Paddles with an Anas acuta...... unashamedly biased toward the sea kayak of that name (actually the voyages of two boats, one 'traffic over gold', one 'quill')

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lucky with the weather in Lakeland

800 or 8000m? all it needs is some snow and cloud in the Lakes. Here Wasdale Red Pike. Just for the record 826m.

Scoat Fell


and the view down from Pillar. It was an alarming 35 years since I'd walked the Ennerdale circuit. The Pillar group are still less frequented than most of lakeland, mainly due to the 'long' walk in from the car park. Ennerdale with its alpine style river the least developed glen. Even the forestry plantations are being sympathetically managed nowadays and in a century will look natural. Snow in the night and a poor forecast meant I saw no one and not even a footprint or trace of the path over the summits. On top of CawFell and Haycock before 9 a.m. the rocks were covered in slippery verglas, luckily the southerly F6, despite feeling very cold, melted the hard ice or it would have been a very slow walk. Down to Black Sail where I met a handful of walkers and then back over the Buttermere fells, High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike and the long descent back to Ennerdale Water and the car, no one was going my way into the eye-watering wind. 18 miles and 1800m of climbing, 35 years ago it was a much shorter walk with easier gradients, but there you are!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Launching at Lee Bay at HW was not going to be easy after a brisk NW wind all night. It was just after dawn and we had finished packing the boats whilst it was still dark. I launched and paddled out sitting astride the boat and slipped in once clear of the clapotis, others waited for that special wave to lift them off the slipway.

After the first hour from Morte Point, Lundy is just visible;

and the mainland is getting further away.

Another hour and some features of Lundy can be discerned. Island and mainland vanished from time to time in the low cloud, but our course of 300, paddling into the NW 2-3, was letting the spring tide carry us down towards the island at about 4kt. We met some large shipping, going astern of the first, the second altered course to let us safely pass ahead, and the third passed well astern of us. The ships were bigger than they looked; the whole sea was on a larger scale than the Solent.

So 4.5 hours after leaving Morte Point we made landfall.

Lunch and sorting out what to carry uphill to the campsite.

What a kayakers' island! The view from the Old Lighthouse. Some of the entries in the kayakers' logbook at the Marisco looked pretty suspect but many illustrious names are to be found there.


Guillemots and razorbills were congregating on the ledges, the swell washing the rocks. After exploring N to S in our day and a half, although you could easily spend a week here and not see everything, it was time to catch the tide back.

We had a narrow window, the tide turned at 15.30, we had 20nm to go, it would get dark before 20.00. The wind was W 3-4 but forecast to rise to force 7 in the night. Luckily I was paddling the trusty A. acuta; and not the Dagger Juice 6.9 I had entered into the logbook (continuing the spirit of a certain exaggeration of paddling prowess to be found in those pages!). After an hour of making 6kt with tide and wind in a strange rolling sea, there was no way back and no plan B, it was Morte Point or bust. Shearwaters and fulmars skimmed our heads as I let the boat find its own way through the troughs and valleys, gentle knee pressure is all it takes. Our 110 degree course, offset for the tide, was spot on; taking us to Morte Point in just over 3 hours.

Dusk was falling at Bull Point, all that remained was to avoid the back eddy, I went close in around the breaking surf at the foot of the cliffs, others paddled harder slightly further out. Lee Bay was pretty choppy, the seas breaking over the sea wall (see first photo). So it was a case of a controlled dismount and swimming the boat in on a line. The slipway is not at all slippery so it was possible to keep your feet even in waist or more high clapotis, but there was a certain amount of luck in how neatly the boats were carried clear and of how much frenzied scrabbling in, or under, the water took place. The evening's entertainment for locals and tourists alike. Maybe we are already on youtube!