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Anglesey Weekend #3 by Eamon Hanlon

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Day 1 Trearddur Bay Skills and Day 2 Trearddur Bay to Four Mile Bridge

The first weekend of July found 25+ members convening at the Tyn Rhos campsite for the third Anglesey weekend meet. ‘Damp’ conditions overnight on Friday put the collection of tents through unseasonal(?) waterproof testing. Forecast winds of f4 from the North and veering through to the Southwest meant suitable locations for all abilities were limited, with swells of approximately 1m at 5-second intervals from the Northwest adding to the challenge. Three paddle options of varying distances were offered on the Menai Straits. Gary, however, proposed using the conditions at Trearddur Bay and spending time practising and developing our boat handling skills.

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So it was on Saturday morning, Ian, ‘Team Bond’ and myself were led out in to the bay with helmets firmly in place. We began with some basic paddling manoeuvres across the bay to get a feel for the effect of the wind on our kayaks, dipping in behind the nearest headland for respite when required. Soon it was time to paddle out a little further to Porth Diana.

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This bay offers a great sheltered spot for discussions and coaching, with the isolated rocks allowing opportunities to ‘nose’ carefully out into more open conditions and practice turning in larger waves and paddling with following seas. Gary continued to gauge how our anxiety levels were and ensured we were challenged, but comfortable with the tasks, offering advice on technique and providing feedback. We took the opportunity to use the sheltered water of Porth Diana for some other skills practice and a swim following a failed low brace recovery reminded me of the extensive work still to do. After an hour or so, the group discussed our next options. The wind had been consistent at around f4 as forecast and the sea conditions within our capabilities, so we agreed to push out across the bay and up towards Porth Dafarch, keeping our options open for a dart to shore at one of the many bays.

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The entrance into Porth Dafarch certainly took a while longer to reach, but we remained close as a group, paddled at a comfortable speed and were soon enjoying lunch on the benches despite the headwind. The lack of other cars and kayakers at this usually busy spot, an indication of conditions. After lunch, we headed back to Trearddur Bay as the wind and swell began to decrease. However, there was still enough wave height to allow us an enjoyable forty-five minutes or so practicing our surfing and boat-emptying skills! Energy finally expended, and we headed for the customary ice cream/coffee/pint. A great end to an informative and confidence-building day – thanks, Gary.

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Sunday saw our same group joined by Daniel, who had travelled down Saturday night to join the BBQ and paddle planning. Unfortunately, he couldn’t provide some Catalan inspired weather and so our tents underwent another waterproof testing overnight and into a drizzly Sunday morning.

Gary tried to find his motivation by sheltering in the car with a hot tea whilst we all stared in squawking like hungry chicks waiting to be fed – ‘What’s the plan; when are we leaving; why does it always rain in summer?’ Eventually, we got going and had kayaks and kit unloaded at Trearddur Bay. We left Christine and Gary on lookout and headed to drop the cars at Four Mile Bridge.

Soon we were heading out of the bay with a plan to paddle down through Rhoscolyn and around into the Cymyran Straits, finishing at Four Mile Bridge. Although the forecast winds and swell were slightly less than the previous day, our route out past Ravenspoint and across to ‘the arches’ and Rhoscolyn Head meant we were exposed to more energy and activity. We hugged the rocks where sensible to do so and took in some exciting swell as we headed for Rhoscolyn Head. Daniel grinned as he paddled through the conditions and described his experiences of similar seas in his home waters, albeit these being caused by slightly different weather effects – oh for extensive mid-afternoon heat and thermal air currents!

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Before we entered Rhoscolyn’s inner sound, Gary had us group-up and wait whilst he inspected the conditions, mindful of the effect of the wind on tide races and overfalls. Deeming we were capable of paddling through, we set-off again, being careful to stay close to the cliffs and avoid the wilder race and overfalls further out. Picking our way through and avoiding the occasional big breaking wave, we soon found ourselves in the calmer waters past Borth Wen and heading for the inland sea and Cymyran Strait. The ebb out of the inland sea was due to commence at 11:30 and we arrived around slack water time as we beached for a drink and snack at the entrance.

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It wasn’t long before we could see the water beginning to flow out into the bay and so we relaunched and made our way up towards Four Mile Bridge, conscious of the need to pick our way up the channel and avoid being ‘beached’ on the draining sand banks and mud flats. We all made it through albeit with a bit of ‘bottom scraping’ as the waters receded and it was noticeable that one or two of the cunning members of the group drifted towards the back as they let others do the route finding!

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We couldn’t resist paddling through the tunnel at Four Mile and having a little play breaking in and out of the moving water. Some took the opportunity to cool off with a swim, or capsize when failing to show their backsides to the flow – it was hard to tell. The paddle took just under three hours of moving time and covered nearly ten miles. The contrast between the rugged coast and active waters through Rhoscolyn and serene estuary, birdlife and gentle countryside up to Four Mile make this a really interesting and worthwhile trip, especially when the sun eventually emerges from the grey skies. A section of the coast worth also returning to for some rock hopping exploration and surfing.

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The weekend was perfectly rounded off with another Sunday carvery at the Valley Hotel where we met up with the ‘Dafarch Group’ for a natter before all making our way back home. Thanks again to Gary for his leading and fellow paddlers ‘Team Bond’, Ian and Daniel. Thanks also to Keith for organising and other leaders for offering the many options over the weekend. Roll on September and the final Anglesey weekend meet.

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