IOPCC Trip Report

Bantham Bash
Saturday 4th - Sunday 5th June

A merry band of 10 lucky kayakers set out from Dorset for a weekend paddle and camp in South Devon early on the morning of June 4th. The Magnificent 6 met at the Tesco (no, Halfords) car park in Dorchester whilst The Tweedles (Barbara and Ian), Jill and David made their way from other directions.

All converged on the car park at Aveton Gifford in time to launch and paddle down the Avon on the outgoing tide in glorious sunshine.

The plan was to have a play in the surf near the river mouth and then paddle on to Hope Cove to set up camp. However, not all were keen to surf and a plan evolved to paddle around Burgh Island and lunch on the beach at Challaborough Bay. We wended our way through the spectacular rock gardens around the island and then headed for the beach. Most ate their lovely packed lunches down on the beach, however some of us took advantage of the opportunity for somewhat more substantial fare and checked out the offerings at the beach chippie. The offerings were somewhat grim but we managed to find something almost edible, and I settled on a taste from home – chilli on chips! The ever diplomatic and discreet peanut gallery back at the beach took one look and declared it distinctly obnoxious! I did have to admit it wasn’t the most attractive of dishes, but I found it almost as tasty as I had remembered!

After our lunch break, we headed off back around Burgh Island and worked our way along the coast toward Hope Cove, again enjoying many little detours through rocks and the occasional cave. The tide was out so far that the base of Thurlestone Rock appeared to be several feet above water, however we managed to find a paddlable route through the arch. We arrived at Hope Cove and went ashore for ice cream and provisions. After finishing our treats and packing away our purchases, we set out in the boats again. As it the weather was fine and there was still plenty of daylight left, all save Cate agreed to carry on paddling toward the headland at Bolt Tail. Cate headed for Hope Cove to have a swim (brrr! The water was still only 12C). We paddled past a small tidal race off the headland and toward Bury Stone where Jill and I headed for the slot between the headland and the stone, which looked like a fairly straightforward passage. What a difference 20 seconds worth of dropping swell makes! Jill found a large rock sitting right off her bow when the surge dropped! I wondered why she had stopped and saw the problem as I swept by on her right and paddled through the next swell as it broke. Another paddler coming toward me said ‘You have a swimmer’ and by the time I got out of the gap and turned the boat around to have a look, a highly capable team of Ken, Ian and Toby were on the scene and helping to recover the boat as Jill stood on the afore mentioned rock. Then with a bit of effective towing by Barbara the whole group were dragged out to sea where Jill was reunited with her boat.

Tales will be told for some time about that swim – it was a tough patch of water and it was only by blind luck that it was not I in the drink in Jill’s place! We carried on a short distance further then turned back and headed for camp. On arrival we found Cate gamely trying to change out of her supposedly wet swimming costume behind a towel. Some questioned whether she actually swam as she wasn’t blue, but she assured that she had definitely been in!

Tents were pitched, stoves lit and dinners devoured by all. Dessert was a delicious banana cake baked by Barbara. We watched a pod of dolphins work their way eastward across the outer cove and wished they had come just a hour or two earlier! John and David collected firewood from along the beach and we had a small fire and a bit of wind and beer, told a few tales and turned in for the night. Heavy rain woke most up during the night and we started the morning under grey and drizzly skies with a much cooler and stronger wind that the day before.

Toby led us in some calisthenics and then a quick beach litter pick before we set off for Aveton Gifford at 9am.

The group paddled under Thurlestone Rock at high water this time – a much more picturesque experience, which Barbara duly recorded with her ever present camera. When we reached the mouth of the Avon, we had a second swim of the trip when I lost a very brief battle with a 1 foot wave. Sad! Anyway, Toby helped me back into the boat and back into the surf to show it who was boss. I managed through much better – amazing how much easier it is when you are already wet.

The journey upriver was a slog, with both the stronger wind and the ebb current against us. However, we made it just in time and had sufficient water to reach the take out point at the car park. Gear and boats retrieved and loaded on cars, we headed off for a well-earned pub lunch and then home. Toby organised a brilliant weekend that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Thanks Tobes!

Pre-paddle briefing
From Toby
Jill and John on the
River Avon
Ian at Bantham Michelle and Ron in the sunshine at Burgh Island
Cate Toby by the Burgh Island Hotel
John Barbara at Thurlestone Rock
Jill after her impromptu swim David on the beach
Cate in the surf at Bantham Back to Aveton Gifford
The group at Hope Cove

Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page.


Back to the Trip Report Index

Report: Michelle Price
Pictures: Barbara Browning



Paddling on the Jurassic Coast