Sunday, 8 June 2008

Holm on the (firing) Range

Disappointed that a bit of an epic trip planned from South Wales to Lundy Island had been called off due to unstable weather, a trip with a bit of a challenge was needed to use the better weather promised for Sunday. We were not let down.

Famous Five, The Secret Seven, there is a touch of Enid Blyton about both the Holms stuck out in the Bristol Channel. Interesting, intriguing, certainly worth discovering, Flat Holm (the most southerly part of Wales) and Steep Holm. Even if that does involve a visit to England!

There and Back Again

It is a challenging trip, requiring a long fast ferry glide between the islands. Just after the peak spring tide, we expected quite a full on experience, with a North, North East wind F3-4 occasionally 5 there was going to be a little wind against tide on the ebb on our outward passage. Tidal stream of up to 3.8 knots was going to be expected in the shipping lane as we crossed between the two islands. Hold on to your hats, have faith in your angle, and don't stop paddling!

Penarth Pier

Bearing out to Flat Holm (left), Steep Holm (right)

Leaving Penarth on the last hour of the flood, we made an ark out into the channel ready to drop down onto Flat Holm with the ebb. That strategy worked very well.

Dropping down onto Flat Holm

Arriving at the jetty, we made our way to pay our landing fee and begin being at the receiving end of gull guano dive bombing, a repeating theme on both islands.

The island had taken a few prisoners that morning. The ferry had been unable to pick up the previous days visitors (due to absent crew members) and so they were captured 'till the evening ferry could safely land at the jetty to extract them.

Rush of water between the two islands

The Flag and Foghorn (cool name for a pub)

A very interesting island. Attractions include a lighthhouse, foghorn, a cholera sanatorium, numerous gun emplacements built to protect the channel from invasion during the late 1800s and during WWII. The Victorian canons seem to have been literally tossed to one side to be replace by the modern weapons. And of course thousands of gulls. Marconi transmitted the first wireless signal over the sea from Flat Holm to Lavernock on 13 May 1897. Just as well he used morse code, as no one would have heard him over the screaming noise of the birds.

Canon and Lighthouse - Flat Holm

Ruins of Cholera Sanatorium

Gull Galore

The Famous Five

Sharing the water with other users

Welcome to Steep Holm

Imagine how we felt when the bared gate read "by appointment" (so inhospitable these English types), we tried to phone, no answer, must be in the garden (they couldn't be down the shops or far away now could they). Not ones to be put off, we scaled the gate (the Enid Blyton excitement got the better of us), to find Mr Maslen to arrange an appointment. It transpired that no one was on the island, so we left, by walking around the perimeter to return to the gate.

Looking back down to Flat Holm from the top of Steep Holm,
with Cardiff in the distance

Holy Buried Canon Batman!

Sunny Side Up or Over Easy?

Bofors 40mm canon with shells of a different kind

Stairway to . . . a search light

"Fish for tea love or do you fancy a Shag?"

Now bugger off or I'll Shit on you

See - I warned you

Jim enjoying a Swell Time mid channel on our return

Chris also having a Swell Time on our return towards Flat Holm

We enjoyed a few civilised pints at the invitation of the yacht club, on the balcony over looking the pier in time to watch the stranded Flat Holm visitors arriving on the evening ferry.

And as if by magic it all went calm and it's not as if Lundy Island won't be there for another day.


James Murray said...

Excellent blog as usual, well worth the wait. Still do notknow how you get to take the action shots.

eurion said...

Jim, you are so kind with your words.
I find one hand on the paddle and the other on the camera works well to get some shots. But then I always end up at the back and hold everyone up!