Wednesday, 27 April 2011

gNashing at the Heddon Mouth (Exmoor Day 1)

The big plan was to head out to Lundy Island to escape THE wedding - I couldn't imagine a better place to indulge in a few well earned beers after a few days paddling, lie in the sun and do nothing.

Zero Carbon impact or just the impulsion to give it some stick I decided it would be a satisfying challenge to paddle there from the South Wales coast.

A three stage plan was hatched. Paddle a fairly long crossing to Headdon Mouth from Nash Point, then next day bumble along a few miles of the highest sea cliffs (250m) of mainland Britain to Lee Bay west of Illfracombe, meet up with some friends and paddle on to Lundy Island to sample the delights within the Marisco Tavern.

Loaded up at Nash Point waiting for the top of the flood
Looking back at Cwm Marcroes
Launching from Nash under beautiful sunny sky there is just a little breeze. I paddle straight out on my bearing which I hope will get me to the right point the other side!

It's not long before the clouds come. The day turns overcast and fairly cool which makes for a good paddling temperature. A fairly brisk easterly cross wind picks up which is a bit of a pain. Even with the skeg fully deployed and my boat packed to be stern heavy it  weather cocks annoyingly. Occasionally I need to paddle with biased blades - left shaft longer than the right - to try and maintain a constant paddling rhythm. I wished that the boat would track better in a cross wind. Just had to plough on.

Meeting other seafarers - best keep out of their way!
As requested I call in my position every hour to the CG and watch the tidal drift track on the GPS as I wait to be picked up on channel 67. Bang on neap tides, as expected, there is still quite a flow building up, thankfully, as my aimed off bearing is based on some of it.

Another big one - not that many out here today
After a few hours I've passed the middle and can see the English side getting closer - slowly!

England looms closer, Exmore - but it's still a bit dull and overcast
It doesn't actually feel that long a time before I finally arrive at Headdon Mouth and the sun decides to eventually pop out to provide a glorious evening on the beach to cook tea on.

Headdon Mouth - with the tide still going out
Actually the maths seemed to work - sort of
3 hrs 45 mins to paddle the 33km (averaging 4.6 knots) - seems I paddled over quicker than it would have taken to drive! I'm fairly chuffed. Time for some grub and watch the sun go down before heading off to the Hunters Hotel. Did I forget to mention there was a convenient-ish public house up the wooded valley? Oh yes!

Looking out of Headdon Mouth along the coast that will be tomorrows trip

At the end of a satisfying day!
Very eerie Blaire Witch walking through the wooded gorge up to the Hunters Lodge for a few well earned pints - I'm rewarded by the sight of an old friend - Addlestones Cider. The brewery were kind enough to sponsor me and some friends with a few casks of the nectar on my first channel crossing. Time to pay them back!

After an enjoyable evening talking amongst friendly strangers, I make my way back to the beach by some totally different route, never the less the lack of light pollution sets the stage for a truly spectacular show of stars in the cloudless night sky. I have my very own planetarium.

After staring up at the sky from my bivy bag for a while, I'm fast asleep.


annekatherinehanson said...

Sounds wonderful Eurion. Thanks for sharing!

Richard said...

Nice one Eurion, great write up.

Doreen Murgatroyd said...

Great photos!. What wedding? Having a map added to the interest and the length of time it took you to get over - being quicker than by car - is impressive.

eurion said...

Being my first solo open crossing it won't be forgotten quickly. It was a tremendously satisfying trip. Doreen, the wedding was that of Prince William to Kate Middleton, they had a wedding in England which everyone seemed to talk about-I think it was even on the tv and radio. Was in all the papers.

eurion said...

For some reason best known to Blogger, some of the comments left on this post seem to have disappeared - no offence if it was one of yours - they simply vanished, and I have no idea why!