2017-11-11 NWSK End of Season Meet – Remembrance Day Stacks

South Stack Cover

At this years NWSK end of season meet, Jimski suggested one possible trip would be to do the Stacks. Four of us decided to join him, along with his friend Ashleigh. The paddlers were Jimski, Ashleigh, Alan, Chris, Graham and moi.  Everyone else decided to go to Rhoscolyn.

Setting off from Porth Dafarch we met a chap from a "Yorkshire group" on the beach, it seems his group had set off without him! He was thinking of going off alone to meet up with them, but we advised against this as he had not paddled Penrhyn Mawr (PM) before.

Chris, Alan Alan Alan...
Chris, Alan Alan Alan...

"Mini Mawr" gave us a little sport in the swell and was soon passed. The light was incredible, illuminating the rocky coastline. At PM we ran the chicken chute, the outer and middle races looking quite sporty. With the swell coming through the chicken chute was good fun in itself. We rounded Abraham's Bosom rock hopping as went. As we approached South Stack we came across the "Yorkshire Group" and Ashleigh went over to say they had left one behind. They didn't seem to know who it was. Back to a little rock hopping, but the swell now under Ellen's Tower made it impossible to get in close. There was a notable absence of any seals. Jimski and Ashleigh were saying it is thought by the locals that the recent bad storms had wiped out many of the seals and pups. I hope this is not so and they have merely moved offshore to weather the storms. Time will tell.

Chris in the amazing light with storm in the background
Chris in the amazing light with storm in the background

Passing through the South Stack gap we soon stopped at a rocky beach for a bite to eat. We were about a mile from North Stack. It was a good stop with the sound of the sea against the rocks sounding like relaxed breathing. We decided we all couldn't be too bothered going all the way to North Stack so headed back, this time passing South Stack around the outside. This meant paddling agains the tidal race, but with the swell pushing behind us we had some waves to surf a little on to assist us on our way. Back under Ellen's Tower there were a couple of rock climbers free climbing on the huge slab of rock 5 meters from the sea. I'm not quite sure how they got down there as was there was no rope in evidence - if they had abseiled down and then pulled in the rope, they had to be pretty confident they could make it back up. It looked like a long day ahead for them!

Ashleigh passing under the Bridge of Death with the bridge keeper looking on
Ashleigh passing under the Bridge of Death with the bridge keeper looking on

Back at PM, I was fortunate to catch a wave into the chicken shute that took me a long way against the current, depositing me nicely into a small eddy behind a rock. Then using the eddy line, I was then able to exploit the weakness in the current, before picking up another smaller wave, taking me up and though to the other side. I had a little wait for the others who were less fortunate.

"Mini Mawr" was looking quite fearsome as we approached it, with a large wave creating a mass of white water. Having been working with the swell all day, I was fairly confident this was the tail end of a series of waves that would start off small again and then build. I therefore decided to go through "Mini Mawr", the others opting for the safe route around the outside. I have to admit halfway through I wondered if my calculations were correct as I could see another rather large looming wave heading my way. I paddled hard as I could as I watched the wave break to my right. I just managed to stay on the green, shooting out of the other side. Graham told me later I had "big balls going through there".

Our Group with North Stack in the Distance
Our Group with North Stack in the Distance

Back at the beach at Porth Dafarch, I tried sitting on my back deck until my balance was undone by a wave of all about 6 inches. It's gotta be centre of gravity related...

Whilst getting changed I was chatting with a chap from the "Yorkshire Group" who told me when they came back through PM they had lost one of their group. A couple of paddlers from this group then went back and found the lost paddler, who had decided they weren't happy with paddling up through PM. They ended up portaging across the moor, dragging their boat through the heather to the Old Lifeboat station.

Rocky Lunch Stop - Jimski
Rocky Lunch Stop - Gyms

As for our paddle it was a super paddle and thanks to Jim and Ashleigh for leading. Also Alan, Chris and Graham for being great companions.

Back at the wonderful Anglesey Outdoors centre, Stan cooked us all (NWSK) a curry followed by lovely pudding and custard. I really liked the custard, but then I really like custard! This was topped off with a chap coming along from the RNLI and giving an excellent talk on sea safety.

Many thanks go to Sabina Neall who organised the NWSK End Off Season Meet, Clive Ware for organising the RNLI talk and Jimski for co-ordinating the various paddle's.

Oh, and I also must also thank Penny for pulling me and my van out of the muddy field with her Honda (<ahem> for the second time in two weeks... I'm so embarrassed!), Stan for his excellent meal and cheerfulness and well actually, everyone from Anglesey Outdoors for a totally awesome great weekend again!

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