The 430 alarm was slightly too ambitious. As the drunken screaming from ladies shouting about peeing over her feet and another about a dead rabbit in the road with its guts out everywhere kept me and Katie awake a little too long.
We were on the water for 7 and made a quick exit onto the sea. We had minimal to eat and landed at Fowey to make up some wraps and eat. We were still having headwind and picked our way from Gribbin Head towards Chapel Point hoping to gain some lee out of the wind. Dodman Point Was looking plain and it had been a little worrying as this was going to be the last tide race.
As we rounded Dodman Point Katie was ecstatic to see Gull Rock and the smile and look in her eyes was good to see.
We paddled towards Porthscatho and tucked in from the wind. I tried to phone my father but no reception. Porthmellin Head and then there was St Anthony Head was there (also knows as Fraggle Rock).
As we rounded the headland there was some kayakers who had come to see us, the same who had seen us off all those days and miles ago. I wasn’t in much of a talkative mood i was caught offf guard and had explained to Katie not to bother to get anyone to meet us on the water as I just wanted to finish as quick as possible. I left her chatting as she is good at that and just ploughed on. It was a little dissapointing to land on my own and not have a final chat with Katie about the gains and developments to tell her how grateful I was for her help and loaning of money, her conversations and normal just things. To tell her how much she had developed her kayaking and expedition skills.
Well anyway I landed with painful feet as a pair of shoes I had found had started to rub and I was hurting a little from that. But it was nice to get out but sad, really sad, this would be the last time for a while i would be landing a boat. These feelings are something personal I and wanted to have a bit of time to myself. Almost like an after paddle meditation. I felt slightly embarrassed as there was mostly Katies friends and photographers there to greet her. I just wanted to pack up my stuff and dissappear. It felt like some people are more excited about us finishing than I was.
It didn’t seem like finishing or something massive or monumental. I guess it’s because of the bad weather and wind it felt like lots of little trips not massive distances covered in weeks.
Now I’m lost bored, annoyed, broke luckly I had been preparing for the finish and how it would feel how I would feel. Post paddle blues and all that.
Leaving Salcombe and paddling out around Bolt Head the rocks there are amazing and look so different paddling this way the jagged rocks look like gigantic arrow heads beautiful. I had been on the cliff before but from the water they look agressive and almost evil.
Leaving Bolt Tail behind we paddled straight to Hillsea Point across Bibury Bay. Again this is a part of the coast I’m going to explore. We landed on the Great Mew Stone and had a bit of lunch and a bit of a snooze. Katie was not amused at me as I threw pistachio shells at her while she tried to sprawl out.
Woopse we lounged around for a little bit too long but we were back on the water soon enough with a little bit of effort.
Across the Plymouth Sound there were sailing boats out and We made good time across the harbour entrance it wasn’t as busy as some of the others we had been past. The wind was now starting up so we made slower progress and we’re wondering if we would make it to Polperro.
Around Rame Head Whitsand Bay opened up and it became apparent it was going to be a long paddle there with the wind and change of tide. We landed late at Looe using the harbour light to get us in on line. There had been a shout from the RNLI and the rib had been sent out an elderly gentleman had been reported missing and the guys were out lamping and the coastguards were walking the town.
The RNLI station let us use the shower Yay last shower of the journey.
There was loads of pedestrian noise with drunken screams and shouts breaking my much needed sleep.
Ambitiously we set the alarm for 430.
We left against the tide but had it to its full effect past Start Point.
We strait lined our way towards Torquay across Babbacombe Bay and had lunch on the water at the Ore Stone.
Onwards to Berry Head the next piece of coast has a rugged rocky feel I’m definitely coming back here to explore as it’s not too far for me. The rocks around Outer Froward Point look like some serious boat breakers in rough waters.
Landing at Newfoundland Cove we met some guys out on kayak trips and had a spot to eat There was a fire and it was nice to warm a little.
Off and towards Start Point we didn’t hug the coast but kept in a little using the tide and avoiding the bumpy race. The water was moving us on at a good speed and pretty soon we were past Prawle Point lookin in towards Salcombe. My friend Stephen Fuller and I had paddled the other way last year and I knew of a relatively nice place to put up the tent. When I landed I got chatting to two guys. We were invited to use their shower. Well who are we to refuse. Showered and shaved it could be the last time before the finish so I was greatful. We had a chat with them and their kids after and signed autographs.
The tent was put up and off to sleep.
Having had a blustery nights sleep behind the RNLI station we got onto the water after a little carry. The idea was to get town to Torquay today but hopes were dashed like a wave on a rock.
Wind, wind why this year? The windiest year for 20 years and we are only just over half way through the year not a good thing.
So the coast here is one of my favorites to walk and has some great features if you like walking.
Between Lyme and Seaton there is a great woodland walk with steep paths surrounded by woods. It’s lovely with the sea air. There are some amazing caravans on the cliffs and if you walk it a hole in the cliff you can scramble up to.
Onwards and we stopped at Sidmouth for a quick bite and on again. The wind. Ok your probably annoyed with me for mentioning it so much but as we made a break towards Budleigh Salterton .
The crossing cut out Le nice Ladram bay with its Devonshire red stacks and secluded beach but needs must. This was taking longer than presumed and just before we got to Budleigh we met another kayaker. Simon Vaucher who was going out to light a fire. Re recommended a place for us to land and we went to the beach. There was some surf but nothing too special.
We carried the boats up and went into town. Later I contacted Simon to tell him I was in town and he wanted to meet up with us. Cool.
We met and shared beers on the beach till late. Simon bike had broke down and I chatted a while while the services turned up. Nice guy.
Staying at people’s houses isn’t something I really enjoy but it was great and I’m very grateful. We were dropped off and retrieved our boats from the rowing club and got our things together and departed towards Lyme Regis. It’s not that far and can be seen from West Bay. It wind is a complete ass and we decided to paddle to Lyme as it’s a good set up for Torquay. The coast here is nice but doesn’t have some of the rough or big cliff grandeur that I love. So it’s quite a simple paddle for us straight lining. I used to practice Greenland rolling in Lyme harbour when I lived close enough.
There is some old history for me here being a kid being brought here and also fossil shops by the load. 20 plus years ago i drove my car down into the harbour and drove about on the sand it was really different back then.
Entering the cob there was the usual formal lines of boats in the harbour and a really easy landing. Lyme can be packed but the miserable weather was preventing that today.
The RNLI station was really helpful and showed us where to pitch the tent. There was a small area being the station.
My friend came to see us when katie and I were playing cards in the pub. Mat is also a tree surgeon and I sometimes work for him. He was meeting some friends and when I went to say goodbye Mats friends child dropped a knife on the floor. I put my hand up and said I’m telling in a sarcastic voice. Oops kids don’t know sarcasm and she started to cry. I shuffled out there.
We stayed in Bridport for 2 days dodging rough.
We had a nice nights sleep. It’s actually dark at night. There was one or two fishermen walking around that night talking loudly but it was nothing on some of the places we had been.
Leaving early we were women to a nice tail wind. One of the first in a while that was of any speed. There was minimal surf. In fact none what so ever which was good as there is some tines good sure here.
Leaving out past the nodding donkey and off along the coast. Past Woolbarrow bay and towards Lulworth Cove. I have walked this part of the coast and paddled and it was a shame I didn’t have time to show Katie some of the best bits.
We were making a line towards the south entrance to Portland harbour and as we got level with Ringstead we made more of an angle which pulled us towards the Bill. The tide here is great and just pulled us along and we landed with a bit of faf at the Bill.
Filled with fuel it was time to carry on. The tide was still our friend and we paddled on. Chesil Beach is a ball ache long boring and pebbly with steep steps and hard to land in the rough. Lucky for us the wind was right and was creating friend wave for us to plough on. The salty water had started to dry on our tops and poor katie was having difficulties as her top was rubbing and making every paddle stroke painful with the crusty salt. I didn’t have any ideas but my lucky safety Mars bar was pulled out and given as a last ditch effort to get to West Bay. My lucky safety Mars bar. I hope she appreciated it.
We passed Burton Bradstock where Barbara and Ian Hackforth had offered to put us up. I declined on the offer but thanked them anyway.
We were closer enough to West Bay and I turned on the phone. Messages from my father and his friend. Aghhhh. I tried to phone and was told they were there.
Ok, I did say I would phone when I was close enough but they decided to go early. I had also got a message from a long time friend Mike and I phoned him. He asked if I would like a chocolate waffle. Why? I couldn’t fathom it until I phoned him. He was actually in West Bay. Awesome. Mike was one of my phoning friends and we would chat once a week.
West Bay is a nightmare to land the slipway is in completely the wrong place and angle and makes an easy land/launch possible if the weather is wrong. As we pulled in the harbour masters minion was there and there was a massive party going on with live music. Is this for us? The one day we decide to turn up and it’s West Bay day.
I was worried the harbour master was going to be a little mad. There have been rumours he can be an ass.
Luckly he was slightly intoxicated and happy enough.
Mikes lovely wife Vic met us and soon Mike followed. Mike had brought some limca, a drink from India that had a long standing joke attached to it. Thanks Mike. I phoned my father and he was in Lyme Regis, was he lost? A breakdown in comunication meant he already went to West Bay and thought we had gone further. Everyone turned up and we had a little social. Barrie had brought some food for us to rummage through. After they left we were invited or kinda blagged our way into the harbour masters office for showers and use of the cooking facilities. It was a long old day and we didn’t get the tent up till after 1130. There was the hussle and bustle of activity of the bar and tent taking down. Not a pleasant sleep.
The first 20 minutes were great but again like a frying pan to the face the wind. This mad e the day a nightmare as it was pretty important to have the tide right all day.
We stopped for breakfast and paddled across Poole Bay. The wind definitely not being friendly. There wasn’t really anywhere to tuck in as we paddled towards Harry and Handfast point. This is one of the most beautiful places to paddle. We hadn’t seen too many cliffs since scotland and this was a great change. The wind had put us hours back already and the tide here usual zips you along but not today. We landed near to Harry and had a quick bite and through the cave. The stack is amazing here and the strata layers in the chalk has some facinating faults. Across Swanage bay and through the bumpy water at Pevril Point .
Aghhhh time, luckly the water was calm enough and we could use the chicken run. The tide and wind were now going to be against us between Anvil Point and Saint Albans Head. It would of been good to of had the tide here as it’s a lovely place to admire the cliffs and checkout the climbs. I used to trad climb here.
We paddled past dancing ledge and I got chatting to a swimmer. Its always good to talk to random people. This lady is a wild swimmer. We shared details and I paddled off.
Making it round Saint Albans Head Chapman’s pool has a slipway and we landed there for a quick full meal and decide Kimmeridge would be the best place for the night. We paddled onwards feeling the strain from the wind and keeping off the ledges and the waves.
Kimmeridge is a beautiful place and I had been there quite a few times before. Although I don’t agree with the kayak launch fee it’s still a lovely part of Dorset.
There was a Play going on and I couldn’t get any phone reception. My father was doing his nut in as I couldn’t contact him about meeting the next day. I could hear him bug he couldn’t hear me. Although frustrating it was pretty funny to hear him curse the phone and swear a lot.
We had met some fellow kayakers that evening and we’re even given a can of ginger ale and some cake. Yay for cake.
The warden came down and let us stay the night. I was ready for confrontation but the fellow kayakers stopped it turning into an argument and the guy actualy was nice. He let us stay the night and wished us farewell.
We got up and at it early enough and had had a good sleep.
Today was one of the first days It was really hot. Hot enough not to wear a suit.
I made the mistake of wearing the dry suit in the beginning but it was soo hot and stopped on Hayling Island to change. We had worked it out and had the tide with us all day. The delights of the Solent and it’s system.
I radioed in to the coastguard and was given the all clear. We paddled across to Horse Sand Fort without much hassle from sailing boats and punched for it across to No Mans Land Fort. The forts look like upturned bowls.
The next line was towards the top of the Isle of Wight. There was loads of money on the water as people sailed around. We kept away from the ferries when we could but it’s so busy. There is also the hovercraft. We made good time none the less and paddled past Osborne house. I had done some work there years ago and could remember some of it.
Landing at West cows the tide was running and just a quick healthy lunch was had.
Back on the water we made really good progress while admiring the money boats sailing. 12nm in 2 hours. Good time. Rounding Hurst Point we pulled the boats up and had a small rest. Enjoying the sun and minimal wind. Then on till we found somewhere good to land. This was a blue moon and was a really nice night with a good place to land.
A small sandy beach with rocks for breakers. Giving us some shelter. The tent was up and sleep ensued.
Leaving Shoreham early enough to get a long day in we paddled close to the coast. While paddling to the pier at Worthing i was supprised to see there was a man ressed in desert camoflage including boots walking a ferret. Well I thought I had seen enough in life but there are always suprises. That left me with a small face palm and a smile while we continued on towards Littlehampton. Dinner was a feast fruit, pittas with cheese dipped in olive oil and cheese stuffed peppers with nuts. We knew the next few days were going to be long hauls so best to stay on top and not run for too long on empty. When you start to feel hungry you are past the time you should of eaten. Too late so healthy eating is a must.
Littlehampton was packed and I was amused to watch the children playing tag. I must of looked authoritative as a small child kept talking to me. Lol. Me authorative.
So we left to paddle past Bognor. Nothing new there I decided to tuck in a Katie straight lined there was a miscommunication and the usual squabble ensued. We laughed later.
We landed at the lifeboat station near Selsey Bill and Pope to the loo and had a chat to the RNLI guys. Not at the same time obviously. They had a memo about us and we were welcomed in. A can of cola never felt so good. A printout of the Bill and a quick Google map search and we discovered a place to land.
Selsey Bill race was running against us at a few points but the dart like Taran cruises through with the little power the caffeine drink had given us. We could now see the Isle of Wight and we’re basically in the Solent. Wow this was another milestone. The sky was clear and paddling into the sunlight becomes a pain. We landed at East Wittering, pulling the boats up with the now regular method of one half boat carried half way then back to the other. Just so we don’t get too tired. The steep pebble beach is a pain, trying to walk up a steep beach with a heavy boat and your feel sliding back down is a massive ball ach.
With a quick scout around we found a half decent place to put the tent. It was in a small compound owned by Shore Watersport. Lucky for us.