Thursday, 27 June 2013

Around Ireland ... photos and thanks

My kit is washed and dried and almost packed away ... and I think Im up to date with bookings!  

Here are some of my favourite photos from my paddle around Ireland.

The first few are taken on my Canon SLR camera.  

Day 4- We had just paddled round Carnsore Point, just beyond Rosslare.  It was a short day, but a peaceful camp, in amongst these giants.  

Day 15 - Great Blasket Island was a magic place.  This was the following morning after a F6/7, from the S/SW (beach faces N) and 300-400 seals enjoying the sunshine ...

One of the bee hive huts on Great Blasket Island ... I could have stayed longer 

 Day 22 - A sea stack at the Cliffs of Moher on the West coast.

Day 27 - A pod of 30-40 common dolphins, while crossing Killala Bay, SW of Donegal Bay.  We were with them for 10-15 minutes and it looked like they were feeding.

The following were taken on my small Pentax waterproof camera 

Day 2 Wicklow .. hail and it stung!!

Day 3 and the Raven Point Wexford.  A super sand bank area with loads of terns and sea birds, plus our first big pod and heard of seals. 

Looking out from my Bivi, towards the Fastnet lighthouse and the blur of the lighthouse caught by my camera.  The end of the South coast and moving North.

Day 15 and approaching Little Skellig. From a distance i could imagine it was Manhattan!!  If you wondered what the white was, the answer is to do with 30'000 nesting pairs of gannets ...  This was my top day, as we left Deenish island in the mist and on a bearing to the Skelligs, 30'000 was amazing soaring above our heads.  Justine landed for 30/40 mins and the tourist boats gave us a storm warning, so we headed off to the Blasket islands, where a pod of dolphins swam through us on our way. 

Day 16 and rounding Sybil Head. This was my most gripping day with 3-4 mt swell, reflected waves, curling tops and BIG clapotis.  The conditions slowly increased and we really experienced the Atlantic swell in action!!

Day19 - a couple of days after the storm and this section was pretty messy and confused.  Justine above  getting close to Brandon Point.

Day 21 and section of the coast after Loop head.  Again lots of confused water, with swell going one way, reflected waves the other.  It was sustained paddling.  After 4 hours and 14 nm I was happy to land and stay on Mutton Island, after all it was my birthday!

We had lots of this and more than expected ...

Day 26 - and even more of this ... truly stunning.  Along from Benwee Head ...


Day 31 -  despite the wind and rain this was another section of stunning coastline, North from Glencolumbkille.  A section called the 'enchanted rocks' provided a clue!!
This one above was amazing ... one tunnel led out and a waterfall greeted us and another tunnel carried on ... 

Day 33 and Ballymagaraghy. We meet soooooo many super and lovely people, thanks to you all.  This guy had just got in from work.  We were looking in a small village for some wear to eat, Jane (centre) knocked on a door to ask. The fella driving answered (sorry Ive forgot your name) and he said the nearest place to eat was 7 miles away.  We thanked him and started walking away, his wife ran after us and said they could give us a lift into town .... its when I happy to be the tallest in the group!!

Thanks to Sonja Ewen for taking the photo.

If you have never paddled along the coast of Ireland i would highly recommend it.  Its so peaceful, you have big areas to your self.  It has a far more remote feeling and a truly stunning and beautiful coastline.  

I would like to thanks P+H for the Cetus HV, which still looks pretty good and comfortably carried all my food and kit.  To Kokatat for all of my paddle wear, which in the hail, wind and rain kept me dry and warm.  To Mitchell Blades for the paddles which helped me crank out the miles and to Axel for the Axel Pack map case, which impressively kept all my charts and maps dry.  To Stena Line for there support both to and from Ireland.  It really was a smooth and efficient process.  To Sonja, for managing mission control, with updating the Blog, bookings and day to day admin with Coastal Spirit. 

As some of you may know I was also raising money for Cancer Research UK and a BIG thanks to so many of you who donated.  I raised over £1200 ... :)

Justines Blog and recap of our journey with some super photos can be seen here

Will i be back? I really hope so.  Was the Guinness good? Oh yes!!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Ireland Circumnavigation Complete!!

After a good nights sleep, early to bed and refueled, 5am felt OK. Our camp had been well sheltered. We were prompt at  packing and clearing up. The first part of our journey was S with a cross/tail wind. When we could see the Sound between Howth and Ireland's Eye (small island) we turned for a downwind run. 

It was F5 gusting up to F7, so it was a sporting ride. I was keen to make the most of it and at the same time not over do it as I would need plenty of energy!

The back of the headland was well protected and birds drifted about in rafts. We snacked and I for one didn't want to think about the next headland. Rounding it would put us into a headwind!  Heading west from Drumleck was physicall the toughest part of the whole trip for me. No shelter and the full force of a hungry wind. We landed briefly in a spit of land to snack. We had seen a couple of ferries leave, and I kept a good eye on both directions as I crossed Dublin bay. 

One last run kind of downwind and we were back at the start, 6 hours from waking. Dez and Sonja from deep blue sea kayaking, we're waiting on the harbour wall, flashing their headlights and honking their horn. 

Coffee and a Whiskey welcome, then back to their house for a fry up and showers. Our ferry  back to North Wales leaves on Monday, so a couple of pints of the dark stuff tonight ...

It's been a magic journey, which could be called the hospitality tour of Ireland. I'm sure I will be back ...


Day 42 Ireland Circumnavigation Sat 22nd June

Due to the previous days forecast of S F4 gusting F6 (making a headwind) we thought the day would be a rest day. I was the last one up at sometime after 8am and Justine was making a brew.

We chatted and decided to have breakfast first and then go and look at the conditions. We had a top breakfast and lovely homemade bread. And I indulged myself with 2 mugs of coffee!

It must have been 10 o clock when the three of us wandered down and as we walked across the dunes, we were surprised to see a flatter sea. There was more West in the wind and it all looked workable. We hurried back, and mentioned our change of plan. Bill used his car for 2 boats and Barry & Justine used a trolley  to transport the other. We paddled away just after 12.

We were keen to reduce the distance for Sunday, as 40 mph were forecast. We covered 18nm and were off the water at 1720. The first part of the paddle was a crosswind and as we paddled towards the skerries we had a super tailwind. From the other side it was a headwind!

The last two hours of the  day I found hard. I just couldn't get the right gear. Each time the boat came splashing down I lost speed and I worked hard to claw this back again. 

We regrouped, chatted over options and decided as we paddled into the next bay that if it was hard going we would look for the first camp. It was and we did!! Now just South of Portrane.

In bed just before 9, with a 5am up, to hopefully complete the loop. Forecast is W and then NW but gusting up to 40mph, so we will just have to see. We will at least have the whole day to work on the remaining 14nm.

 Saturday morning
Just 13nm to go to complete the loop


Saturday, 22 June 2013

Day 41 Ireland Circumnavigation 21st June 2013

Susana and Willy fed us very well, right up to the point of leaving, a big thanks. We paddled away at 7.30 on a calm sea. 
By midday a slight breeze had picked up, but nothing significant. By the 2nd crossing it had swung round into our faces, although still light. We pulled into Cloggerhead Harbour and Justine checked her phone, as we due to meet up with Sue for showers and food. Sue had attended a sea kayaking course I had run back in March.  

Bettystown was our destination and pick up. We were now into a F4 headwind, with no shelter. It was creating a small mushy chop, along the long sand beach. 

A car drove down the beach, it was Sue. Pointing out where to go and greeting us. A friend of hers, Billy also turned up with his car to transport the kayaks. The plan was to transport the kayaks to Bill and his wife's house, 5 minutes away and we could put our tents up. Sue would then take us to her and her husbands house for showers and food. 
We had a super meal and it was great to catch up. Rob was also there who had attended a course over a year ago and it was good to see him. Eilean who had paddled around Ireland solo previously, also joined the meal. 

Rob kindly drove us back to Bettystown, where Bill and his wife greeted us and insisted we sleep inside! We went inside to a roaring fire and a glass of wine.

    Our new camp tonight, thanks Bill for the pitch and to Sue for sorting.

    At Clogherhead harbour working out arrangements for tonight 

     Rest before our last crossing 


Friday, 21 June 2013

Day 40 Circumnavigation of Ireland

It took just over 3 hours to cross the bay, on a silky sea, with no wind. Shearwaters were out in big numbers, zooming about and rafted in big groups bobbing about. We could even see the Isle of Man this morning. 

We pulled up on to the beach and Justine called Susanna on her mobile. Her and Willy were on the way.

They both had sorted out a place for us to leave our sea kayaks, on the harbour front. And then we whisked off too their house for welcome showers and coffee. Currently sat in a sunny lounge, enjoying a rest. Mmmmmm, lunch is on the way...

Crossing to Annalong with the Morne Mountains in the background


Day 39 Ireland Circumnavigation

The Ards pinisular has been attractive. Low lying, but with many bays and attractive looking villages. This morning was also our 2nd otter sighting, just 100 mt from sea front houses. He lay on his back basking in the morning sunshine. 
We meet Will, a local paddler who was out to join us for the day. And he stayed with us until Kearney. We pretty much kept to the coast all day mainly due to the tide being against us and by the afternoon, we had a gentle headwind. Saw lots of Shelducks and Eiderducks with young. We struck lucky at St Johns Point, when Barry spotted a wall, close to the lighthouse + a natural slipway. Easy access to land and good camping space. We even met the lighthouse keeper who had been here for 33 years and he shared some of the history. 
We passed the most Easterly point today, Burr Point.
Tomorrow we cross Dundrum Bay to Annalong, where we meet Suzanna, a friend of Justine & Barry's, who we plan to stay with.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Day 38 Ireland Circumnavigation

The tide was against us for the best part of the morning, so it was a relaxed start and then keeping close to the shore. We worked our way round to Ballygally for lunch and as it happened a well stocked shop was selling ice creams ...fantastic!
The day had started warm, but a cool breeze had arrived and I'd got a little to cool padding in shorts and a thermal t shirt!
We headed out onto the flow, the wind had picked up to a f3.... yep a head wind! Light but in my face! We passed Larne and a big ferry went out of the bay ahead of us. 
We headed on and soon we were crossing Belfast Lough. After 3 big ferries, a container ship and a yacht we were across. The yacht and one ferry is all we had to wait for .. We headed on towards Copeland Island and loads of sea birds greeted us. Barry went ashore and quickly came back. The gulls had taken to the air and their fluffy chicks were running around. We headed on to the bay. On arrival we were greated by private island signs, no camping .. We were disappointed, but I guess being so close to Belfast, to protect the Island rules are needed. 
We headed across Copeland Sound and found a super small area of grass just above the beach and behind some houses. We are now just North of Donaghadee.

Looking forward to bed now ..

 Crossing Belfast Lough
This mornings camp


Day 37 Ireland Circumnavigation

Fried eggs by Andy and rounds of toast from Justine set me up for a good breakfast! And then I was off with John to the Post Office to collect my tent pole that Sonja had posted. My boat and kit was loaded so John then dropped me off at the small ferry terminal. He then went back to collect the other 4 and two boats. We said our goodbyes and wished Jane and Andy all the best with their open crossing to Jura which they begin on Tuesday. Big thanks to John for his kindness and hospitality.

We paddled out of the harbour and headed out to the West side of Rathlin Island. There was light drizzle, no wind but cold. The North side of Rathlin was stunning, bay after bay with stacks of seabirds. We landed on the North East corner, had lunch and could hear the race running. I had a super lunch of potato cakes, hummus, cheese and peanuts. The sun began to show itself.

We paddled out into the faster water and Justine clocked over 7kn on her GPS. Happy days. We spent the next hour or so picking out the faster water which generally meant staying a way out. We landed at 17.00 after 7 hours inclusive of breaks and 31 nm. No rush in the morning as it's clear that using the tide is a great advantage!!!


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Day 36 Ireland Circumnavigation Sunday 16th June 2013

A bacon butty is a good way to start my day and John had a pot of coffee going..happy days!
It is nice to slow down, the first time since my allergic reaction earlier in the week. I still woke at 6am but snoozed until 8am!
John kindly dropped us into town to shop while Andy started on a major repair to the Aleut. John took our food back in his car and some lunch for Andy.
A good lunch of fish and chips, and ice cream and a walk to look for a pub. A Guinness later we walked back to Johns, it felt good to stretch my legs.  A group prepared Shepherds Pie is for dinner before an early night for me.
John having been a postman has offered to go in early to collect my tent pole. This will be a great help as we can then make the most of the day. At the moment the plan is to out to Rathlin Island and ideally go around the outside on our way to Fairhead and our paddle South.


Day 35 Ireland Sat 15th June

It was a wet and cold start, one that I felt was the coldest so far. We covered 8nm to Ballycastle where John known as the Rathlin postman met us at the Quay and very kindly shuttled us back to his house. After hot showers and lunch we all felt so much better. Clothes are now being washed and we have a Chicken casserole for dinner, then shopping and an 8 day food re-stock.

Squalls chased us for the two hour paddle, with good caves, arches and waterfalls appearing. At Carrick-A-Rede we went under the rope bridge with some exciting and spicy waves pushing through.

I need a replacement tent pole (mine snapped earlier on but Ive done a temporary repair job on it but am concerned it won't last the journey) which Sonja has sent out which should arrive by 1pm on Monday, so weather dependent we will push on then. We have approximately 160nm to complete the loop.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Day 34 Ireland 14th June 2013

We had a nice relaxed start after our later night and headed along the coast rock hopping and paddling down channels. We stopped at the headland to explore and discuss options and after speaking to Adrian last night we headed for Portrush, keeping well out to avoid the firing range!! We could use the wind to begin with but the last hour was into a F4 headwind. Squally showers pushed through and the colours and the light were fantastic. We worked our way along the coast to the Giants Causeway. The first bay was disappointing but as we rounded the corner, the cliffs with Basalt columns rose out of the ground and were stunning. Another squall hit us, darker and stronger and heads down we paddled on looking for a small Bothy. It was locked! Justine texted and phoned a couple of result! We put our tents up, cooked food and then....someone came walking down the hill with a key! He had seen the location of the SPOT and wondered if we needed a Bothy!
To Ballycastle tomorrow and a day or so of rest. Jane and Andy will then leave us at some point as they paddle on towards Scotland. (We saw Jura today!)

Susan and Aiden on Gola, with Jane and Andy Morton, Justine and Barry.


Friday, 14 June 2013

Day 33 Ireland Circumnavigation

Up at 05.30 and it was our best pack out this trip in one hour and fifteen minutes (not that Im counting or anything!!!) We headed out to Fanad Head with a light NW wind on our side. It took us 4 hours to reach Malin Head. We could clearly see white caps so we aimed above the headland. It lived up to it's reputation with steep 3 metre waves. It was fun and exciting. We landed a mile or so after and had lunch. For the rest of the day we had a following wind with a smaller sea state. 32nm and camped at Ballymagaraghy. Winds are going South and stronger so hopefully we will be protected and if we choose to stay we are in walking distance to a few shops. We shall see what the morning brings!!

 Noel in the driving seat who very kindly drove the 5 of us 7 miles so that we could eat out, cheers Noel

Tuesday night on Gola


Thursday, 13 June 2013

Day 32 Ireland

Toast just tastes so good! We had a leisurely start after our later night. 24nm and camped West of Melmore Head. We had 2 hours into a headwind this morning and then the wind eased. We landed on Inishbofin for lunch and even found a table to use! The island though was very quiet and it had an uneasy feeling about it. We've tended to have current against us and by late afternoon I was feeling sluggish. Andy used their 1:50000 to locate a narrow channel which had good level grass close to the beach. We've just repacked the boats for a 0530 start to attempt to get around Malin Head just after midday ahead of the bad weather.

Thursday night and close to our camp


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Day 31 Ireland Circumnavigation

A wet and windy start, F4 gusting F6.  I'd forgotten what it was like clearing away a wet tent! The next 10K of coastline was truly stunning, major tunnels, arches and rock formations. One area is called "enchanted rocks" and even in the wind and rain it was magic. We hopped across Dawros Head and had lunch on a small island. The wind had paused and was due to go West which would be good! We finally made it to Gola Island, 32nm. On our arrival a couple waved to us from a house. We later found out they were on holiday and they offered us showers and mugs of tea! We cooked our dinners and then joined Sue and Aiden for more tea! They very kindly also offered us beds for the night! Big thanks to them both for their hospitality. North coast tomorrow and Bloody Foreland Head.
 A good day to do the washing..
 Camp on the 10th June
Friday nights camp

Our hosts Sue and Aiden


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Day 30 Ireland Circumnavigation

Sunday evening I had a seafood chowder and smoked Haddock with Champ (mash with spring onions) and dessert was a couple of pints of Guinness. On the walk back to the tent my throat felt uncomfortable, my nose started running but at the same time was blocked. Once back at the boats I popped a Piriton tablet which eased the symptoms. This morning we walked into the village and the Irish Language College was super at helping me out. One of the staff gave me a lift to the Health Centre 7 miles away. The Doc gave me some non drowsy meds and some Steroids and said I was lucky as it looked like I'd had an acute reaction to Shellfish. I got a cab back, picked up some lunch and had a restful day. The rain arrived and its looking like an unsettled week.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Day 29 Ireland 9th June 2013

Arrived at Glencolumbkille in the county of Donegal. A new county and 24nm. No wind until the last hour and yep it was a headwind! Super little grassy camp above a small sandy bay. Loads of Storm Petrels as we crossed the bay to Caraghan Head. Stunning cliffs greeted us and a small beach for lunch. A swim was in order, the second of our trip! Its also the third day where Ive worn just a thermal top, shorts and Crocs. Last forecast we got showed that the next couple of days are due to get windy, with the wind on our backs!

Enjoying a meal cooked by someone else...!


Day 28 Ireland

Up early, 1ft of surf and no winds but loads of midges!! We crossed Killala bay and saw 20-30 Dolphins. They could have been hunting as they were slapping the surface of the water with their tails and swimming in tight circles. Magic....
We paddled on to the town of Easky for water and specific items of food and entered a new county, Sligo. We then headed across Sligo Bay towards Inishmurray, 25nm. What a fab island, loads of sea birds, flat grass and an OK landing. Going to take a wander soon as there are houses on the island. Tomorrow is another good weather day and then the winds pick up!!!

Inishmurray, our landing beach.


Day 27 Ireland 7th June 2013

A farmer cam down early evening to warn us about the cows and showed us a smaller area but workable, to the East side of the beach.
After a relaxed start I was blown away by the beauty of the coastline. Huge cliffs, arches and rock structures and the sun shining on the rock really made it stand out. The wind picked up at Downpatrick Head. Camped at Lackan Bay in the dunes, and our first surf landing. 24nm completed. Hope that the surf has settled down by the morning.
Boats on the beach at Lackan Bay


Friday, 7 June 2013

Day 26 Ireland June 6th 2013

Light winds assisted us at the start of the day and time past. Saw and heard a few more calls from Divers today. Last two hours were into a F4 headwind and we had nowhere to go. It was a long day but a good 34 nm and a 500nm in total!!!

Camping at Portacloy

Back with Jane and Andy Morton


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Day 25 Ireland Circumnavigation 5th June

A few ablutions this morning with me washing my shorts and socks  as we waited for the tide before we broke camp. Jane and Andy of K2GB ended up stopping at Inishturk and Mary Jo saw them. They ended up camping in her garden, what a super lady! Our tide begins at about 11am so fried eggs for breakfast!!

We had a relaxed paddle to Achill with the tide and only had to get out once to look for the deeper channel. The flood tide flows into the Sound from both directions and just south of the bridge dries out. We managed to paddle up against the flow under the bridge and found a slipway. Into the supermarket over the road for a restock, rubbish binned, phones charged at the hotel and the a super Alice's burger with chips and salad when Andy and Jane arrived to join us for food.
We then paddled off together with the ebb helping us along to a rocky landing but a super grassy camp.


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Day 24 Ireland (4th June)

We woke to a beautiful sunrise and the chatter of terns and skylarks. We paddled out with a gentle breeze on our backs and a significant swell running. We headed out to Inishbofin and landed on Inishturk Island for lunch. As we were having lunch a lady called Mary Jo offered us mugs of tea and brought out some chocolate biscuits.......magic!!! She's also given us 9 eggs, what a star!
Once in camp we took a short walk to a pub, the first time since we've been wild camping! It was a good evening and as seems the norm here we were made very welcome.
We are now at the entrance to Achill Sound on the Corraun Peninsula, 30nm and a later start tomorrow to catch the tide.

Our provider of chocolate biscuits, tea and eggs, thanks Mary Jo!!