Having accepted Jane’s kind invitation to paddle in her
‘pond’, our plan was to start from the Mountbatten Centre,
Plymouth on Sunday 3rd, turn east along to River Avon at
Bantham and camp in the vicinity. Returning on 4th. The trip
appeared ‘do-able’ given the forecast 36 hours ago.
I stayed the previous night at Ivybridge, expecting a
straightforward 20 minute journey to
Mountbatten Centre on this sleepy Jubilee bank
holiday Sunday morning. I hadn’t reckoned on getting caught
up in the Plymouth half marathon – many thousands of runners
= many road closures and diversions! I arrived at MC 25
minutes late to find that Jane had checked today's forecast;
wind WNW force 5 gusting 6! We agreed a change of plan was
necessary, essentially 2 day paddles.
Sunday 3rd June.
Relying on Jane’s local knowledge we set out into a gusty
Plymouth harbour (note to David Cotgrove – remember that?)
towards Cornwall (where the dirty weather was coming from,
Ian). Jane calculated that we were unlikely to cross the
shipping lane before an incoming Brittany ferry reached us
(they’re huge up close) so I clung to the Mallards East
cardinal buoy whilst the Pont-Aven passed smoothly into
It took us a further 45 mins of ‘shoulders forward’ effort
to pass S of Drake Island, with thumbs up encouragement from
several yachties, to reach a shingle beach near Cremyll
ferry, Cornwall. This gives access to Mt Edgcumbe House &
Country Park if one wishes. Look at Google maps of Plymouth
harbour and it is just a shortish water crossing here, but I
was grateful for Jane’s guidance.
Our options were limited by the wind, so we crossed to the
north bank near Hoe Park and proceeded east towards Laira
Bridge, passing working ships, an HM Border Agency vessel
and many moored prestige ocean-going motor yachts.
David Cotgrove will doubtless remember ‘Rick-the-leg’ from
our recent trip to Wembury; Rick is both an able kayaker and
a master mariner, who Jane & I met on a pontoon at a RYA
examination centre. Solid guy, small world.
Then under Laira Bridge and up the Plym river, here a still,
wide lake which reduces to acres of mud at low tide – Jane’s
house overlooks it. By this time I was gasping for a cup of
tea! The river narrowed and allowed us to get out, tie up
and walk 5 minutes to
where we talked our way into the closed tea shop for a well-deserved
Returned to our kayaks and a gentle paddle back to the
Mountbatten Centre, where the £5 parking fee also allowed me
use of the showers – heavenly! Jane keeps her Tiderace at MC
in secure storage.
Monday 4th June.
What a difference 12 hours can make to the weather, today’s
forecast was wind 5 – 9mph with variable direction, allowing
us to get beyond the massive harbour breakwater, heading W
around Rame Head. Sea conditions were obviously kinder today
with many small craft enjoying the only ‘good’ day of the
long Jubilee weekend on the water. We crossed direct to
sunny Cornwall and found a
rocky inlet with small beach under The Old Signal House,
where we had a break and acknowledged an elderly couple who
had just paddled from nearby Cawsand.
We continued around Rame Head and I reflected that
two Tiderace expedition paddlers had preceded us by
about 3 weeks. In less benign conditions I imagine rounding
Rame Head would be a no-go for me!
On the west side we had the choice of 5 clean beaches within
a mile, we opted for the nearest which had small surf and no
other visitors. We landed without incident. We enjoyed a
lazy lunch, a chat, and waited until 2pm when the east going
flood tide had picked up to our advantage. We launched
through an increasing surf, although Jane wasn’t quick
enough fitting her spray-deck, she took on water and had to
return to the beach etc... Her second attempt was faultless.
We returned east around Rame Head, the wind had increased a
little as forecast which was enough to produce a small
choppy sea, at times confused and reflected from the rocky
shoreline, which I found unpleasant. Jane appeared
comfortable in these conditions whilst keeping an eye on my
progress. We paddled along the sheltered Cornish shore to
We landed alongside the Plymouth – Cawsand ferry, on the
‘bucket and spade’ beach which is 30 metres from the
picturesque village square with coffee shop! We chanced upon
the couple from the ‘inlet beach’ who have a holiday cottage
off-square. On chatting to them I discovered that the lady
is retired from the same ‘business’ as me; our conversation
was therefore peppered with familiar references – Jane’s
interest began to wane! We were invited to pop in for a
cuppa in future if we found their top windows open. Pleasant
From Cawsand it was a direct crossing again keeping south of
Drake Island, passing the two cardinal marks and into the
Mountbatten Centre at 5pm. The spring-tide HW was 5.5mtrs.
Our day total was 15 miles (Jane’s GPS has all our stats.)
Thanks to Jane for her invitation and planning; she
certainly has the benefit of a prime location and
outstanding facilities at MC, and I was impressed with the
paddling possibilities from there.
||John at Rame Head
||Ready to launch at