Tag Archives: Open Boat

Boating to Fleswick Bay

Penny and Sarah (note how busy St Bees beach is!)

Penny and Sarah (note how busy St Bees beach is!)

Yesterday a flotilla of boats set off from sunny St Bees beach to Fleswick Bay. Penny and Sarah were in one open boat, Mark and Harry in another and Jacob and I were in kayaks. The beach was heaving so it was good to get onto the calm water which was very clear.

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Wastwater with Boats

After work on Friday we packed the burgers and rolls, put kayaks on the roof and headed to the road junction next to Wastwater. The Ollises had got there first and were nowhere to be seen. We headed towards the pumphouse and Mystery Island. As we neared the south-western shore we saw Lauren who was walking from the Youth Hostel.

It was a very pleasant evening, the burgers hit the spot and the views in the valley were beautiful especially as we paddled back. I was playing with our new camera again. A few of the results are below but I was very happy with this.
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Fleswick Bay with Mum, Guillemots and Razorbills

Penny and Mum

Penny and Mum

My mum and Richard are here for a few days. Since they are both keen bird watchers we thought a trip to Fleswick would be appropriate. To make it a little more interesting we borrowed one of Mark’s open boats (Thanks Mark!) and I paddled round with mum in the open boat, Penny paddled her kayak and Richard walked round over South Head.

We launched about two hours before low water and were very grateful to have the trolley to avoid having to carry the boat across a fairly wide beach. The sea was calm and there was only a gentle breeze. I had consulted the tidal flows and the tide would be southwards until about 3pm. This was ideal since we would be going against the tide on the outward journey but then with it on the return run.

Birds

Birds - Mostly Guillemots, one Razorbill

The bird life was interesting straight away with a variety of gulls, including one black-backed of some variety, and several oyster-catchers all on the exposed boulders on the shore-line. Once we rounded the corner we started to see our first guillemots, in rafts of between five and ten about a hundred metres or so off shore. As we progressed along the cliff we passed the main cormorant colony before getting to the ledges packed with guillemots. Here we took plenty of photos and had a little break, however since every time we stopped paddling we started going backwards we did not stop for long. Whilst under this section of cliff we saw Richard a long way up on the cliff top and exchanged waves.

As we approached Fleswick Bay we saw that there could be a slight hitch in the plan, despite Penny and me having visited many times before it seems we had not been at low tide before. The shoreline was mostly rocky and it was only by heading up to the northern end of the beach that we found a suitable place to disembark. A short but slippery boulder hop saw us on the beach and having an early lunch amongst the eroded wreckage of an unfortunate vessel.

A ledge with many Guillemots

A ledge with many Guillemots (click to enlarge)

Whilst we were here I was keen to have a quick look further north to see what the bird colonies were like. Mum and Richard stayed at Fleaswick whilst Penny and I took the open boat further north. I didn’t know that Penny had never paddled an open boat before when I offered her the back seat but she took to it quickly with minimal instruction. As we approached the lighthouse cliffs the number of birds increased dramatically. On the water there were hundreds of birds, mostly guillemots but there were also a few razorbills. There were also a few fishermen on the boulders below the cliffs. It felt wrong to be paddling through the water with so many birds about so we turned around and headed back to Fleswick.

A Guillemot and Razorbill

A Guillemot (left) and Razorbill (right)


By this time the wind had picked up and a swell was developing. Penny got back into her kayak and Mum and I navigated our way back out through the rocks. The wind was behind us and with the favourable tide it only took thirty minutes to return to St Bees and ice creams.
Mum and Me

Mum and Me