CSCC Reports 2009: Eastbourne - November 2009

The coast line between New Haven and Eastbourne offers perhaps the most striking coastal scenery in the whole of the South East of England.  However, November was late in the year for a CSCC sea kayaking trip, and conditions meant Chris had to modify his original paddling plans.  We inspected the beaches at Seaford and Birling Gap, but both locations were too exposed to the south westerly swell and had steeply shelving pebble beaches which made the waves "dumpers".  As we headed away from the white horses and up the beach towards Birling Gap tea shop, Chris wondered aloud whether it would be one of those "three breakfast days".  As it turned out, he was being unduly pessimistic.  

After tea and rock cakes the six of us (Chris, Stephen, Fi, Mark, Tim and I) did finally manage to launch our boats by the life boat museum at Eastbourne at midday.  Tim was having a bad kit day; his paddle broke within seconds, but fortunately we had some splits.  After sorting that out we paddled towards Beachy Head hoping to sneak a peak at the light house.  Unfortunately this proved impossible, as the swell got progressively higher as we neared the headland.  Not wanting a repeat of the Dinas Head incident, we returned to the calmer waters of Eastbourne Bay near the pier.  Tim suggested that we could try and bag all the piers in England, as Scottish climbers bag the Monroes (it's just Clacton and Eastbourne piers for me so far).    

I thought we were being incredibly brave in taking to the water in the winter, but I was amazed to see about half a dozen people swimming in the sea in swimming trunks.  They must have been absolutely frozen.  

We were unable to resist the temptation of the fish and chip shop on Eastbourne's pier and fun and games ensued as we landed in this relatively sheltered spot.  Stephen rushed to the aid of Chris who was floundering around underneath his boat inches from safety (much later in the day Chris complained that there were still pebbles up his nose!)  Meanwhile Stephen's boat had been caught by a wave and floated away and I nearly fell in myself while trying to retrieve it.  

The fish and chips were extremely tasty (and I also noshed a pineapple fritter for one of my "five a day").  However, maybe the food was a bit heavy for a lunchtime meal on a paddling day.  The combination of all the grease and the rise and fall of the waves proved too much for poor Mark when we relaunched and he became queasy and had to land short of our landing spot.  There was only one thing for it - the rest of us hastily finished our paddle and we all reconvened and visited another local shop for tea and cakes.  

I am hoping that our paddle around the bay might have been about 5 miles in distance, but I am probably deluding myself.  [No, amazingly I've just spotted Chris' message confirming that this is correct.]  

"New Haven for the continent, Eastbourne for the incontinent".  When I was young my father used to tell this cruel joke.  Well, I am obviously of a certain age now, because I think Eastbourne is great, although it could do with more public lavatories (for when I'm caught short, NOT for George Michael-type reasons).  I also think mostly about food.  And I've got a blanket collection.  

Our thanks go to Chris for organising (and reorganising) a really fun day at the seaside.

Chris's pictures: