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October 17, 2017, 03:52:56 pm
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CSCC Reports 2017: Whitby Sea Kayaking  - June 2017

In what I believe to be a first for the club, Naomi, Fiona, Matt, Stephen and Dan paddled the coast between Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes in North Yorkshire over three days at the start of June.  We were extremely lucky with the weather and it was a very enjoyable trip.

It was a long drive up from London to Whitby though and that was something of an adventure in itself.  Stephen’s Astra required the services of the AA as he crossed the Yorkshire Moors and national park volunteers (identifying a captive audience) regaled him and Naomi with tales of local legends as they awaited rescue.
 
We were staying with Naomi’s parents in Whitby and having popped in briefly to say hello we headed off for an evening paddle.  We launched at the slip next to Whitby golf club which proved ideal (a small, free public car park was nearby) and we headed along the beach towards Sandsend.  The conditions were excellent (flat sea and no wind), so we continued along the coast past cliffs which were attractive in spite of historical mining of shale for alum.  We made our first spotting of a solitary seal before we returned to our launching point.  On our return to Ian and Denise’s place we were treated to a delicious BBQ and then we turned in for the night.

Day 2 was the main event of the weekend – a trip from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay and back.  This was a long (16 mile) committing paddle and would only have been doable by our group in good conditions, but fortunately the weather was perfect and the sea calm.  We launched from the slipway next to the Captain Cook Museum by the old swing bridge in the centre of Whitby (pay and display car park there) and made our way through the pretty town and out of the harbour.

Everything proceeded smoothly for a few minutes, but we were sticking quite close to the cliffs to enjoy the view and that proved unwise.  We were suddenly hit by a large wave passing over a reef and it broke on two of us.  An attempt at surfing failed, leading to a swim and rescue practice (thanks, Stephen!)  Fortunately the water wasn’t that cold and we soon warmed up and continued along our way – a bit further out from the cliffs now.  We learned later that there was a 14 stone shark in Whitby, but fortunately he had stayed away while we were swimming about!

Finding a place to stop for lunch wasn’t that easy, because it was virtually continuous cliffs all the way and the small rocky beaches were being hit by waves.  However, we made it ashore without incident in a quiet spot and those who needed to emptied out the water from boats and waterproofs.

Our next stop was Robin Hood’s bay which lived up to its reputation as a delightful village with a beautiful sandy beach.  As it was a warm day, we chose to land by the ice cream van and then went for a little wander into town to buy some sweets.  By the time we launched for our return journey the tide seemed to be turning and we stayed well away from the eddies in the bays to take full advantage of it.  This way we saw lots of the cute guillemots swimming about and another seal.

In the evening we headed into town to sample some of Whitby’s famous fish and chips and settled on 'Trenchers' which was excellent.  To walk off our dinner we went for a stroll around the harbour and up the steps to Whitby Abbey, passing the jet shops and kipper smokehouse along the way.  Then after a drink in the Station pub we headed back to Naomi’s parents’ house for a well earned sleep.


Day 3 was a shorter paddle to leave some energy for the long drive back to London.  Following a hearty breakfast of local kippers, bacon and sausages, we paddled from Runswick Bay to Staithes and back.  Runswick bay slip had proved a good launching point, after we had just managed to squeeze our cars into the pay and display.  As we launched we were hit by hail, but fortunately that soon stopped.

There followed another very enjoyable scenic paddle, but again there were some powerful waves close to the shore over shallow rocks and we made our approach to Staithes harbour extremely carefully.  We were lucky that a fishing boat appeared at just the right time to lead us in.  We then enjoyed a leisurely lunch and ice cream at Staithes and noted that it had a slip and would have made a possible alternative launching point.  On the paddle back to Runswick Bay the wind had got up and we were paddling straight into it, but everyone coped really well.

Our thanks go to Ian and Denise for all their hospitality.

More photos here.

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