Freesteel Blog » Kayaking around Barmouth

Kayaking around Barmouth

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at 10:59 am Written by:

In a rush to avoid a weekend of caving which would have included a Saturday night fancy dress party at Bull Pot Farm (good grief), we packed and drove to Shell Island just south of Harlech in west Wales. This is a family campsite, normally heaving, except this was the last week of the season. There was a pause at midday to wait for the high tide to uncover their driveway.

It was perfect calm weather. Our mission was to paddle out to Sarn Badrig, which extends 15km out to sea parallel to the Lleyn Peninsula. However, in the evening low tide at the GPS location given in the north wales dive guide, the depth on it was still 2m. There was a disturbance in the water extending along its length with small standing waves to the south of it.

So we returned to the shore, hauled up to the beach, pitched the tent in short bout of rain, and went to bed.

It seemed that the tide wasn’t great enough, and anyway doing low tide in the morning would require getting on to the water two hours before dawn.

After consulting the options, we decided to do the trip up the Mawddach Estuary from Barmouth towards Dolgellau (actually only as far as the toll bridge at Penmaenpool) described in the sea kayak guide, because it was close at hand and we probably wouldn’t be in this area again — never mind the fact that it was a complete waste of ideal conditions when all the sensible people were at a sea kayak festival in Anglesey, paddling to far out places like the Skerries in such crowds that it would have been easy to have tagged along like jellyfish pretending that we knew what we were doing.

We snaked across the estuary about five times following the channel before reaching the toll bridge, then went a short distance up the flowing river beyond before grounding out. The tide was due to turn at 1:15pm. We stopped for a snack on a tidal bank which was quite mushy, which resulted in the smearing of foul mud into all our kit. (The pub was not attractive because it was in shade and we were cold. It’s probably a little retro to be wearing wetsuits while kayaking these days.) The tide was still flowing upstream as we headed out, but it was a completely different place with the water everywhere across the entire width of the estuary.

After a promenade through Barmouth giggling at the shops (see wikipedia for the explanation of the “Arousal Cafe”) and a pizza, we drove off and totally failed to find the Precipice Walk using just the OS map before being benighted. The clocks change next week, so it’s only going to get worse.

Here’s a video of some mysterious bubbling in the river bed near the toll bridge. I have no idea what’s going on with this. It looks like a leaky gas main, but it can’t be.

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