Isla Danzante

After an evening spent at one of the most easily identifiable campsites in the Sea of Cortez it was time to start our journey south. Initially we headed north along the shores of Isla Carmen as we wanted to cross to the northern end of Isla Danzante.
The views towards the hills of Isla Carmen were spectacular, as we started the crossing another kayak group left the larger island heading west. Our paths seemed to be parallel to each other but we were clearly heading to a similar point.

Isla Carmen
Heading north along the west coast of Isla Carmen. We were getting ready to cross to the northern end of Isla Danzante.

Eventually our paths crossed and we stopped for a talk with the group who were out of Loreto. It turned out they would be the only group we spoke to whilst on the water in the next 10 days. Baja might be a popular kayaking destination but you rarely encounter other groups.

Isla Dazante
Rachel paddling past one of the attractive beaches on the west coast Isla Dazante. There were a number of suitable places to stop, which offered the opportunity to some superb swimming.

The decision to paddle along the wext coast of Isla Danzante was based upon the fact that on every other visit to the area we had paddled the west coast. It was great to get a different perspective on a dramatic Mexican island. Rising to a maximum height of 1050 metres, the island is home to 16 different types of reptiles, including a number of snakes. Not being a fan of such things I enjoyed my time of the beach and snorkeling but resisted the temptation to wander around inland.

Isla Danzante
Crossing from Isla Danzante towards Punta Candeleros. This point marked the start of our journey south along the Baja coast.

Leaving Isla Danzante we passed on the inside of a number of small islands before reaching the headland of Punta Candeleros. In many ways this was quite a significant milestone as we would be following the Baja coast, in a southerly direction from there.
It was a really warm day so it is a relief to round the point and land on pebble beach, which we remembered from a previous visit. There was plenty of shelter from the midday sun.

Baja, Mexico
A delightful beach with some very welcome shade. 2 years ago we had watched whales breaching whilst sitting on this beach.

The afternoon paddle was relatively short and we were fortunate enough to have a light following breeze speeding us on our way. Camp for the evening was on the large beach of Playa Triunfo, perhaps better known as ‘donkey poo’ beach. We camped on the northern end of the beach, where there was plenty of evidence of visits by our four legged friends!

It was a perfect place to sit and sip our evening tequila after a memorable day on the water, which included paddling along the shores of Isla Danzante one of the more special places in this unique area.

Punta Baja

It’s a long way from La Paz to Loreto, could be the opening line of a badly written country song. In fact, it’s the reality of the shuttle north. Nearly 5 hours of driving through the Mexican desert, found us on the beach at Puerto Escondido, surrounded by piles of kit. Our destination for the day was Punta Baja, only just over 6 miles away so we were in no rush.
The sea kayaks we had hired, from Mar Y Aventuras in La Paz, simply swallowed our equipment food and water. We were carrying at least 30 litres of water each in addition to fruit juices and Sprite. Kayaking in a desert is thirsty work.
In less time than anticipated, we were floating the kayaks away from the beach, prior to jumping in and heading to the east. As we left the shelter of the bay we were greeted by Mobula Rays jumping, surely one of the most magical sights for the cockpit of a kayak. Dolphins swam past heading north whilst the bird life was something special.

Baja, Mexico
Looking east towards Isla Danzante, a delightful island which lies between the coast just south of Loreto and Isla Carmen.

There was a slight northerly swell running, something I couldn’t remember experiencing in Baja before. Perhaps an indication of stronger winds further into the Gulf of California. Our aim was to pass through the narrow gap to the north of Isla Danzante.
The kayaks would float through the gap as long as there was nobody in them, so we split. 2 people opting to float and walk whilst 3 of us chose the longer and lumpier paddle to the north. The paddle was entertaining but the floaters were quicker!

Isla Danzante
Crossing towards Isla Danaznte. Within the firts 30 minutes we had already seen Mobula Rays and dolphins

Ahead lay Isla Carmen, the largest of the islands in the Loreto area and an essential part of the National Park. We had our wristbands and our booking for the campsite at Punta Baja. Without doubt one of the most recognisable locations in the Sea of Cortez, it’s the palm trees, which give a clue to its identity.

Punta Baja
Arriving at Punta Baja. It is one of the most perfect locations for a camp site, a great place to spend an evening.

As we were relatively late in the season daylight saving time had come into force, the extra hour of daylight in the evening allowing us to adopt a more relaxed approach to the proceedings. There was no need to multi task. There was time to savour the Tequila before starting on the evening meal.

Punta Baja
These were our neighbours for the evening. Brown Pelicans and their amazing powers of flight provide endless hours of enjoyment.

A superb first day, with a feeling that things could only get better over the next 10 days although we were aware that it might be difficult to beat the campsite as a location. We had been here before and all the memories were good ones, this time shouldn’t be any different.

Punta Baja
The tents are in place as the sunset sets behind the mountains of the Baja Peninsula. Its for moments like these that we go sea kayaking.

Early paddling adverts

Whilst browsing through some of my rather large collection of canoeing and kayaking magazines I looked at some of the old adverts.  They show how the sport has changed over the last 60 years.  Prices were certainly considerably lower than today.

Early Paddling Adverts
Single and double folding canoes (kayaks). All for the remarkable price of £23. 10. 0. This advert appeared in The Canoe Camper Spring 1960 issue. This was the magazine of the Canoe Camping Club.

Early Paddling Adverts
This is the earliest mention of a specialist sea kayaking craft, I have found. The Sea Rapier at the time was the fastest kayak to be paddled across the English Channel. This advert appeared in Canoeing in Britain in October 1962. At the time this was the in house magazine of British Canoeing.

Early paddling adverts
Tyne Canoes were a respected name in the paddling world in the 1950’s and 60’s. This advert appeared in the Winter 1965-5 issue of The Canoe Camper. This was obviously a time when it was seen as more sensible to send a young girl afloat with a dog as opposed to a life jacket.  A great early paddling advert.

Early paddling adverts
This March 1966 advert, for the Solent Canoe Centre, from Canoeing in Britain, is one of the earliest to mention fibre glass in touring canoes and kayaks.

Early paddling adverts
This advert, for the K.W.7 is particularly relevant to me as my first kayak was a K.W.7, which I received for Christmas 1969. The start of my paddling career. I used mine for playing on the sea as opposed to taking part in International Slaloms. Canoeing in Britain June 1966.

Early paddling adverts
One of the major sea kayaking manufacturers of the last 50 years. In 1970 you could buy a partly finished Soar Valley Special. I remember my friend John buying one of these kits and we spent many a happy hour completing it in his garden in St Helier. This was in the December 1970 issue of Canoeing Magazine.

Early paddling adverts
An interesting advert, which would not be acceptable today. Another major producer of sea kayaks over the last 50 years. This advert was in the February 1971 issue of Canoeing. A magazine that in its later issues appeared to enjoy publishing pictures of topless paddlers.

Early paddling adverts
Visiting North Wales in the early 1980’s one of the pleasures was to visit the Jim Hargreaves canoeing shop. Located in the garage in Capel Curig, you could nearly always find something to buy. From Ceufad Spring 1981 issue.

 

 

Final morning

It was the final morning of our pre-symposium sea kayaking trip.  We didn’t need to be away at the crack of dawn but we did need to be ready to catch the start of the flood tide to carry us towards Port Welshpool.  From there we would be heading towards Wilson’s Promontory and the start of the International Sea Kayaking Educator’s Conference.

Beach
Preparing for a low tide departure from Snake Island.

It wasn’t too early a start, which was in contrast to the previous morning. The sun had already taken the chill off the air as we headed north. I think that this was the first time that it registered, as we paddled away from Snake Island, that the sun was in the north. Clearly my geography of the Southern Hemisphere left something to be desired.

Drinks Bottle
In common with so many other trips I have used my Water-to-Go bottle for daily drinks and have managed to avoid any stomach problems.

What was surprising, was for how much of the paddle we were in shallow water, which was quite fortunate as there were quite a few fishing boats heading towards the open water from Port Welshpool.  Whalers first used this area in the 1830’s, whilst the town was officially named Port Welshpool in 1952.

Final morning
Time to unload the kayaks before heading to Wilson’s Prom and the Sea Kayaking Educator’s Symposium.

We landed in Port Welshpool, and started the unloading of the kayaks.  We had been out 4 days and covered just under 30 nautical miles. Not a great distance, but it was through an interesting environment, which also gave us the opportunity to observe some animals, which we would never encounter in the northern hemisphere.
More importantly the four day paddle gave us the opportunity to get to know some of the other people who would be attending the 2nd International Sea Kayaking Educators Symposium at Tidal River in the Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Early morning paddle

We finally got the opportunity to paddle in flat calm conditions on the third day, the only problem was that we had to get up at 04.00 to do so. The way the tidal streams were working meant that we either started early or waited until the late afternoon. An early morning paddle gave us so many more options.

Wilson's Prom
Leaving the Swashway Channel at first light. We had our first views of Wilson’s Prom National Park.

So at 05.50 we pushed away from the bank into a glorious Australian sunrise. It started off pretty good and just got better and better and for the first time in the trip we had mirror calm conditions and the tidal flow with us. Only just over a knot but that is better than nothing.
As we exited the Swashway Channel we gained our first reasonably good views of the north side of Wilson’s Promontory National Park, where we would be spending time at the International Sea Kayaking Educators Symposium.
There was a reasonable amount of quite fast boat traffic moving up and down the channel towards the open sea. Fortunately the channel was relatively narrow with quite a few buoys indicating their route. It’s always good to know your buoyage when kayaking on the sea. Crossing the channel at right angles we reduced our exposure to the boats before turning south towards Wilson’s Prom. We were soon paddling alongside rocks and a shoreline that was more than a couple of metres high.
We stopped on a couple of stunning beaches with the opportunity to explore the shoreline or slightly further inland. We were in no real hurry as we waited for slack water in the channel to allow us to cross back to Snake Island, our destination for the day. Also it was only just after 09.00, always the advantage of an early morning paddle.

Rocky shore
Paddling along the northern shore of Wilson’s Promontory. Although this was our third day paddling it was the first time we had seen a rocky coast.

There was a discussion as to what time we should aim to cross back to Snake Island because of the tidal streams.  As a sea kayaker I have never understood why people use different units of measurement in the same conversation. It could go along the lines of;
“We have a wind of between 13 and 15 mph from the south, the tidal stream is running at 3 knots and the distance we have to go is 10 kilometres.”
The potential for errors to creep into people’s calculations is huge. I just don’t understand why people don’t stick with one unit of measurement and if we are operating on the sea it should be the nautical variety. Knots and nautical miles. Information we need about tidal flows is always given in knots so why not stick with that unit. I admit that some people might find it difficult at first but I really think that it is worth the effort.

Kayaks on beach
Arrival on Snake Beach. We were told that the campsite might be a bit “snakey”. That’s not the sort of comment that a paddler from Jersey wants to hear.

I know many people will find this strange but a couple of us were really getting quite excited by the prospect of seeing kangaroos. Living on an island where the largest land animal is the rabbit I get easily excited. We had been told that we were likely to see them in the evening but it was still quite a surprise when when 16 of them hopped out the bush. Linked with a few small deer wandering around and it felt like a wildlife bonanza.

Tidal range
Due to the tidal range we had to move the kayaks up off the beach. It would have been a pretty inconvenient to loose some kayaks at this stage in the trip.

Animal
I know these can be really common but when its the first one you have ever seen in the wild its a pretty exciting experience!

Increasing Wind

One of the problems of jet leg is that sometimes you just can’t sleep, which was the position I found myself in on the second day. Taking advantage of this I got up reasonably early to walk along the spit. We had so painstakingly paddled along the previous day.

Drum spit
Looking along the spit on Drum Island. A perfect location for an early morning stroll.

It was one of those moments that you truly appreciate. The morning sun rising over a reasonably calm sea to the backdrop of the Australian dawn chorus. All too soon it was time to head back, as the rest of the camp was starting to stir.
Whilst on trips, individuals often develop routines, especially around the campsite. Some people are unable to sit still and have to get involved with every aspect of the food preparation, often to the frustration of the person who is actually cooking the meal. I am more than willing to allow people to get on a cook the evening meal, they normally do a much better job than I do but I am happy to prepare breakfast everyday, which was the position I found myself in that morning.
I enjoy the opportunity to reflect on what lies ahead and to have the opportunity to chat to people. In contrast to the evenings when most people are around the kitchen area, in the morning people usually arrive individually meaning that the experience is much more personal. So that is one of the reasons I found myself preparing porridge on the south side of Sunday Island.
We were away reasonably promptly but the sea, which had been so calm on my dawn walk was starting to reflect changes in the weather. The forecast had confidently predicted reasonably light winds. They just didn’t seem to be able to get it right though, the days we were on the water.
Almost as soon as we headed along the channel the wind picked up and it was either a headwind or on our beam. This had resulted in some interesting discussions about packing the kayaks. Distributing the weight depending upon the direction of the wind, in effect trimming the kayak to suit the conditions. In reality how often does the wind remain the same all day? I always recommend packing the same kit in the same place in the kayak so when you arrive on the beach and conditions are far from ideal it’s a matter of being able to go to the right dry bags straight away.
Crossing over the channel to Snake Island the wind increased even further and it was clear we were falling behind the proposed schedule. We stopped for lunch on a possible campsite, The Gulf, as we considered the options. Two further campsites we possible and we sensibly selected the closer of the two.

Snake Island
The lunch break was taken on the Gulf Campsite on Snake Island. Although the wind had picked up it was still possible to head towards the next available campsite.

We arrived at Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park Just as the tide started to drop and managed to avoid the worst of the carry through the thick oozing mud. Tents were soon up and meal preparation underway. It hadn’t been a long paddle but it hadn’t been straightforward either. The wind proving a pretty constant adversary.

Camp site
Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park was where we spent the night. Half the group camping in the shelter of the bush whilst others decided on a more open site, close to the water.

Paddling in this area is in complete contrast to the waters at home. The islands are low lying without any obvious physical features, resulting in quite challenging navigation. If you didn’t remain focused on your chart then establishing your location could be an issue.

Low tide
Low tide and sunset in the Swashway Channel. A delightful end to the day.

Australian Sea Kayaking

I have to admit that I had never been that attracted by the idea of a visit to Australia.  This was largely a feeling based on ignorance as opposed to a decision based on facts.  Therefore, when I saw the International Sea Kayaking Educators Symposium advertised, I though this might just be the catalyst I needed to head towards the southern hemisphere.
What appealed about the Symposium and helped justify the hours spent on the aircraft reaching Melbourne, was the 4 day pre-symposium paddle.  So with a degree of enthusiasm and some slight trepidation I signed up and booked my flights.
This was the story as to how I found myself standing outside the railway station at 06.00 on a cold Thursday morning in Frankston, to the south east of Melbourne.   It is an interesting experience trying to identify other sea kayakers amongst the early morning commuters.  The North Face bags and beards were a bit of a give away with the males!
So 6 prospective kayakers from 4 different countries found ourselves heading towards Port Albert.  It was here that we met the other people who had taken advantage of the opportunity to participate in the 4 day paddle.  In total there were about 20 of us, with a third from the UK, which I have to admit I found a bit surprising.
As with all trips some people were quicker than others at getting ready for departure, but straight after lunch we were ready to go.  The big question was “Who had turned on the fan?”  The early morning calm had been replaced by an entertaining breeze, which was significantly higher than forecast.  Sitting still was not an option.
We fought our way west and south with a speed over the ground that most of the time was well below 2 knots.  The wind was certainly taking its toll and producing a very low fun factor.  Eventually after just over 5 nautical miles we decided to call it a day, the next possible camp site was quite some way off and so it was with some relief that we lifted the kayaks above the high water mark.
Not a glorious start to my Australian sea kayaking career but it was certainly an interseting experience and the relatively early finish allowed plenty of time to get to know the other people in the group.
What was even better was that the wind was due to drop off over night so as I dropped asleep on my first night in the Australian bush all my thoughts were positive.

Australian Sea Kayaking
Preparing and loading the kayaks in front of Port Albert Yacht Club. Conditions were lovely at this time little did we realize how quickly the wind would pick up.

Australian Sea Kayking
Sheltering under the sand spit at the eastern end of Sunday Island. The sand was blasting over the top and some of the group decided that walking and dragging was easier than paddling into such a significant head wind.

Australian Sea Kayaking
Although we had hoped to get further this campsite was realistically as far as we could go on the first day. Pitching the tents in the bush gave some much needed shelter from the wind. We did tie the kayaks down due to the strength of the wind.

Herm Beer Festival

I have always had a soft spot for the islands to the north of Jersey, in particular Herm and Sark. Over the last 40 years I have paddled to both on numerous occasions always enjoying their coastline as well as the atmosphere on shore.
Sadly they appear to have become islands of contrast. Sark appears to have deteriorated over the last few years with numerous shops closing and in places the island appearing uncared for.  Herm on the other hand appears to have gone from strength to strength and would now be my Island of choice.
Every year there is an excuse to visit Herm in both June and September, the Herm Beer Festival. What could be better, stunning sea kayaking and the choice of 50 real ales. Last year we paddled from Jersey to the June event, but this year that wasn’t an option due to the fact that I was in plaster, following a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in Gozo.
For the September Festival we decided to take to car to Guernsey and paddle from there. The alternative plan was if it was too rough to paddle across the Little Russell we could always get the ferry. We were determined to get to Herm!
The first issue was the cost of the ferry. I think that I am pretty tolerant but £330 for a car and 3 passengers from Jersey to Guernsey is pretty excessive. It’s only about 25 nautical miles, the crossing is about an hour. It’s always the problem when you are a captive market. We booked several weeks in advance but had to just bite the bullet and pay up.
We reached Guernsey and headed towards Bordeaux, our departure point. We had to stick to a schedule as it was the largest tide of the year so the tidal streams in the Little Russell were going to be running at a considerable speed. Selecting the appropriate tidal window was essential.
The crossing passed reasonably easily and we were soon putting the tents up before heading back to the bright lights of the Mermaid Tavern.  The Herm Beer Festival is such a delightful event and we were fortunate enough to spend 3 evenings there as well as spending some of the days enjoying kayaking in the  superb coastal waters of the surrounding islands.
All too soon it was time to head back to Jersey, but already thinking that next year we would be heading north once again to experience the charms of Herm.

Herm Beer Festival
Crossing from Guernsey to Herm. As it was the largest tide of the year we aimed to cross at slack water. It is important to remember that slack water between Guernsey and Herm is at mid tide, not high and low water.

Herm Beer Festival
Although we crossed at slack water there was still enough movement to hold lobster pot buoys under the water.

Herm Beer Festival
As it was the largest tide of the year we had to lift the kayaks higher than normal. Jethou is the small island above the kayaks.

Herm Beer Festival
The first evening at the Beer Festival had a superb sunset. This is looking back towards Guernsey.

Herm Beer Festival
Paddling along the south coast of Jethou. Privately owned, it was leased in the early 1920’s by Compton MacKenzie, who later wrote “Whiskey Galore”.

Herm Beer Festival
The tide was running north so we sheltered in the eddy close to Brehon Tower. It was built between 1854 and 1856 at a cost of just over £8000. As we sat admiring the architecture a peregrine flew out of one of the windows, a pleasant surprise.

Herm Beer Festival
The entrance into Beaucette Marina was blasted out of the rock in 1969, which flooded an old quarry and created a fairly unique marina.

Herm Beer Festival
Lunch was taken at L’Ancresse, on the north coast of Guernsey.

Herm Beer Festival
Crossing back across the Little Russell towards Herm we were aware that the Condor Liberation was due out of St Peter Port. It is quite intimidating to see it so close and the amazing thing, is just how quiet it is.

Herm Beer Festival
A special mark on the east coast of Herm. Where else is there a navigation mark informing to keep belwo 6 knots because of puffins.

Herm Beer Festival
Dawn departure from Herm, 4 of us heading for Guernsey, whilst Jim and John were about to embark on the much longer crossing to Jersey, nearly 20 nautical miles away.

Herm Beer Festival
Arriving back into Guernsey after a few day delightful paddling and some lovely real ales, all thanks to the Herm Beer Festival

Les Dirouilles

Several miles off the north east coast, a reef of rocks is gradually revealed as the tide drops. The are largely viewed from afar, their presence indicated by the breaking waves, unleashing their energy following their journey from the storms in the North Atlantic.  This is Les Dirouilles.
It is a reef which I rarely visited until the last few years. It used to be somewhere we passed as opposed to a final destination. In recent years though we have paddled there as a destination in its own right. What has been a revelation is just how easy it is to get.
More than any of the other offshore reefs which surround Jersey, a visit to Les Dirouilles benefits from the tidal streams.  The water runs almost directly from the end of St Catherine’s Breakwater onto the reef.  The crossing is about 4.5 nautical miles and on our speed rarely dropped below 5 knots.  There was a slight drift to the west, indicated on the GPS but it was pretty easy to compensate for, so we drifted gently onto the reef.
We probably arrived a bit too early, so we took advantage of our early arrival to explore some of the more detached rocks to the north of the reef.  Moving into areas I had never paddled in before. After early 50 years of kayaking in Jersey’s waters it is quite amazing to discover small new pockets of coast, waiting to be explored. This was quite a fortunate development as we discovered an absolutely stunning lunch spot.
We were able to land on sand, always so much kinder to the hulls of the kayaks, with lunch being eaten on a raised flat rock, which gave exceptional views of the area. The coastline of France clearly visible to the east and north east, with the nuclear plant at Cap de la Hague shimmering like a mirage on the horizon.
To the south we could see the whole of the north coast of Jersey, stretching from our departure point at St Catherine’s all the way to Grosnez, the north west corner of the Island. To the north west Sark, was the dominant landmark, the location of so much great sea kayaking.
One of the pleasures of sea kayaking in Jersey is the opportunity to visit some of the offshore reefs and from our lunch spot we were able to see 3 of the 4 main reefs. To the west the Paternosters, were visible becoming bigger as the tide dropped. To the east was the Ecrehous and surrounding us was Les Dirouilles, all we needed was the Minquiers for a full set of the reefs but they are to the south of Jersey and therefore invisible from our picnic spot.
After lunch we launched off the small sandy beach, which had been revealed by the ebbing tide. None of us had ever seen this beach before even though it was within 5 miles of where a couple of the paddlers lived.  We explored the southern edge of the reef before heading straight towards Tour de Rozel, the low water slack providing the opportunity for fairly rapid progress.  At the start of the ebb we turned towards St Catherine’s with a speed over the ground in places in excess of 7 knots.
A thoroughly enjoyable paddle for the last Wednesday in September.

Les Dirouilles
Heading towards the reef from St Catherine’s. We were pushed slightly to the east but overall the tidal stream was particularly beneficial

Les Dirouilles
This was a great place to sit for lunch on the last Wednesday in September. The views were exceptional.

Les Dirouilles
Looking back towards the north coast of Jersey. The small sandy beach is just being uncovered.

Les Dirouilles
The views along the north coast were quite amazing. Grosnez, the north west corner of the island is visible in the distance.

Les Dirouilles
Exploring some of the narrow inlets on the south side of the reef. On a previous visit we had landed here as it was a perfect place to swim.

Les Dirouilles
Crossing towards Jersey at low water slack before turning east and using the start of the flood tide to accelerate our journey back to St Catherine’s.

 

River Tay

I was surprised to discover that the River Tay, in terms of volume of discharge, contains more fresh water than any other river in the United Kingdom.  It shouldn’t have come as a shock as it has a catchment area of nearly 2,000 square miles, much of it mountainous.  Downstream of Perth the river becomes tidal and it was this stretch of the river that we explored on Sunday morning.
The morning dawned damp and overcast. But we were keen to get on the water when we met in the small village of Newburgh, which is on the south shore of the River Tay.  The tide had just turned and the plan was to use the ebb tide to carry us in the direction of Dundee and the famous bridges.
It was a journey of 11 nautical miles, a distance which slipped quickly past but didn’t seem to require too much effort.  The tide seemed to be doing most of the work.  I was surprised to see a number of seals. One in particular seemed to be enjoying his morning break, feeding on rather a large fish and in no hurry to move out of our way.
Coming from Jersey, I enjoyed paddling past relatively long stretches of wooded shoreline.  An environment which is relatively rare on the island.  The sight of deer running through the fields or walking along the shore was an added bonus.
The dominant feature of the paddle though was the Tay Railway Bridge.  The original bridge was opened to railway traffic on the 1st June 1878.  On the evening of the 28th December 1879 a violent gale was blowing.  At 7.13 pm a train headed across the bridge but disappeared in the darkness.  The exact number of people who died isn’t known but thought to be 74 or 75.
The events of that evening were described in the poem by Willaim McGonagall, “The Tay Bridge Disaster.”  I remembering studying it for English A Level at school.  So bad that it was shown to us as an example of how not to write poetry.
Paddling under the new bridge and seeing the remains of the old bridge, one couldn’t help but reflect on the events of that night, 150 years ago.  It was a fitting place to complete our Sunday paddle on the River Tay.  Thanks once again to the enthusiasm and knowledge of Piotr, the owner of Outdoor Explore.

Newburgh
Leaving from the slup at the western of the village of Newburgh. It was just after high water so we were able to use the ebb tide flowing out of the Firth of Tay.

Bear and Staff
Just downstream was the Bear and Staff. Carved into the hillside in 1980, it was a rather interesting feature.

Firth of Tay
The coastline isn’t spectacular but it was enjoyable and contained a number of surprises. We saw a number of deer either along the beach or running across the fields.

Firth of Tay
Along the south shore there were a number of ruined cottages, which may have been left over from the fishing industry.

Dundee
As we approached the Tay Bridges we could see the oil rigs, which are being worked on in Dundee.

Shipwreck
There were two shipwrecks on this section of the River Tay, one either side of the railway bridge. The one to the east of the bridge was probably used in helping to salvage items after the disaster on the bridge in 1879.

River Tay
Nicky approaching the Tay Railway bridge from the east. With a span of 2.75 miles it is an impressive structure.

Tay Bridge
Looking along the gap between the remains of the old railway bridge and the new one. The term new is used loosely, as it opened in 1887.

Fibreglass kayak
This looked like a 1970’s or early 80’s general purpose fibreglass kayak. Wedged on a steep hillside its origins were clearly a mystery.