faces. After a well earned rest stop at Lavernock paddled on to Sully Island. After carrying boats up discovered Kay’s back hatch half full of water and cous cous floating around in a salt water soup. It was the men’s turn to cook, and we were treated to a feast. We owe the Moveable Feasts author a vote of thanks. Oh and the tarp from Pete Baars came in handy too. Hope it stops raining tomorrow. I think we’ll all sleep well tonight.

We’re here

Left Menai Bridge at 10:00, arriving at Sudbrook about 15:00. Felt smug watching all the traffic heading north. Boats packed and just having a brew before setting up camp. Taking bets to see when the tide turns.