Overview: port eynon – tenby – freshwater west – st davids – cardigan – LLyanrhystud – bardsey – Trefor – Menai
Port Eynon to Tenby
The weather had finally improved! Anthony, the manager of Kennexstone Camping, kindly took me down to Port Eynon. The tides were going to be a struggle but I couldn’t choose the time (beggars can’t be choosers, as they say).
I set off to Worms Head, reluctant to be paddling away from the warm caravan. After a slow start, I made it out in whitefish Bay with reasonable weather, only a bit of a head wind.
Tenby looked long way off and it was a slog against the tide. I was tempted to stop for maple buns but had to eat on the go or drift backwards.
In total, it took about 12hrs and to be honest, it was a demoralising day. It was hard to keep my spirits high when paddling was so hard and it felt like I was hardly moving forwards.
I landed Tenby about 7pm and found small camp in dunes. Here I was able to dry my clothes and enjoyed 2 meals in an attempt to up the calories. Shattered and knowing I had an early start, I fell asleep quickly.
Tenby to Freshwater west
Up and packed by 8:30, this usually takes an hour. At the last moment, I quickly checked in with the coastguard – only to find out that the Manorbier firing range was live from 9 to 5pm. If I didn’t get through, I would be stuck all day. I called on VHF, and was informed that they had laser guided bombs scheduled, but I was given a possible chance, and ‘permission to proceed at haste’. With the added motivation of avoiding-being-blown-up, I got going and cleared the range. Phew.
The rest of the morning was the best so far. I saw thousands of sea birds, 2 porpoises, seals and amazing cliffs with lots of climbers.
By mid-day the wind picked up, which wasn’t expected by forecast, and I had to make a big effort to get to Freshwater. Views of skomer in the distance.
Another camp in the dunes with 2 x meals. Early night
Freshwater West to Whitesands, St David
3am wake up 4.30 start with head torch! The mission of the day was to get across Milford Haven, past Skomer island and to Ramsay sound by 10am when the tide turns. There is a 6 knot current, so if I didn’t make it, I’d be stuck until 6pm waiting for the tide to turn again.
Tide just turned before I’d arrived, so a hard paddle to get through. My mood was significantly boosted by a sighting of two bottlenose dolphins feeding – mother and juvenile – and lots of puffins by Skomer with their sand eels in their beaks. A treat to see.
Strong winds picked up from the North so called it a day and took the afternoon to regroup and charge equipment courtesy of life guard club. Thanks again guys!
Whitesands to Cardigan
Once again, I had an early start to get tide north. Strong currents out on Whiteness. Bit of chop and race. Headed to Fishguard.
First common dolphin seen (bottlenose sightings on previous days). Moving fast with current on edge of race. Wasn’t too sure of location until ferry for Ireland appeared and reassured me.
Got to Cardigan and saw lovely beach and woods so stopped for night.
Cardigan to Llanrhystud
Set off with a reasonable wind from the West; ‘on the beam’ they call it. Sea a bit too choppy to spot any dolphins. Sighting of guillemots nesting on the cliffs as I passed close to Newquay headland made up for this!
Newquay rammed with tourists. Had to go to costcutter to top on pasta meals – I hadn’t rationed for 2 dinners a day, but definitely need them!
Hoping to get to Aberystwyth but there were no beaches after llanystud, just rugged cliffs. Finding my preferred spot of a usual beach and sand dune not possible as all beaches rocky. A campsite it was! Thankfully, the lovely owner offered a pitch and I had the luxury of a hot shower. This was especially great for my sore neck.
Rice for tea for a change and in bed as the rain started.
Llanrhystud Rest Day
A bad forecast, rain, a sore neck and bad back, meant time for a rest. Frustratingly, the weather improved! Normally it gets worse than predicted.
I made the most of the day to fix rudder and re-rig the sail.
Llanthystud to Bardsey Peninsula
This was my first real flat day. The plan was to do 30 miles but was making real speed across the ground. After a rest day, I wanted to I make up the lost time and so headed for Bardsey Island. I think this was 50 miles. Spent the whole thing just hoping wind didn’t pick up!
Just North of Aberystwyth I saw a lone bottlenose; a large male with massive scarring. Normally the bottlenose are to the south of Newquay cardigan bay so this was a surprise. A few hours later saw 4 more large groups. One group came close which was brilliant. Later on I also saw 2 Harbour porpoise, so a great day for wildlife.
Got to a beach near Bardsey about 7, tired but happy with progress.
Bardsey Island to Trefor
Set off early to get around Bardsey with the flood tide at 5:30 am. The previous night, the surf had come up and the sound of it crashing kept me awake. Pains in my shoulder painful at nights also make it hard to sleep.
Tried to time it between sets but there was little gap. A salt shower made for a pretty effective refresh and wake-up call.
Bardsey sound had very rugged scenery and I enjoyed cruising around, making good progress. Until… the dreaded NE headwind picked up to 20knot-gusts at mid-day, almost stopping my movement completely. It felt like the dog-walker on the beach was going faster.
After hours of paddling against of energy-draining wind, I made it to trefor Harbour, to be greeted by thunder and heavy rain. Quickly cooked dinner in the downpour, and tried to sleep in my soaking-wet bed.
Trefor to Menai strait
Menai rest day