Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sands of Time

Sea kayaking on the Bristol Channel can't get much better than this in February, can it?

I’m going to take you to a private island that will be all yours for the duration of your stay, and a sandy beach filled with sand of such fine quality that it is dredged for its renowned smoothness.

The down side of this is that the beach is notorious, nay often described as treacherous and it is not attached to the island. To maximise your stay on either you will need to visit them a few hours either side of spring low tide. But I think it’s worth the effort.

Nash Sandbank is the sandy beach, and the detached island is of course our trusty Tusker Rock.

Leaving St Donat's Bay

Adrian, myself, Jim and Richard, leave the slipway at Atlantic College on a fantastic clear morning.

Jim in full swing

And head westward with the ebbing tide.

Approach to Nash Sound from the east

Cwm Marcross

At Cwm Marcross, the eastern tip of Nash Sandbank lies just off the cliffs of Nash.

Richard finding some excitement in the slightly confused water

Shadowed by the two Nash Lighthouses, the sandbank here is marked by an east cardinal buoy. The west Nash cardinal is a further 8 miles along the sand bank and can't be seen from here, not even on a day like this.

Our little place for a while

The Mid Nash cardinal, well, is in between the two in, errr the middle.
Not all of this vast sand bank is visible at low tides, but enough on the eastern side dries out on a spring low tide to enable a brief visit.

On Nash Sands looking down the sandbar towards the west

I think it's quite impressive.

My blue boat having a rest

Strange things happen at sea

The sand bank has a history of taking many lives, most notably the disaster that occured on the 16th of March 1831. The passenger steamer “Frolic” was wrecked on the sandbank, with the tragic loss of all on board (estimated at 80 passengers and crew – General MacLeod, army officers and Pembrokshire merchants among them).

As a consequence of the public outcry that followed, in 1832, Trinity House built the two lighthouses that can be seen today.

An early etching of the lighthouses at Nash Point

The Nash lighthouse was the last manned lighthouse in Wales. It’s other claim to fame is that in 1977 a rare tuberous thistle (Cirsium Tuberosum) was discovered growing in an unploughed limestone pasture in it’s grounds. Just thought you might like to know.

There are tales of the sand bank being used to gain revenge:
In the mid-15th century Sir Harry Stradling set sail from Somerset (his permanent residence) to visit his castle at St.Donats and en route his ship was captured by the Breton pirate Colyn Dolphyn. His ransom of 2,000 marks was so high that he was forced to sell his manors of Sutton (Glamorgan) and manors of Bassalleg, Rogerston and Tregwillim (Monmouth).
A year or so later he received information that this same pirate was approaching the Glamorgan coast, probably to revictual her in one of the inlets near St.Donats. That night by the use of false lights on the cliffs, Sir Harry lured this ship on to the treacherous sandbank at Nash Point, where he and his followers captured Colyn Dolphyn. After a summary trial, for which he was afterwards severely reprimanded, the pirate was condemned to death. The method of his execution was to bury him up to his neck in the sand at the mouth of Tresillian Cave, leaving him to drown when the tide came in. It is said that his screams still haunt Tresillian.
Stradling - Legends of St. Donat's Castle
Children in the local school at Wick, re-tell the story of Colyn Dolphyn the pirate – who used to take refuge on the island of Lundy.

Adrian crossing the sandbank

Leaving these tales of woe behind we head out towards the Mid Nash cardinal with the last of the ebb, arriving at slack water.

Richard passes Mid Nash Cardinal

Glamorgan Heritage Coast at its best

We head now against the start of the flooding tide, towards Tusker Rock to stop off for our lunch break.

Tusker has it's own stories to tell

We sit and watch as the tide begins to rise and reclaim the rock. This place also has claimed many lives and vessels in the past - but I think we'll leave this for another time - enough history for one post I think.

Looking back towards Nash from Tusker

After taking our tucker on Tusker, we hitch a ride on the accelerating conveyor back through Nash Sound at a sedate 6.8 knots.

Rounding Nash Point we head on back to St Donat's Bay to finish quite a spectacular day's paddling.

14.5Nm (26km)


Richard said...

Great post on a great day's paddling,

eurion said...

Certainly was a great day out, perfect weather. We must get out again soon.

Unknown said...

Can the public use the slip way if ask permission i have a sea fishing kayak ans i live in llantwit major ans llantwit major beach is to rocks to get tto the sea on low thanks

Unknown said...

Can the public use the slip way if ask permission i have a sea fishing kayak ans i live in llantwit major ans llantwit major beach is to rocks to get tto the sea on low thanks

eurion said...

Rhys - there is no access to the public from the slipway.
Llantwit Major beach does change but generally on the west there is normally access for an easy launch at low tides, you can get access there on the concrete slipway or on the east side after walking over some rocks there is easy launching off flat slab rocks