Category Archives: Kayaking

The Sport of Ageing

I suppose that being over 60 I can still be classified as being middle-aged, towards the end of middle age and heading towards old age. There is of course chronological age and biological age. That nice machine they have at the gym that tells me I’m only 45! A dexa scan tells me my bone density and % of body fat are average for a 20 year old.

As the body ages, muscle size and strength reduces, flexibility reduces, aerobic capacity reduces, bone structure and density changes – it’s all happening and it’s all a natural process. Ordinary people become more sedentary as they age. Older athletes reduce the rigour of their training. Metabolic function changes, my thyroid doesn’t produce any thyroxin for example and the synthetic substitute is a poor replacement. I am basically very healthy and fit. We live in a nice place and have an active outdoorsy lifestyle.

Kayaking near our home.

For better and for worse, your body never ceases to change through ageing. My approach to training and sport choices and level of activity will reflect that by evolving from year to year in appropriate ways.

The changes in my body have meant a dramatic reduction in running speed. To keep this in perspective I am still ‘good for age’ but it’s still very annoying! Also my body finds running very strenuous and complains more loudly and often than it used to when I was younger. This means I can run less as I don’t want to exacerbate injuries.

I spend more time these days on strength and conditioning than I used to. In practice this means weight training with dumbells and kinesis. It means regular Iyengar yoga classes.

Chair headstand at our yoga class.

At a simple accessible level it is a 2 minute daily plank! Some days even that is too hard!

I no longer feel the need to push myself to do things I don’t really enjoy. I no longer swim in the sea year round for example! I still swim regularly, but only in the pool when the sea temperature is in single figures.

Sea swimming

I did not take up my ‘Good for Age’ place at the London Marathon in 2017. I loved the 2016 event and ran well ensuring an automatic entry to all the big city marathons in the world in 2017 and 2018. But, for reasons I can’t really explain I just didn’t want to do it. Maybe it’s a case of been there done that and got a drawer full of T shirts.

Finishing London Marathon 2016

I have not entered any triathlons this season- yet. I am still training. I still swim, bike, run and I enjoy it. At present – that seems to be enough. Racing is not on the agenda at present.

My Ironman trophy

I still ride Audax events.

I keep up my AAARTY.

There are many inspirational people out there riding huge distances who are much older than I am – mainly men. I continually ask myself, ‘Am I having a nice time – is this fun?’ The effects of ageing on my body have made stuff that used to be fun, much less fun because it hurts and the results are poor. So evolve – focus on what is fun. Focus on what I can do now rather than what I used to do.

My attention has been diverted from training by normal family events earlier this year. My father was very ill for a while. He is 91 and lives close by so we were able to give him the care and support he needed to get well and regain his independence. We also had the great joy of the marriage of Kathryn our daughter.

Kathryn’s wedding

This focused our attention for a number of weeks.

A big change in my life that has affected the training I do is personal. My husband Ian who has never really been interested in doing much exercise himself whist being very supportive of everything I do. Last summer a change occurred and he decided we should get mountain bikes. Now Ian is normally one of those reactive people so when he becomes proactive I tend to sit up and take notice!

Since we got those bikes last June Mountain biking has gradually become a more important part of our lives. We now ride as much as 3 or 4 times a week TOGETHER and have a lot of fun.

Mountain biking

He has become (rather annoyingly) very good and much fitter. I now ride my mountain bike more than my road bike. As a further development he gradually succumbed to riding my old Dawes Galaxy with straight bars that I did LeJOG on and doing some gentle road riding.

Dawes Galaxy ready for the Grand Tour of the Highland and Islands

We have a tour of the West coast of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides planned for a tour in June. A distance of about 600 miles with enough hills to make the elevation the same as the height of Mount Everest!

I can feel my strength and speed just disappearing as time passes and I am determined not to let it mar my enjoyment. I can still do loads of stuff. There is still lots of stuff to do and lots of adventures to be had!

Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.

Swoosh!

The Bantham Swoosh was a new event organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society for the first time in 2015. I heard about it too late to enter the OSS event.

However, this sounded like a lot of fun so I checked out the tide tables and earmarked a few dates which looked suitable. All that it needs is a big spring tide really.

On 30th August there was such a tide and all my swimming buddies were busy doing other stuff. Ian and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed – despite the dreary bank holiday weather – and drove down to Aveton Gifford where the River Avon is accessible from the car park.
Continue reading

Broadchurch Blue Moon

The last night in July 2015 had a rare occurrence of a blue moon. When one of the astronomical seasons has four full moons, instead of the normal three, the third full moon is called a Blue Moon.

Blue Moon (Courtesy of Cathy Warne  dorsetflickr.wordpress.com)

Blue Moon
(Courtesy of Cathy Warne dorsetflickr.wordpress.com)

The weather was nice so we decided to take the opportunity to paddle our sea kayaks along to West Bay. Then take them for a short walk to be able to paddle up the River Brit as far as possible.
Continue reading

The Jurassic Coast

I am very fortunate to live beside the sea in Dorset. The region contains some fantastic coastal scenery. The variety of coastal landscapes is a result of the region’s complex geology.

November has been quite stormy so far, but Saturday 15th November was scheduled to be an Isle of Portland Canoe Club trip and we were very fortunate with the weather. The wind dropped, it was warm and the sun even shone, some of the time.

We paddled the section of coast from Ringstead to Lulworth Cove. Ringstead is a convenient spot to start from as it has a car park and a slipway to the beach. In the summer there is also a cafe and some toilets.

Husband and I before launching at Ringstead

Husband and I before launching at Ringstead

We paddled across Ringstead bay with the Isle of Portland as a backdrop.

Ringstead Bay with Portland behind

Ringstead Bay with Portland behind

As we rounded White Nothe, the spectacular chalk cliffs of the coastline towards Durdle Door came into view. This is the start of the white cliffs of the Purbeck coast.

White Nothe

White Nothe

The next landmark is Bats Hole which is a tiny tunnel through the headland known as Bats Head, closely followed by the spectacular Durdle Door.

Durdle Door

Durdle Door

More spectacular cliff formations follow at Stair Hole. The folded limestone strata here are known as the Lulworth Crumple and there are several caves visible from the seaward side.

P1050845

Bats Head

Bats Head

It was quite lively due to the residual swell forming clapotis. Once inside stairhole it was quite calm.

And so, onto Lulworth Cove – our lunch stop. Lulworth Cove is one of the UK’s most popular scenic attractions. A gap has been eroded though the limestone cliffs by the waves and a bay has been sculpted from the softer rock behind. There were plenty of visitors at Lulworth Cove despite it being the middle of November and the ice cream shop was closed.

A little wave forms at the entrance to Lulworth Cove due to shallow water from a rock bar. Its possible to get airborne if you get the timing right.

Nearly airborne

Nearly airborne

The return trip to Ringstead was very pleasant and quite uneventful as we enjoyed the spectacular cliff scenery from an alternative angle.

Cliff fall from April 2013

Cliff fall from April 2013

Boscastle to Daymer Bay

The North Coast of Cornwall is fully exposed to the prevailing weather and the North Atlantic swells. It does have amazing coastal scenery with innumerable coves, inlets, caves, waterfalls, reefs, offshore islands and stacks. From the sea kayakers perspective the coast is wild and committing. The climate is warm but strong winds from the south west and the Atlantic swell are a constant concern.

The trip from Boscastle to Daymer Bay on the Camel Estuary is exceptionally scenic. The sea was calm and we knew that we could get into Port Isaac for a break en route.

Boscastle harbour is a drowned river gorge.

Boscastle

Boscastle

Boscastle used to be a busy port handling the ores mined hereabouts. Boscastle was flooded in 2004 but there are few signs of that now.

There are many caves to explore.

Huge caves

Huge caves

At this time of year after rainfall there is plenty of fresh water falling down the cliffs making spectacular waterfalls.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

There are many spectacular rock formations – this is Ladies Window.

Ladies Window

Ladies Window

Tintagel Head with the vast King Arthur Castle Hotel on the top of the cliff is a notable landmark.

P1030057

Tintagel

Tintagel

The headland has seen a millennia of occupation and the remnants of the past can be clearly seen. Tintagel has historical importance and pottery from the sixth century has been found here. However, many visitors today are interested in the Arthurian associations. It’s always busy and very nice to view it from the sea without becoming embroiled too closely in the tourism.

We paddled on down the coast passing between Gull Rock and Trebarwith Strand.

Trebarwith was a busy quarry port before the tourists came. Another 8km of cliffs to paddle along before reaching Port Isaac.

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

Port Isaac is a fishing village. The drama Doc Martin is filmed here. In Tudor times it was a pilchard fishing port. The inshore lifeboat is housed inside the old fish cellars.

Port Isaac was busy with visitors. We had a welcome break from the kayaks and feasted on pasties, ice cream and tea.

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

We still had a long way to go so we paddled straight across Port Quin Bay. On a more leisurely paddle there is plenty to explore along the coast here. However we made a beeline for The Mouls which is an offshore island at The Rumps headland. There were plenty of Auks (Puffins live here) at the Mouls and the tide was running quite hard which made for an interesting few minutes as we rounded the island and headed for the Rumps.

The Rumps

The Rumps

Rumps point is the site of Cornwall’s finest Iron Age cliff castle and from the water we could clearly see ramparts and ditches constructed to keep out unwelcome boarders.

We continued under massive, impressive cliffs to Pentire Point where once again we encountered some tidal movement but with so little swell this was not a problem and we headed into Padstow Bay for the last few kilometres before reaching our get out at Daymer Bay.

28km in perfect paddling conditions.

Cornish Sea Kayaking Meet

The Cornish Sea Kayaking Meet

The Cornish Sea Kayaking Meet

On the August Bank holiday weekend we headed down to Penzance for the Cornish Sea Kayaking Meet organised by Richard Uren of Paddlecrest Coaching.

The area around Lands End is a magnificent coastline for sea kayaking. There are many small coves to launch and recover from, with varying degrees of effort.

Day 1 launch point - Porthgworra

Day 1 launch point – Porthgworra

On the Friday evening we went to the Minack Theatre and on the Saturday we had a great view of the theatre set into the cliffs at Porthcurno from the sea. Continue reading