Costa Brava (Spain) Sea Paddle 2015

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Following last year’s successful circumnavigation of Menorca, this year’s A2B paddle along the Costa Brava, Spain’s “Wild Coast” , was full to capacity very soon after appearing on the club calendar.


Kayak rental was arranged from Marc Martin Alcobar who owns Sea Kayaking Spain and since he is the main agent in Spain for Nigel Dennis kayaks, we got some very good sea boats and related paddling gear at a reasonable price.


Our Liverpool / Barcelona flights were cheap and convenient and, since there were 7 in our party, Marc ferried us around in his mini-bus until we were ready to get on the water; collecting us after we had completed the trip and generally helping us as much as he could by providing a shore-side safety service in case we got ourselves in schtook along the way.


Although Marc also provided updates for any significant weather heading our way, we had previously arranged that LCC member Steve Gille would send us forecasts from the UK. Steve’s was full of useful detail which enabled us to make important decisions at critical points along our route.


It has to be said that Marc provided an excellent and friendly service once we were in Spain and I’m sure each of us on the trip would endorse his company for any future trips.


Not long before we arrived, the weather along the Costa Brava was atrocious and it wasn’t until the day before we got on the water that the decision was made start at the south of the region and head up north; ideally finishing close to the French border or in France itself if the weather played ball.


Because we didn’t leave from Liverpool until the afternoon on Tuesday 7th April, we arrived quite late at Barcelona Airport and, although Marc was there waiting for us in his mini-bus, we always knew that we would be too late to get on the water immediately. Marc had arranged a cheap (but very comfortable) hotel for us in Blanes, our proposed put-in and the “Gateway to the Costa Brava”.


When we arrived the town appeared to be completely closed down and we later discovered that it was some sort of local bank holiday. After lugging our bags into our hotel rooms and meeting up with Dave Lynch who had driven down to paddle for the previous week at the Pagaia International Sea Symposium centred nearby at Llançà. Undaunted by the ghost town appearance, we set off into the night and discovered a very nice restaurant that produced some fantastic food, our last “big” meal for quite a long time.


More information on the area and Costa Brava …..


Day One - Wednesday 8th April – Blanes to Cala Pola – Approx 18 Km

We all arose early from our comfortable hotel beds and Marc turned up ready to take us to the local supermarket for our paddling food. This trip was different to previous trips I had been on insofar as there were plenty of opportunities along the 180 Km coastline to top up with fresh water and food. This took the pressure off a bit but most of us packed enough for the majority of the trip just in case the weather denied us easy access to the towns along the way. Besides which, heading into towns on a regular basis just to go shopping also seemed disruptive to the enjoyment of self supported wild camping – the ethos on which every other sea paddling / wild camping trip I had done was based.


 After the familiar faff of packing our boats in Blanes Harbour, we set off in the early afternoon and I immediately discovered that my skeg was stuck, a problem that was to plague many of us over the next 9 days. Back in my boat with my skeg working properly, I rejoined the team and we headed out of the harbour. Inside the harbour walls, all was calm and sheltered but as soon as we poked our noses out, we all realised that there was a swell running and a bit more wind than perhaps we had anticipated. Those of you who know the Mediterranean will understand that, in most of it, there is only an insignificant tidal range and very little stream flowing in any direction. This means that you will never get to play in a tiderace or on a standing wave. That said, there are many lumps and bumps and thrills to help hone sea paddling skills and “clapotis” is one of these features waiting for us just as we left the harbour entrance. 


The swell was hitting the harbour wall and reflected back onto itself to cause a confused sea. In an unfamiliar boat loaded with expedition kit, Don soon fell victim to the challenging conditions and was ably plucked out of the water and returned to his cockpit by Keith. With all of the weight of an expedition boat, it’s not easy to empty the cockpit of water in the usual way and Keith had to pump most of it out using the only pump we had between us. This proved to be a lengthy process but Nicky was alongside like a flash and helped keep Don upright while Keith was doing his bit. She also did a great job to help prevent the raft from getting trashed on the rough harbour wall.


I was some 75m away when Keith called for an anchor tow to help keep the raft away from the wall. Again, in an unfamiliar laden boat, I headed towards them back through the clapotis again but found it surprisingly difficult to get close to Don’s boat in the middle of the raft. Thankfully, Nicky’s one handed paddling skills got them clear of the wall and my tow wasn’t necessary.  This was a wake-up call to us all and we realised that we had only two tows, one pump and a couple of sponges between us.

Because of our late start, our proposed wild campsite was on the beach of Cala Pola about 18Km away. The direction of swell and wind strength made for a challenging sea for the whole route but we all gradually got used to our boats and began to cope with the conditions. So early on in our trip we didn’t dare to play among the rocks in the confused sea under the cliffs but opted instead to stay well offshore except for the few occasions where we could tuck in behind small headlands. When we could, we all stopped for a break on a beach which also gave Don a chance to dry out, warm up and gather his thoughts.


Propelled along by a stiff breeze and a following swell, we made decent headway but by the time we arrived at our first campsite at Cala Pola, the sun had all but left the beach so we sheltered out of the cold wind by a convenient wall and cooked our first evening meal. Too cold for staying up late and chatting, we all settled into the warmth of our sleeping bags as darkness descended onto our patch of  the Mediterranean. I for one didn’t sleep all that well as I listened to the waves hitting the beach and to fishing boats “lamping” in our bay.


Pete Thomas          More Photos…..



Don paddling under a bridge over the Mediterranean

Day Two – Thursday 9th April – Cala Pola to L’Aqulla de Castell

We awoke in our idyllic bay just as the sun was rising over the steep walls to either side.  There was a deep dew covering everything but we soon had the petrol stoves firing on all cylinders.  As we started to pack away workmen started to arrive and began work preparing the campsite ready for a busy summer.  There were sinks to wash up in and dustbins to dispose of any rubbish.

We were soon on our way and paddled around the headland (Cap de Pola) and on northwards exploring the coast.  The wind was still from the SE and so blew us along nicely.

After a few miles we were weaving in and out of a series of small islands and stacks and came across a small stone bridge out to one of the islands.  This just had to be paddled under much to the surprise of a group of people who had just walked out to the small island.

Many Granite headlands

The miles soon crept by as passed Ille del Freu and past the town and harbour of Sant Feliu de Guixols eventually crossing the large sandy bay of Platja d`Aro.  It was all fairly built up but Peter has marked it as a suggested campsite.  Indeed behind the beach was a campsite with lots of motor homes in.  We took a look but all agreed it would not be ideal.  There was a sizable swell dumping on the beach and the landing did not look good so we moved on round the corner to a couple of little bays sheltered by rocky headlands. This allowed a comfortable landing but it was clear that we were all fairly tired and time was marching on.  After 5 or 6 people had either run or sauntered past on the coast path that followed the cliff line we got back into our kayaks headed off for one of Marks recommended campsites at L’Aqulla de Castell.

Our beautiful beach at L’Aqulla de Castell but it was soon to be in the shade


This was going to be a 3 map day (well from the end of map 1 to the start of map 3).  We paddled straight past Palamos where Mark lives without so much as a second look.  It was now well past 5pm.  Paddling around Cap Gross the seas became a little lumpy but soon we happened across rows of small fishing cottages (sheds) all stacked up on top of each other.  The shed doors were all different colours.  A quick survey of the beach suggested the left hand side would be the better landing, one by one we all made it successfully and kayaks were dragged up beyond the breaking wave.  The wind now was strong and cold blowing directly onshore.  We spread our gear out on the wooden bike racks to get the last of the sun but all too soon the shadow spread across the bay.

Some of us ventured up to the old ruins and a quick look around the corner.  As we returned we found Pete and Carole sat in the last of the days sun on the extreme right hand side of the beach.  As the sun set our tents were quickly pitched in the soft sand and we settled down for a blowy, cold night.

Keith Steer               More Photos…..

Day Three - Friday 10th April – L’Aqulla de Castell to Fornells

We awoke to another sunny day, a quick walk past the pink Finka on the beach to stretch the legs, this being a Spanish term for a rural house plus land , while waiting for the sun to finally reach the tents and dry the condensation as best it could before we got on the water. We packed our boats, always with the puzzle of “will it all go in” without injuring the fingers with too much pushing and squeezing everything past the hatch rims.

Boats finally packed, we launched and sorted out any skegs that had become jammed by the sharp gritty sand that most of the beaches appeared be made of. Don and Pete had by now swapped boats, experimenting in the hope that Don could relax a bit in the confused patches of sea and enjoy the paddling more. We set off around the first headland of this National Park Castell Cap Ruig into a small cove to paddle through our first arch of the day, this had been spotted from the top of the headland which some had walked up to on the previous night. Calmer now than on previous days, we followed the coastline round with great scenery, towering granite cliffs and plenty of caves until we reached Cap Ruig. From here we cut across the bay missing the built up area of Calella de Palafrugell, until we could find more fabulous rock hopping and caves to explore.


We decided to camp overnight in a bay close to the village of Fornells and on this visit it was very different from when we tried to anchor there one hot and busy August a few years ago on our sailing boat. It was so crowed then that we were chased away but this time it was very quiet with hardly a boat in sight. After a quick tootle around the bay exploring possible campsites, we went around a small headland and took up residence on a reasonably secluded beach.


It had been a relatively short day so was still early afternoon when we landed on the beach. We pulled up the boats and settled down for a sunbath and an attempt to dry out any wet tents and other gear. Dave had found himself a nice sheltered spot hidden away in a natural alcove of rocks. Nearby was a very quiet and pretty harbour and the girls soon got a bit restless and headed off up the steep steps to explore while the boys slumbered on in the sunshine. We found a hotel where we had a beer or two and a shared a tapas before returning to the beach for our evening meal.


Twilight was descending so, after Keith and Pete had tied all of our boats together with one of the tow lines, we put up the tents and soon disappeared inside to our warm sleeping bags as it was now quite cold. During the night the swell had increased, throwing up the gritty sand over our boats. Unable to sleep properly, Pete got out of the tent three times to check that the boats were OK.


A short but pleasant day’s paddling. Sunbathing and exploring.


Carole Thomas              More Photos…..

Day Four - Saturday 11th April – Fornells to Cala Ferriol - Approx 25 Km )

The forecast from Steve Gille for day five predicted headwinds, increasing in the afternoon but from our overnight camp on the beach at Fornells, all seemed calm as we set off early in the morning to tackle what was likely to be the crux of the whole trip. It wasn’t long before we came to the headland of Cap De Begur and felt the wind on our faces and, once again, the swell and clapotis suggested we should give it a respectable offing. Once past this headland we could see the spectacular Illes Medes, a protected natural marine park where all kinds of birds and fish can be seen. There were few places to stop for elevenses along this part of the coastline but once we turned the headland of Punta de la Creu, we managed to escape the influence of the swell and take a break on the beach at Platja de sa Riera. This beach was also reasonably sheltered from the northerly wind which, so early in the day, hadn’t really piped up to full strength.


After a break of about an hour we were ready to paddle directly towards our intended lunchtime stop at the port of L’Estartit on the far side of a 10Km bay and just west of the Illes Medes. This stretch was largely uneventful until we got closer to the far side of the bay when the wind filled in more and more, so much so that the local kite surfers zigged and zagged across our path so close to us that we could read the labels on their shorts! It was tempting to visit the islands but I knew that there were no landing places and the wind and swell might have made it difficult to get close in. A previous visit there some years ago persuaded me to take a diving mask in my kayak on this trip but, alas, it remained unused throughout the whole trip. Snorkelling around these islands is spectacular as there are dozens of species of fish to see, some of them quite large.


On entering the harbour of L’Estartit, it was as if someone had turned up the heat and turned off the wind. A very handy beach beckoned us and we spread ourselves out and had some lunch while we soaked up the sun. It was roughly half way through the trip so some of us headed into town to stock up on a few nick-nacks at the local Supermarket.

Refreshed and restocked, we headed out again and followed Dave for a few Kms as he had paddled in the area just last week and knew of a spectacular cave that cut right through the sizable headland of Cap Castell. We were soon among the familiar clapotis but most of us had grown used to it and had begun to enjoy it. Don was still struggling a bit with the sea state but was improving and Keith, dutiful and attentive as ever, kept a close eye on him while the rest of us spread out and immersed ourselves in various levels of concentration while enjoying the feeling of being thrown around in the confused sea.


The big arch/cave was obvious as we got closer to it and, although the approach was lumpy, inside was much calmer and well worthwhile. Passing through to the other side put us in completely calm water and it was less than a Km to our overnight wild camp at Cala Ferriol. The beach was of flat pebbles which were a relief from the sharp gritty sand we had been used to on previous camps. The small north east facing bay was protected at the entrance by a small island and a group of rocks. There were divers exploring these rocks who we made friends with easily as one of them revealed that he too was a kayaker. He told us that there was a massive arch under the island that was worth the dive.


A brackish spring from the rocks was too much of a temptation for our coven of girls who felt compelled to wash their hair in it. As the evening drew in and with the crux of the trip behind us, we ate and enjoyed the banter in what, at last, began to feel like a warm holiday.


Pete Thomas               More Photos…..

Sea anemones are a group of water-dwelling, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria. They are named for the anemone, a terrestrial flower. Sea anemones are classified in the phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa, subclass Hexacorallia.[1] Anthozoa often have large polyps that allow for digestion of larger prey and also lack a medusa stage.[2] As cnidarians, sea anemones are related to corals, jellyfish, tube-dwelling anemones, and Hydra.

Many sea anemones form symbiotic relationships with single-celled algae, whether zooxanthellae or zoochlorellae, that live within their cells.

The global trade in marine ornamentals for aquariums is rapidly expanding, and threatens sea anemone populations as the trade depends on collection from the wild, and the animals grow and reproduce relatively slowly.

Day Five - Sunday 12th April - Cala Ferriol to Sant Marti d’ Empuries

We awoke early to a beautiful sunrise which lit up our little cove.  During breakfast in the “Fishermans Kitchen” by the spring we discussed the wild boar hunt during the night.  Apparently wild boar had been flushed from the Mediterranean scrubland down through our camp where they had been using their snouts to forage for food.  Nicky and Kath had opted to put their tents up at the back of the cove near the forest.  With the first sign of movement in the undergrowth Nicky had moved herself into Kath’s tent and hardly slept a wink.  Don added that he believed that he had heard shots fired in the night and wondered if they hunt the boar only at night.

With the forecast of fresh winds during the day and better weather on to follow it was decided to have a shorter paddle today in preparation for the crossing of the bay or Rosies.  Some suggested a paddle out the Isles of Medes but this was soon vetoed.  We compromised and paddled back to the great arch at Cap Castell to take a better look as it had been fairly lumpy the day before.

We the made our way around the coastline and were making a point of going in every cave and gap between the rocks.  We passed underneath towering limestone cliffs with many stacks and stumps from many years of coastal erosion.  Although there is very little tide in the Mediterranean the sea level seemed lower that expected with many Sea anemones exposed or near the surface and there was an erosion line where the water had eaten in to the base of the cliff.  Mark later explained that due the high pressure the surface of the sea had been depressed by 20-30cm for much of the time that we had been paddling.

We paddled on around past Cala Montgo with old forts and the first sign of the large port town of L`Escala.  We had three options of a campsite marked with our familiar black dots all close together just beyond the port.  The most favourable looked to be Empuries, which was marked on the map as a site of Archaeology. We landed on a sheltered beach behind a small limestone outcrop or line of rocks making a sheltered bay.  There was clearly an old historic wall running parallel to the beach.  We pulled our kayaks up onto the beach.  Although the sun was roasting a cool, stiff breeze was blowing full on to the beach.  We managed to find a sheltered spot just behind the first sand dune.  We soaked up the sun for the rest of the day and just chilled out.  Annoyingly, the area had lots of visitors including an Anglo Spanish group just the other side of the dunes.  We endured the kids shouting and rolling a large fit ball continually down the dunes using us as a bowling alley just happy to be on a fine-grained, sandy beach for once.

Later we moved the boats up into our little enclave and settled in for the night.

Keith Steer            More Photos…..

Cooking breakfast in our fisherman’s kitchen

One of the hundreds of caves

Paddling past some interesting off shore stacks


Day Six - Monday 13th April - Sant Marti d’ Empuries to Cala Joncols

The day started with some doggy mobile wake up calls going off !!! From about 6:45 to 7:00am I unzipped the tent that had heavy dew on it to see the quarter moon segment in the sky and the warm glow

Heading off into the fog, the other side of the
bay just about still visible.

of the Mediterranean sun reflecting back against some clouds.

So everybody was quite quick to rise as we had a BIG DAY a head of us! People were having porridge and other things but the calmer group members were drinking camomile tea. So we started to pack away and due to the heavy dew on the tents the sand was sticking to the tents so as some said "fall in Love with the sand" and we were soon ready to leave the shores were the ancient Greeks landed in this area as there is a lot of ancient ruins standing to this day.

Halfway elevenses!

Even the Spanish found this beach to be of great importance as the 1992 Olympic torch was brought ashore here.

So with everyone ready to leave at 07.50 we set off to do the BIGGEST crossing of the whole trip, the Bay of Roses.  The total mileage to cross the would be in excess of 16km.  We could see our destination in the distance and we were very happy to see that the sea was very flat!!   I don't know how our British weatherman Steve Gille fixed it! Just a light wind or was it the calm before the storm ?

Caz started to lead the group across with a designated back marker; we were all in good spirits and soon got into a good paddy rhythm set by Caz.  Visibility was good so we should be able see the sun fish on the surface ! Unfortunately the only thing we saw stopped was a box !!!

We were soon ticking of the km stopping for on the hour in a tight group for drinks and "nick-nack Nikki" had been handing out jelly beans at crazy rate all week !

Nicky cooking the evening meal behind an old stone hut on the beach.

Before we knew it we were across the main bay.  With about 5 km to go one of our group decided that they needed the bathroom asap!!! Being a strong paddler this person decided to paddle ahead. Dave paddled with her so at least they were together.  With two break always heading for the nearest point of land we decided to follow.  The new destination probably made the crossing shorter.  So we all landed on the golden shores of "Canyelles Petites in around 2.5 hrs.  Not bad for 14km and much to the interest of the local Spanish people we landed ! at this time two people away getting provisions as Dave was craving some fresh bread so we made the most of it and decided to go to a beach Taverna.   We enjoyed two excellent cups of coffee and when the chef turned up we ordered a mixed paella and platter of small peppers with sea salt. After an excellent lunch we set of to go around the main headland, Punta Falconera, 2km away.  We had been advised by Mark that around another headland there was another camp site so after Pete's Google Earth search we started to paddle out again !

Dave spotted two people in a double kayak.  “They’re from the Spanish symposium” cried Dave so we frantically started to wave and shout at them but to our amazement there was a pod of dolphins following their kayak.  We tried to communicate that to them shouting and screaming but I am sure they thought " Crazy English" so " Nick nack Nicky" and Cathy decided to try and chase them.  With their speed dolphins will win every time so after that brief bit of excitement it was on and around the next headland.  This was Cape Norfeu heading to Cala Joncols which Mark had recommended.  We landed on a lovely, stony beach with an activity centre in the back ground so we climbed out the boats happy that the weather had been so kind!

As the main crossing of the bay was 14km and only took us 2 & 1/2 hrs were all relaxed and chilled out on the beach when a massive group of young teenagers paraded in dive gear down to the beach! A dive boat took them across the bay where they were diving.  Two other people were doing introduction lessons less than 10m from the shore but soon after entering the water the diving instructor was assisting a casualty to the shore.   She looked okay as she was crying and conscious but after a long time laid flat on the beach Cathy put on her doctors hat on and went to help.  Dave was the interpreter and was looking cool in his deer stalker sun hat, striped socks and sandals.  I am glad to say the casualty recovered well and the dive master came to thank Cathy and Dave who were heroes of the Day!!, The Guy who was originally from Belgium knew all about the River Mersey.  LIVERPOOL PEOPLE OUR FAMOUS Another great day !!   Don Brooks                  More Photos…..

Day Seven - Tuesday 14th April – Cala Joncols to Port de la Selva

Paddling round into Badia de Cadaques

Waking from another great night’s sleep to find that, yet again, we had not been eaten by wild boars, we were quick to break camp before the scuba guys started for the day. Tents down by 7, we were enjoying a leisurely breakfast in the early morning sun, when the guy running the scuba centre popped down to explain the drama (French lady diver collapsed after shallow dive) of the day before and wish us a good trip. A lovely chap, and anyone who fancies a diving/snorkelling trip based on the Costa Brava would be well advised to look at this place. They’ve a great wee bar with a roaring fire, pool table and relaxed après ski like atmosphere – as they ran a hotel / chalet business on the beach we were illegally camping on, it was agreed that it would be prudent to keep them happy by spending a few Euros in their bar.


The sea was glassy calm again and the early morning light picking out the cacti on the rock faces as we paddled onwards for our next days adventure made the early start worthwhile.  A couple of caves, several anemones, numerous (bigger) jellyfish and a couple of those picture postcard blue and white fishing boats later, we paddled gently round to inspect the surreal wonder of Salvador’s house. The long shallow bay was beautiful, with its turquoise waters and perfectly reflected mooring buoys. Port Ligat was, well, uninspiring. A tiny village with a shingle beach and crowds of tourists queuing to get in to Dali’s house which looked like every other white washed

Salvador Dali’s House in Portlligat;
a surreal experience.

villa in Spain, aside from an egg on top of a roof in the back garden. Far more beautiful were the incredible rock formations we paddled past which looked to have been carved by Dali. Nicky was out of her boat, changed into dry gear, and back with ice creams before the rest of us had got a brew on. We decided to try and disguise ourselves and blend in among the tourists….when at the seaside….. Don won!

After a 3 course elevenses stop, we squeezed ourselves back in to the boats, keen to return to the peace and tranquillity of the open sea and deserted beaches. As the bustle of the Dali beach faded, we rounded the corner straight into this lovely Spanish paddler from Barcelona. He was 82 and if you look closely, you can see his walking stick strapped to his front deck.  With typical Spanish modesty he professed to only speak a very little English. Never one to shy away from a chat, Dave pumped him for local knowledge and paddling stories before we set off to find yet somewhere else to eat! This was looking less and less like an expedition…..

A few more caves and it was soon time for lunch. Not satisfied with his fish and chips, and determined to return with all 6 cans of tuna that he and I bought in the supermarket, Don persuaded Dave to help him catch their lunch…..

Our third meal of the day under our belts, we set off again with the south westerly forecast by Steve Gille at our backs. Steve and Marc had warned of force 6 -7 south westerlies heading our way that evening, so we planned to nestle in the shelter of Port de Selva for the night. In order to work off a fraction of the calories we’d managed to pack in, Keith, Pete and I took a left turn to explore the coastline and another black dot. The rest of the crew headed toward the final campsite and, with the wind at their backs, were soon well across the bay before we realised.  We decided to press on to check out the campsite for future LCC explorers and found a beautiful sandy beach, flat grassy banks and a wee fisherman’s hut, all secluded and private but within eyeline of a telephone post. An idyllic spot, but with the forecast wind and with the rest of the gang hanging on for us mid bay we headed back to rejoin them and agreed we needed to make clear plans at each stop and stick together on the water. The sea was nice and calm, but that tramontana wind is a peculiar beast and sudden gusts can come from nowhere. A lesson learned, safely.

A pebble beach for tonight’s camp

And so to lizard rock, a pebbly beach covered in flotsam and jetsam, overlooked by brown box holiday apartments and with a path straight across it. The busiest and least attractive campsite so far, but a perfect drying day. We relayed the boats up the beach and hid ourselves on lizard rock where everyone basked in the sun whilst I unpacked all of my bags on to the beach, moved them around, repacked them, moved them around again, unpacked again and repeated until Don called tea time!  Dave decided it was curry night, again, but mixed it up with a few green beans, Don did some minor surgery on my shoe with a 1 inch thorn stuck in it, Pete and Caz chilled out in the sun, Nicky headed up the mountain to catch the last of the rays with her book and Keith talked me out of popping up to teach the shouty British children staying in one of the apartments a lesson in manners after they shouted “Die campers, die. We can see you”. I restrained myself to a simple “we can hear you” and plotted an early morning raid on their house.

As another beautiful sun set over the med, I determined that tonight was the night to break out the bivvy - my best chance of seeing a wild boar (Nicky having locked me inside the tent at the last encounter). I assumed that polite Spanish wild boar would kindly respect the boundaries of canvas, and so I nestled in to a small gap between Keith and Don’s tents, back against a cliff, and a pebbly beach at my feet on which they would surely struggle to get purchase. It was a beautiful dry, clear night and the stars were mesmerising.  I fell fast asleep and only woke when my glasses squashed firmly in to my nose. A quick peak at the stars and back to sleep in readiness for my jetboil teasmaid role the next morning.

Kathy Morton                               More Photos…..

Day Eight - Wednesday 15th April – Port de la Selva to Punta del Borro

We woke to find the weather breezy but dry.   For the first time on the trip my tent and contents were completely dry.  A quick breakfast, kayaks packed, and on the water for 08.00hr.  We set off in confused winds heading for our morning break (called elevenses regardless of the actual time) this morning it would be in Llanca a place well known to me. I had been there for the VI Pagaia symposium two weeks previously.

We pulled our kayaks up onto the sandy beach and headed for the local cafe, you know the sort of place, all the locals go there!  I left the crew in the cafe and went off to make a quick phone call to my eldest son to wish him a happy 44th birthday.   When l returned a short time later Nicky was eating a breakfast baguette about two feet long, it looked so appetising everyone ordered the same. Pete said later we had eaten in excess of 12 feet of baguette, wow!

Back on the water, after a quick visit to  where the plastic was splashed a plenty. We then headed of to find our campsite for the night.   We had been told by a local contact that there were two suitable campsites on a nearby peninsular, one of which was a naturist friendly beach. As you can guess we pulled up on the naturist beach, well LCC do that sort of thing!

The sea around the small rocky peninsular was so clear the girls and l decided to leave Pete, Keith, and Don setting up camp whilst we went off exploring the area.   We returned about an hour later to find the camp fully set up, including Keith's basher for a sun shade, all the naturists had moved away too, big surprise.

After checking the water supply Nicky and I decided we needed a top up. so we headed off into town, a 30 minute walk according to the sign post. It turned out to be over an hours walk.  Thirsty we had no choice but to head for the local cafe and drink iced coke. After a short time Cathy came into the cafe, more cokes.   I then went off to the supermarket to get the water, whilst Cathy (I think we should get a taxi back) talked the owner of the cafe into getting his car out and giving us a lift back to the campsite, nice guy or what?

After distributing the water Nicky and Cathy decided they were going to have a swim in the sea to cool off, how long did they swim for? l hear you ask. Answer Nicky 15 seconds Cathy 15 minutes, the rest of us zero.  We went to bed at our usual 21.00hr happy in the knowledge that the next day we only had a short paddle and we would be in France.

Ah! France, my second home.   Dave Lynch                More Photos…..

Leaving Port de la Selva after packing up our camp

The habour wall, entrance to Llanca

The tarpaulin providing shade before a
heavy gust of wind tore it to shreds.


Day Nine - Thursday 16th April - Punta del Borro to Cervera in France

Overcast but shelter from the cliffs on our last day

The day started with leaden skies, but nothing could dampen our spirits this day, not even the grey sea, where had the clear blue Mediterranean sea gone?

I had noticed while everyone was packing their kayaks that there were little glances that said, I'm sure I had more stuff in my kayak than this? It's amazing how over the course of a trip space in the hatches increases, food gets consumed, and of course we all become more proficient at stowing our gear.


The wind was very slight, direction? who cares, we are on our final day. With near perfect weather we hadn't needed the two days built into the timescale for bad weather. The result of this was, days eight and nine, being a stroll in the park.


The sea cliffs along this part of the coast are fascinating, a geologists paradise. I'm not sure, but l think Keith took some photo's to show the kids in school next geography lesson!

Early elevenses in Portbou

We stopped at Portbou for our elevenses (at 10.00). A sleepy sort of place, not yet woken up from its winter hibernation.  Not ready for the tourist season, or us. This did not stop Nicky, or later Carole darting off to investigate what shops were open (as in cake shops).  We sat near to the town recycling point on some very nice benches. Look the other way, quick! Pete, and Don, are investigating the recycled stuff. Boys will be boys, myself included.


On the water again, goodbye Portbou, hello Cevera, (spelt Cebera in Spanish) journeys end.  Cevera is very like Berwick Upon Tweed, having changed identity so many time it didn't feel French or Spanish, everyone was bilingual. I felt it was a place that could tell some fascinating tales. If only it could talk!


After the journeys end photo's, we quickly got ashore and emptied out the kayaks to dry and sort our gear, did it look like a traveller's camp? What do you think?

A Miracle but we did finish in Cervera (France)


Nicky and I stayed on the beach to guard the kayaks and equipment. The remainder of the team retreated to the nearby cafe for chips and beer.

14.05, do my eyes deceive me? No it's Marc coming down the hill (like the lone ranger) with the minibus and trailer, 25 minutes ahead of schedule! 14.27 and we are on our way. Wow 22 minutes to load seven kayaks and all our equipment. That must be some sort of record?


We snaked our way slowly up the road out of town, past the now deserted border post, on our way to Palamos, to find a bed for the night. On the journey we had our first, and only, shower of rain of the trip.


We were taken to a hostel on the beach in Palamos to stay for the night. I stayed two extra nights to rest up before my nine hour drive back to France, I was treated like one of the family by the owner and staff, and they even stored my kayak for me, instead of leaving it on the roof rack of my van.


After all the sleeping arrangements were sorted we had drinks in the lounge. Will he? Won’t he? Marc finally arrived with his lovely wife Ana, to give us a lift to the restaurant. We were all very hungry; apparently it's not unusual to eat as late as 23.00 in Spain.  We returned after a lovely meal tired and tumbled into bed for a well earned sleep.

In my 29 years of kayaking I have never had a trip go more near to plan. Very well done whoever ordered the weather. Would I go again?  YES I WOULD.

Dave Lynch                More Photos…..

Day Ten - Friday 17th April The journey home and time for reflection.


Mark was going to pick us up from La Fosca and take us to Barcelona.  After breakfast the team divided, some heading to town for nick-nacks while others headed along the coast to one of our campsites at L’Aqulla de Castell.  Here we walked past the fisherman’s cottage (which still had wood smoke emanating from its chimney) and up to the ruined fortifications and along the cliff top walk.  On our return we happened upon a shop selling blow up beach toys and the Dolphin just had to be purchased as a present for Mark.  He had spent most of last night telling us that he  had seen just about everything but dolphins and was astounded to hear of our discovery on of a pod on day six.


Dave managed to astound us all by trying to store his very heavy sea kayak at La Fosca hotel.  It would not fit down the side, in the kitchen or side entrance so he persuaded the hotel owner and her son to lift it up one floor onto one of the balconies!  I just had to take a photo.


More Photos…..



1/  The Costa Brava Coast is fantastic to paddle with many caves and cliffs to explore.

2/  Early April can be very cold and certainly for the first 3 days was a little uncomfortable (or maybe I just did not have enough clothes).

3/  Group aspirations are key to any sea kayaking trip and in an ideal world we would all share the same goals.  It is fair to say that the group did not really gel and towards the end there was always the threat of a “breakaway or mutiny”.  This certainly spoiled the trip.

4/  All paddlers should have their own map or charts and take part in the journey planning in relation to weather forecasts or at least track our progress along the route.

5/  We really needed more than one hand pump and one set of splits between the group and should have insisted on more.

6/  Along with personal kit each paddler should really have a tow line long enough to be used from a sea kayak.  Any of us could have been called upon to tow at any time (please see day one!)

7/  As with any group travelling on the sea the expectation should be to remain together as one group and never to split off for different destinations or stops.  We were strongest as a group of seven and needed to stay together to cope with potential hazards.  eg. Gear failure, fog, rescues, jellyfish stings, strong tramontana winds or theft of unguarded gear along with many other difficulties that may have been unseen.


Keith S