Monday, 16 January 2017

British adventures

'May you live in interesting times'
Chinese curse
These are some of the adventures/interesting things we enjoyed last year in Britain. It has been a good excuse to enjoy looking through photos from last year in the warm. We have no idea what is around the corner for any of us which makes us more determined to enjoy our time whilst we can.
I've put some links in, just in case any of them appeal and anyone wants to find out a bit more. I hope that the photos also show how beautiful Britain is and that it does not rain all the time!
Walking the coast path. 
We have enjoyed loads of walks along different parts of the path in all sorts of weathers from glorious to 'bracing'.  There are several long distance pathways in Britain. These are clearly waymarked and have miles of uninterrupted access. One of them, the South West coast path, is the longest in Britain at 630 miles long and runs around the South West peninsular. The walks along the pathway in both directions (West and East) give stunning coastal views and there are lots of historic things and art installations along the way too. The path was originally used by coast guards searching for smugglers and was also used by fishermen over the years checking weather and sea conditions. The photo below was taken to the East of Plymouth on the South Devon coast.

Repairing the dinghy.
After a fishing boat lost control and crushed Scarlett, repairing her became a family project. She needed to be sanded down, repaired and repainted. Getting her out of the water and up the slip way was a challenge achieved by using rollers and brute force. It took us several days and it did start to rain quite heavily whilst we were doing it. Epoxy does not get on with water and will not set so we had to move under cover. Fortunately we were able to move her into the hangar and finish working on her under shelter. It was quite extraordinary to have the chance to work in a space that was built for the construction and repair of WW2 sea planes. It is now grade two listed and quite atmospheric. We managed to get her repaired and back on the water in time for the Easter holidays. The photo shows day 1 on the (very rarely used) slipway.

Dinghy trips.
In addition to Scarlett, we have a rubber Avon dinghy. We've enjoyed various trips out into the Sound, stopping on beaches for lunch and also up the Plym to explore some of the creeks and Hooe Lake. There are lots of abandoned vessels poking out of the water around here thanks to the interesting history of the area. I never tire of approaching land by dinghy and scrambling onto the beach. Both boats can be rowed or we can attach one of the outboards - electric or Seagull. The electric motor is quieter and more pleasant but has a restricted range and is not as powerful. The Seagull is noisy and smoky but we can carry spare fuel which means we can go further.
Coastal villages.
Devon and Cornwall are incredibly beautiful. They are also well known for the little fishing villages and old harbours dotted around the coastline which can be very picturesque. We visited several (by land) enjoying the sights and visiting some interesting museums' of smuggling. Some of these villages have the most lovely names for example Hope Cove on the South Devon coast. They are all very different in character too and lovely places to spend a day exploring. The picture below is of  Polperro on the South Cornish coast.
Guided pontoon ramble.
The marina set this day up with the Devon wildlife trust. We had speakers in to talk about sea critters and tell us all sorts of interesting things. Starting the morning with coffee and bacon rolls was an added bonus.They then took us out on the pontoons and hauled up some bits that they have been using to monitor the water for several years now showing us all sorts of unusual sea life. It was good to be able to ask questions and learn so such about the smaller bits of the ecosystem. The deckhands were fascinated and we all learnt lots.

Walking on Dartmoor.
I've written before about how much we love the wild moorlands of Dartmoor. We have enjoyed lots of walking through the year to various parts of the moor which truly is an incredible place.
Wild camping on Dartmoor.
Dartmoor is also one of the few places where you can legally go wild camping in Britain. There are various common sense rules to follow but it is well worth it for the experience of watching the sun set over the moor and waking up to the big skies and wildlife. In the picture below the tents have been struck and bags packed. The boys are cooking their breakfast on hexamine block stoves before tackling another day walking on the moor. They did well helping to carry the kit for the two days
Mountain climbing.

Snowdon is the tallest mountain in Wales at a height of 1085 metres. There are many routes up and even a train that reaches the summit. We have been up Snowdon many times in the past with family, Scout troops and with the children when they were younger. This time we decided to tackle one of the tougher, less well known routes. The Watkins path is certainly challenging but well worth it. Definitely one for full kit, proper walking boots and plenty of drink/food etc. There is loads of information available on the internet, this one needs serious planning before being tackled and flexibility in your dates so you can pick the weather you go in. We used this site which had lots of good information and pictures:

Coasteering around the peninsular.
I suspect that people have been scrambling over the cliffs for generations. Certainly long before it was given a name and became a popular sport, spawning a large industry. We just enjoy being on the beach and cliffs and dipping in and out of the sea, especially on hot days. Poking around in rock pools is an added bonus. The picture below is of one of our favourite spots on the South Devon coast.
Kayaking in the Sound.
We did a fair bit of paddling last year. We particularly enjoyed being able to go further and faster in the new kayaks built by Mark rather than our inflatable. We spent time exploring the Sound and various coves but the biggest challenge was a four mile paddle, rounding Drakes island. It is a privately owned, fortified island in the Sound with lovely beaches and is fascinating close up. The picture below shows the approach to the island.
We have enjoyed having visits from friends and family and sharing with them some of the pleasures of the area. There have also been several interesting visitors to the marina itself too. The Sports relief boat stopped by to shelter from storms and we were able to chat to several of the celebrities. The Transat bakerly fleet also used Plymouth for race preparation and started from here on a miserable, wet day in May.
Many of these trips and things have taken only half a day or even a couple of hours after school. They have been fitted in around work, school and sorting out the boat. Others obviously have involved more time. We love living on the coast and are fortunate to be able to spend so much time enjoying it.
The next 12 months are now waiting for us and we are looking forward to including the new sea dog in some exciting things.

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