Sardinia, Oct 2023

Sunday 1st October

It was finally the day for six intrepid CKC kayakers to rendez-vous at Laguna Blu campsite in Alghero, Sardinia. The preparations had been ongoing for much of the previous year from planning calls with Clark, our local operator and provider of kayaks, to group zooms where kit lists, food plans and the all-important route planning was discussed.

The “advance party”, comprising of David, Liza, Fiona and Rich had flown into Olbia, on the other side of Sardinia couple of days before.  They had enjoyed some exploration – which seemed to have largely involved eating and buying local cheeses – before travelling to Alghero. 

Andrew and I (Claire) took the risker decision to fly Ryan Air direct to Alghero.  Ryan Air delivered and we were on time for the early afternoon trip to the supermarket to stock up for the week ahead.  Here there was much debate on which vegetables would last longest in our kayaks (aubergines, sweet potatoes and avocados it would later transpire) and if we indeed needed more cheese or not! More cheese was bought and it was a good hour and half later that we emerged laden with supplies. This was just in time for Clark to arrive at the campsite with the all-important kayaks and a briefing as to our route and camping options for the week ahead.  We were ready, or so we thought, for our adventure!

Monday 2nd October

Monday started with a relaxed breakfast at the hotel across the road from the campsite.  This is where I had opted out of the first night’s camping for the luxury of a bed and ensuite.  There was a general census that we needed a good breakfast to set us up for the week ahead, so the others headed over to join me for very good Italian coffee and multiple trips to the buffet. We then began the task of organising our kit and packing our kayaks for next 5 days wild camping. It took us over 3 hours to get organised before we finally launched at 2pm.  Quite a bit later than we had planned!

We launched on the lagoon by side of the campsite after some rather challenging carrying of the loaded kayaks down a slippery mud bank.  We then began to get accustomed to our new kayaks as we navigated the channel and emerged under a bridge to the sea.  With Alghero on the horizon to the south, we headed north and had our first views of the spectacular coastline which would unravel in the days ahead.

We had 15 kilometres of easy paddling as we adjusted to the hot and sunny conditions, a welcome change for us UK paddlers.  We saw the first medieval watch towers, of which we would see many over the next few days,  and paddled into the first caves of the trip.   The final stretch of the day was over a long bay to reach the beach where we would wild camp in front of a (sadly closed) beach bar. 

Due to our late start, it was almost dark by the time we arrived, so everyone was keen to set up camp and start cooking dinner.  The entertainment for the evening was a family of wild boars who were keen to share our food and kept having to be chased off by the braver members of the group.  We named the lead boar “Boris” who was pretty insistent on joining us, along with his wife and three babies. 

We were all pretty tired by this point and headed to our beds, only to be woken up by Boris and family re-appearing.  Luckily, Rich and Andrew, were quick to jump out of their tents and chased off the boars again!  Too much excitement for day 1 of the trip.

 Tuesday 3rd October

A full day of glorious kayaking 24 kilometres north awaited but first we had the daily task of de-camping and packing up the kayaks. 

The question of the week was “how quickly can we pack up in the morning?”.  On Tuesday we were still taking a pretty long time ….  about 3 hours from waking to leaving.  There was a lot to do to get everything back in the dry bags and then much groaning as items were pushed into every available space in the hatches. There was so much kit and not all of it was needed!

By luck the beach bar opened just as were ready to go, so it seemed rude not to order a round of coffees.  One of the few “luxury” moments on the trip!

Our paddle today took us around the coastline of the Capo Caccia and the Natural Park of Porto Conte – this has a number of fantastic caves and islands, which we took time to explore.  We enjoyed paddling around the rocky coast with the sheer cliffs above and gliding over the turquoise waters.

There were so many caves that warranted investigation, we developed a paddle signal system to let the rest of the group know if the cave was worth the effort of entering.  A paddle 90 degrees in the air equalled a fantastic cave and you must come in!  45 degrees and it probably wasn’t worth the effort.

 After a few hours of cave and coast exploring, we really had to push on, as there was still 15 kilometres to our campsite.  Hence a long paddle further up the coast and across a bay, finally brought us to the night’s campsite – a nudist beach…

 It was somewhat like a scene from a Carry-On movie, as we landed on the beach to be confronted by many naked men, who by the looks we were given, weren’t entirely keen on us being there!  Especially as we proceeded to create what became known as the “airplane crash” scene with kayaks, Ikea bags, tents and other kit spread across the beach.   We were quite a sight and so were the locals!

David and Rich had volunteered to paddle back across the bay to meet Clark for an all-important water re-stock.  They came back heavily ladened with twice as much water as we had requested due to a mix up with Clark. Still at least we weren’t going to be thirsty in the days ahead.

 After another long and exciting day, tents were pitched and dinners cooked, before early nights again for everyone.

Wednesday 4th October

Every morning we did a check in to see how everyone was feeling and Wednesday started in the same way. Fiona requested we scored how we were feeling out of ten and compared ourselves to animal.  Some took this more seriously than others!

Once we established everyone was fit to get going, we decided to paddle straight to the next area of caves, which we were keen to explore.  Here paddles were regularly hoisted to 90 degrees.  Andrew had a brilliant torch which allowed us to see some fantastic rocky interiors.  The most exciting was a very long cave that went entirely under a small island.  If it wasn’t for the rock formation in the middle, we could have paddled through the island.

We had a quick break on a rocky outcrop where Rich managed to rescue a stranded football, later to become known as Wilson, (see Friday).

By lunchtime, we had arrived at the old mining town of Argentiera, and landed on the sandy beach for lunch.  It was a very hot day and we were lucky to find some shade below the sea walls for another picnic lunch where Liza made a great salad and more cheese was enjoyed.

We were getting weather forecasts on a daily basis from Clark during our evening check in phone call.  He had warned us that windy conditions were due on Thursday.  As we headed out into the bay after lunch, it soon became clear these winds had arrived early and the sea conditions were the bumpiest we had experienced on the trip.  Initially, this was only swell of around 1 metre but as we rounded the headland at the north side of Argentiera Beach and Cove, we encountered very choppy water and a hotch potch of waves (clapotis) coming from different directions.  I was very nervous as these conditions were beyond any I had paddled in before, but the more experienced members of the group were fantastic in coaching and supporting me through it.  After a couple of hours paddling, we still had a fair way to go to our planned camp site.  Due to the conditions, and my increasingly slow pace, a decision was made to divert onto the beach at Porto Palmas.  Liza and Fiona went ahead to land in the surf and help the rest of the group safely get ashore.

The upside was a really beautiful campsite on a pebble beach with big pounding waves adding the wildness of the location. No phone signal meant a long hike up the hill to speak to Clark and update on the next day’s conditions.  It was another starry night chatting over hot drinks before bedtime.

Thursday 5th October

The morning check-in confirmed all were fit to paddle despite the drama of the previous afternoon.  We had a shorter paddle today so could take it a bit easier.  Saying that, there were some navigational challenges, and a bearing was taken to cross the bay in an effort to find the camping spot. By lunchtime, we had arrived on a rocky beach only a short hop from our campsite.  Everyone was pretty relaxed, swimming and snorkelling in the bay and enjoying their lunch time cheese.

We then headed round a couple of bays to our camping spot, finally having a bit more time for rest and relaxation.  Of course, this meant everyone went straight back out on the water taking the opportunity to practice rolling and rescues, prompting much interest from the tourists sunbathing on the local beach. After sunset it was time to get on with cooking dinner.

Friday 6th October

Unfortunately, this morning, we had two injured group members, so the immediate priority was to take a decision on the days paddling plans.  David had slipped in the camp the night before and hurt his wrist but decided he could paddle. Sadly, Rich’s efforts in teaching others to roll and using a euro blade he wasn’t used to, had left him with tendonitis in his wrist and arm.  Despite best efforts to keep going, it soon became obvious he couldn’t continue. It was indeed a low point of the trip when we left him on the beach awaiting collection by Clark.  Not to be left of friends, Rich promptly turned his football into Wilson and they spent the day, happily hanging out on the beach.

The rest of us set off for the last stretch of the western coast of Sardinia. It continued to offer the caves, cliffs and rocky shores we had enjoyed over the past few days.  There was little in the way of landings but David managed to find a sheltered rocky outcrop where we could have lunch.  We named it “David’s Cove” and settled in for some swimming, snorkelling and chilling.

Eventually we paddled round the most western point of the coast and arrived into the very touristy bay of La Pelosa.  This was all a bit of shock after the last few days of being in wilds especially when confronted by a very large pink flamingo! Plans of landing and having ice cream were quickly abandoned, as we couldn’t face the crowds.  Instead, we continued north in search of our campsite on Isola Piana.  Fiona and I hung out here, whilst Andrew went off for a hike and David and Liza, keen for more, paddled up the west coast of the large island to the north, the national park of Asinara.

Our last night of wild camping followed.  Bartering food had become the normal over the past couple of days amongst dwindling food supplies. It amazing how exciting it can be to swap a sweet potato for some onions.  Bartering complete, we cooked under the stars for the final time.

Saturday 7th October

Morning check-in confirmed everyone was pretty tired after so many days paddling.  Group antics were getting pretty crazy by this point – morning check-in was now a number out of 13 and what plant you felt like.  We also had a range of injuries from sore wrists to aching shoulders.  Hence a decision to take an easy paddle to see what we could of Asinara before we needed to head south for our get out.

After some easy paddling with views of the island’s sandy beaches, we again pulled into a rocky cove for a final swim and snorkel session.

All that was left, was a 10 km paddle south with a bearing across the bay to our get out south of Stintino.  After unpacking the boats for the final time, we were very happy to jump into Clark’s van and be driven back to Alghero for a night of luxury at an argiturismo hotel.

After goodbyes and thank you to Clark, and a reunion with Rich, long showers were enjoyed by all, before a fantastic dinner of local food.  Our adventure was complete, and we had a great evening celebrating with a few limoncello and glasses of the local brews.

Crossing the Meridian: Rottingdean to Cuckmere, July 2023

After a short safety briefing on the beach we left Rottingdean just after low water under cloudy skies, light winds and a small amount of swell – perfect kayaking conditions for this mostly straightforward paddle, but with some significant distance to cover.

Launch at Rottingdean

The trip followed the cliffs passed Saltdean and Peachaven, crossing over the Greenwich Meridian. This is marked at Peacehaven by the Greenwich Meridian Memorial, which was just visible from the sea with its green ball on top. Sea defences form a barrier at the bottom of the cliffs to slow down coastal erosion.

Greenwich Meridian Memorial

The cliffs stretched out in front of us all the way down to the Seven Sisters.

A whole day’s paddling in front of us!

Travelling deep into the Eastern hemisphere we experienced some clapotic conditions at the breakwater at Newhaven. This quickly calmed down as we go around the breakwater and, after crossing the channel into the harbour, we took a break at the beach before continuing passed the Martello tower and cannon at Seaford.

Martello Tower, Seaford

Paddling passed Seaford we started to see the joined up white cliffs of the Seven Sisters, and so started to count the ‘Sisters’ as we moved closer to our lunch destination. Rounding Seaford Head we could see Hope Gap and the Cuckmere Haven Coastguard Cottages – famous for films such as Atonement and Summerland. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was also filmed on Seaford Head nearby.

We planned to paddle up the estuary for lunch, but actually finding the entrance was trickier than we expected. Only when we were right on top of the channel could we see the entrance, between the groynes and shingle banks. As it was approaching high water, the flow into the entrance was quite strong and we surfed in individually to our lunch spot on the bank of the channel.

Cuckmere Haven

After lunch, getting back out to the sea was more challenging. Although we were able to get about half way back up the channel the flow was too strong, so we ferry glided over to the other side and portaged along the beach for a surf launch. Even when we launched from the beach, the draw into the estuary channel was still surprisingly strong.

CKC Members & the Seven Sisters

Once safely on the water we started the long paddle back to the launch point, which would take about 3 hours. To make it a bit quicker we decided not to land at a beach, but some of us decided to stretch our legs while rafting up instead.

After re-crossing the Meridian and returning to Rottingdean, we had one more adventure before heading home: a surf landing. Once again we landed individually and helped each other get out of the boats/surf while some big waves threatened to take our boats back into the sea. In the end everyone landed safely and although tired, we were also very pleased to have crossed the Meridian and seen the Seven Sisters close-up. Maybe we can get in the next film being made along this coast too?

Tired but happy paddlers

The trip was 35km, which was the longest trip that some of the group had done. Even with some tidal assistance, it was still a good effort by everyone. You can see a video of the day’s trip here (2:45):

Selsey Bill – June 2023

For Mike’s first practice sea lead we had chosen a favourite CKC trip down on the south coast – Selsey Bill. We had an onshore wind F3 with some good swell ~0.5m (although later that would become an issue) and launched in brilliant sunshine with occasional sea fog drifting in.

Once on the water we headed towards the Bill along the long shingle beach.

The Bill itself has the potential to create some significant waves at some states of the tide, but Mike had planned the trip to make sure that our trip only had some slightly disturbed water. Once around the corner at Selsey Bill the wind dropped and we paddled through the fishing boats anchored at Selsey.

Deciding to take an early break, we were lucky to find what all summer sea kayakers need to revive them – ice cream!

After ice creams we decided to practice some skills including the hand of God, towing and rolling. Rich’s hatch opened while in the middle of a roll and his trolley made a dash for freedom, but luckily didn’t make it.

On our return trip, after we had crossed the Bill, one of our group started to feel seasick. As we had just been practicing towing this was a perfect time to form a rafted tow, with one person towing and one supporting the casualty. Swapping out the person towing as they got tired, we were able to make it back to the launch point quite quickly. As the beach had small but strong waves we decided on an anchored tow landing with the casualty (who was feeling much better by this stage) and successfully got everyone onto the beach, much to the interest of the sunbathing public.

Apart from someone feeling unwell, we all had a really enjoyable paddle in the sun with waves, ice creams and using some of the safety and rescue techniques that we train for. Mike’s first sea lead, was certainly an exciting one and a good learning experience for everyone!

Riding the Elephant: Moderate Water Skills Weekend, Wales, May 2023

CKC organised a club skills weekend in Pembrokeshire, focused on developing paddling skills on the sea. The plan was for both less experienced paddlers and more experience paddlers to be able to gain new skills and practice old skills in a safe environment, with external coaches. This meant that everyone was challenged at least a bit, but without the peer pressure to do too much beyond each individual skill level.

The result was a great success with everyone coming away from the weekend much more confident and better paddlers. With a rockhopping focused first day and a trip over to Skomer on the second day, everyone loved the weekend, as these comments for CKC club members show:

“As usual loved spending a weekend with the members of CKC. My favourite moments were practicing self rescues, braving gullies with large wave surges, capsizing in a gully and gaining confidence in knowing I can exit and re-enter my boat in such a situation. Also managing to paddle in rough water and ferry glide across a tide race in Jack Sound. I was in awe of the beauty of Skomer and its wildlife, and being able to paddle alongside puffins, seal’s and porpoises and realise how fortunate we were to circumnavigate the island with local guides and instructors to keep us safe. All in all thrilling and magical!”


“I’m a novice kayaker and I really enjoyed the weekend. I appreciated the opportunity of playing on the sea. I trusted the guides and found myself rock hopping around tight corners as waves were breaking. Yikes. And bizarrely I wasn’t scared. I loved it. And this experience gave me the self-belief and confidence to cross Jack Sound and be with puffins. Absolutely amazing.”

“I’m a beginner as well, having been out on the sea only a few times and had a great time. Rock hopping was fun, and the guides were really skilled in helping you develop your skills. But the highlight for me was the trip to Skomer, across Jack Sound, a tricky stretch of water with several tidal races that I didn’t think would be possible, but was totally within reach. We were rewarded by having reached the north shore of Skomer and kayaking with puffins!”

“Highlights for me were a few sea kayaking firsts – first time in sea caves, being close to a tide race in a boat, as well as being coached through my first self rescue with a paddle float. Also kayaking amongst the puffins by Skomer island was a fantastic experience 🙂 Great to paddle with other club members as always and the guidance from the sea kayaking coaches was excellent.”

“A wonderful weekend of relaxed learning focused on rockhopping and handling tide races. Rockhopping is always fun and one of the best bits was discovering how to judge the swell to swish through on the surge. Turns out the best moment to set off into a feature is often when all the water has been sucked out (which feels counter-intuitive) as the next wave is just behind you. But there are exceptions, double surges and a whole world of new things to learn. Crossing the tide race to Skomer Island was less scary than anticipated (phew!) and doubly interesting on the way back when the water was ‘misbehaving’. With the tide flowing north, why were we pushed south? A bit of wind against tide and some strong back-eddies around the smaller islands. It all highlighted the skills and local knowledge of our three excellent coaches. A great weekend. I’m looking forward to doing more rockhopping to build up my skills.”

“It was super to be led by such experienced and professional guides who know the area so well. Really fun playing in the tide races knowing they were ready to rescue us if needed, and amazing to kayak around Skomer island. Big thanks to CKC for organising the weekend.”

“The feeling of being in a gully, when the sea floods in is a bit like riding on an elephant as it stands up!”

“An amazing weekend on the Pembrokeshire coast, I achieved more than I thought I was capable of. Thanks to one of our fabulous guides, (Lucas) who didn’t let on that we wouldn’t be bypassing the tidal race that stood between us at Jack Sound -between the Isle of Skomer and Wales, as expected, but would be running it full on, with all the thrill and excitement that a tidal race has to offer. Lucas said after all our successful crossings, he knew we had the ability and trusted us to complete the passage, which we all did. Everything I have ever learnt about kayaking came back in a rush and helped facilitate a very exciting culmination to an amazing weekend, thank you CKC!”

Gower Surf Skills Weekend, April 2023

Last weekend we had a great turnout of fourteen for a surf skills trip on the Gower in South Wales. Previous attempts to organise a surf skills trip had been postponed because of poor conditions – too calm the first two times on the South coast, and then too rough on the Gower in the autumn. This time, however, the weather worked out and we had a successful trip. 

Liza arranged accommodation for us in the Eastern Slade Barn, and we converged there on Friday night, having picked up boats, equipment and passengers at the arches. On arrival Yossi prepared an amazing vegetarian focaccia for everyone, accompanied by Gilly’s fantastic foraged salad. 

Yossi’s Famous Focaccia

On Saturday we drove to Caswell Bay to meet the local coaches – Chris, Kay and Paul from Vale Paddle Sports. It was just past full tide, and Chris confirmed the swell of 30-60cm would be good for learning to surf. We unloaded the boats and Chris talked us through surfing in to shore – waiting perpendicular to the waves and when a wave comes, paddle very fast (“PLF”) trying to stay perpendicular. If the boat starts to turn, it’s almost impossible to keep on track, and the boat turns parallel to the wave but by low-bracing in the incoming wave one can stay upright and “Bongo slide” in to the shore. 

Bongo Bandit #1
Bongo Bandit #2

We practised this, taking it in turns to surf in to the beach and paddle out again, with Kay helping to retrieve those of us who capsized, and Chris and Paul giving pointers and demonstrations from their kayaks. At times we had to share the beach with groups of surfers or swimmers, but the retreating tide gave more space. 

Rock Hopping

As the surf was diminishing, after retrieving our lunch from the cars, Chris suggested we paddle out to Pwlldu (pronounced “puffty”) headland for which we split into two groups, rock-hopping below the cliffs. We sheltered from the wind at the edge of the beach as we ate our lunch, and were joined by Alex and Olwen who’d been kayaking in the tide race further East. After lunch we split into three groups, each led by CKC members. One group returned to our start point, and the other two first paddled across the bay and around the headland to Langland Bay where we were able to practise some more surfing. 

Finally we paddled back to Caswell Bay and as it was now low tide, we had a long portage up the beach, helped by kayak trolleys. We were done by 4pm and had time to return to the bunk house for a shower before going to the Ship Inn at Port Eynon for dinner and drinks, followed by a discussion of forecasts and plans for the next day.

Rhossili Beach

The next morning we had time to have an excellent full cooked breakfast and finalised a plan to practice our skills on the west-facing Rhossili beach. We packed up and left the bunk house, driving to Hill End car park  where we portaged our boats through the dunes to find a wide beach with plenty of surfers enjoying the substantial surf.

As we assembled near the water’s edge, the surf seemed quite intimidating. The more experienced members explained how to paddle out through larger waves – getting as much speed as possible, holding the paddle pointing into the wave to cut through it, and keeping your face protected in case the wave does catch the paddle. Rich managed to get through the waves, but for the rest of us the surf was too high and after a couple of capsizes the rest of us paddled  South through the shallows to where the waves were smaller. There we had fun trying to get out through the breakers and then surf back in without tipping over. After an hour or so we paddled and portaged back to the cars and headed home, exhausted but happy to have had a great weekend of paddling and learning.

Thanks to Liza for planning and organizing the trip and to everyone else for making the trip work out – from car-sharing and transporting boats to cooking. 

All the Bongo Bandits

You can watch a short video of the CKC South Wales Surf Weekend here:

Wootton Creek, Feb 2023

Winter paddling is not for everyone, so it was great to have a group of enthusiastic CKC paddlers getting out on the sea today!

We were all relatively experienced paddlers who were familiar with each other on the water from a few trips together last year.  However a Solent crossing is a paddling route not to be sniffed at. So the leaders had put a lot of effort into planning a detailed route ensuring the timings and hazards were well signposted and well considered.

Launching at Lepe Country Park is an expensive but easy place for a launch as well as having great facilities for breakfast bacon butties, as well as toilets.

It was flat calm looking from Lepe to West of Cowes on an overcast grey and quiet Solent. We set off on the bearing of 150 degrees in order to counteract the tidal flow pushing us Eastwards. Keeping as a tight group, so we could be seen easily by other crafts, we reached the first destination at Egypt Point/Gunard buoy after about 30 minutes.

Gurnard Buoy

The next potential hazard was to cross Eastwards the Cowes harbour entrance on the north side of the breakwater. Just after deciding to cross the entrance a large ferry suddenly appeared coming out of Cowes so we duly had to increase our paddle power to get out of it’s way.

Crossing Cowes Harbour, avoiding the fast cat
Crossing Cowes Harbour

The next 1 ½ hours were calm active paddling to Old Castle Point and across Osbourne Bay (with a view of Queen Victoria’s residence, Osbourne House) ensuring we kept out of the bay itself to gain as much of the dropping flow as possible. It was very empty of the usual chaos of numerous yachties mooring there for their boozy lunches, and we only saw the occasional ship passing.

Osbourne House

The entrance to Wootton Creek is not at all easy to identify in the bay especially on a grey winters day. However having the fantastic resource of the ferry that goes in and out from Wootton Creek, it helpfully pinpointed the entrance for us. We landed at the small beach next to the ferry terminal and hauled our boats onto the grass for lunch.

Wootton Creek

A most lovely Sunday pub lunch was had at The Fishbourne pub, a short walk up from the slipway and beach. We also had a good rest while waiting for the flow to pick up for our return trip. It was pretty hard to re-don our dry suits and get back in our boats after the cosy atmosphere of the pub though.

The trip back was again well executed with the Wootton Creek ferry the first thing to be negotiated.

Wootton Creek Ferry

The wind was more behind us and the flow helping us along fantastically. The essential part was to cross back over the Solent missing the hazard zone of the container ship turning area and paddling at an angle which ensured that we would not overshoot our destination at Lepe. The flow had picked up a bit more than the plan had been set for so we set the new route degrees to 360/0 from Egypt Point. For paddlers who have never experienced tidal flow like this, it is quite a surprise when you turn into it and realise the importance on keeping on the course you have been set to get across the channel correctly! For those without compasses on board clear markers ahead were given to aim for. It is essential that the lead communicates these markers / identifiers correctly and if they are changed that this is communicated to everyone.

On the way back

We were quite tired by now so it was a bit of surprise when nearly fully across that we had to navigate an area of overfall while crossing Lepe Spit leading to quite turbulent water, but made it an exciting end to our trip.

Tired but happy paddlers

Well done everyone for getting on the sea today! Achy bones and muscles for unfit desk-bound paddlers were very evident in the following days!

Mike also had a new voice activated Go Pro he was trying out and made the following video of the trip:

Lepe to Wootton Creek, Feb 2023

Kew to Teddington Saturday 4 Feb 2023

It was so good to get back on the river yesterday,  and in my case to experience paddling a different part of the Thames.  I have had one outing in the dark from Kew to Richmond and so I was curious to see it in the light and Richmond lock at high water with the sluice gates raised. 

We all went to the pub for Sunday lunch!

Richmond to Teddington was entertaining with music and sounds of merriment from the rugby crowd enjoying riverside pre match refreshments.  The warm glow of the fairy lights in the trees at Twickenham was very alluring against the grey sky. 

Grey skies and a peaceful river

Thanks to Liza for leading our merry band.

Dorset Weekend, Day 2, Oct 2022

Day 2 – Wareham to Poole Harbour Entrance

Sunday morning started with a car shuttle as we were planning a one-way trip. One of our more experienced paddlers later commented “a car shuttle is the most difficult thing you can do in kayaking”.   However, it had all been worked out on a napkin in the pub the night before and by luck or logistics, boats, cars, kit and people all ended up in the right place.

Due to winds of Force 4-5 on the coast our plan for the day was to start in Wareham and paddle out to Poole Harbour via the River Frome.  After some last-minute bacon sandwiches and a briefing by Liza, we paddled under Wareham Bridge and down river through whistling reed beds and past house boats, to emerge into Poole Harbour.

As we entered the harbour, the wind picked up with much more challenging paddling conditions.  We attempting to hug the harbour banks but were outwitted by an outgoing tide and low water that meant we had to head into the more exposed central channel.

At this point, the more experienced paddlers offered lots of encouragement and tips to the newer kayakers creating a lovely supportive environment as we battled the wind.  After a brief pause to help some sailors with a broken rudder, we found deep water along the coast of Arne RSPB reserve.  The harbour was a great contrast to our previous day on the coast with the surrounding lands and islands comprising of pine trees and heathland.

We had a brief lunch stop on a small beach with the more adventurous amongst us heading up in the trees.  Fruit cake was shared around before we re-launched for the afternoon paddle.

We wound our way around the channels of Poole Harbour, skirting Brownsea Island, admiring the nature and some beautiful luxury homes.  The wind stayed strong but everyone did well in making progress with more coaching and tips thrown in.

A “leg-stretch” and loo break was appreciated on another beautiful beach before the final round of the headland and into Studland.  There we were met by David who had spent the day keeping Lola the dog company.  Once the boats were loaded, we had a quick de-brief on a fantastic weekend before starting our journeys home.

Meet Me Where the Sun Touches the Sea, Bournemouth, Sept 2022

This is the delayed May 2022 trip to Bournemouth. Although it sounds like a train announcement we all went by car, meeting at The Arches on a cold September morning at 8am (although some were very keen and had been there an hour beforehand).

We all arrive at Alum Chine at the same time mid-morning and load the boats onto the trolleys to get down to the sandy beach. After a safety briefing on the beach we launched at 11:50am in force three wind with small waves that got bigger as we headed further out. Initially we headed for Isle of Wight which we can see on the horizon, and then for Hengistbury Head once we are out in the tidal flow. We make good progress, rounding the head in about an hour and a half.

Around the head we cross over the harbour entrance at Christchurch and then land at Avon Beach in front of the Noisy Lobster restaurant. While most of us have brought sandwiches or light refreshments for lunch, Rich decides to go large ordering chips and scampi from the outside kiosk. All freshly cooked but a long wait to arrive. Luckily some of us were able to entertain themselves practicing headstands in the cockpits!

On beach before launch, we can see Old Harry, Isle of Wight and Poole. After lunch we retraced our route back to Alum Chine across Bournemouth Bay, rounding Hengistbury Head where a small tide race was developing.

Around the head, the wind (F3) was directly in our faces, which means that it is hard work for about 15 minutes into Bournemouth Bay but then eases off as we get protection. Jenifer has adjusted her foot pegs at lunch and now is much faster even against the wind. Paddling along the coast close to Bournemouth we meet a RNLI person on a jet ski with a rear platform to rescue people. Luckily we don’t need his services and continue passed funicular railways and loads of beach huts.

Passing Bournemouth Pier we have a group picture in front of the helter-skelter at the end of the pier.


Arriving back at Alum Chine we all agree that the trip was very enjoyable and we find that it is Phil‘s first time on the sea, Jenefer‘s first time out on the sea with the club (and the most she has paddled in a day) and Rich’s second time out with his new boat. So a very memorable trip for everyone!

Dorset Weekend, Day 1, Oct 2022

Day 1 – Ringstead to Lulworth

It didn’t start that auspiciously, arriving in the dark, traveling through an apocalyptic rain storm and then my car battery conking out when I arrived, it was starting to feel like a bad idea! But then Saturday morning dawned, the sun was out, the wind dropped and Ringstead beach as a launch site beckoned. It was totally idyllic, the biggest headache was working out what to wear so we didn’t get too hot. After a short walk down from the car park and a full safety and trip briefing we launched straight off the beach and headed off eastwards, aiming to reach Lulworth Cove for lunch.

We played in some of the rocks around the headland from Ringstead, looking for the swells and gaps and practising our skills.  Some went straight in for full thrills, others took it more cautiously, easing into the thrills, but regardless of experience, there was something for everyone, and the leaders encouragement helped build confidence and stopped any hesitation. 

We were making good progress to Durdle Door, but before we reached the bay itself we had to pass through the Tolkien-like Bat’s Hole, a tiny sea arch only accessible by kayak, you paddle through and pop out into the next bay, next to the impressive Butter Rock stack.

Once through we carried on paddling towards Durdle Door. The arch doesn’t reveal itself when you approach from the sea until you pass it and turn back, then you’re faced with a really spectacular viewpoint, the full arch with beach behind, the reward unique to sea travellers. We all had the chance to paddle through the arch in the twinkling sunshine cresting the gentle swell, and then headed round to the next bay, Lulworth Cove.

But before we reached it we passed the intriguing entrance to Stair Hole sea cave so went to explore only to find ourselves joined by some free-climbers as one by one we paddled in, had a good look round and came back out.  The incredible rock formations you can see when you paddle through the cave are aptly named the Lulworth Crumple, and having a sea eye view gives a unique perspective on this part of the coast.

We carried on round to Lulworth for lunch once Liza and David had performed an assisted rescue for Johnathan who had decided to try his luck on a wave breaking into the cove. After lunch and added ice creams we headed back in the afternoon sunshine watching the paragliders catching the winds off the top of the enormous white cliffs as we paddled past.

We took the opportunity to do more rock hopping on the way back, confidence boosted amongst those of us who needed it, and the more expert paddlers spotting the more challenging bits and having a go.

At last we came round the headland with our end point in sight, a last push got us back to the beach, sun heading towards its ending we landed and loaded. I had an amazing day, had the chance to make new friends and improve my confidence and ability in a safe and enjoyable way. The day was rounded off with a successful jump start thanks to magic gadget Rich, followed by dinner and a pint in the Bankes Arms, Corfe Castle. A lovely end to a perfect day.  

If you enjoyed this blog, we also made a video of this day, which you can find here: Jurassic Coast October 2022 – YouTube or click play below (about 7 mins long):