Friday, 4 March 2011

Mission Accomplished!

51.5 km
5hrs paddling

With plans to make the most of the flooding tide, we woke early and were well underway by 7am. Setting off at low water had the obvious disadvantage of a long way to trolley the boats before we found the water. The plan was to catch the flood, shoot past Silloth and finally reach Beaumont, where we finished our Eden descent just as the tide was at its highest.

Once afloat we paddled off into an eerie mist, keeping well offshore to avoid extensive sandbanks. The sea was completely flat, land was out of sight and it was really quite difficult to paddle on a compass course with no features to act as reference. The GPS showed that we were being carried along nicely at speeds varying from 8km/h to 19km/h.

Just after passing Port Carlisle we caught up with the flooding tide and found ourselves surfing a very small bore. It was a bit odd to be surfing a wave with the bow of the boat hovering over sand, but it added to the interest and kept us moving in the right direction.

It wasn't long before we were in the river channel paddling against gentle flow, past Rockcliffe and on to Beaumont, our intended finish where we found Jimski waiting armed with the biggest camera I have ever seen.

Is this mission accomplished? Water levels were low in the rivers at the start of the week so we didn't start quite as high up as planned. The gap between where we started on the two rivers is 16km as the crow flies, and a little longer by boat or walking. In all we have paddled the greater part of two fantastic rivers and had a wonderful 4 days on the sea. We have covered a total of 340 km. Yes, I think it's mission accomplished.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

North from St. Bees

An early start was needed to catch the last of the flood, although we still ended up paddling against the ebb long before we got to Allonby. The ice on the tents was even thicker in the morning and Kate's tent still had a good amount on it when it was pitched again at the end of the day.
Wind farms were a persistent feature along this section:
Wind and tide against us, plus the consideration of how far out the water is at low tide, meant that a stop short of Allonby made perfect sense. We even got a connection to the Internet to post the first version of this blog entry.

Dinner included the rather splendid sticky toffee pudding provided by Cartmel Village Shop. Heating it up in a pan with an inch of boiling water seems to work fairly well and the water can then be used to make instant custard:The sunset gave the campsite a deceptively pleasant look; the photo doesn't show the busy road that was 20 yards away!There was even enough driftwood for a fire:
We need to catch the flood again tomorrow, so the kettle will go on at 0530 for a coffee before the long trolley haul down the beach. The run up to Carlisle needs to be timed so that we hit the tidal limit of the Eden at 1230. It should be a fast paddle but it all depends on the wind.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Piel to St. Bees

Long hard slog but with the wind behind us. Landed at St. Bees just as it was getting dark. Ice on the tents within minutes of landing but a good hot meal warmed us up before getting an early night.

Last night's dinner of pork chops came from Damien, a Piel Island pig. Breakfast came from Phoebe:
There is still industry at Barrow:but also some wildlife:We had a view of the hills that not many people get to see:A rest and the last of the excellent Cumberland sausage occupied us during a forced long lunchbreak while we waited for the all clear from the Eskmeals firing range. The people at the range were very friendly and helpful, driving down to let us know when it would be safe to proceed.
The downside of the long lunch break was the distance to the water afterwards. Not only had the tide gone out a long way but we also had to go around a stretch of rocks that it had uncovered.
Our afternoon paddle took us past Sellafield:and we carried on paddling past sunset:

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Salt water at last

This morning, we launched into a chilly river Lune at Lancaster. There was frost on the ground, but the blue sky gave a hint of the fantastic day to come. It wasn't long before we felt the pull of the ebb tide hastening our progress out to Morecambe Bay.

Navigation was unexpectedly tricky - a mist reduced visibility enough that the far side of the bay could not be seen for the first half of the crossing. The buoys guided us out of the Lune channel but after that it was a matter of keeping to a bearing and checking progress on the GPS.

After the cold start, our only real problem was overheating. The 37km trip became hard work as we crossed the bay; the tide was against us more than it was with us.

We found a warm welcome at Piel Island - an island with easy access where you can camp near a castle and a pub. What more can you ask for?

We're as happy as (Piel Island) pigs in mud! It's just a shame that Jim wasn't able to join us.