IOPCC Trip Report

Pembrokeshire Trip
25th-31st July 2010


 Sunday 25th July

The previous evening John Miller had arrived at Porth-Clais campsite to join me, we talked over various tides and trips etc. over a few beers and some local fish and chips. Our first day on the water was supposedly a short paddle to Solva and back, however the numerous times that John had walked/cycled this part of the coast didn’t stop us from completely bypassing the harbour mouth until we were near enough joining the surf into Newgale beach. We had obviously overshot so a decision was made to turn around and find the Port. Though fairly well pointed out by line of Scar rocks it was no wonder we passed it so easily, not confirming our correct passage till well into a curved entrance. A nice brew was followed at the Sailing Club and John kindly treated me to an Ice-cream. The trip back was as pleasant having had very little wind all day and having found a few rocks to pass through and a secluded bay. Beware of stopping at the very busy beach of Caerfai Bay though as the last 20 feet of surf is full of loose red seaweed.

Monday 26th July

Daytime: Getting ready for Jill to arrive later that evening, we did some more recceing but this time went East until we nudged our noses into Ramsey Sound. This had more opportunities for rock hopping and we had lunch on a lovely secluded beach in Porthlysgi Bay. There was however a long surf rip just SW of Carreg yr Esgob rock.

Evening: Earlier in the day, John had popped into TYF Adventure (the place he did his intro 3 years before) to get a more detailed forecast. It was mentioned that that evening they were doing a Paddle and Pick at a place called Forbidden Bay just east of Solva that had no land access and had seen a recently high amount of washed ashore debris. Being near Solva, John volunteered our services and so at half seven that evening in Solva car park we met up with a great bunch from TYF in various boats and we paddled out. John was the first to get ashore but he encountered a very steep shingle beach and was having difficulties landing. I spotted an easier angle to the far right and with a small sit on top near me made it ashore in time to see John swimming back into the beach, so after a little help we were all finally ashore. This cove was no more than 50 meters across and it was hard to imagine just how so much rubbish had collected there. Just over an hour’s worth of hard work and the job was done. Four big Canadian canoes were loaded up like New York City dump barges and the four of us in sea kayaks provided a tow with the assistance of a helmsman in each. It was great to be involved let alone for a worthy cause and hopefully a new link for IOPCC to make use of in the future. For pics follow this LINK>>

 Tuesday 27th July

Jill's first day on the water was another fair weather paddle from Porth-Clais to guess where, yep Johns favourite place in Wales, Solva! However this time we knew what to look for and I now had my map on the spray deck so I could take over the Nav keeping. Unfortunately the tide was too low to show her a secret little tunnel we had been shown the night before. The evening was finished off with a nice pre made Chilli (Jill) and some wine in her Tardis tent.

Wednesday 28th July

At two minutes to ten, John Christmas arrived, pretty good time keeping and we set off via a car shuttle to Whitesands Bay. The tides were just right to be around the slack through Ramsey Sound. The initial launch through the surf was enough to get our faces wet but once out we just had a long swell to contend with, the sound passed without incident though John C somehow managed to find a very smooth strip of water nearer to shore than we managed and after a short break at our recently discovered Porthlysgi Bay we entered our home port of Porth-Clais. The ability to drive into this harbour at low water really helps with the movement of the kayaks.

Thursday 29th July

With Ramsey Sound under our belts we were up for a BIG paddle, so it was decided to tackle Strumble Head. Once again a car shuttle left a vehicle at Porth-Gain and we found a free car park adjacent to the water just to the right of the main harbour breakwater. We set off under a lovely sun and a long but slightly bumpy swell. Strumble Head did throw up some mixed swell of variable size but we all managed to get around the lighthouse on the headland still dry. We immediately cut in behind the rock, Pen Brush into an unbelievably smooth patch of water and were greeted by half a dozen seals, a great way to come down from the rush of Strumble. We plodded on and stopped for a much needed break at Aber Bach. The final part of the trip was onto our final destination at Porth-Gain and we entered the harbour between its two cairns on either side, totalling 16.1 miles in a moving time of 4 hours 20 minutes, a moving average of 3.7 mph. A quick round up of the cars and we stayed in Porth-Gain for a nice meal at the Sloop Inn. This is my longest paddle to date and though not worn out I knew I was elated to complete it.

Friday 30th July

The weather had changed and we knew early on it was now a non-paddling day. John M was already leaving Saturday morning so decided to make the most of it and decided to get home 24hrs early. This left the three of us to walk into St Davids and visit the Cathedral and very posh Information centre.

Saturday 31st July

Having already planned only a half days paddling we headed off down to Porth-Clais harbour that was now full of water and went for some rescue practise. John C showed me a paddle Tee rescue rather than using the bow and we all had numerous turns flipping ourselves upside down in the water. Never having either fallen over in my Easky or rolled I now felt ready to try putting together some building blocks for rolling. John C was kind enough to show me his technique then after putting his Explorer ashore he waded back into the water to be my safety number and brace. I tried a few holding on rolls and the hip flip was feeling good so being all Gung Ho apparently I decided to go for it and went straight into a roll. Not exactly successful but its 4/5ths there and sadly the one that may have made it doesn’t really count as my blade tip struck the bottom and gave me a false support. But thanks to John anyway. Got 3 weeks till my 3 star in Scotland so need to get it cracked by then!

This trip thankfully made up for the last minute cancellation of the original Exped but we all had a great time, a lovely part of our own coastline and relatively cheap at £6 per person a night. Cheers all.


Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page.

Solva, waiting for the tide to come in Dicky looking good on the Solva trip
Base camp Port Clais, Jill and John M cooking up wonders (courtesy of Waitrose) Checking out the new lifeboat station at St Justians, Ramsey Sound…just in case
Leaving Fishguard Harbour for Strumble Carregwastad Point,
re-enacting French
Invasion of 1797
Into the glass waters off Carreg Onnen after the lumpy stuff of
Strumble Head
Just prior to Aber Bach
John C about to land at Porthgain after a long long day…. Did I say it was long?!
Back to the Trip Report Index

Report: Dicky Bird | Pictures: Dicky Bird & Jill Franks



Paddling on the Jurassic Coast