CSCC Reports 2004: Dorset coast, 28-30 August 2004
"Five go mad in Dorset" - twice over - or some such...
David P, Chris, Dan, Bridget, Matt, Alex, Luis, Peter and Hilary, and Richard made the trek to Dorset for the Bank Holiday weekend - after a week of often dire forecasts and the usual grief with trying to find any campsite that took bookings. David P's researches finally settled on Woodyhyde Farm, just east of Corfe Castle. Fortunately, Friday's wind and rain had spent itself, and the sea had settled remarkably, by the time most people arrived...
With a good forecast, we elected for one of the classic coastal paddles from Lulworth Cove westwards to White Nothe - with the obligatory photo stops in the rock arches etc along the way... Several people were paddling unfamiliar sea kayaks, with David P taking on Tony's surf ski. After a lunch stop, we made our way back to Lulworth, where several people tried out the surf ski, Richard in particular doing DP's street cred no harm by falling off after 30 metres (and discovering that without thigh or lap straps, there's no chance of rolling it. [Thanks to Chris for the GPS map plot!]
With much stronger (W-SW force 5-6) winds forecast, we elected for what should have been a sheltered trip, from Studland Bay to Swanage. Indeed, when we left a shuttle vehicle in Swanage, all looked just fine...
The paddle across the bay from Studland (Knoll beach car park) to Old Harry was wholly uneventful. As expected, the current was starting to flow southwards by the time we rounded the point, and indeed there were some little waves to surf on. The scenery was stunning, with far more caves, arches etc than we'd expected.
When we got to Ballard Point, however, things took a turn for the worse... We found that the wind had really picked up and was funnelling round the point, and together with currents etc (we suspect there's an eddy current around Swanage Bay...), was kicking up a truly horrendous mix of short, sharp waves combined with a ferocious head wind. Group control became a little tricky, with most people primarily trying to look after themselves for the first few hundred metres before things settled down a little! Hilary, struggling to control the direction of an unfamiliar sea kayak in the wind, and Dan, together with Chris and David P, coming back to check on them, took refuge behind the point before having another go... In the event, David P (also struggling to control the rather unsuitable surf ski in the conditions) and Hilary elected to return safely (albeit breezily) to Studland, whilst the others successfully made it to the beach, and in turn, after a few more minor epics, to Swanage. Everyone coped amazingly well with the unexpectedly extreme conditions.
Chris's GPS track clearly shows his to-ings and fro-ings around the point! Not surprisingly, no pictures of the conditions at Ballard Point are available (not least because David P's camera battery had chosen this moment to finally expire for the day).
With the wind continuing seemingly unabated overnight and on Monday morning, people elected either for an early start to head for London via various tourist attractions, or (the bulk of us) for a very pleasant walk from Worth Matravers westwards towards Chapman's Pool then around St Aldhelm's Head and back via Winspit Quarry - to the (excellent!) tea shop in Worth Matravers!
All pictures © David Pearson (Peter and Hilary Lawrence if file name includes "PHL") 2004