2022-05-14 Harrys, Church bay for an ice cream, followed by a sneaky Skerries trip

Today High Water would be at 10:28 Liverpool (British Summer Time). Hmmm.... Mid Morning HW's always makes for awkward trip planning for adventure seekers like Si and myself, due to the fact that the tide will be ebbing for much of day. For instance, the Stacks flood 4 hours and 50 minutes after HW, and the North Coast (Carmel Head, Skerries Port Wen) begin to flood at 5 hours and 15 minutes after HW. This means the tide ebbs up until 15:18 and 15:43 respectively. So it does tend to limit options... or does it?

Si and I discussed what the best plan/possible trips would be, over an early 08:00 breakfast in the Paddlers Return. My preference was to head to Cemlyn bay and either paddle against the flood east across the top of Anglesey or head west towards Carmel Head. I've gone against the ebbing tide from Cemlyn Bay before! It is quite possible to go against the tide using the various back eddies and makes for an interesting trip. OK, so there is the odd headland where a bit of grunt is required, but it isn't as mad as it may seem. Plus, if returning before the flood, you get nice tidal assistance on the return leg. The other option is to head west from Cemlyn Bay, along to Carmel head and to explore the less frequented bit of coast down to Church Bay. Either way, with the ebb tide having only just started 45 minutes before HW @ 09:43 off Cemlyn Bay, the Harry Furlongs tide race would just be starting to work. So there would be time to play before heading in either direction. As the weather was set fair, why not. We were all loaded up for the day, having been served a super cooked breakfast (thanks Penny) and set off from Anglesey Outdoors to Cemlyn Bay.

By the time we had driven up to Cemlyn Bay, unloaded the boats and were ready to go, including some extra time, whilst I faffed trying to get my stupid GoPro to work, it was 09:34. How do I know it was 09:34 precisely? Well I have just checked the GPS log file! After the short paddle across Cemlyn Bay, as expected Harry's was just beginning to work. It was pretty messy at the back, but there were some super smooth waves forming at the front to surf on. So we played on the waves for about an hour, with the occasional Tern, dive bombing the sea in front of us. Eventually, we set off towards Carmel Head, rock hoping as we went. I am sure Si could have stayed longer in Harry's, but I get kinda get bored after a while, catching little waves, for all of a few seconds ride. As we hand-railed the coast looking out to sea, we could see lots of white horses forming in the various off-shore tidal races. Some were rather big, which reaffirmed the need to stay well out of the offshore tide races and to stick close inshore. Looking out to sea the speed of the tidal flow between us and the Skerries is quite astonishing!

South of Carmel Head is an interesting and less frequented coastline. Quite different from the other bits of Anglesey. I am not sure what it is that does make it different but, it does feel very different. Is it geology, remoteness, something else? I've no idea. But there are some great bays, coves, magnificent caves and some interesting rock formations to explore. We stopped for some lunch on a beach, next to an outcrop of rock called Ynys Y Fydlyn, and basked in the sun. It was glorious. I suggested to Si we should head south to Church Bay for an ice cream before heading back. The sun was out and in a way it would have been rude not too. At Church Bay, I left Si on the beach looking after the boats, whilst I went up to the cafe in search of those Ice Creams. I queued and dripped on the Cafe floor for about twenty minutes, only for the Jersey Ice cream machine to break just as it was my turn. Oh well, Magnums it would have to be.

By now it was 14:10, we left Church bay and headed back north towards Carmel Head. By the time we had made it back to Carmel Head it was 14:45 and I realised the ebbing tide would be in its final hour. So I said to Si, why don't we head out to the Skerries? We'll be on a weak diminishing ebbing tide and it is perfectly feasible to reach the Skerries before the flood starts. After little deliberation, a food and water check, we left Carmel Head and continued in a northerly direction towards our target, the Skerries lighthouse. At first, we appeared to be given push by the tide leaving Carmel Head. But the nearer we approached our target the messier the water became. Having paddled back towards Carmel Head on other trips, I knew the water gets pretty confused south of the Skerries, with its upswells and boils the size of football pitches, and sure enough, one moment we were being pushed west, then east, from behind, and even occasionally against us. The bird life is amazing out at the Skerries at this time of year, plenty of Terns: Common, Artic and Sandwich, as well as the odd little flotilla of Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills. We made good time to the islands. As we entered the Bay area we could just see one group leaving. Perhaps it was Jimski's group? We knew they were planning on doing a Skerries trip, from meeting up earlier at breakfast at Anglesey Outdoors.

In the Skerries Lagoon, sure enough, there was another large group of kayakers already on the beach. It was a super day for a Skerries trip after all. We chatted for a bit before they too left. As for the Skerries, I didn't think there were as many Terns as I've seen in previous years, but there was still a cacophony of sounds, as the Terns whirled around in the air above us. What incredibly beautiful birds they are. And to top it all the sky was blue and the skerries were basked in sunshine. Paradise?

We left the Skerries at around 16:00, so the flood would assist us back to Cemlyn Bay. As we circumnavigated the island, we could see the large group that left the Skerries earlier, paddling across to Carmel Head, and taking a look at the Platters rocks, which were clearly visible. I have never seen the Platters rocks exposed above the water line before. Si and I, set our course, across to Middle Mouse and then onto Harry Furlongs's, which is about as direct as you can be and also gains the biggest tidal assistance from the flooding tide.

Back at Cemlyn, a couple of Jimski's group very kindly came down the beach to help up with our boats. They were a amazed, when we told them where we had been. Then the large group arrived and were somewhat surprised we had beaten them back, until I explained the route we had taken. Later, Si and I found we had had our picture taken just as we left the Skerries by a small rib we had seen - we were now featuring on Images of Holyhead.

Images of Holyhead
Images of Holyhead

What an absolute cracker of a day! 16.8nm 7hr 31min

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