Skip to content

Holyhead Island Circumnavigation Sunday by John Maddock

  • by

On Saturday night, Andy was confidently saying that he was going to do a Holyhead circumnavigation on Sunday. This is nothing unusual for Anglesey weekends. Once the beer starts flowing, ambitions grow – starting at a trip round the Stacks, then it’s a Holyhead circumnavigation, then later in the evening it’s a full Anglesey circumnavigation and 5am start. Yeah right!

Surprisingly, Andy was still up for it the next morning, so, with Lynette and Ian Bell, we got ready at the (rather pricey) Borth Wen car park at Rhoscolyn. With minimal faffing, we caught the tide down to the Cymryn strait. There was enough water left to prevent grounding on sandbanks and thanks to good navigation, we picked the right channels to reach Four Mile Bridge. The water was still pouring through, filling up the inland sea. There was enough space for anyone brave enough to get swept under the bridge, where they would inevitably swim around collecting bits of their boat. I suggested that we portaged at the take out beach to the right. Ian muttered something about rather dying before being seen portaging. So that was it, under the bridge we went. I made it look difficult by having to roll, but the others made it look easy. Mind you, I was the novice of the group.

We paddled up to Stanley Embankment, where the big stopper was in full flow, so we stopped for lunch, waiting for the tidal flow to reduce. There was a lone whitewater paddler playing on the wave in the smallest boat I’ve ever seen. She was clearly an expert and it great to watch her skilfully twisting and turning.

When the flow decreased, we paddled under the rail bridge and headed towards Holyhead Harbour. There were two big ferries about to leave, so we paddled hard to get past them and avoid being mowed down. We reached the end of the breakwater just in time as they both set off for Ireland.

North Stack was the next destination, which we quickly passed with tidal assistance. There was a bit of bounce to the sea at South Stack, which was nice. We were then pushed onwards towards Penrhyn Mawr, which was flat because it was slack tide by then. Having stopped for a break, we headed across Trearrdur bay and eventually got to Rhoscolyn.

By this time I was starting to get tired, but after about 9 hours (I think!) of paddling, that’s not surprising.

That was the first time I’ve done the circumnavigation and it was a really interesting trip. Thanks to Andy and Ian for navigating!

John Maddock

More Photos…..