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')

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Adur, two and a half hours later...

Leave the ocean with its crashing waves, paddle 2 hours with the rising spring tide and after 12nm you pass under the Mock Bridge, the sea a distant memory.
Beyond that you enter the realm of duckweed pushed into mats by the wind and tide, in places reeds and rushes clog the waterway from side to side. The trusty Anas acuta proved ideal at forcing a route through the thickest tangles, the fine bow rising and pushing them aside under its weight, allowing lesser boats to follow.
Eventually you reach the remnants of Shermanbury watermill. The trees growing up through the maze of contorted walls and channels, something like Angkor Wat before the tourists. Meeting a swimming grass snake, head held above the water, added to the illusion.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Shetland: Muckle Roe

 Muckle Roe has an underground side to it. The caves were much cooler than outside leading to a mist with very large droplets somehow suspended in the air.
 Surprise lurks round every corner!
 Sometimes you find a way out,
 sometimes you don't.
 Out in the open air it was a lovely day of stacks,
 beautiful coastline,
 gulleys between the rocks,
 yet more stacks,
 yet more caves,
 yet more arches,
and yet more coast.
Only about an 11nm circumnavigation, by the time you've been in and out of the caves it feels like 20. We were pleased to be in sight of Roe Sound again, yet sad that we had run out of island.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Shetland: St. Ninian's and Fitful Head

 St. Ninian's Isle makes a good walk in windy weather,

 and Spiggie Bay a fine campsite.
 The Isle is also an interesting paddle, despite the motion. or maybe because of it, there was a wild atmosphere which made up for missing out on some of the caves.

The circumnavigation is completed by a portage across the tombolo joining it to the Mainland. Whilst we were there this beach was voted one of the 10 best bathing  beaches in the World in a travel magazine. A designation that had Shetland folk laughing since the water is so cold that no-one bathes there. Presumably the judges worked from photographs rather than personal experience.

Note the head torch, essential paddling kit in Shetland.

Yesterday it was a severely windswept 'best bathing beach'.

Heading south towards Fitful Head the triangle of Stack o' da Noup dominates the coast.
 The Wick of Shunni is a bay on a vast scale, this corner was the only landing place out of the swell.
 The Kame and the Nev rise to nearly 200m in a vertical wall of rock.
 This is the view from Fitful Head, domain of the bonxie,
 and the view north back along the coast.
Time for a well deserved tea at our camp at Spiggie.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Shetland: Sumburgh to Troswick

 The day before had been a non-paddling day, SW f6-7, and the west coast was still choppy so we decided to tackle Sumburgh Head from the east. Delightfully sheltered with a lazy swell, paddling up,up, up; paddling down, down, down. However, the swell offered less delight once the Head was reached. The guidebook states that the 'easy passage inside the stack' can be used to avoid the roost and overfalls. Today the passage was anything but easy with the surging breakers punching straight through. The outside didn't look at all nice either, passing Sumburgh Head would have to wait for another day.
 The coast north to Troswick was fine consolation, blocky cliffs,
 confiding puffins,
 massive caves, often with seals lolling on the ledges,

 challenging corners in the swell,
and fine vistas.

Our lunch spot was in Troswick Bay. The aerial antics of Arctic Skuas forcing the terns to feed them rather the chicks they were trying to feed kept us engaged; when we were not whistling tunes to the seals or watching the otters.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Shetland: Vementry in bright and breezy weather

 Usual Shetland blue skies, but f4 becoming f5, as we left Brindister.
 Lunch in the shelter of Northra Roe, a familiar red and white helicopter came and had a look (see on the skyline), were they looking for us?

 No, they were on a training flight, touching down near the guns.

 On the way back the f5 had kicked in making it hard work.
Necessitating a second lunch, lazing in the sunshine, backs to the wind. Our beach had a few pieces of driftwood and some old bits of rope, but no plastic. There are many mussel and fish farms nearby so on the west coast of Scotland you would expect a jumble of farming debris. Not in Shetland. You see old mussel floats recycled into plant pots, tree protectors etc., old rope wound into skeins on the quay sides awaiting a use. A strong 'waste not want not' ethic that makes the coast the cleanest we have met anywhere.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Shetland: Skeld and Westerwick

 What a collection of stacks, tunnels and arches! Superb from the sea in calm misty weather. This was our first day in Shetland, hot off the ferry and anxious to get out on the water. One of the best 2 mile stretches of coast anywhere in the world. Although we had been in Shetland less than 12 hours we all agreed that even if it blew a gale for the next 3 weeks it would have been worth coming.

 Just as spectacular from the cliffs and a short walk from the campsite in Skeld. So much in such a small section of coast, the mist just hanging at cliff height. A good place for wild flowers as well.