This probably was the main expedition of the year 2020 due to Covid 19 stopping play. The following has been lifted and edited from my personal paddling record. The 9 paddlers were Barry I (@lollistixpaddles), Andy E, James W’f, John H, Mark B, Alan J,Chris P (Colchester and Braintree CC), Estelle K (EACSK ), and Dave P (EACSK). All experienced/intermediate paddlers apart from Chris who is a White Water paddler, now converted! All distances are estimates.
Sat 12 Sept paddle Milford Haven Estuary. F2/3 increasing.HW 14:11 sunny 19c on at 11:35 off 17:00 10 miles (15k) Group of 9. Launch West Angle Bay paddled SW to Rat Island, Sheep Island (Chris capsized rounding the point) crossed the estuary north West via RAT Buoy channel marker to Blockhouse. East to Watwick Bay ( Lunch beautiful secluded beach, with a couple of yachts anchored in the bay), NE to Watwick Point, Castle Beach Bay, Dale Point, Watch House Point, Gt Castle Head. Crossed to south side of Estuary to West Pitt then West through Thorn Island (2m swell) and back to West Angle Bay.
Sunday 13 Milford Haven Estuary. F4/5 W HW 16.00? Overcast on 11:00? Off 17:55 10.24 miles Group of 9. West Angle bay to Pembroke River. Out of West Angle Bay and east through the gap at Thorne Island hugging the southern shore line to Angle Bay (where our campsite was) where we had a convenience stop. Then out to East Angle Buoy (Barry called Port authorities to say 9 kayaks were coming through and to check shipping). Continued past the tankers (seal spotted) to a beach for lunch. Then east to another bay/inlet Pembroke River just short of Pembroke Dock, before heading back west, doing a bit of rock hoping on the way. Once back at Thorne Island we went round the northern side into a 1+m swell, quite a rugged coastline and then back into West Angle bay. Turned into a small lagoon and practiced rolling, and rescues.(This lagoon was where the guests staying on Thorne Is. used to be picked up from. It is the site of a former Lime kiln) Headed back to the beach and played in the small surf waves. Another excellent day.
Monday 14 Freshwater Bay surfing. Sea boat and WW Mamba.F4/5 1m swell,sunny and very hot 28c. Group of 9. Some surfed sea boats, some WW boats some surfed Surf boats ( Dave P excellent bit of surfing, could’ve watched you all day – and I did), and me in my Mamba WW boat surfed ok, got some good waves. The Swimming trophy was passed from hand to hand on this beach as various people (some of whom vehemently denied swimming – camera never lies) went for a swim. Good surf beach. It was such a hot sunny day with glorious scenery you could have been abroad (Wales doesn’t count as being abroad, or does it?).
Tuesday 15 West Angle Bay to Westdale Bay to Sheep Island. NW? F1/2 overcast 18c 15 miles Group of 9. Timing for this trip was critical. On the water 0950 off 1800. From W Angle Bay followed the cardinal buoys to north side of Milford Haven Estuary to West Blockhouse, then hugging the coast west to St Ann’s Head, then north into thick fog. Rounding the headland was a little bumpy, but there were safe zones to lay up in, otherwise this was a committed paddle with no get outs until Westdale bay. The rock gardens around Long Point where very eerie especially in the fog. You couldn’t see Westdale Bay but you hear it -a surf beach. Came across a Sup surfer who appeared out of the fog and asked him about landing conditions,then surfed in. This was the get out point had anyone not wanted to continue. Nice small secluded beach. This was our lunch stop. (1200). Launching into the surf we headed back. The fog had lifted at times. There were some big surf waves 1m+. Following the coastline south. At Iron Point several people followed each other into a rock garden only to get caught out in a hole a very large set of surf waves came in(unnerving situation as they didn’t have enough room to manoeuvre and got bashed around. (This shook several of them up and was a learning curve- check the surf yourself and don’t go in blind). Once round St Ann’s Head we stopped off at Watwick Bay. We then followed the channel Markers in very thick fog following a compass heading (West Chapel buoy, East Chapel and RAT Buoy) to the south east side of MH Estuary to Rat island. Cutting south to Sheep Island taking the gap through the mainland (confused water which sucked you through the gap into a sheltered bay. We continued onto West Packard Bay. From here we headed back north to W Angle Bay going round the west side of Sheep Island.
Wednesday 16 Freshwater East to Stack pole NE F1/2 ebb tide 20c group of 7. Mark and Chris went walking and exploring on foot. Easy parking at Freshwater East £5 all day. Easy launch turned east and rock hopped all the way to Stack Pole. Gained permission from Range Safety to continue round to Saint Govans Head. Quite a spectacular coast line. The Archway at Stack Pole had a huge swell. I watched Estelle getting picked up on a large wave and propelled forward, quite impressive.The rest of the group were disappearing behind the large swell and then appearing a couple of seconds later on top of the wave. Really nice coast line with so much to explore. On the way back the group split up with 3 of us, Dave P, James W and myself staying out in the the deep water and headed straight back to Freshwater East bay. The others didn’t get off the water for another couple of hours, playing in the new found rocks and caves now the the tide had come in. This is a stretch of coastline which needs to be revisited.
Thursday 17 Solva to Port Clais, Pembrokeshire. E F4 sunny 18c. Exceptional Spring Tide. 8 miles. Group of 9. Solva was a pretty village but the tide was out! We had a bit of a walk to the water along the inle bay following the beached fishing boats and sail boats. Once out of the bay we turned right and headed west cave and rock hopping all the way along a spectacular coast line. As this was an exceptionally low tide we saw a lot more of what lay hidden beneath the water line, several ship wrecks and new gullies opened up for us. Port Clais was a pretty little harbour but very smelly! (Fish and diesel). Coming out of Port Clais we made a bee line east to Black Rock (45 minute steady paddle), circumnavigated it and then headed into Solva, due north from Black Rock. Looking at the coastline you could not see the harbour entrance. A small white pole stuck on top of the cliff was the give away and as you got closer the houses came into view. There was a woman screaming from the top of the cliff – she had lost her dog. We could this large labrador quite happily barking at us wagging his tail half way down the cliff. and in absolutely no danger. We relayed this to the relieved woamn. As the tide had come in we could paddle all the way to the slip way. Really nice day on the water.
Friday 18 E F5/6 18 c West Angle Bay to Black Cave Group of 9, 6 miles.
This was plan B after taking a look at the wind conditions in the Estuary (Plan a was a repeat run of Tuesday St Annes Head but going a little further and hopefully not in the fog). Nice slow paddle in the lee of the cliffs. High light was Alan stealing an eel off of a surprised seal. Best catch of the day. We never did find black cave but saw something higher up the cliff which could’ve been it. The beach at Freshwater East (Mondays paddle) looked very inviting, but we were running out of time.
Saturday 19th. Group of 3. The plan was to do the whole of the Gunnery ranges (part of Wednesdays paddle) but the winds just weren’t in our favour. Most of the group were planning on going home, but Barry, Andy and Estelle set off from the campsite at Angle Bay for a localised paddle. The exceptional tide had kept the rest of us marooned on the campsite as the bridge and road was flooded. Once the three “die hards” had set off the rest of us waited for the tide before heading home. An excellent week away. There are many photos taken which have been shared on FB, messenger and Whatsapp. A big thank you to Barry I ( BCC)(lollystix paddles) for suggesting, arranging and organising this trip – 8 happy paddlers and to all the cooks and chefs for the week – it was better than Michellin 5 star!
submitted by John H 280920