Activity number three sea kayaking near Ilfracombe

Croyde Devon Beach view
Croyde Devon Beach view

Mr T fancied some sea kayaking and C was up for it, I threw myself into the mix we had the minimum of three people required for a couple of hours paddling along the coast. The rendez-vous was at 12:30 in a car park at Helle Bay just the other side of Ilfracombe. We had a leisurely start with the late appointment and took our time over breakfast. I filled some of the time taking some local panorama photo sets.

The drive to the Helle Bay took only 30 minutes compared to our estimated 40 minutes so we were very early. The guy taking us for the paddle was a bit early too. We were soon into our wetsuits but I had managed to leave my car keys in my shorts pocket, so a partial wetsuit removal was required. We had a fairly long walk to the waters edge carrying kayaks which made the arms burn a bit a good preparation for the paddling? Once there we had the obligatory safety brief and instructions on what to do in the very unlikely event that we were to fall out of the kayaks, and that a clenched fist means I need help.

We jumped in the kayaks and headed out to sea, the water was a bit choppy compared to the mill pond we had left over in Croyde. We were about a hundred yards out when C decided enough was enough the kayak seat did not suit her hip and could not last two hours on discomfort. We paddled back in then Mr T and I then shared the double and headed back out again.

Croyde Devon Beach view
Croyde Devon Beach view

The seas was quite choppy and paddling was hard again the wind and out of the bay to the north but once around the corner and in the lee of the wind it was much calmer. We kept close to the shoreline and worked our way in and out of the rocky shore. The guide also took coasteering parties around the area so knew his way in and out of the inlets. After about 45 minutes we turned around the plan was to head across the bay and south towards Ilfracombe. The sea was now more choppy but with the wind behind us we were soon across the bay, and into the rocks. The wave direction and currents between the rocks meant were were whisked along just passengers. I remember thinking it is going to be hard work paddling back against the current and wind. We did some more looking at the rocks and visited a couple of caves one with an interesting circulr poo which was called the washing machine, then headed back.

We had to paddle hard to get through the worse bits and then turned around and landed on a beach for a rest while the guide explained how the rock arch we were near had partially collapsed during the severe winter storms of 2013/14. The break was welcome I had not realised how much of a strain sitting and paddling was on the core, my upper leg muscles were glad of the 5 minutes rest. We got back in the kayak for the final push to shore we had to cross out into the middle of the bay to avoid the waves crashing on the rocks to the south of the bay, but this mean that we had to paddle against the swell, which when you are low in a kayak seem much higher than the are, they looked about 5 foot but probably more like 3 peak to trough. We obviously survived and being back on dry land was welcome.

We went back to the hut and then had a leisurely rest for the remainder of the day. We had pasta cooked my myself.

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