Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Today, Manchster shoppers have been slogginig it out for those final prezzies and Manchester United have been playing host to Everton. This combined with icy roads has spawned traffic chaos.
What better way of escaping the commerial riot and find a calmer, more peaceful level from which to view the world.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Although we couldn't get hold of any mulled wine, we did manage to have a hot chocolate break between circuits of the 1 kilometre trail. The only downside was the rush hour traffic across the Pennines on the way home.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I have been missing some of my friends from north Wales recently as I have been so busy exploring the shores of northern England. I was eager to catch up with Barry Shaw before he set off for his trip to circumnavigate New Zealand's south island with Justine Curgenven. After being treated to a splendid roast dinner and done all the catching up I could handle, I headed off into the night to meet up with some friends from North West Sea Kayakers staying near Pwllheli.
In true NWSK outdoor & adventure style we engaged in a pre-christmas retail frenzy avoidance weekend. Kev and Gill organized a wonderful cottage near Pwllheli in north Wales. I arrived later than expected and was roundly ticked off by Cap'n Roscoe.
What a terrific way to stay far from the madding Christmas crowds - Recommended!
For more photos click here!
Sunday, December 09, 2007
As we neared the end of our trip 2 of my friends who were paddling an inflatable canoe spotted something big and red on the riverbank. It must have been washed up by the previous night's flood.
We think this beast may have escaped from a nearby panto performance of Jaws. I have never come accross a pantomime shark before but those teeth look rather sharp. Blessed with hindsight we decided that giving it a ride home on an inflatable canoe was unwise.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Life on this windswept beach seems to go on as usual despite the prescence of 100 iron men looking out to sea. These wading birds, called 'Knot' out number the iron men many times over.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The change of the season,
Brings in new creatures,
And I search for no reason.
The storm, wind and rain,
Brought me my pet spider,
He eats all the flies,
And keeps me from myther.
I provide food and a home,
from the hustle and bustle,
He shelters by my window,
Beside the bottle of 'Mr Muscle'.
Monday, November 26, 2007
The Lancaster Round is an extraordinary paddling trip which combines sea, river and canal to complete over 26km in a loop in the Lancaster area.
The trip starts and finishes at Glasson Dock where the estuary of the river Lune opens out to the Irish Sea. We paddled up the estuary on the last of an unusually high flooding tide making our way into the historic part of old Lancaster. Leaving Lancaster downstream behind us we paddled over and above Skerton weir, normally a 2 metre drop but well submerged by the high tide.
Kayaks had to be carried up a steep path from the river Lune to the Lancaster Canal 30 metres above before we could continue the next stage of our journey. The Lancaster Canal runs right through the old industrial heart of Lancaster and we found ourselves paddling amongst huge mill buildings that are at various stages of well deserved re-development. Unfortunately we had no time to stop at any of the fine pubs en route. I feel a return will be appropriate when we have longer daylight hours.
Finally the canal leads out into the beautiful Lancashire countryside and for the most part we were sheltered from the harsh prevailing weather.
Once we arrived at the village of Galgate it was time to turn right onto the Glasson Branch of the Lancaster Canal. It was to prove the most exhausting stretch. We were now paddling northwest right into the prevailing icy wind, and there were 6 locks to portage. Once we arrived after dark back at Glasson Dock we treated aching bodies to hot chocolate beside a nice warm fire in the Victoria Pub........... Perfect!
Monday, November 19, 2007
....... A warming glow .......Last year's challenge was padded by the close proximity of 'John Mark and Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Co.' and their never ending supply of free samples, but I knew that this time they wouldn't be there. So imagine my delight upon arrival, at the sight of our neighbours for this year's festival weekend.
.......... and we all got along just fine, despite our differences (whatever they were).
From the mountains to the sea....
Among the greats of mountaineering that graced the BMC stand was Alan Hinkes who is the first British mountaineer to complete all of the world's 14 peaks over 8000 metres. Having marvelled at the views of South Stack and the sheer cliffs of Gogarth Bay, Mr Hinkes (left) enquired enthusiastically as to the nature of further adventures depicted in the 'Welsh Sea Kayaking' guidebook.
The reminiscence of his early days as an outdoor instructor in Northumberland included tales of paddling in huge seas and tide races around the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne. The subject moved on to future projects and the possibility of a sea kayakers guide to the shores of northern England and the Isle of Man grew with each golden sip of Orkney malt.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I was joined by my colleagues Tina (with whom I have done much of the training) and Andy (who has been rather secretive about his training schedule).
As I wandered around at the race registration area I became all too conscious of the whippet like and focused appearance of my fellow competitors. Undeterred, I completed with my preparations before meeting with Tina and Andy to take the short bus ride to the start at Nant Peris.
The first part of the course climbs the Llanberis Pass, a huge but steady climb of over 250 metres after which it is down hill all the way to Bedggelert, the half way point at 13 miles. It was at this point when an old injury sustained many years ago playing football began to make itself apparent. It had been raining heavily for the last four miles.
The second big hill lay ahead beyond Beddgelert and it was at this point I decided to give my troublesome knee a rest by walking up it. No shame in that many were doing the same. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help looking round to see if my tyrannical sports teacher from school days long gone was checking up on me.
As the hill topped out I was soon off to a good pace again and soon approached Rhyd Ddu where Kirstine and my brother Chris were waiting. Their vocal, moral and practical support gave me a real boost. The weather had deteriorated considerably and I was thankful for Kirstine’s windproof top without which I would certainly have succumbed to hypothermia.
As I approached Bettws Garmon at around 18 miles my knee began to get seriously painful. Too painful for running, but I was still determined to continue whilst I could still walk. There were other walking wounded along the route too, one of which was a nice chap called Colin who was wearing a ‘Scooby Doo’ outfit. He was raising money for Prostate Cancer. Together we combined our determination to make the last climb and get to the finish. The top of the last climb was bleak, misty and very cold, and Colin had been uninhibitedly vocal about his wanting for a hot, sweet cup of tea. Undoubtedly one of the finest moments of the day was defined, when through the swirling mist at Bwlch-y-Groes a windswept voice enquired, “Would anybody like a nice cup of tea?”
This was much needed as what followed was a painful and slippery descent into the final stages of the race at Llanberis. Once off the hill Colin and I managed to run some of the last mile to cross the finish line in just over 6 hours.
Congratulations are due to Andy and Tina for finishing in under 5 hours, but I should also take this opportunity to thank Kirstine, Chris and Ana for their support, and I'd like to encourage anyone reading this to support either of Tina's chosen good causes for which she was raising money through sponsorship.
Friday, October 26, 2007
" We wanted it to be an airfield where there were no politics. no committees and no hassle. Just somewhere to come flying, or in the case of the British weather, somewhere to come and talk about flying."
The idea seems very much like my beloved North West Sea Kayakers.
Mid morning boating in the sea off Scarborough.
Breathtaking views over Flamborough Head.
Back at the Eddsfield the atmosphere in the 'control tower' was lively and friendly as folk were dropping in and making plans for their next flights. I had a wonerful flying experience and a great time amongst some lovely peple.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sean and I made our way to the point and got ready to put on at a beach beside a car-park the warden's boss turned up and told us that we weren't allowed to launch. He refunded our entrance fee. We didn't argue but instead looked for other places to launch.
Our search was unsuccessful. There was just too much soft estuary mud, which in places made for pretty circles around boat moorings. We decided that it was still early enough to go somewhere else and still get some paddling done so we headed north for Flamborough!
In the late afternoon sunshine we continued on our way from North Landing, along the coast towards Bempton where the tall cliffs play host to thousands of nesting seabirds during the spring and summer.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I joined some nice folk from Duddon Canoe Club on a trip round the island. We started at the public slipway on Roa Island and began to make our way northwest up the Walney Channel.
Progress was swift on the rising tide as the imposing industrial skyline of Barrow-in-Furness loomed out from the misty morning.
This is locally known as 'The Big Shed'. This is where BAE Systems make 'Big Things'!
The North End is a perfect quiet spot for a lunch break.
As the tide falls, water ebbs to the west into the Irish Sea. The resulting tiderace is perfect for a spot of surfing before heading off to explore the west side of the island.
The west side of Walney has some good surfing spots but there is little more to expolre than miles of sandy beaches.
The south end of the Island has a nature reserve some of which is designated SSSI so we didn't land. Instead we carried on in failing light and headed north back the where we started at Roa completing the circumnavigation, a trip of 20 miles.
There are a few more photos here. Thanks once again the folk at Duddon Canoe Club for their guidance and fine company.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Peter's briefing was a short sermon, the kind that may have kept me interested in going to church. As we paddled north along the promenade wafts of doughnuts, chips and pies flowed strongly on the gentle south-easterly breeze.
Glen was mezmerised by the whirling lights and almost became caught up in the giant wheel on Central Pier. Phew Glen , that was a close one!
There were a few shouts from sea fishermen on the last leg back to the finish. Its really difficult to see their rods and lines in broad daylight let alone at night.
In the meantime Mark was trying to work out how to get his kayak onto the 'Big One'. In the meantime my mind was on supper. The weather had been kind - Peter's guidance was spot on, and we even found a wonderful Fish and Chip shop just across the road from where we landed.