2015-04-05 South Stack rock hopping in the fog

An early start for me saw me driving to meet my paddle buddy at Borthwen, Rhoscolyn for 9:00am. The roads were fairly quiet and despite passing through various fog patches on the way, I made it with five minutes to spare. At Borthwen, the coastal fog was so bad it was a job to see the little islands in the bay from the beach. Conditions were not looking good, despite the very flat seas and very light breeze. Our initial plan was to go for a play in the tidal race off Rhoscolyn Beacon, before heading up the coast on the tide. But this would leave us fairly exposed out at the beacon in the fog. We had a quick chat about what to do and decided to move up the coast to Porth Dafarch where we could then paddle up the coast to South Stack. At least by doing this we would be setting off a little later, by then the conditions might be better/have improved and it would be easy to keep in touch with land. Having paddled the Stacks before, we knew it would mean passing though the tidal races at Penryhn Mawr, but it did keep us closer to the shore if the conditions deteriorated. Besides which, if the conditions did deteriorate, we could always head back keeping land (or dark shapes) to out left.

Once on the water at Porth Dafarch, we were soon in the flood tide being carried towards Penrhyn Mawr. You could just make out the white horses of the tidal race through the fog as we approached. When we actually got there, the waves were not very big and you could only just get a very limited surf. Still there was plenty of confused water to play on which kept us busy for a while.

Now unfortunately and as per usual, my GoPro once again decided to have a sulk and wouldn't turn on as we left Porth Dafarch. It did this, despite my testing it, switching it on an off, just about every day for a week. As my hands were already wet, it would have to wait until we could stop for lunch and I could dry my hands, before being able to open the housing and reset the camera. Luckily it does mean there are less pictures of fog than there would otherwise have been.

So having left Penrhyn Mawr, we headed across to Pen-las rock and on to South Stack. Despite the fog, the views of the towering cliffs were amazing. The Razorbills and Guillemots were back getting ready for the breeding season. The noise and smell was incredible. Every now and again huge numbers of birds, would suddenly leave their perches, high up on the cliffs and come diving down over our heads and out to sea. They came so close you could hear the beating of their wings.  Truly an amazing sight. Under the South Stack bridge it was time to wave at the tourists brave enough to make their way out to the South Stack lighthouse, before we soon decided we had gone far enough and turned around. Besides we were getting hungry and lunch was beckoning. The tide had also turned and our progress was being slowed.

On the way back we decided to rock hop our way back to the beaches at Abraham's Bosom and stuck much closer to the shore. I always find when paddling in fog, whether it be on a river or at sea, a surreal experience. It is like you are in your very own private bubble of visibility that moves along with you as you make your way. Rock hoping in fog adds another dimension, in that you can't always see the route you are taking is either going to end abruptly, or lead you back to open water.

Having re-fueled on the beach and camera reset, it was time once more to set off back to Porth Dafarch. Now we have pictures... and I will stop prattling on.

Best Days paddling ever!

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