DAY 1 – LAKE PIER – SWANAGE – SHELL
With sunny conditions and a light wind
forecast it seemed a shame not to make the most of it. ‘The
Tweedles’ (Dum and Dee – aka Barbara and Ian) and myself
planned a longer paddle from Lake Pier, rather than the
shorter paddle over to Arne initially planned. Lake Pier was
busy with others making the most of the weather and we
packed out boats with all our kit with quite an audience.
As usual I struggled to get everything in and was the last
to be ready.
We had a great swift paddle down past
Brownsea Island and out through the entrance, across the
training wall and landed for a short stretch at Shell Bay. A
loo break for one tuned into a reccy for the ideal camping
spot in the dunes and an opportunity to put on our cags – up
until this point we only wore base layers, but with the wind
picking up we soon began to feel chilly. It was a glorious
paddle in sunny calm conditions out to Old Harry Rocks which
seemed to take no time at all. We were in no particular rush
so had plenty of time for exploring all the nooks and
crannies along this part of the coast and pose for lots of
pictures, with Barbara demonstrating her considerable
We carried on to Ballard and as we were
having such a lovely time decided to continue on to Swanage.
We had been accompanied by a number of sit on tops and the
odd PWC but as we approached Swanage it became a bit like
the M25. Even finding space to land proved a bit of a
challenge but with the promise of an ice cream we soon
managed and all landed safely.
At this point I should point out that
the Tweedles were dressed in (almost matching) Reed gear.
Coupled with my neoprene shorts we looked quite oddly
dressed compared to the usual British holiday maker
otherwise in evidence. Did we care – NO! One coffee and ice
cream later we were again ready for the off.
We paddled out to Peveril Point to have
a look at the tide race here. It was still ebbing quite
strongly so we decided to make our way back across towards
Old Harry. This proved to be a bit more of a slog than on
the way across with tide against. At one point I remarked
that my boat seemed to be misbehaving but didn’t think too
much more about it. Once we reached Old Harry Rocks we cut
through and then went out for a little play in the tide race
off this point. Nothing too exciting and we survived. We
then set off back across to Shell Bay, with thoughts of
pitching tents and dinner uppermost.
Trying to pull my boat up the beach
after landing provided the answer to why my boat appeared to
be misbehaving – the rear hatch was about half full of
water. I later discovered dry bags are not necessarily dry
bags when submersed! Luckily my sleeping bag was about the
only thing not actually wet.
We pitched our tents amongst the sand
dunes, enjoyed the lovely evening light and sunset. It was
amazing how quiet the area was. Food was prepared, wine was
consumed, banter was evident, all in all a great evening. I
had been promised a visit by the Special Boat Services, but
unfortunately that didn’t materialise! Still there’s always
DAY 2 – SHELL BAY – BROWNSEA
ISLAND – POOLE HARBOUR POTTERING
We had posted on the forum the day
before that we would arrange to meet the other Sunday
paddlers at the top end of Brownsea, rather than paddling
back to Lake Pier. We loaded our boats and set off, just
about being able to cross the Training Wall without having
to detour. We tried to raise Clive on the VHF to no avail so
carried on back through the harbour entrance and across to
Brownsea. This time we decided to go round anticlockwise.
Eventually we made contact with Clive via mobile, to
discover that we had been waited for and that the Sunday
paddlers of Clive, Jim, Geoff and Stew had only just left.
In the meantime we landed on the north west side and
attempted to spot the other paddlers. Eventually we all met
up, had a quick stop and then proceeded to circumnavigate
Brownsea in an anticlockwise direction. The calm conditions
made for easy paddling, a chance to catch up and have a good
The weather was still being kind to us
and we stopped for an extended lunch at the Poole pottery
part of Brownsea. As it was Easter Sunday Geoff kindly came
prepared with a big bag of mini eggs (my favourites mmmm) so
we all had a handful. We did appear to forget the Easter
We all decided it was too early to
finish paddling for the day so a plan was hatched to venture
off into the quieter part of Poole Harbour – you know the
bit that doesn’t have a great deal of water and lots of mud.
The plus is that the scenery and the peacefulness is
beautiful, with lots of wild life to be seen.
We headed between Furzey Island and
Green Island, past the oil wells and then past Round Island
and then Long Island, up the Wych Channel. Channel what
channel? The map lies. By this point I was bringing up the
rear. Eventually I realised I was gaining on those in
front only to discover that they had run out of water and
were having to pull / push themselves through. I have to
admit to a (slight) sense of humour failure at this point! I
was hot, tired and thirsty!
Once all through and back into deeper
water Jim and Stew decided to make a run for it and set off
at a fast pace – to the extent that they were virtually off
the water by the time the rest of us made it back to Lake
Pier. Impressive paddling!
All in all a great weekend, fantastic
weather and as ever good company. Thanks to Clive, our
leader for the day. The mystery of the water in my boat has
not completely been solved but appears to be a hatch cover
not properly put on. Lesson learned the hard way!