Les Dirouilles – strange rocks

A few members of the Jersey Canoe Club have been visiting Les Dirouilles more frequently over the last few years. Partly because of the popularity of the Ecrehous and subsequent overcrowding and partly because it is an easier paddle. One thing, which has provided interest over the last few weeks is something we have referred to as Les Dirouilles Strange Rocks.

Furthest east
This is the rock which is the furthest east. The rope is from a line of lobster pots which had been exposed due to the very low tide.

The main rock at the Les Dirouilles and the Ecrehous seems to be a form of gneiss. Reddish in colour with a range of crystals of different sizes. Our interest was first raised when we noticed a rock of a much darker colour, which looked as if it could have been quarried. We returned last week to look for other rocks, which are much darker and easily indentifiable as not from the immediate area. I hadn’t heard of any mention of these rocks from other people or in the limited literature available. This was possibly because landing in this area would be difficult from most types of boats.

Les Dirouilles probably marked the western end of a headland stretching from the Cotentin Peninsula, on the French mainland. It was part of a much larger landmass, including the Ecrehous. This would have been in existence until about 5,000 BC, when sea level change broke the reefs up into smaller entities.

On the Ecrehous there have been a number of archaeological finds which indicate that there was human activity. Pieces of pottery, animal bones from domesticated animals such as sheep and pigs, a menhir etc. The present areas of the Ecrehous is significantly larger than Les Dirouilles. The reef is also higher above sea level so the evidence of Neolithic man is better preserved. If there were people on the area, which is now the Ecrehous it is likely that they were also in the area occupied by Les Dirouilles. It is just that the evidence hasn’t survived.

Standing in line at Les Dirouilles
Jim and Eric standing on two of the rocks. These were part of the line of 7.

So what were these strange stones? The first time it had registered as something different we only saw one. Last Friday though we visited the reef with intention of seeing if there were any more. In total we found 12. There were 7 in a line running 138 to 318 degrees, stretching about 40 metres. Next time we must take a tape measure to make sure! There were 4 stones running from 25 to 205 degrees covering a distance of about 15 metres. They crossed the other line of stones, virtually at right angles, towards the western end of the section.

Seaweed
This rock was harder to identify as there was a reasonable amount of sea weed growing on it but as can be seen one face of the rock was still mainly free of sea weed.

That accounts for 11 of the 12 stones we identified, the other one was slightly to one side of one of the others. Perhaps it had been moved by the sea. The location of the stones was slightly to the east of one of the largest rocks in the reef. This probably offers significant protection from the largest waves, which would approach from a westerly direction. In addition the fact that they are only exposed at low water springs means that when the largest waves are breaking in this area they are probably under 7 or 8 metres of water.

Les Dirouilles.  Strange Rocks
Preparing to depart the reef, the strange rocks we had come to visit are to the right of the main rock.

So what are these stones and why are they there? The short answer is that we have no idea but they are in a location which has possibly seen human activity but is now under water most of the time. It is also a place which sees very little modern day human activity. Therefore it is likely that very few people will have had the opportunity to see them and subsequently ponder their origins.
In no way do we claim to be archaeologists. We are just a few sea kayakers who have encountered something unusual. We can’t explain it and have been unable to find any further information. Any suggestions, ideas, comments etc will be greatly received.

Les Dirouilles
Nicky and Janet heading through one of the narrow channels to the west of the reef, as we prepared to start the crossing back to Jersey.

Les Dirouilles – Standing Stones?

Jersey has a rich and diverse archaeological history, with a number of important sites. Standing Stones, Dolmen’s etc are dotted around the Island, providing enjoyment and intrigue for local and visitors alike. A few weeks ago we visited Les Dirouilles, on a low water spring and noticed a rock, which appeared to be different to the bedrock. We took and picture and paddled back to Jersey before the reef was covered by the rising tide.

Les Dirouilles Standing Stones
This is the rock which attracted our attention several weeks ago. It is clearly different to the bedrock in the area, so how did it get here? The simple answer is that we had no idea

A couple of a days later we were on a guided walk to La Cotte de St Brelade, possibly one of the most important Palaeolithic sites in Europe. I showed the picture of our rock to Dr Matt Pope, who is co-ordinating the excavations. As a active archaeologist he immediately asked further questions, rather than providing a simple answer. Unfortunately we were unable to provide the answers and would have to wait for the next suitable Spring Tide and weather window to further our careers as amateur kayaking archaeologists.

Last Friday it all came together, a large Spring Tide and a wind forecast of Beaufort force 1-2. The journey out to Les Dirouilles, by kayak is so much easier than the nearby and far more popular, Ecrehous. Paddling out to Les Ecrehous is always across the tide, so you have to identify the small tidal window, which will allow you to cross the swift tidal streams with the least amount of effort. In effect there is never any positive tidal assistance.

Les Dirouilles arrival
Alex approaching the rocks to the south of Les Dirouilles

Move a couple of miles to the west towards Les Dirouilles and suddenly the tidal streams are your friend. As we came around the end of St Catherine’s Breakwater our speed increased and with the tide underneath us we covered just over 5 nautical miles in an hour. We weren’t even paddling that fast, spending the whole of the crossing chatting with each other. It is best to aim to arrive about an hour before low water, otherwise the landing options are fairly limited. We were greeted by the resident Grey Seals, perhaps in common with us they are finding the Ecrehous too crowded and have left in search of quieter waters.

Alex, Janet and Jim entering the main body of the reef about 1 hour before low water, the tidal range was 10.3 metres, not the largest of the Spring tides but certainly enough to create significant movement.

A beautiful sandy beach is exposed, a perfect lunch spot and the starting point for our sea bed archaeology. The rock of our first visit was easily identified, so it was time to survey the scene. So with the questions posed by Matt Pope, ringing in my ears I stood on a prominent rock and looked for the answers. This was not isolated rock, in fact we were able to identify 12 individual rocks. Not being geologists the accuracy of our identification is open to question but to us it was clear that they were a completely different rock type.

Les Dirouilles beach
The low tide beach with rocks stretching into the distance. The complete lack of wind resulted in memorable conditions.

We spent some time photographing and measuring the angles of the rocks, which we referred to as Les Dirouilles – Standing Stones? Time wasn’t on our side though. We needed to make sure that we had our lunch! Always important on a sea kayaking day trip. Just after low water it was time to be on our way back to Jersey.

John adjusting his GPS, prior to the crossing back to St Catherine’s. It is always interesting when you see the reading on the GPS reach 8 or 9 knots.

After our last visit we pondered the origin of the name Les Dirouilles, referring to the go to location for people interested in such things “Jersey Place Names I” by Charles Stevens, Jean Arthur and Joan Stevens, which was published in 1986. They suggest “mischievous dwarfs” but added that the meaning is very uncertain. In fact there is a lot of uncertainty about this rarely visited reef.
We did leave with more questions than answers but some extra data and some interesting thoughts as to the origins of these unusual rocks on Les Dirouilles. These thoughts will be on the next post.

Les Dirouilles gully
Heading through the western end of the reef. This is a potential landing spot and a great swimming place.

Molene

I have been sea kayaking in Brittany on a regular basis for over 40 years, exploring the rivers, canals and coasts of this wonderful region of France. An area, which has always eluded my explorations are the islands to the west of the peninsula. It was with some excitement, therefore, when Agnes, a long standing French member of the Jersey Canoe Club arranged a paddling trip to Molene over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

As the weekend approached it was clear that the weather was going to co-operate, which was perfect when combined with the small neap tide. This meant that the normally swift tidal streams would be greatly reduced in strength, resulting in a much more relaxing experience.

Sadly personal issues resulted in me being unable to join the early arrivals in France for the opportunity to paddle Sept Iles and Ile de Brehat. So the first time I pushed my kayak into the water was as we left Porsmoguer, towards the western extremity of the Breton Peninsula.

Molene
Packing the kayaks prior to the departure, for Molene, from the beach at Porsmoguer

Our route initially took us south towards Beniguet, a low lying island with some beautiful beaches before turning north west. Lunch was on the west facing beach on Ile de Litiri, a beautiful spot for a picnic so it was inevitable that we would be sharing the beach with other boats. The island is privately owned so it isn’t possible to wander around above the high water mark.

Ile de Litiri
Looking across the beach on Ile de Litiri, a perfect place to stop for lunch.

In common with so many other islands in this archipelago access is limited at times. This is an important breeding area for birds, so be aware of where landing is restricted. Heading west we passed our first group of sea kayakers, there were about 15 in this group. It was the first of a number of groups that we encountered over the next three days.

Molene Archipelago
Ferry gliding between the islands whilst en route to Molene. As we were on neaps the moving water wasn’t too fast.

We did land on Ile de Trielen, part of the Reserve Naturelle Iroise, to explore the abandoned settlement. There is a beach on the northern side of the island, which gives easy access to the footpaths. There were numerous small birds flitting around in the vegetation, Wheatear’s seemed particularly common.

Ile de Trielen
One of the old buildings on Ile de Trielen. The blocked out door seemed rather strange
Ile de Trielen
The small pond on Ile de Trielen. There were a couple of small stone shelters, probably used by hunters in search of ducks and other water birds.

From here it was an easy paddle to Molene, an island with approximately 200 inhabitants. Landing is on a narrow slipway to the south of the harbour. The campsite is to the left of the slip and it was clear that a number of kayakers were already on the Island. Surprisingly two of the first people we met were Veronique Olivier and Guy Lecointre. They had written the book “Sea Kayaking Guide 60 Brittany Paddles.” Essential reading for anybody paddling in Brittany. I had last met them at the Spanish Sea Kayak Symposium, just over 2 years ago. At times the world of sea kayaking seems really quite small.

Molene
Walking through the narrow lanes, which wind their way through the delightful village.

Once the tents were up it was time to head off is search of a bar and a restaurant. To toast the success of the days paddle and to plan for the following days. Agnes was a perfect guide and highly recommended if you are visiting Brittany. Why not check out her courses and guided tours.

North Coast Speed

2019 sees some particularly large Spring Tides, offering the opportunity for some rather exciting kayaking.  The February tides coincided with a large swell, which presented its own challenges.  The swell certainly created some interest during the course of the day but at least the decision to leave from Archirondel meant that we had a relatively quite start and finish to our paddle of north coast speed.
We paddled past the distinctive red and white tower, built in 1792 before hitting the main flow of the ebbing tide.  We were on our way.

North Coast Speed
Due to the size of the swell we launch from Archirondel, a beach which we don’t use that often. Perhaps we should because it was easy launching and landing.

Our target for lunch was a small beach just to the east of Ronez, we knew that we would be able to land there almost regardless of the size of the swell.  In fact we had eaten there a few weeks previously on another day with a large swell.  We arrived off Ronez in less than 2 hours.  So the options were a 3 hour lunch break, whilst we waited for the tide to turn, or head a bit further along the coast.  We chose the second option and carried on towards Plemont, the next place we knew for certain we could land.

North coast speed
The closest headland was our target for lunch, the reality was eating at the distant one. This was a result of the speed we were traveling at.

North Coast Speed
We stopped for lunch on a small sandy beach on the eastern side of Plemont headland. Due to the size of the swell this was the only suitable location along this section of coast.

Le Mourier Valley
Rachel off Le Mourier Valley. We couldn’t approach much closer to the coast because of the occasional large swell, which would sweep into the bay.

From Sorel we started to pick up the flood tide, and accelerated along the north coast of Jersey.

North coast speed
Belle Hougue, the tallest headland in Jersey. We were certainly moving fast at this stage.

North Coast Speed
Jim breaking into the tidal flow at Tour de Rozel, one of the best tide races on the Island.

As we left Tour de Rozel, the influence of a large spring tide, was having a distinct impact.  The figures on the GPS, were gradually creeping upwards.  As we approached La Coupe, the north east corner of the Island we touched just over 10 knots, fairly surprising as we weren’t putting too much effort into our forward paddling.
The tide swept us onto St Catherine’s and into Archirondel.  We have covered 24 nautical miles during the day but I can’t remember a time when a paddle of that distance had felt so easy.

Les Ecrehous in February

The Ecrehous are a great place to visit at any time of the year but its always special to get a visit in during the winter months, when the reef is much quieter than during the summer.  A mid week visit, to Les Ecrehous in February, is a great time to go if you are hoping for some piece and quiet.
The paddle out from St Catherine’s was relatively straightforward, the benefit of having drawn vectors to allow for the tidal streams always makes the crossing easier, with the GPS just used for back up and fine adjustments to the bearing.  The 5 nautical miles took just over the hour, and soon we were drifting through the reef, as the first of the ebb tide started to run.

Les Ecrehous in February
Arriving at the Ecrehous is always a great experience. Chris just in front of Marmotier, before we paddled around the reef to land on the French side.

If possible we like to land on the French side of the reef as it is an easier carry, the only disadvantage is that your phone can suddenly switch to a French provider resulting in unexpected roaming charges.  Always a good idea to switch your phone to flight mode before leaving the beach, in Jersey.  That’s not a phrase that you have to use that frequently when briefing your kayaking group.
We always like to eat our lunch on the bench, I think that is mainly because of tradition. The photograph below shows the view to the north of the bench, which also helps to explain why its such a great picnic spot.

Les Ecrehous in February
Looking north from the bench, where we had lunch.

Another tradition is that when visiting the reef its important to go for a walk along the shingle bank, which is illustrated in this post.  All too soon it was time to pack the kayaks and think about heading south west, back to Jersey.  I always find it a bit more complicated heading back towards Jersey due to the tides.  The last you thing you want to happen is to have to punch tide in the last mile or so.  I am always surprised how often it happens though and the last mile or so is a real challenge.

Les Ecrehous in February
Leaving the reef. I was in a double with Janet. I have to admit that I have really started to enjoy paddling in a double. I know many paddlers steer clear of them but they bring a whole new perspective and skills set to your paddling.

We headed past Maitre Ile, to get a bit further south before starting out on the crossing back to Jersey.  The largest island in the reef the island has a rich historical past, with the ruins of a priory.  In 1309 the monk and the servant were responsible for lighting the navigation beacon.  Interestingly over 700 years later there is no light on the reef.

Les Ecrehous in February
Chris paddling past the largest island in the reef Maitre Ile, landing there was not an option because of the nesting cormorants.

So it was an ideal day to visit Les Ecrehous in February, perfect sea conditions and unseasonably warmth meant that we were able to wear our shorts for the whole of the day.  An unusually early hint of summer without the crowds.  We are looking forward to plenty more visits as the weather settles down.

Les Ecrehous in February
Jim returning from the Ecrehous. The blues of the sea and sky merging into one colourful backdrop.

Jersey Symposium

Bookings have been open for the Jersey Symposium and we are already over half full, which is great news.  So if you are interested in kayaking in the most southerly waters in the British Isles, why not consider visiting Jersey next May.
The event starts on the evening of Friday 24th May, with a reception at the Highlands Hotel.  The following 3 days will be a mixture of kayaking workshops, guided paddles and a limited number of talks.  The focus is on paddling rather than being inside.  There will be the usual workshops such as rescues and rolling, intermediate skills, leadership etc plus some Jersey specialities such as lobster fishing and sea caves and cliff jumping.
From Tuesday onwards there are further opportunities for exploring the local waters plus weather depending the possibility of visiting the offshore reefs or even some of the other Channel Islands.  As the week progresses the tides become bigger give us the chance to play is some of the tide races.
In addition to the day time programme there are events every evening including lectures, symposium meal with a live band, quiz night, bbq etc.  It really is full on from the Friday evening until the following Friday.

The booking form for the Symposium is available here.

Condor Ferries operate from Portsmouth, Poole and St Malo whilst there are flights from most UK airports and there are a number of sea kayaks available for hire.
We ran the first Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium in 1992 and we like to think that in the intervening 26 years we have developed a format, which is successful and allows both local and visiting paddlers to experience the best of what Jersey has to offer as well as providing plenty of opportunities for learning.
So don’t delay in planning your visit to the 2019 Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium.

Jersey Symposium
The Ecrehous, roughly half way between Jersey and France is a classic one day trip. Hopefully there will be plenty of opportunities to visit this stunning reef.

Jersey Symposium
As the week progresses the tides become larger, allowing people to play in some of the tide races, which develop around our coast.

Jersey Symposium
With warm, clear waters and perfect granite rock, conditions can be ideal for exploring the coast and to challenge yourself on some of the local jumps.

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.

 

La Rocco Tower

In the middle of St Ouen’s Bay, on the west coast of Jersey is La Rocco Tower. Although I think it is pretty safe to say that just about everybody who lives in Jersey will have seen it only a small percentage of residents will have set foot upon its ramparts.
Last Wednesday we paddled from Ouaisne along the cliffs of the southwest coast before running north to La Rocco Tower. Our picnic spot for the day. The initial problem is deciding where to land, there are a couple of suitable locations, the exact choice depending upon the wind and swell.
There was a brisk northerly breeze but fortunately only a slight westerly swell, which meant that selecting an appropriate landing place was not too difficult.  We did have to take into consideration that the tide was rising so launching may have been an issue but we managed to find two sites, which offered sheltered landings and it wasn’t’ long before we were heading into the walls which surround La Rocco Tower.
It was built in the last years of the 18th Century, at a cost of £400 and was the last of the towers of this design to be built, the later ones more accurately being described as Martello Towers.  In 1801 it was named Gordon’s Tower after the Lieutenant Governor of the time.  The tower was badly damaged and restored to its present condition in the early 1970’s.  Popular opinion states that it was damaged by German artillery during the Second World War but this probably not the case.  Possible a stray mine breached the sea defenses when it exploded and the sea did the rest.
Lunch was eaten in the shelter of the outer walls, protected from the north easterly wind.  The same wind that was going to surf us back towards Corbiere, when we launched.  It was an entertaining day, with our picnic in a location that virtually every resident and tourist has seen but very few have walked on.  Just another reason why sea kayaks are perfect for exploring our environment.
The tower is one of a number which are administered by Jersey Heritage and are available for rental but due to the location of La Rocco Tower there are quite a few restrictions depending on weather and sea state.  It is a great place for a picnic it must be amazing to spend the night there.

La Rocco Tower
Looking towards La Rocco Tower from the south east. Selecting a place to land was not straightforward as the tide was rising so we had to consider the prospects for launching.

La Rocco Tower
Steps have been cut into the shale to allow easier access to the tower.

La Rocco Tower
The steps lead to the ramparts , which surround the tower. We were looking for somewhere sheltered for lunch. The north easterly wind was fairly brisk at this point.

La Rocco Tower
The staircase into the tower is a beautiful spiral shape.  Lunch was taken around the the other side of the tower.

La Rocco Tower
The base of the tower sweeps gracefully skywards.

La Rocco Tower
The defenses on top of the tower are known as machicolations. La Rocco was the last tower built with these additions.

La Rocco Tower
Lunch time is over. John and Jim launching off the rocks. If it was a day with any swell this would be virtually impossible.

Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium

The first Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium was held in 1992 and there has been one pretty much every 2 years since then. The next one is going to be held in May 2019 and bookings will be opening at the end of September.
So what can you expect at a Symposium in Jersey? First of all some superb paddling, take advantage of the large tidal range, superb coastal scenery and in places swell rolling in from the North Atlantic.
Secondly, great accommodation. For many years we used campsites but now we base the event at the Highlands Hotel. Stunning sea views from most bedrooms, a swimming pool on the terrace, small gym, great food, a pleasant bar and very friendly staff.
Thirdly, a comprehensive kayaking programme, lasting up to 7 days. There are skills sessions run by some of the most respected coaches in the UK plus plenty of guided trips, including, weather permitting, to the offshore reefs such as the Ecrehous.
Fourthly, a diverse evening programme including lectures, a meal with live music, photo sharing, a quiz night and a BBQ in a Napoleonic guard house.
The event starts on the evening of Friday 24th May, with a welcome reception with the on the water action starting on the Saturday morning.  At any one time there is normally a choice of at least 8 different workshops and paddles.
The event is based at the Highlands Hotel, which is really comfortable and very convenient for the paddling, which is available during the week.  The options for the following day are normally posted at the hotel the night before, between 7.00 and 7.30, once we have an up to date weather forecast.  If you choose to stay at a campsite or a different hotel it will still be necessary to come to the HIghland’s Hotel in the evening to ensure that you are able to select those sessions you are interested in.
The feedback from previous events has been really positive and we are sure that this will continue in 2019.  If you are interested in receiving further information, about the Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium, please contact me at, kevin@seapaddler.co.uk,  so that I can add you name to the mailing list.

Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium
Looking towards the Highland’s Hotel from offshore. It is in a fantastic position on the cliff top just to the east of Corbiere.

Jersey SeaKayak Symposium
The challenging waters around Corbiere lighthouse are nearby. Swift tidal streams and Atlantic swells provide the opportunity for refining skills.

Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium
The reefs to the south east of the island provide the opportunity for historical paddles or navigation exercises.

Jersey Sea Kayaking Symposium
Exploring and playing along the cliffs of the north coast will be an option most days of the Symposium.

Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium
For many paddlers a highlight of the week, if the weather allows, is a trip to the Ecrehous.