I haven’t been out much of late, so Hugh’s invitation to ‘put
the miles in…’ in preparation for the longer trips on the club calendar, was
motivation enough. It reminded me of my long ago cycle training ‘runs’ when with
like- minded club mates we would commit to getting 50 road miles done before
lunch. So I felt ‘up’ for this Saturday’s challenge.
It appears that representations made during the preceding week resulted (wisely
I think) in a revised plan to start 9am at Kimmeridge, thus avoiding potential
problems starting at Swanage and rounding Durlston and St Alban’s Heads on the
largest spring / equinox tide of the year (2.2 mtrs, 6.17am Portland). So the
prospect was for a helpful ebb tide at least to Durdle Door, I thought.
The first obstacle of any trip from Kimmeridge is to drive past the private
approach lane toll-hut before it opens for business; but no such luck on this
morning. With an admitted lack of subtlety I asked ‘the man’ when he commenced
his duties? He replied with a knowing chuckle “early!” Still I reckon the £5 is
So Geoff, Hugh, Jon Massey and me met at the appointed time and place, and
we….waited…. for Julie and Teresa. Julie text to say her VW had ‘mechanicals’
and they were waiting for a nice man from the AA or RAC (other rescue services
are available). How disappointing for them. We had to launch at 9.30 without
them although the thought crossed my mind that maybe Julie was giving we blokes
an hour’s start with the intention of catching us up.
Weather and sea state seemed set fair with hardly a breeze on the outward leg.
As usual we gave Broad Bench a wide berth (Hugh mentioned our previous encounter
HERE>> and turned west. The plan was to paddle for one hour then rest for 5
minutes, and repeat. With good visibility we aimed to paddle about 1km out, from
fisherman’s red buoy to buoy so we could use these to estimate the expected
tidal assistance. I was surprised at the apparent lack of tidal ‘push’ until we
were off Worbarrow Bay where Hugh’s planning notes gave only 0.6 knots W. I was
enjoying the day so far but I had not yet achieved easy and consistent paddling.
I nearly missed the Cove’s distinctive opening (if
I can miss Solva harbour entrance, I can miss Lulworth Cove too) then we
were into slack water past Durdle Door and seemed to make slow progress until
Jon led us around the exposed rocks to the deserted beach at Osmington Mills.
The sun felt warm, lunch was consumed. My menu included the questionable choice
of veggie soup – I hadn’t considered the sea state might change on our return
journey. We were on the water again around 13.30 after 40 minutes break.
We stayed within 50 metres of the shore-line, with Jon (in his single skin light
weight kayak) deftly investigating passages between outlying rocks. I felt the
freshening SE (?) breeze as we approached the ‘honey-pot’ of Durdle Door. The
chalk cliffs of Bat’s Head and Swyre cliffs reflected the light back so we
paddled through an intensely chalky-blue sea towards the dinosaur’s head that is
We acknowledged two kayakers hastily launching from the shingle beach intent on
getting a close look at a pod of dolphins which had been sighted 500 metres off.
Sharp-eyed Jon got a glimpse of the pod just before he chanced his way through
the Door, followed by Hugh. We then pulled into the Cove for a welcome coffee
break. This was a ‘first seaward entrance’ for me – I felt quite privileged.
After 20 mins break we continued east; I immediately saw the familiar outline of
Clavell Tower atop Hen Cliff, which Hugh said was 4nm distant. On leaving
the Cove we were welcomed by an approaching mixed group of 6-8 kayakers,
presumably looking forward to their coffee and ice creams. I escaped the short
choppy sea for a while by nipping behind Mupe rocks where I nearly ran out of
water before re-joining the others.
Hugh discretely came alongside and offered to give me a tow, should I need one,
alert to my flagging energy but too polite to say so! I kept my eyes on the
growing detail of
Clavell Tower, anticipating the welcoming calm of Kimmeridge Bay. After
another 3 minute pause we crossed the out-stretched line of disturbed water off
Broad Bench and turned ‘to port’ for the final gentle paddle-in to KB slip,
arriving at 5pm. It had become quite chilly in the shade.
On a personal note; I was pleased that this 20nm trip helped me confirm that I
need to work on my fitness and forward paddling rhythm if I am to ‘sign on’ for
any of the longer trips on offer this year. And I wouldn’t have missed this
stunning coast – I wanted to explore so many spots!
Thanks to Hugh and the guys; but still missing Julie & Teresa! Another time.
PS: no photos I’m afraid, ‘cos no one took a camera!