Thursday, 28 April 2011

Headdon's Mouth to Lee Bay (Exmoor day 2)

Morning dawns at some point that I'm unaware of and as high tide is at 1600 hrs there is no rush to get up. 

The day really warms up as the sun reaches over the steep valley top and I extract myself from my bivy bag to a bright sunny morning.

It's going to be a fantastic day.

Heddon's Mouth 
One or two people have already made the trip down to this very pretty valley, either along the cliff tops as part of the South West Coast Path or following the deep valley walk along the river towards the sea.
In its past it has been visited by more than just walkers and day trippers. During World War II, German U-boats would re-stock with water and stretch legs along this section of remote coastline. For more information read what Martin Hesp has to say about secret Nazi U-Boat landings for water and a game of football along these deep watered shores.

After a lazy lunch and having packed the boat at the high tide level - it only remained to lie in the sun waiting for the tide - this sea kayaking lark has it's moments.

Once on the water, heading west, I pick up on the beginning of the ebb tide. What's in store is an overpowering sense of how small I am as I look up at these towering cliffs. The tallest is over 1000 feet - and are the highest mainland cliffs in Britain.

I get sucked early on into exploring the base of the cliffs. Progress is slow due to the curiosity and the urge to go look-see.

Time to crack on if I'm to get to Lee Bay and get set up before dark. Reluctantly I put my effort into making some headway - so I by pass the very interesting looking Combe Martin Bay with it's secluded sandy coves and Watermouth Castle. Heading off shore a wee bit to pick up on the increasing tidal stream I make towards Illfracombe.

On the approach I see MS Oldenburg heading into port. I decide to follow and make phone contact with my mates to find out the latest on the arrangements to Lundy.

MS Oldenburg - passenger ferry for Lundy - with heated saloons a bar and buffet - I'll be getting there by kayak,  fuelled by chocolate, bananas and Jelly Babies  
After shore side comms. are over and resisting the huge temptation of hot fish and chips, I'm back on the water and picking up steam at a comfortable 6 knots towards Lee Bay. In my enthusiasm and unfamiliarity of the coast I almost overshoot my destination, convinced it was around the next headland.
Safe arrival, I gett all my stuff off the boat and settle down to cook tea while watching the sun go down.

After food I make my way up the Lee valley to visit The Grampus Inn to sample the delights of it's various guest ales and socialise with a few local maritime characters 'till the wee hours. Since the 4am launch has been postponed there is no desperate rush to get back . . .

Lee Bay the following morning

The days coastline (11.2Nm/20km) - well worth a closer more leisurely paddle - will return soon!
Getting further from home


Stuart sea kayk said...

You've cracked out some great trips lately very envious. Look forward to reading the rest of the trip.

Richard said...

Great post again Eurion especially about the U Boats.
The U boats had found a way through the minefield into the Bristol Channel but after breaking the German's Enigma Code the British intercepted a message stating the fact they laid deep water mines allowing surface ships to pass but not submarines.
As a result there are 3 wrecks of U325, U400 and U1021 off the North Cornwall coast and I would imagine a few more undiscovered ones.

Taran Tyla said...

Looking forward to the next installment. Are you purposely trying to build up the suspense???