Longships Lighthouse

Over the August bank holiday weekend I was able to squeeze in a few days attending the 5th Cornish Seakayak Rally. I’d been pitched up in Padstow, Cornwall, for the previous weekend or so with my family. It was a good time for chilling out. The first weekend was wet but the Sun came out on the first Monday and stayed with us for the next 8/9 days. I managed a few hours rolling practice here and there and spent some quality time body boarding with my kids. Natasha and I caught some good waves. It seems like I have a 9 year old with surfer chick potential…  Ha-Ha !  I feel trouble brewing…
I digress.
The 2 days of the Seakayak Rally I attended were superb.  Saturday the sea was calm and the Sun hot.  I think 31 people were on the water and we had an enjoyable trip around St Michaels Mount and then East along the coast. We made our way back after a lunch stop and sun bathing at Praa sands.  Sunday was a complete contrast. Numbers had grown to 35 which split into two groups. Launching from Sennen Cove near lands end, one group hugged the coast line, while I opted to tag along with people I have previously paddled with from North West Sea Kayakers.
We too hugged the coastline for a little while, a coastline which is just spectacular. There is a massive amount of water movement around Lands End and they were quite easily the biggest seas that I’ve been in. Our journey took us out to the Longships Lighthouse situated 2Km off the tip of Lands End.  To quote someone else, "it was a real white knuckle ride" making the crossing. There were 23 of us in this particular group, those around me were completely disappearing into the troughs of the waves as they rolled in. I had to brace hard on at lease two occasions, thrusting my paddle into the crest of the rollers as they came by.
My GPS track tells me that the 2km crossing took approx 25 minutes. It was full on concentration all the way and ranks up there alongside some of the best ice climbs I’ve done in terms of "buzz factor". Out at the lighthouse the sea state was slightly calmer and people took photos.  Unfortunately I swamped my camera earlier in the week, so the photos provided here are courtesy of Graeme Burton. We played around the lighthouse for around 40 minutes and there was a colony of around 20 seals there who took as much interest in us as we did in them.
Eventually it was time to head back to the mainland, half way back a head count revealed that 3 were unaccounted for. I raised them on the VHF and all was well. We waited 10 minutes for people to re-group and it’s interesting to see on the GPS track that we drifted 1/3 Km during this time.
The rollers continued and we partly surfed our way back towards the mainland pulling into Mill Bay for lunch. 3 seals had followed us which delighted people sunbathing on the beach there. The batteries in my GPS ran low so I didn’t get our track back, which hugged the spectacular coastline back to Sennen Cove.
I would never have dreamed have doing this trip on my own so "early" in in a paddling career. During the crossing I felt confident. The seas felt big but I coped and it was a really good learning experience. Thanks to all involved and to Richard Uren for organising the Rally.

About Andy Harpur

Interests : The Scottish Highlands, The Pennine Alps, The Milky Way, Abbot Ale, Mountaineering, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Canoeing, Sea Kayaking, Astronomy, Guitar, Penny Whistle. I live and breath for the outdoor lifestyle. New places, new faces, new adventures....
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