IOPCC Trip Report

Lee Bay to Lundy & back
18th-20th June 2010

Lee Bay is a classic, beautiful, small bay down the bottom of a steep & narrow road, and a tiny stone slipway. Six of us met there on Friday, Barbara & Ian, Julie & Geoff, John & Hugh, and packed the boats with a small audience watching. Set off at 11.00 on a glassily smooth sea and clear sky, and headed out along the coast, with Lundy a small smudge on the horizon. The wind picked up occasionally, but mainly very calm. We rafted up after the first two hours for a snack break. Started to see wildlife as we got towards Lundy, with a lone seal (a Billy no mates) half way across, gannets, puffins and a flock of seabirds (shearwaters or auks?) which took off as we approached, and circled us flying very low and close, slightly dizzying to watch. But, for a major shipping channel, we saw just one ship, and a couple of yachts, all a long way away, which was not what I had expected.

Lundy just seemed to sit there hour after hour, and it didn’t seem to get any bigger until we were very close. Julie was practicing her compass navigation, and was keeping us on track. Due to tide races off the southern end, and a problem the group had had last time, we were very careful to get the approach right and avoid being swept past the island. But with a wind picking up, and a reverse tide eddy against us, the last 20 minutes took for ever. Usual problem of landing, with legs which wouldn’t stand up! Total time just under 5 hours. But then after all that, the hardest bit of all, humping the camping kit up to the campsite right on the top of the island.
No trendy tarps on this trip, so tents up, then a walk up to the lighthouse (you can climb right to the top, with a couple of deckchairs there to admire the view). Onto the pub, where they have a Kayakers visitors book; an entry by Barbara last year when they said ‘we will be back’. And we were!

Lazy start the next day, and then kayaked round the island, going anti-clockwise for the tides. The east side is beautiful, but the west side is really spectacular, with tall broken cliff faces, caves, tunnels, arches rock hopping, and wildlife everywhere. Loads of Guillimots & Razorbills on the cliffs & in the water (beware if you are on the take-off path of one of these, low flying & not very manoeuvrable!), and a puffin bobbing about. Seals popping up and following us, both Grey & Common seals. Squillions of jellyfish, different colours & some with tentacles. Some wind and swell, so sometimes the rock-hopping turned out to be more exciting than anticipated, with Ian, Barbara & John going down a narrow tunnel which turned out to have an overfall in it, and Hugh going through a gap which suddenly dropped dramatically. At the end of the island, the tide had turned, and it was a fast tide race to paddle against to get back to the harbour (one section was like paddling up a fast flowing river).
Later, we walked round the island, with the wild northern end of open moorland, the south end more inhabited and tamer. From the cliff tops, you hardly see any of the wildlife, so a boat trip, kayak or otherwise, is a must.

Most of us slept the night on the beach in bivvy bags, watching the sun go down with a nip of whiskey, then waking up occasionally to see how high the tide was getting (got close, but not too close, although very noisy). Early start, on the water by 7.00 am, then delayed with Hugh’s boat filling up with water at the launch (sorted with particular help from Geoff). More wind this time from the north, so waves sideways on, and wind increased occasionally, not a problem but an inconvenience. Once again, we saw no major shipping, just occasional fishing boats in the distance. Julie was keeping us on track, leading on the compass bearing. We tried stopping every hour, which was better for moral, but not so fast overall, and by the time we got to Mort Point, the tide race was very bumpy (everyone concentrating very hard on staying upright, as a capsize in this would have been real trouble). We were all looking out for each other, with Barbara & Ian in particular helping those who were slowing down. As we had lost some time, the tide was against us now, so the last few miles were hard work on the end of a long trip. We were very relieved (some of us for more than one reason; it’s a long way without a pit stop!) to reach the small beach at Lee Bay, and fall out of our kayaks again. It took just under 6 hours from Lundy to Lee Bay.

Overall, we had excellent conditions, and with Barbara’s planning, it went very well. It was a really exciting, challenging & old fashioned ADVENTURE!


Pictures of the weekend are on the
Galleries Page.

Getting ready at Lee Bay Calm waters on the crossing
Geoff Julie with dolphins
John having trouble landing The boat store
Climbing the Old Lighthouse A surprised seal
John paddling around the Island The North of the Island
Ian eyeing an opportunity Julie
Julie waiting her turn for a bit of rockhopping Hugh
The view to the south Getting ready to launch on the way back
Pretty morning Rafted for a snack stop
Back to the pub at Lee Bay for beer and medals!
Back to the Trip Report Index

Report: Hugh De Iongh
Pictures: Barbara Browning



Paddling on the Jurassic Coast