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Archive for the Kayak Trip 2013 Category

Folding Kayak Adventures: Penzance to Charmouth Photographs

Photographs from my 11 day adventure from Penzance to Charmouth in a Wayland folding kayak.

Penzance | Mullion Harbour | (Rounded the Lizard) | Coverack | Gorran Haven | Porlerro | Cawsands | Hope Cove | (Rounded Start Point) | Torcross | Teignmouth* | Budleigh Salterton | Beer* | Charmouth

For details of each individual leg of the trip please see the blog posts below. For information on resources used, please see my Penzance to Charmouth kayak trip page.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Budeligh Salterton to Charmouth

Day 11: With the sound of my alarm which I had set for 4am still ringing in my ears, I quickly packed up and headed off into the breaking dawn of what was to become a very hot and still day. The paddle along the coast to Beer Head seemed to take forever – once the sun was up it was hard going as there was no wind nor wave. I stopped briefly at Beer for a drink and ice cream. I had forgotten how steep the beach at Beer was, although this was not a problem under the day’s conditions. A sizeable flotilla of sail boats were out from Seaton; all had their sails up but the craft were all stationary due to the absence of wind to fill their sails. In the previous two weeks I had seen more sailboats “motoring” rather than sailing.

Continuing on past Seaton I was now on home territory as I made my way along the Undercliff. Boaters were out in numbers at Lyme Regis from where I headed on to Charmouth where I was met by my parents and Nephews who helped me pack up the boat into the boot of the car.

From Charmouth we headed inland to Fishpond Bottom where I spent several hours cleaning and washing out the sea salt from all parts of the kayak’s frame and skin. After ensuring everything had thoroughly dried, the craft was finally packed away ready for the next adventure.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Torcross to Budeligh Salterton

Day 10:

Finding myself a awake at least an hour before sunrise I was pleased to observe that the wind had dropped off completely and the waves were no longer dumping on the beach. So I packed up quickly and made a quick exit from the beach, paddling into a breaking dawn. Sunrise approached as I reached the mouth of the Dart and I was treated to a beautiful head on sunrise. The wind soon picked up, although it dropped off again after a few hours.

After paddling across the mouth of the Dart I made my way around the headlands surrounding Brixham before reaching Berry Head from where I set a Northerly course across Tor Bay for Hope’s Nose on the other side at Torquay. A large vessel looked rather out of place anchored up in the bay. On reaching Hope’s Nose I followed the coast to Teignmouth, arriving at the turn of the tide. I had to put a bit of effort into paddling up into Teignmouth as the tide was just starting to ebb. I landed on the inner side of the point from where I headed off on foot in search of breakfast. For some reason the harbour was completely covered in a diesel-like substance. After a couple of hours I decided to head out on the full flowing ebb tide so I made a reconnaissance trip to view the conditions on Teignmouth Bar. The tide was running out at a rate of around 5Kn into a turbulent area of water on the bar. I decided my best bet was to enter the flow and then break out into the slack water on the starboard side, paddle out to sea and then cross the bar beyond the most turbulent area. I completed this set of manoeuvres flawlessly and was soon on my way on a course for the small coastal town of Budleigh Salterton. I deliberately kept away from the coast to ensure that I would avoid any waves breaking on the bar at Exmouth.

On arrival at Budleigh Salterton I paddled to the mouth of the River Otter where the beach is less steep and better protected from any Easterly swell. I then headed into town to purchase some provisions. In total I paddled around 32NM for the day which I was pleased with given the conditions.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Stuck on the beach at Torcross

Day 9: Awaking early to the sound of a strong breeze and waves dumping on the beach I soon realised that unless the wind and waves dropped off then there would be little chance of getting my wooden framed, canvas skinned craft off the steep pebble beach at Torcross without risking damage to the vessel. The waves were dumping at exactly 90 degrees on to the beach. After watching a local man take three attempts to get through the wave on a surfboard to take additional buoyancy to a small boat anchored off the beach I decided it was not worth the risk, so decided walk barefoot back along the coast to look at the lost village at Hallsands and the lighthouse at Start Point.

From Torcross I headed up on to the cliff path before coming down into Beesands where I stopped for a coffee and ice cream in the Britannia Beach Cafe. Just before the Cafe I came face to face with several large Conger Eels which had been hung out to dry on a rack waiting to be cut up and used as bait in the pots. Continuing West, the path went back up on to the Cliff before returning to the beachfront in Hallsands. Back on the cliff there was a lookout platform where you could view what is left of the old lost village which disappeared over the last century due to the removal of gravel by dredging in the area at around the turn of the last century. A further 1NM brought me to start Point Lighthouse where I was able to watch the race under wind against tide conditions.  On my return leg I stopped for lunch at the pub in Beesands before spending the rest of the day on Torcross beach eagerly awaiting a change in the conditions.



Folding Kayak Adventures: Hope Cove to Torcross

Day 8: Heading down to the kayak in the morning, I quickly got underway and around Bolt Tail before making my way along the coast towards Bolt Head. The 2NM between Bolt Tail and Bolt Head were windward although I was in awe of the cliffs. On rounding Bolt Head I encountered some interesting currents which I worked my way through before heading a little way into Kingsbridge Estuary, stopping at South Sands for breakfast. The ebb tide was kicking in so I decided to make my way out of the mouth of the estuary and head further East before tucking into the cove behind Gammon Head and await a favourable tide to round Prawle and Start Points. The beach at Elender Cove is truly spectacular and was an enjoyable place to wait for the tide. I did manage to drag myself away from the beach and up to the lookout station where I checked for weather updates and  a good view of the sea state off Prawle Point. It was certainly windy up at the lookout station!

After 5 hours of sitting tight, I headed out towards Prawle Point. Just before reaching the point I took a look at the remains of two recent shipwrecks which were rusting away on the rocks, one of which was “The Demetrios” which wrecked here in 1992. I kept close to the shore, just far enough off to avoid the reefs as I passed through Lannacombe Bay before taking a leeward course past Great Sleadon Rock. Heading towards Start Point I could see the Race working around the Point. On arrival at Start Point I briefly joined the race, surfing my way down the flue waves that the race generates before breaking out to head around the corner towards Hallsands. The expected back eddy appeared and pulled me around to Hallsands, as it did so I passed the “Lost Village”. From Hallsands, it was a further 1NM NNE to Torcross where I landed through a small dumping wave onto the steep shingle beach.

After pulling the kayak up the beach I headed along the seafront in search of a feed.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Cawsand to Hope Cove

Day 7: After a night of interruptions I headed back to the beach and got myself ready for the dash across Plymouth Sound. The original plan was to head directly out across to Plymouth Breakwater. HMS Diamond and a challenging head wind now stood in my way, so I opted to creep along the shoreline to Hooe Lake Point before dashing across to the Western end of the breakwater. Several military ships were operating on the leeside of the breakwater and it was only a few minutes before a submarine got underway – thankfully this time was nothing like my 2010 submarine encounter off Pladda Island in Scotland (During my Lands End – Inverness trip I had come within 50 meters of being run down by a nuclear powered submarine travelling at speed on the surface whilst paddling between Ailsa Craig and Arran).

I paddled along the Southern side of the breakwater to the eastern end where I waited patiently as HMS Portland was underway – I wasn’t too sure if the Royal Navy would appreciate seeing my Jolly Roger ensign flying over Plymouth Sound. I then sprinted across the channel to Bovisand pier before setting a new course, passing inside the Great Mew Stone. Because of the headwind I decided to hug the coastline where possible, thereby taking advantage of the limited shelter provided by the cliffs. The journey around Bigbury Bay was extremely enjoyable – the coastline is very attractive, as is the mouth or the river Erme. I passed on the outside of Burgh Island (famous for its hotel), before going close inshore at Thurlestone sands to inspect the natural arch in the bay. On arrival at Hope cove I pulled my kayak on to the beautiful beach at Outer Hope.

After enjoying some food and a beer at the Hope and Anchor pub I spent some time exploring the area and writing a few postcards. The highlight of the evening was watching a spectacular sunset from the beach – a wonderful finale to an awesome day.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Polperro to Cawsand

Day 6: I awoke a little later than previous mornings having had a nice comfortable bed to sleep in. After checking that my kayak was still in order I returned to the hotel to enjoy a full English breakfast and a chat with some of the other residents. After checking out, I set an Easterly course along the coast towards Rame Head which took me past Looe Island. The range at Tregantle was in use so I made sure that I was far enough out to sea so as to avoid the “danger area”, although I could still hear the shooting at 2NM out to sea. After several hours of paddling I rounded Rame Head before heading towards Penlee Point. Between the two headlands I encountered a welcome area of relatively rough water which was to be expected, given the state of the tide and wind. From Penlee Point I headed into Cawsand Bay and landed on Cawsand Beach.

After completing the necessary paperwork to leave my kayak on Cawsand Beach I had an interesting chat with a fellow sea kayaker who had paddled around Great Britain way back in 1972. I spent the late afternoon relaxing on the beach watching the various types of pleasure, commercial and military craft moving in and out of Plymouth Sound. Later on in the evening HMS Diamond, one of the Royal Navy’s new type 45 destroyers anchored in Cawsand Bay. I spent the night in a nearby woodland where I was rudely awakened firstly by a group of noisy drunken teenagers (who had no idea I was there) and then by a group of large unknown animals who swiftly ran off after I made several growl-like noises to frighten them away. Thankfully, there were no further interruptions for the remainder of the night.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Gorran Haven to Polperro

Day 5: Waiting for the tide to turn at Gorran Haven gave me a chance to enjoy a full English breakfast and catch up with the harbour master before heading out to the Gwineas rocks. I then set a ENE course for the small harbour at Polperro. If I had had time I would have liked to explore St Austell Bay but instead took the direct route across to Polperro which took me several NM offshore – a thoroughly enjoyable paddle.

On reaching Polperro, I landed the kayak on to the beach just outside the harbour entrance and pulled my vessel far enough into the conveniently located smugglers cave so that she would be well above the high water mark. Because the beach was covered for three hours each side of high tide the boat would be safe from any interference during this time. I really enjoyed exploring the narrow streets of Polperro, even more so once I had managed to wash out the sun spray that I had accidently sprayed into my left eye during the crossing from Gorran Haven. This meant checking into a hotel for the first and only time on the trip, which also gave me a chance to recharge my phone and camera batteries. After visiting the Polperro museum to learn about the area’s rich smuggling history, I visited a few taverns including the “Blue Peter” and the “Ship Inn” where I enjoyed some real ale and live Jazz. In the evening I treated myself to a steak at Nelson’s restaurant after yet another fantastic day.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Coverack to Gorran Haven

Day 4:

I set off from Coverack at 6am, first heading for Lowland Point and then on to the Manacles – a group of rocks that have seen more than their fair share of shipwrecks over the centuries. On reaching the Manacles I set a NE course straight out across Famouth Bay for Dodman Point. The sea state was smooth as I paddled across the front of Carrick Roads. It took several hours to reach Dodman Point on which there is a large stone cross. About half way through the journey I desperately needed to pass urine, so quickly had to fashion a makeshift urinal using a plastic bottle. From Dodman Point I followed the coast line around Pen-a-maen Point and into Gorran Haven which is a charming mix between working harbour and tourist beach. I tried without luck to contact the harbour master before heading into the village for some lunch.

I spent the evening  looking out over the Gwineas rocks after a wonderful day out on the water.

Folding Kayak Adventures: Mullion Cove to Coverack

Day 3: After spending a beautiful night up on the headland above Mullion Cove, I headed down to the harbour in preparation for the next leg of my trip which would take me around Lizard Point – notorious for its challenging seas and shipwrecks. My plan was to reach the Lizard at slack water, then go out wide into the race and away from the danger of the rocks. I launched into Mullion Harbour at around 11am and made my way through the inside passage between Mullion Island and the mainland. On leaving the lee of the island the ground swell was noticeable, so I kept a comfortable distance away from the cliffs which are truly spectacular along this section of coastline (as is the noise of the waves smashing against them).  On reaching Rill Point, I looked right for any signs of the Boa race which forms off shore.

As planned, I reached the Lizard at slack water, making sure that I stayed at least 0.5NM South of the outermost charted rock. The race was barely perceptible in the conditions. Once I had made it around to the Eastern side of the Lizard the groundswell disappeared completely. Continuing East, I passed under Bass point where there sits a lookout station and the famous Llloyd’s Signal House. Further around I could see the Kilcobben Lifeboat Station which replaced the original at Polpear Cove. I continued onwards past Black Head, Chynhalls Point and finally Dollar Point before landing inside the tiny harbour at Coverack. A well earned pint awaited in the Paris Hotel followed by fish and chips from the Old Lifeboat Station. The remainder of the afternoon was spent studying the history of the old Coverack lifeboat.

Jonathan Tolhurst

About Jonathan Tolhurst

Based in London, my interests include photography, kayaking, paddle boarding, electric unicycling, teepees, robotics, programming, databases, informatics and pharmacy.

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Jonathan Tolhurst