Archive for June, 2009

Pudcombe cove

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

The new Higher Ferry looks sleek but is not presently in service. Some details need fixing…

The new higher ferry at DartmouthThe new higher ferry at Dartmouth

A glorious sunny morning, calm water and an exactly right tide set us on course for Pudcombe cove, below the National Trust’s Coleton Fishacre house, built for the D’Oyly Carte family of operatic fame.

The Devon coast at Coleton FishacreThe Devon coast at Coleton Fishacre

There are rock gardens and sea caves on the coastal stretch from Dartmouth. We returned via the Mew  Stone and found the seal family enjoying a siesta on a comfortable rock.

Seal siesta, low tide at the Mew StoneSeal siesta, low tide at the Mew Stone

Their repose was rudely spoiled by the wash from a motor boat splashing over the rock. One of the young seals is unusually inquisitive and friendly.

Seal nuzzles LouiseA young seal nuzzles Louise

tim P

End of an era

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

The paddle driven, cable steered higher ferry, pictured anchored up-river, is being replaced next week by a cable driven vessel. We will miss the rusty romantic figure of the old vessel and its train of waves which moved at exactly the right speed to surf on. The new ferry is anticipated with some anxiety. As the ship pulls away from shore, the cable will surely rise to the surface as a 400 m long kraken slicing the keels of yachts and bouncing kayaks into the air. A future blog entry will report on what really happens.

higher ferryTim P

A bit more exciting than we expected

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

The club’s Sunday trip tested first our stability and then our rescue skills in the chop outside the Harbour. At one time two people were bobbing in the water. The Dartmouth rescue boat came past, by chance. The crew had a look and decided that we were practicing rescues. The picture shows a tow towards quiet water with two kayaks rafted together and towed by a third. No lasting damage done but a reminder to tie paddles to boats when venturing into rough water.

canoe on tow

Tim P

Tim Padfield’s tour of St Anna Islands, Sweden

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Tim joined a group from the Vedbæk canoe club in Copenhagen on a paddle round the St. Anna Islands (Sankt Anna skärgård) which are on the east coast of Sweden south of Stockholm.

st anna team (full size)

Tim, Bjørn, Oddur and Martin

We had fine weather with continuous sunshine and light winds. Even so, we were not always sure where we were.

where are we

From kayak level, the islands are an indistinguishable green and grey continuum surrounding us. However, close up, the islands are individuals with their own characteristic fauna and flora.



We had an 8 person tipi of adv anced design which was not ideally suited to the terrain since there are few grassy spots big enough for it. Here the problem is solved by spreading it over the glacier smoothed gneiss rock.

tent on stone

Tim, however preferred a soft mossy spot under the rock and arranged paddles cantilevered over the rock edge stabilised by rocks sufficiently heavy not to roll down on him if rain should add weight to the tarpaulin which was spread over this frame.

tims bivvy

There are summerhouses on some of the islands but few villages. Harstena is an old fishing community with boathouses built up on piles of stacked crossed tree trunks, presumably because there is no way of pushing a vertical pole into hard metamorphic rock.

The inner islands are covered with trees and lush vegetation but there is always a bare rounded surface where there are relatively few mosquitoes and, during our tour, warm rock to sit on.

The outer islands are barren. Here is the south eastern corner of the St Anna islands, Häradsskär.


There is usually no difficulty landing on an island. There are shallow areas of boulders. The sloping rock faces are covered with seaweed below the surf disturbance zone, so there is always a clear but slippery space to put down a boot.

It was a memorable tour, notable for the varied flora of the inner islands and the austere remoteness of the outer islands, which we were fortunate to be able to visit at a quiet time. Only once did we hear over the intervening hill the faint echo of disco music from a party of motor boats moored in an otherwise idyllic little bay.

For many more pictures: 

Tim P.