CSCC Reports 2010: Dorset Sea Kayaking, 16-17 October 2010

Eleanor, Dan, Chris, Stephen, Ann, Stewart, Sean, Rob, Karen, and John arrived at Tom’s Field Campsite in Langton Matravers near Swanage at 8.30pm on Friday. We found Marc and his huge van and located Dave’s hilltop pitch, then the decision was made to eat before setting up camp - and it was getting rather nippy by the time midnight came and all of the tents were up.

We departed the campsite on schedule on Saturday morning; Stewart set off for a day of puncture repair and hiking, while the paddlers arrived at the Hamworthy get-in at around ten o’clock. Careful map consultation ensued to ensure we avoided the main shipping channel, then Chris gamely jumped in to enable Dan to demonstrate a deep sea rescue which went (of course) swimmingly. It was getting on for midday by the time we were on our way in earnest; the weather was warm, and we paddled out at a leisurely pace across Poole Harbour towards Brownsea Island.

We landed at Pottery Pier for some boat swapping; Sean moved into the Carolina which offered more legroom than the Avocet, and Ann agreed to have a go of the Europa that had been pirouetting across the water with John. Further round the island we landed again and enjoyed a walk through the woods to the National Trust tea room, watching red squirrels, black hens, and peacocks on the way.

Suitably refreshed, we returned to the boats – Dave took over from Ann in the boat she’d nicknamed “The Spinster”, while Eleanor soldiered on with the other Europa - and completed the circuit of the island. After a paddle of around 7.5 miles in total we landed back at Hamworthy at 5pm, emptied several gallons of water from the Europas, and saved some time packing up by loading most of the sea kayaks into the back of Marc’s van. One car park cake break later, and after a minor stand-off between the van and a low bridge, we headed to Bournemouth Canoes to meet up with Gordon and Nigel and discuss plans for the Sunday.

We ate at the King’s Arms again, then walked back to the campsite through a brightly moonlit field under a clear and starry sky, which went some way to compensating for the chill of the 2 degree temperature overnight.

Sunday dawned warm and bright, and we packed up camp and met Gordon and Nigel at Lulworth Cove shortly after ten. Ann and Sean opted to join Stewart walking over the cliffs and observing the paddlers from on high, which meant there were sea kayaks for all. We turned west along the coast, paddling through various sea doors into coves and eventually through Durdle Door, avoiding a host of snorkellers, swimmers and divers. Eleanor and Dan both tried out the Dagger Atlantis complete with foot-operated rudder; Eleanor liked the freedom to concentrate on moving forward rather than steering, but Dan experienced constant rudder-waggle as he paddled and was consequently less impressed. We went on towards Ringstead, turning around just before reaching the White Nothe headland. The sea was calm and the sky completely clear, and on Gordon’s recommendation we stopped for lunch in Man O’War Bay, where we were rejoined by the walkers. It was hot enough to persuade Stephen, Rob and John to go for a swim across the bay during the stop, and afterwards the group got back in and rafted up for a photo opportunity prior to retracing our strokes to Lulworth Cove. Dave, Karen and John decided that the call of the ice cream was too strong to ignore and left the group at that point, while the others continued a few more miles east to Mupe Bay and through the Arish Mell cave, returning tired but still enthusiastic at 5 pm after covering a distance of 11 miles.

After carrying the boats back up the hill we departed for Chiswick, with a partial reunion en route at Winchester services. Thanks to Eleanor for organising, Dave for suggesting the campsite, and all participants for a very enjoyable weekend!
Photos here