Sea kayaking in Cornwall

I’ve just got back from a week’s holiday sea kayaking in Cornwall on a course organised by Sea Kayaking Cornwall – the same company I went to Scilly with (see here).

Four of the five days were spent on ‘expeditions’ of various lengths tied in with paddling and rescue skills, the other day was spent learning about navigation and charts in the morning and capsize/rolling practice in the afternoon. Here are a few pictures from the week.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 10On the first day we went on a short paddle from Swanpool Beach near Falmouth around the coast to Maenporth. This is the wreck of the Ben Asdale – a trawler that ran aground in 1979 – full story here.

Day 2 we paddled from Praa Sands around to Kenneggy Sands – we did a bit of rock hopping and played in the surf at Kenneggy.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 1
On the beach at Kenneggy Sand for lunch.

On Wednesday we went on a ‘proper’ expedition on the Lizard from Kennack Beach all the way round to Lizard Point and back.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 18
Entering a sea cave near Cadgwith

Sea Kaying Cornwall 16Emerging unscathed

Sea Kaying Cornwall 5Lunch at Church Cove

Sea Kaying Cornwall 20Approaching Lizard Point – so named after the Cornish Lysardh which means ‘high court’

Sea Kaying Cornwall 27The old lifeboat station at Lizard Point

Kennack to Lizard PointAnd here is the GPS trace of our journey – around a 12 mile round trip

Our final took us to the north coast and we had a good paddle from Portreath around the Deadman’s Cove.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 30
Inside Ralph’s Cupboard – a huge collapsed sea cave which was originally occupied by a giant called Wrath (Ralph) who was in the habit of wrecking ships, eating the crew and storing the cargo in the cave – his cupboard.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 29Looking out from the Cupboard

Sea Kaying Cornwall 6Lunch at Greenback Cove

Sea Kaying Cornwall 34It is an amazing piece of wild rugged coast – fantastic to see from the sea

Sea Kaying Cornwall 38Brilliant rock hopping through a sluicing channel

Here is my Flickr album from the week which has additional pictures in it.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 1

A really superb week – thanks to Ben and Mark who were our guides and coaches from Sea Kayak Cornwall, great also to meet and make some new friends – Sue, Stephanie, Ian, Anthony and Andy. Highly recommended.

Sea kayaking in the Isles of Scilly – the maps of where we went

Back home now in Exeter after the Scilly Expedition. Two loads of highly ‘scented’ washing done; tent, inflatable mat and sleeping back drying and airing; Trangia washed in hot water to remove the smell of not so fresh mackerel; wetsuit, jacket and flotation aid washed and dripping and electrical devices and gizmos charging – nearly there. Time to fire up my NutriBullet to make a smoothie to replace my diet of burgers, bacon and beer. I have managed to get the trip traces off my Garmin and they give a good indication of what we got up to last week.

Tresco map
Here is part of the route we took on Wednesday (here is my blog from that day – here). It only shows the second half as our departure from St Mary’s in the morning was a little stressful. We were about to leave on our first proper ‘crossing’ to Samson when a squall blew up and turned the glassy still harbour into a nasty chop – we aborted but the squall disappeared as quickly as it had come and the order was given to go. Everyone was still reeling from there chop and it became a white knuckle paddle to Samson (that might just have been me) – as a result I forgot to turn on the GPS. We did make it across to Samson (at least its exposed sandbanks) and then we headed up the east coast of Bryher to land and lunch near Anna Quay.

Sea kayaks on Bryher

We then set off to look at Cromwell’s Castle (when I remembered to turn the Garmin on) and then up to Shipman Head and then back down to Appletree Bay by Carn Near. By this point the weather was approaching a Force 4-5 and we cancelled the proposed crossing back to Mary’s and got a lift back on the speedboat Endeavour.

St Martins Map
Next morning we were Endeavoured back out to Carn Near and set off to St Martin’s – we stopped on a beach at low tide near Old Grimsby (the hook on the trace) and then crossed the channel to St Martins. (Blog from Thursday is here)

Kayaks on the Martin's beach

We stopped near Lower Town for lunch and went for various walks including a trip to the Seven Stones before heading back to St Mary’s. You can see a kink to the south east half way across the Roads – this is when we saw the Scillonian heading our way ….

Eastern Isles Map
Friday saw us visiting the Eastern Isles – our first stop was a Bar Point where some of us went for a walk up to see the Bronze Burial Chamber at Innisidgen – then around the Eastern Isles and lunch on the sandbar south west of Nornour called Ganilly  Bar. (Friday’s Eastern Isles blog here)

In the Eastern Isles

Saw the Scillonian again on the way back but this time it headed west.

St Mary's map
On our final day we went around St Mary’s (anti-clockwise). (Saturday’s blog here). Passing the point on the south side of the Garrison saw some really ugly water which was a challenge to paddle through – we all made it and then stopped at Old Town Bay – walked up the beach to the Old Town Cafe for a tea but it was closed (on a Saturday in the high season – really?) – instead some of us then popped into the Old Town cemetery to look at Harold Wilson’s grave (again the trace clearly shows this). Onwards and around the south and eastern sides of the Island before stopping for lunch near at Little Porth, finally back around to the harbour.


What a brilliant week – one of my best ever. You can see a selection of my photos from the holiday here on my Flickr account .

Shaun and AdrianHuge thanks go to our leader Shaun from Sea Kayaking Cornwall  along with his oft repeated quote “sea kayaking is an assumed danger activity”.

MarkAnd his ‘wingman’ Mark along with his question “All good Adrian?” to which the answer was always yes irrespective of the sea conditions.

So has this inspired you to go sea kayaking? If it hasn’t I don’t think anything will! Sea Kayaking Cornwall offer courses and Expeditions for all levels of ability from Beginner through to Advanced. I went on their Intromediate Expedition – see here. I have paddled a bit on the Dart, the Exeter Canal, the Exe, on Windermere, off the Norfolk coast, the Northumberland coast, around Stockpole, Scilly and Exmouth and I have done my 1* and 2* courses with the Exeter Canoe Club but I haven’t done a huge around and before this expedition I had always been pretty timid. After an infamous expedition down the Dart a few years ago I coined the expression “Someone’s going to die” after a series of capsizes which three totally inexperienced kayakers attempted (successfully) to rescue another topple prone paddler. I now feel so much more qualified and confident to explore. I will also be going on other Sea Kayaking Cornwall courses and expeditions in due course – can’t recommend them enough.

Kayak2On the Exe at Topsham

Find your level and give it a go.

A circumnavigation of St Mary’s

Last night we had a ‘Scilly’ barbecue – freshly caught lobsters, crabs and mackerel by local fisherman Paul Lewis.

Tasted fantastic

Caught three hours earlier

Today is the last day of the sea kayak holiday and we set out on a circumnavigation of St Mary’s.

Harold Wilson's graveOur first stop of the day was at Old Town Beach – I took a few people up to the Church to show them Harold Wilson’s grave.

PenninisOnwards past Penninis  Head

Sea blasted rockAmazing storm weathered rock

Pulpit rocl
Up towards Pulpit Rock

Porth Hellick DownWeather changed at the south east corner of the island – no rain by a bit gloomy

St Mary's across to Martins
Around to Bar Point and the sun was back out

Pattern on beach
Great patterns on the beach

An amazing week with Sea Kayaking Cornwall – thanks so much to our guides and tutors Shaun and Mark – highly, highly recommended if you want an adventure.


Around the Eastern Isles

Had a fantastic paddle from St Mary’s around and through the Eastern Isles today – all in the hot sunshine, in total we covered around 15km.

The Eastern Isles are a good place to see seals – these Atlantic Grey will be pupping in a week or two.

Sand bar and St MartinsWe had our lunch on a huge sandbar off St Martins – a couple of hours later the whole thing will be covered by the Atlantic!

LunchA new picnic experience for me

Gull footA gull print in the sand

Crab clawAnd a crab’s claw – recently killed

In the Eastern IslesMe and my boat in the Eastern Isles – another great day with Cornwall Sea Kayaking.


A kayak to St Martins and a photo with the Scilly Sargeant

Another fantastic day’s weather – we started this morning on a lovely long beach on Tresco – we were taken back to St Mary’s last night on a warp factor 10 speed boat after the wind got up making our return by paddle unsafe. This morning we were brought on the same boat but this time  at warp factor 5.

The Endeavour – a rapid way to start the day.

Compass jellyfishFound this Compass Jellyfish on the beach before we set off

Through the seaweedPaddling through the seaweeds

Old Grimsby beachA short break on the beach next to Old Grimsby on Tresco

Tutors  Shawn and MarkOur two kayak tutors – Shawn and Mark with St Helens and the Round Island Lighthouse in the background

Kayaks on the Martin's beachAnd then on to St Martin’s with Tean in the background

St Martins at Low TideWe had a couple of hours to walk around the island – a low tide across St Martin’s

With Scilly Sargeant

Dropped into the Seven Stones pub for a pint and by chance met The Scilly Sargeant (Colin Taylor) – I wrote a review of his excellent memoir of his time on Scilly – see here and he had liked it so I thought I would say hello. It turned out that today was his last day on the Islands – he returns permanently to the Mainland tomorrow. A selfie with him seemed the right thing to do. All the best to Colin for his new future in the Police Force in Devon.

A long paddle back to St Mary’s where we had to take ‘evasive action’ to avoid the departing Scillonian. Another excellent day – we paddled 8.5 miles in total. Tomorrow (weather permitting) we are off to the Eastern Isles.

One of my best days on Scilly

What a great day – after two days of rain and wind today the sun came out. We still had a stiff westerly wind but it doesn’t stop us all getting out for a decent paddle. We set off from St Mary’s and headed over to Samson. It was quite a lumpy crossing and the wind meant my boat kept getting blown off course.

Arrival on Sampson
We got there though – so chuffed – it was really low tide so there was acres of sand around the island.

Onto Bryher
From Samson we headed onwards to Bryher.

Passing TrescoPassing Tresco

Sea kayaks on BryherWe landed next to Anna Quay for lunch in the sunshine

SeanOur Expedition leader Shawn from Sea Kayaking Cornwall chilling

FootprintGreat footprint on the beach – summer freedom

Garden TigerWildlife highlight of the day was finding this Garden Tiger on the door of the Bryher Gig Shed. A rare animal now – has declined by over 80% in the last few decades – I haven’t  seen an adult for 10 years!

AgapanthusGlorious flowers in the sunshine – an Agapanthus

Cromwell's CastleOnwards up the Channel to Cromwell’s Castle

Round Island LighthouseAt the end of the Tresco Channel you can look across to Round Island and its Lighthouse.

Achieved a lot of things I haven’t done before today – one of my best days ever on Scilly.