Category Archives: Kayaking

The Lighthouse Tour

I have been thinking of doing a cycle tour to all the lighthouses in the South West for a few years and when my cycling buddy Jo expressed an interest in joining me I was galvanised into action. I decided arbitrarily to only include the lighthouses that are on the mainland and those that are working. Once I got into the planning it seemed reasonable to also include iconic lighthouse hotspots as well – like Smeatons Tower on Plymouth Hoe and Lands End with a view of Long Ships for example.

Longships Lighthouse

It is always good to have a theme for a cycling adventure: it adds direction and purpose. I live on the South Coast of England in Dorset and I have walked the South West Coast Path and kayaked around the South West coast over the last twenty years or so. The sea kayaking took us out to places like Lundy Island and Long Ships off lands End which were definitely not possible on the cycling tour.

Lighthouse on Lundy Island

A lighthouse is a structure, usually a tower or other type of structure, built as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea. Back in the day people used to light fires on hills to aid navigation but the modern era of lighthouses began in the eighteenth century with advances in structural engineering and new efficient lighting equipment allowing the creation of larger and more powerful lighthouses including ones exposed to the sea. The function of lighthouses is to provide a visible and, in poor visibility, audible warning against shipping hazards such as rocks or reefs.

Today Trinity House maintains over 60 lighthouses in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. These highly visual aids to navigation range from isolated offshore towers like the Eddystone to shore based locations like the Lizard.

In 2010 I took part in the Eddystone Challenge which involved paddling from Plymouth to the Eddystone lighthouse and back again. The race is intended for gigs but kayaks are allowed to join in. I was paddling a sea kayak not a gig. Although it was fabulous to paddle out to the Eddystone, I didn’t have the urge to do it again!

Paddling to the Eddystone Lighthouse

While lighthouse buildings differ depending on the location and purpose, they tend to have common components.

A light station comprises the lighthouse tower and all outbuildings, such as the keeper’s living quarters, fuel house, boathouse, and fog-signalling building. The lighthouse itself consists of a tower structure supporting the lantern room where the light operates.

The Lantern Room is the glassed-in housing at the top of a lighthouse tower containing the lamp and lens. Its glass storm panes are supported by metal bars running vertically or diagonally. At the top of the lantern room is a storm-proof ventilator designed to remove the smoke of the lamps and the heat that builds in the glass enclosure. A lightning rod and grounding system connected to the metal cupola roof provides a safe conduit for any lightning strikes.

Immediately beneath the lantern room is usually a Watch Room or Service Room where fuel and other supplies were kept and where the keeper prepared the lanterns for the night and often stood watch. The clockworks (for rotating the lenses) were also located there. On a lighthouse tower, an open platform called the gallery is often located outside the watch room (called the Main Gallery) or Lantern Room (Lantern Gallery). This was mainly used for cleaning the outside of the windows of the Lantern Room.

Lighthouses near to each other that are similar in shape are often painted in a unique pattern so they can easily be recognized during daylight,

Today all the lighthouses are automated and the accommodation has been converted for use as holiday lettings.

The list of lighthouses on the south west peninsula for our cycling tour were, in order:

  • Anvil Point
  • Portland Bill

    Portland Bill Lighthouse

  • Teignmouth
  • Berry Head
  • Start Point

    Start Point Lighthouse

  • St Antony
  • Lizard

    Lizard Point

  • Tater Du

    Tater Du

  • Pendeen
  • Trevose Head
  • Hartland Point
  • Crow Point
  • Bull Point
  • Lynmouth Foreland

I decided to start on the south coast with the lighthouse furthest to the east which is Anvil Point in Dorset. From there the route went to Portland Bill and then down the coast through Devon and Cornwall following the coast all the way down to Lands end. From Lands End the route went to St Ives and then followed the north Cornwall and Devon coast up to Lynmouth. The last lighthouse on the tour was Lynmouth Foreland.

The total distance planned was 900 kilometres (550 miles) but with over 11,000 metres of climb (36,000 feet). We were planning to camp if the weather permitted so we had about 11kg of luggage each. I allowed 7 days for the ride but if all went well we could probably complete it in 6 days.

The first lighthouse in the tour was Anvil Point which is near Swanage. This is to the east of where we live so I decided to do this section as a day ride and stay at home the first night.

Anvil Point

The lighthouse was completed in 1881. Anvil Point Lighthouse was fully automated in 1991 and is now monitored and controlled from Trinity House Operations at Harwich.

Our route took us through the Lulworth Ranges (open on a Sunday) and along the coast to Weymouth. We rode along the sea front and the Rodwell trail to the causeway which took us out onto Portland and down to the Lighthouse at Portland Bill.

Portland Bill

The present lighthouse is the third to be built at Portland Bill. The two original lighthouses now known as Old Higher Lighthouse and Old Lower Lighthouse operated as a pair of leading lights to guide ships between Portland Race and the Shambles Sandbank. The present lighthouse was completed in 1916. It was de-manned in 1996 and control transferred to the Trinity House Operations.

From Portland Bill we rode back to Bridport. With 11,000 metres of elevation in this tour there were obviously going to be some proper hills. One of these was the climb out of Abbotsbury which is a long sustained climb.

Relieved to have survived Abbotsbury Hill

The next day we set off on our touring bikes heading down to the South West of England.

Setting off

Each of us carrying about 11kg of luggage carried mainly in Ortileb panniers.

Our route took us through Exeter and down the River Exe to Dawlish then along the coast to Teignmouth. We dropped down to visit the lighthouse there, which is a grade 2 listed building.
In the early 1840s Teignmouth Harbour Commissioners decided to erect a lighthouse as an aid to shipping, and a tower was built of blocks of local limestone during the years 1844 to 1845 with the light being shone for the first time in 1845.

The lighthouse has never had a keeper, resident or otherwise; never been open to the public, and because of its size, has mistakenly been referred to in Guides as a toy lighthouse. However it is not; it is a real navigational aid.

In Powderham Terrace and close to the Lynton House Hotel, some 200 feet behind the lighthouse is the second leading light, which is a tall pole with a red navigational lamp fixed on the top.

Today the lighthouse is kept clean and maintained by the Harbour Master. It shows a fixed red light visible for 3 miles and when lined up with the leading light behind it provides a safe passage across the sand bars at the mouth of the Teign.

Teignmouth Lighthouse

Our target destination for the day was Berry Head above Brixham where there is a vertically challenged lighthouse. Berry Head is reputedly the shortest lighthouse in Great Britain but also one of the highest. It is only 5 metres tall but 58 metres above sea level.

It was built in 1906.

Berry Head

Berry Head

We camped at Berry Head and the next morning with fresh legs zipped over to Kingswear for the ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth.

On the ferry to Dartmouth

In my zealous effort to avoid riding on main roads we found ourselves on a hill too steep to ride which degenerated into a bridleway. So we had a longer walk than we would have liked.

Too steep to ride with loaded bikes

It would have been better to have taken the A379 out of the town.

As it was we joined the A379 and followed it along the coast to Slapton where we visited the Exercise Tiger Memorial.

Excercise Tiger memorial.

From Slapton we headed out to Start Point.

Start Point

Start Point lighthouse was built in 1836 to protect shipping off Start Point in south Devon. For us it involved an undulating ride along narrow lanes. It was worth it as Start Point is exactly what you expect from a lighthouse. A tall white tower built on a rocky promontory with a raging sea below. This being May, the wild thrift and bluebells were magnificent.

Eye candy

We were able to pick up fuel in the form of cheese and onion pasties (neither of us eat meat) and doughnuts before continuing to Kingsbridge. The road through the South Hams to Plymouth is scenic and undulating. The cyclists among you will recognise these word as euphemisms for very hilly.

We diverted to Plymouth Hoe where the centrepiece is Smeaton’s Tower. The lighthouse was originally built on the Eddystone reef in 1759. It was take down in the 1810’s when it was discovered the sea was undermining the rock it was standing on. The tower was dismantled and erected at Plymouth Hoe.

Smeaton’s Tower on Plymouth Hoe

It was a beautiful clear day and we were able to see the Eddystone Lighthouse. The Eddystone is an extensive reef about 20km SSW off Plymouth Sound and midway between Start Point and Lizard Point. The reef is submerged at HW springs and very much feared by mariners. The present lighthouse was built in 1882 and is still in use.

We cycled through Plymouth and along the Tamar to the Torpoint ferry where we crossed into Cornwall.

On the Torpoint Ferry


We rode, hugging the coast, to Looe. On this the third day of the tour had now ridden over 100km with over 2000m of climbing so another pasty was called for to fuel the last 20km – with a monster hill – to Fowey.


We dropped very steeply down to Polruan to catch the ferry to Fowey. There were several steps down to the small boat and fortunately there were 4 strong men – 2 to each bike – to help us.

Aboard the ferry from Polruan to Fowey.

We bought food in Fowey and climbed steeply out from the river up to our destination for the night at Penhale Farm.

Camping at Penhale Farm near Fowey.

After a great nights sleep we set off for our next lighthouse which was on the Roseland Peninsula. St Anthony’s Lighthouse is at St Anthony’s Head on the eastern side of the entrance to Falmouth Harbour which is one of the largest natural harbours in the world.

St Anthony’s Lighthouse

We then rode round to St Mawes –  and bought some pasty fuel at the pier while waiting for the ferry to Falmouth.

Looking back to St Anthony’s lighthouse from the ferry to Falmouth.

We skirted around the Helford River and crossed it at Gweek before climbing onto the Lizard.

The name Lizard is probably a corruption of the Cornish name ‘Lys Ardh’ meaning ‘high court’. It is a coincidence that much of the peninsula is composed of serpentinite bearing rock.

There are several nature sites on the Lizard Peninsula; Predannack Nature reserve, Mullion Island, Goonhilly Downs, and the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek. Much of the Lizard is a national nature reserve because of its coastal grasslands and inland heaths. The area is also home to one of England’s rarest breeding birds, the Cornish Chough.

We rode to the lighthouse – which has the brightest light of all and can be seen 100 miles away on a clear night.

Lizard Lighthouse

Lizard point beckoned to finish the job off and we were treated to some relaxation in the sun watching the antics of seals surrounded by beautiful wild coastal flowers.

Lizard Point

We cycled back up the Lizard to Helston and then continued to Mounts Bay and spent the night at Penzance Youth Hostel.

St Michael’s Mount.

We started the next day by riding along the coast through Newlyn. We paid our respects at the Penlee Lifeboat Station’s Solomon Browne Memorial.

Our first lighthouse of the day was Tater Du. Access involved some low grade trespassing but it had to be done. Tater Du Lighthouse is Cornwall’s most recently built lighthouse and was constructed after the Juan Ferrer tragedy in 1963 on nearby Boscawen Point.

Tater Du lighthouse.

The next bit of the ride through St Buryan to Lands End was fabulous and virtually flat – a welcome relief and some recovery ready for what was to come after Lands End.

We were at Lands End before 10am when it officially opens so it was mercifully quiet and free of tourists. We just rode out to the view point and took a picture as if we were ‘end to enders’!

Lands End viewpoint

We waved at the Longships lighthouse which is situated 2 kilometres off shore but couldn’t get any closer on this occasion.

Longships lighthouse 2km offshore at Land’s End

The next section of the tour from Sennen to St Ives is magnificent and was fuelled by an excellent pasty stop at St Just. The route follows the B3306 which has a couple of proper hills on it but the coastal scenery is fabulous throughout. In contrast to the sea views is the wild moor and heath inland. We diverted to Pendeen Watch Lighthouse.

Pendeen Watch Lighthouse

Pendeen Watch Lighthouse

We dropped down into St Ives for the sake of completeness and enjoyed the picturesque harbour and the historic Smeaton’s pier.

St Ives

The next lighthouse on this stretch of coast is on Godrevy Island so outside our remit.

Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance

We continued our journey along the North Cornwall coast to Newquay and camped at Porth.

We enjoyed a beautiful evening close to the beach at Porth.

Fresh legs were required for the scenic undulating B3276 to Trevose Head. This is a magnificent lighthouse – another tall tower on a rocky headland with beautiful wild flowers in the environs.

Trevose Head

Wild flowers at their best at Trevose Head

We continued to Padstow where we were able to refuel on fantastic pasties before catching the ferry across the River Camel to Rock.

The last ferry of the tour crossing the River Camel from Padstow to Rock

We were unlucky to miss the last ferry from the harbour and had to walk down to the Lower beach as the tide was rapidly ebbing. The ferry took us across the river but left us with a half mile walk along the beach to the slipway.

A long walk on the beach

Aghhhhhh – it rained! So far we had enjoyed dry weather- quite chilly and breezy but no rain. The forecast was terrible and we hastened to Hartland Point to get ahead of the weather. We were lucky and the promised hours of heavy rain only amounted to a few showers.

Hartland Point with Lundy Island in the distance

Hartland Point is in Devon and marks the western limit of the Bristol Channel with the Atlantic Ocean continuing to the West

We had already ridden 100km for the day but decided to continue towards Bideford on the Torridge. The route was lovely and  followed quiet lanes which undulated more gently as the streams became more organised towards the River Torridge. We dropped down into the Taw/Torridge estuary area riding on the Tarka Trail and started to look for somewhere to eat and somewhere to stay. We finished up riding 174km all the way to Braunton. We had supper in a pub and then camped on Velator Quay on the Braunton Canal – unofficially.

I really wanted to find Crow Point lighthouse. Crow Point is a sandy beach backed by low dunes at the southern end of Braunton Burrows Nature Reserve. The beach looks south east across the River Taw and south west to Appledore. The point is a sand spit formed near the confluence of the Taw and Torridge Rivers. In reality it is little more than a finger of sand and mud protected by groynes.

The solar powered Crow Point Lighthouse also called Braunton Sands Lighthouse lies at the southern extremity of the spit. It stands just 7.6 metres above high water.

Crow Point Lighthouse

After visiting Crow Point we returned to the B3231 and detoured around Saunton and Croyde – finding much needed coffee and breakfast.

We continued to Mortehoe and then on the access road out to Bull Point lighthouse.

Bull Point

The lighthouse provides a visual aid to the villages of Mortehoe, Woolacombe and Ilfracombe and warns of the rocky coast in this area. Back in the kayaking days it was also a useful point to aim at on the mainland when paddling back from Lundy.

Bull point lighthouse

From Mortehoe we followed National Cycle Route 27. This was the easiest 5 kilometres of the tour. The route follows the London and South Western Railway Ilfracombe branch line from Morthoe and we freewheeled all the way. Bliss!

After a visit to the bakery in Ilfracombe we dropped down to the harbour to see Verity. Verity is a stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst which has been loaned to the town for 20 years. It depicts a pregnant woman holding aloft a sword while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books. Half of the sculpture shows the internal anatomy of the pregnant woman with the foetus clearly visible.


We climbed out of Ilfracombe, dropped to sea level again at Hele, climbed again and dropped to sea level at Watermouth Castle, climbed again and dropped into Coombe Martin. From Coombe Martin to Lynmouth it is hilly. We could have made life a little easier for ourselves by going up to Blackmoor Gate and then on the A39 but we took the scenic route up Buzzacott Lane, (walked some of this) then down to Trentishoe and down to the Hunters Inn. The climb out of the Hunters Inn was just too steep on our loaded touring bikes and we had to walk.

Looking back to Holdstone Hill after we had climbed up from the Hunters Inn (walking quite a lot of it)

We were able enjoy the magnificent scenery of Woody Bay.

Woody Bay

We continued up (again) past Lee Abbey Christian Retreat and on to the scenic Valley of the Rocks.

Valley of the rocks.

The route climbed up out of the Valley of the Rocks to Lynton and then dropped steeply down again to sea level at Lynmouth. We had done so much climbing as we neared the end of the tour that I had phoned ahead and arranged for our panniers to be taken by car up Countisbury Hill. With a maximum grade of 27.4% over the 4km hill we needed all the help we could get! We made it up to Foreland at an elevation of 300m. The last lighthouse Lynmouth Foreland was at sea level. Jo chose to ride all the way down to it –and back again. I didn’t!

Lynmouth Foreland

Phew! It was a great tour. The way we did it in just 6 days carrying all our camping gear required a good level of fitness and an ability to ride with tired legs. We really enjoyed the ferries and the lighthouses and enjoyed the magnificent coastal scenery. May was a lovely time of year to ride as it is before the main holiday season so the roads were quiet and the wild flowers were at their best. We were lucky with the weather. It was mainly dry, cool and sunny with just a few showers near Hartland in North Devon.


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.


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.
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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

Blue Moon
(Courtesy of Cathy Warne

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.
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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.


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 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.



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.




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

Old Bat In A Boat

Photo of author in a sea kayak.

The Bat in her boat. (Photo courtesy of Mark Rainsley)

An Isle of Portland Canoe Club trip that I was committed to organising was scheduled for today. As it happened, unusually, the forecast was promising. The Met Office was giving a red line indicating strong winds for Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis but we decided that Force 5 -6 was probably hamming it up a bit and we were good to go.

9 paddlers met at Swanage ready to launch at 10:00 when we expected to have tidal assistance all the way to Kimmeridge. The sky was blue and the sun was shining making for a sparkly start to the journey. This is a committing trip with no opportunities to land until Chapmans Pool 12km away.
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More recently. October 2012 to April 2013. (2)

In the summer of 2012 I had enjoyed increasingly longer day rides and had gained experience in looking after my bike and eating and drinking whilst out riding.  I had some experience in riding in a group.  The attraction of cycling Lands End to John O’ Groats had been the reason why I started cycling about 18 months previously and I started to formulate a plan to realise this ambition.  This was to be my trip.  My route, my time-table.  I didn’t want to join a commercial trip and I was attracted to the idea of just going on my own so I had no one else to consider.  Camping would release me from a strict itinerary and I had the idea of just pottering along at about 100 miles a day and putting my tent up wherever I happened to find myself when I had ridden far enough.  I had a nice little tent and other lightweight camping equipment from trekking adventures.

October 21st 2012 was quite a nice dry day and I woke up early.   I spontaneously decided to go off on a 100 mile ride round Dorset.  I went east to Poole and that way reduced the amount of elevation.  I got my eating wrong, by having that urge to keep going just a bit longer and seriously ‘ran out of sparks’ at about 70 miles. It took a while to restore energy levels and I got quite cold.  However I finished strongly and even rode past our road end to tip the clock over the 100 miles rather than finishing on 99.

After this ride I changed my ideas on my E2E (End 2 End).  Riding alone has its attractions but having a buddy to share the wind and the decisions is also good.  100 miles in a day is OK occasionally but doing that distance every day for a couple of weeks is not so much fun.  The idea of riding all day and then wild camping in my minuscule tent was also losing its attraction.  Time for a rethink of the plan.

My regular cycling buddy Steve had taken part in a large scale charity ride from John O’ Groats to Lands End a few years previously.  He had also done many other tours over the years both in the UK and abroad.  Crucially he had not cycled the whole of the West Coast of Scotland.  I had been bouncing my E2E plans off Steve as they were formulating and although he didn’t say so, he had considered my original plan of riding 100 mile days, on my own and wild camping, as been a bit ‘out there’ and a trip he wouldn’t be interested in doing.

Initially Steve thought he would like to join me at Keswick and cycle Scotland with me and then he decided we might as well do the whole thing together.  Time for some detailed planning.

Steve and I decided to try to maintain our cycling fitness over the winter and aimed at 100 miles a week minimum.  We did quite well with this to begin with and in late November an opportunity presented itself to ride from Cornwall back to Dorset.  Daylight was the restricting factor but we rode 86 miles with 8,600’ of ascent across Dartmoor and the East Devon coast. We were still fit.

Wintry conditions near Minterne Magna February 2013

Wintry conditions near Minterne Magna February 2013

The weather through the winter was extremely wet.  We were out on the touring bikes on wet muddy lanes a lot of the time but most weeks we exceeded the 100 mile target.  We were lucky to be free from the daily commitment of working and so could usually take advantage of the occasional dry day.

In December 2012 I joined Audax.
I decided that taking part in some local events would be a good way of helping to keep motivated to do longer rides and would also mean I would discover new routes in the South West.

January 2013 was cold, wet and windy and the 100 miles a week target was not achieved. The roads were often icy and Steve had a bad fall on an icy road.

We were aware of the first Audax ride looming up, the Glastonbury 100 miler from Honiton on 16th February.  The day of the event was dry, cold but sometimes sunny and 60 riders enjoyed a grand day out.  Steve had a puncture but apart from that we completed in a very respectable time and enjoyed it.  Audax events are non-competitive. (Yeah right.)

The following week Steve was busy being a gorilla (star turn at a Grandson’s birthday party) so I went along to the Primrose Path 100k Audax event by myself.  It was a very cold day with ice around but it remained dry.  I was riding my Dawes Galaxy and by riding steadily and keeping stop times to a minimum I was able to complete successfully.  This was a very hilly ride from Corscombe in Dorset and attracted Audax AAA points. At this stage I do not have any understanding of the Audax awards or the acronyms.

Mountain biking above Abbotsbury March 2013

Mountain biking above Abbotsbury March 2013

On 3rd March Steve and I did the Audax Coast and Quantocks from Exeter.  This was my first 200k ride.  Again it was cold and dry but following the strategy of keeping going steadily, eating regularly but keeping stop times to a minimum we completed successfully and much quicker than many much more experienced riders.  In these first three Audax rides I noticed that there are very few women riders.

March 27th was my first effort up Abbotsbury Hill of the year.  It doesn’t get any easier.  The following day I had an opportunity for a one way ride from Liskeard in Cornwall down to Penzance. This was 75 miles with 7,000’ of ascent.  This was quite a tough ride on a cold and windy day but I do love a journey.

The following week was spent sea kayaking and camping on the Isles of Scilly which brings me to the present.  Unfortunately I have a virus which has laid me low. The only silver lining is that it gives me time to get this blog up and running as I have no energy to do very much else. It’s a shame really because it’s a sunny day and is much warmer than it has been so far this year and I would just love to be out on my bike.