IOPCC Trip Report

Jubilee Weekend Paddle

Sunday 3rd June - Monday 4th June 2012

Having accepted Jane’s kind invitation to paddle in her ‘pond’, our plan was to start from the Mountbatten Centre, Plymouth on Sunday 3rd, turn east along to River Avon at Bantham and camp in the vicinity. Returning on 4th. The trip appeared ‘do-able’ given the forecast 36 hours ago.
I stayed the previous night at Ivybridge, expecting a straightforward 20 minute journey to Mountbatten Centre  on this sleepy Jubilee bank holiday Sunday morning. I hadn’t reckoned on getting caught up in the Plymouth half marathon – many thousands of runners = many road closures and diversions! I arrived at MC 25 minutes late to find that Jane had checked today's forecast; wind WNW force 5 gusting 6! We agreed a change of plan was necessary, essentially 2 day paddles.

Sunday 3rd June.

Relying on Jane’s local knowledge we set out into a gusty Plymouth harbour (note to David Cotgrove – remember that?) towards Cornwall (where the dirty weather was coming from, Ian). Jane calculated that we were unlikely to cross the shipping lane before an incoming Brittany ferry reached us (they’re huge up close) so I clung to the Mallards East cardinal buoy whilst the Pont-Aven passed smoothly into port.

It took us a further 45 mins of ‘shoulders forward’ effort to pass S of Drake Island, with thumbs up encouragement from several yachties, to reach a shingle beach near Cremyll ferry, Cornwall. This gives access to Mt Edgcumbe House & Country Park if one wishes. Look at Google maps of Plymouth harbour and it is just a shortish water crossing here, but I was grateful for Jane’s guidance.
Our options were limited by the wind, so we crossed to the north bank near Hoe Park and proceeded east towards Laira Bridge, passing working ships, an HM Border Agency vessel and many moored prestige ocean-going motor yachts.

David Cotgrove will doubtless remember ‘Rick-the-leg’ from our recent trip to Wembury; Rick is both an able kayaker and a master mariner, who Jane & I met on a pontoon at a RYA examination centre. Solid guy, small world.

Then under Laira Bridge and up the Plym river, here a still, wide lake which reduces to acres of mud at low tide – Jane’s house overlooks it. By this time I was gasping for a cup of tea! The river narrowed and allowed us to get out, tie up and walk 5 minutes to Saltram House
 where we talked our way into the closed tea shop for a well-deserved cuppa.
Returned to our kayaks and a gentle paddle back to the Mountbatten Centre, where the £5 parking fee also allowed me use of the showers – heavenly! Jane keeps her Tiderace at MC in secure storage.

Monday 4th June.

What a difference 12 hours can make to the weather, today’s forecast was wind 5 – 9mph with variable direction, allowing us to get beyond the massive harbour breakwater, heading W around Rame Head. Sea conditions were obviously kinder today with many small craft enjoying the only ‘good’ day of the long Jubilee weekend on the water. We crossed direct to sunny Cornwall and found a
rocky inlet with small beach under The Old Signal House, where we had a break and acknowledged an elderly couple who had just paddled from nearby Cawsand.

We continued around Rame Head and I reflected that two Tiderace expedition paddlers had preceded us by about 3 weeks. In less benign conditions I imagine rounding Rame Head would be a no-go for me!
On the west side we had the choice of 5 clean beaches within a mile, we opted for the nearest which had small surf and no other visitors. We landed without incident. We enjoyed a lazy lunch, a chat, and waited until 2pm when the east going flood tide had picked up to our advantage. We launched through an increasing surf, although Jane wasn’t quick enough fitting her spray-deck, she took on water and had to return to the beach etc... Her second attempt was faultless.
We returned east around Rame Head, the wind had increased a little as forecast which was enough to produce a small choppy sea, at times confused and reflected from the rocky shoreline, which I found unpleasant. Jane appeared comfortable in these conditions whilst keeping an eye on my progress. We paddled along the sheltered Cornish shore to Cawsand.
We landed alongside the Plymouth – Cawsand ferry, on the ‘bucket and spade’ beach which is 30 metres from the picturesque village square with coffee shop! We chanced upon the couple from the ‘inlet beach’ who have a holiday cottage off-square. On chatting to them I discovered that the lady is retired from the same ‘business’ as me; our conversation was therefore peppered with familiar references – Jane’s interest began to wane! We were invited to pop in for a cuppa in future if we found their top windows open. Pleasant folk.

From Cawsand it was a direct crossing again keeping south of Drake Island, passing the two cardinal marks and into the Mountbatten Centre at 5pm. The spring-tide HW was 5.5mtrs.
Our day total was 15 miles (Jane’s GPS has all our stats.)

Thanks to Jane for her invitation and planning; she certainly has the benefit of a prime location and outstanding facilities at MC, and I was impressed with the paddling possibilities from there.
Plymouth Sound John at Rame Head
Tiderace advert! and again
Cawsand Ready to launch at Cawsand

Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page


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Report: John Miller
Pics: Jane Seigne



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