Stackpole Sea Kayak Festival

Saturday - Stackpole Rock Pooling

Eight Isis CC members pootled off to Pembrokeshire for some sea kayaking: Jen, Simon, Helen, Lizzy, Andy, Kieran, Anna and Penny. We set off from the Scout Hut early and arrived at the National Trust Centre at Stackpole just after the main morning's briefing, and thus a little late to book onto a trip for the day. We decided we'd go rockpooling with two of the centre's helpers, Rhi and Lou.

They took us to the beach near Stackpole Quay where we learned some fascinating facts about limpets and barnacles, found out about the various layers of rock and lichen and how tough they have to be to survive along the coast. Andy and Simon did a bit of climbing on the beach's main rock feature. We found crabs, shrimp, guppies and various urchins. It was nice to have an expert on hand to explain all the things we found. We made the most of the pool at the centre before dinner, and the evening was spent eating a fantastic curry and drinking cider.

Sunday - Porth Clais to Solva

We awoke early on Sunday in time for the day's briefing and to book onto a trip. There was a high wind expected in some areas so the majority of us chose a trip which was reported to be for intermediates with minimal wind but some swell. We had a bit of a shuffle with the shuttle which allowed us to go out in two groups, one starting at Porth Clais and the other at Slova, and we would cross over and have lunch together half way.

Our group was led by Kate Duffus, who recently broke the time record for paddling solo around Anglesey, and we launched at Porth Clais. The coastline was absolutely fantastic, with lot of rocks to zip in and out of, cave and interesting formations in the cliffs. We did some exploring and basked in the beautiful weather which had finally arrived. Some of the group were more adventurous than others in getting close to the rocks as the waves broke, and once or twice a big swell surprised us as it made its way to the shore.

We met the second group on a beach and had lunch after surfing in on the waves. It was nice to see the mass of brightly coloured boats on the sand while we tucked into our sandwiches. Our next task was to break through the surf and paddle back out of the bay. With varying degrees of success we eventually all made it off the beach and back onto the sea for more salty fun. We finally made it to Solva and had to carry our boats for the last section as the tide was out and we ran out of water to paddle. The evening was spent unwinding with some inflatables in the pool, munching of a huge barbecue, and then dancing until the band had to go home at a ceili. Turns out Simon can dance and do-si-do better than most!

Monday - Tenby to Lydstep

Our final day of paddling saw our whole group choose a trip from Tenby to Lydstep, bypassing Caldey Island to our left where, it turns out, the monks don't sunbathe on the beach naked! Once again, this was a brilliant stretch of coastline with some great caves to play in and rocks to hop around. There was some good swell in places which picked you up and dropped you down quite dramatically.

We found jellyfish and lots of limpet legs and basically had a lot of fun bobbing around with some good coaches who gave some good pointers to those of us who needed it and free reign to those of us who knew what they were doing. We headed for our get out at Lydstep and surfed into the beach before loading up and heading for home in the beautiful sunshine.

I would highlight recommend this stretch of coastline for sea kayaking, it was stunning and plenty of fun, and I'll be going back next year hopefully to paddle one of the islands - possibly Skomer, probably Caldey - but either way, it'll be lots of fun!

- Jen

Photos by Jen.