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North Pembrokeshire Club Meet by Neil M

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A group of people kayaking in a cave Description automatically generated

North Pembrokeshire Club Meet by Neil M

Sunday 5th May Porthgain to Abercastle.

After the successful BBQ the previous evening the night was chilly, temperatures dropped and on waking it was a relief to be hitting the road for the short 30 mins drive to Porthgain just to get warm. Our plan was for two groups to head north along the coast, with one group getting as far as possible before turning around. The second group would take the short trip option, head for Abercastle, lunch and return to Porthgain. Strong easterly winds and rain where forecast for later that day and it would determine how far the first group went.

Porthgain is a hamlet within a designated conservation area, with many listed industrial buildings from its time as a prosperous working harbour. The English translation means ‘port of the chisel’, a reference to the original slate processing industry the port was formally built around. Now it is a pretty harbour, supporting a small fishing community, with art galleries, bistros, and a smugglers pub to keep the visitors entertained.

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It is a popular place with sea kayakers and divers! With another large group of kayakers from Cardiff CC, plus a group of recreational scuba divers, the slip way soon became chaotic. Nonetheless it was incident free negotiating the slippery slipway. The tide was on the flood but still several more hours away from high tide, so after sorting the teams, and briefings from the leaders we were off, avoiding the few local lobster and crab fishing boats to explore the magnificent North Pembrokeshire coast.

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Once out of the mouth of the harbour and turning north, the magnificence of the geology of the coast became apparent. The rock here is mostly Hard Cambrian with good exposure to fossil bearing Ordovician shales, with evidence of volcanic dykes and ancient seabed folds throughout the journey. With no discernible swell yet, it allowed the paddler to take in the features without having any twitchy moments in the boat! This coast offers many interesting features, and soon we were exploring arches, caves, gullies, and stacks.

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By the time both groups had reached our lunch destination of Aber Castle, the wind had turned, bringing in soft but persistent drizzle. The decision was taken for both groups to head back to Porthgain, with more opportunities for rock hopping and exploring the many features.

Soon, we were back in the harbour, and enjoying our food and refreshments in the Sloop Inn. A great trip, many laughs, and a few learnings along the way!

Thanks go to Martin A and Ian Bell for their leadership on the day.