All posts by Mike Alter

Going Underground

For day 2 of the Anglesey weekend, 11 LCC members decided to head around the stacks on the ebb tide.

The wind was blowing strong as we headed to North Stack, giving choppy confused waters, but everyone coped superbly as we surfed into Gogarth bay. Once in Gogoarth, we explored all the caves and crevices, even finding one cave that we could all paddle into and then come out another entrance.


With the tide having eased at south Stack, we entered the chop and went far outside of the headland – the birds were nesting so it was important not to disturb them.

A quick lunch, and then it was back to more rock hopping and cave exploring, all the time marveling at the fabulous jellyfish and amazing geology.

Another great LCC day on the sea.


Mind your head! An almost LCC trip to the Skerries

Firstly, an apology to anyone who would have liked to come on this trip but didn’t see the advertising email. It’s still in my drafts, which might explain why I got no responses.

Anyway, with a great forecast for the weekend, a trip to the Skerries was planned and agreed.

So on a glorious morning we set out from Cemlyn. At the first way point we turned our attention to the second way mark and distant Skerries, only to see them disappearing in a fog/haze bank. Oh well, good job we had the compass.

Crossing some confused water tidal flow we arrived at our second way point (Victoria bank cardinal mark). Some quick photos in the eddy being formed behind the buoy and it was off to way point three (Coal rock south cardinal mark). NB, its amazing how far you drift when you stop to take a photo.

The Skerries were still hazy

But as we neared they became more visible.

After a pleasant paddle, with quite a bit of tidal assistance, we arrived at the Skerries, where we were met by quite a few seals, puffins and a vast number of terns.

Breaking for lunch we headed to the lighthouse.

When I say we, I mean Ruth and Ian. They were ahead of me, and the shouts of “Ow!” that followed the mob attack by the diver bombing terns led me to decide that discretion was the better part of valour.

In the spirit of true comradeship with my fellow paddlers, rather than offer assistance, I reached for the camera and waited for them to make the return dash! Top tip, at this time of year, bring helmets for the walk to the lighthouse!!!


Following a lazy lunch, it was back into the tide race and back to our start point via West Mouse. Where we saw some White Ladies and a couple of Purpoise.

A brilliant day, the only way it would have been better is if we had seen the Orcas that were spotted at South Stack.

Mike Alter, Ruth Edwards & Ian Bell

The Orme

It was a late shout, but Ian Bell decided to join me for a leisurely paddle around the Great Orme.

Launching at West Shore, close to high tide so as to avoid a carry in, we paddled around to Llandudno where Mr Punch appeared to be assaulting a policeman.

Lunch enjoyed, it was back the way we came. Alas no seals on the way back

A great LCC day on the sea.

Mike Alter, Ian Bell

Access Needs YOU!

All, there is a Welsh government review into access to water in Wales. It is VITAL that as many paddlers or water users respond to this.

For those new to the sport, some context:

1930’s onwards people believed you needed permission to paddle on rivers. Fishermen didn’t like sharing and even managed to persuade some policy makers / judges that this is the case.

Access agreements were occasionally formulated, always in favour of fishermen, but many (most) rivers remained off limits. example of an access agreement included the river Dee above llangollen, which allowed about 4 days use per year.

Quality agreements were limited. Attempts to make sharing more equal was rebuffed by the fishing lobby. They even managed to have access to water removed from the right to roam act.

Late 90’s / Early 00’s – a doctoral thesis suggested that there is a right to navigate all rivers.
A seperate government study found that paddlesports do not disturb fish.

After more attempts to make access agreements fairer, including a government attempt that actually REDUCED access whilst attempting to improve access, Paddlesport bodies diecided to ignore them.
Legal position of access is disputed.

Welsh government is reviewing again. So far the well organised committees of Countryside Alliance have made 600 submissions AGAINST access (be careful, their stratergy appears pro access but it is not)
Dissorganised paddler who would rather just paddle, have made 12 submissions to improve access.

PLEASE help!!!!!!! Respond to the survey below.

FURTHER, if possible, please write to the Welsh Assembly to tell them why access matters. A pro forma example letter will be distributed late August.

NB – be very careful if liking the the countryside alliance posts / comments re access, they actually want to REDUCE access.

Mike (you might have to cut and paste the link. More information is on the canoe england, canoe wales websites facebook pages. Also see waters of wales)


56,000 km to the Skerries

I have never been to the Skerries before, so when the trip was advertised I jumped at the chance. 

The trip to the Skerries is a serious undertaking, they are a group of offshore islands surrounded by tidal races and overfalls (up to 6kn in speed) that you encounter in each direction. For this trip it was scheduled to be blue skies, light winds and neap tides – so all good for a first trip. Even better, the Skerries is a key RSPB reserve, and the birds were due to be nesting.

Under sunny skies the group met at Cemlyn bay, sorted kit and headed off. The winds were slightly stronger than forcast, but nothing we could not cope with, and the tides were timed to perfection. A dog leg route due to the tides saw us landing on the islands with pinpoint precesion.

The islands were great, a fantastic lighthouse on a rocky outcrop that has a really remote feel. The sunshine helped the feeling as well! Properly fed it was time to explore. 

This is where it gets dangerous. Cap on to prevent being dive bombed, you stick to the path and watch your  footing. Even then, care must be taken not to disturb the birds who have taken a rather circuitous 56,000km round trip to the Antarctic – wow! Thats some trip for a small bird. 

After marvelling at the Terns it was time to oggle the Puffins – Aww (Cracking shots Mr Blake) 

All too soon it was time to leave the island, play in more races and head back to the start. 

Cracking trip

Half the paddle, twice the paddlers

Recent open boat course (3 dock sessions and a trip) went really well.

A mix of new and more experienced paddlers met for the first session in conditions that can only be described as diabolical. It was lashing down with rain and blowing an absoloute hoollie (opens dont like wind unless we have the sail up), but everyone got stuck in and just did it.

Session two was glorious sunshine as the group worked on trimming the boat, tandem and solo paddling, hunting, and balance. Everyone did great.

Session three focused on the ability to rescue these very large craft in a safe way, ie how to empty a boat whilst not using any muscle power, and how to get back in without using any effort. This was followed by some poling, and prying and generally progressing to such an extent that everyone is safe to join a session / trip.

Session four was the trip, Farndon to Chester (12 miles), glorious sunshine, but headwind (ouch). Everyone did really well.

WELL done to all!

Unfortunatley there are not too many photos, but for some great 1970’s instructional videos then I strongly recomment the link below to the Path of the Paddle series. Excuse the 1970’s music, fashion and non uk health and safety, but the skills are just as valid now as then.

Top tip for tandem boaters, listen out for how much communication there is!!!!!!!!

Enjoy – but remember a felt hat is not as good as a crash hat in protecting your head from rocks, and PFD’s should not be quite so faded.

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor, water and nature

Rhos to West Shore, take 2

I was keen to try out a new sea boat, luckily several paddlers were happy to accompany me on the trip.


To be honest, I hadn’t really looked at the details for the trip other than watching the BBC forecast that said there was a big high pressure over the Irish sea (light winds) and seeing that the tides worked for this trip in such a way that there would not be much of a carry at either start or finish. So i sold the trip as sunny and light winds.

The trip worked to launch 1hr before high tide, paddle easily (use backeddy) against the tide for that hour before taking the tidal conveyor all the way around the Ormes.  As it was, the wind was slightly choppier than expected, so we launched into the protected harbour at Rhos, and enjoyed getting used to the lumpy stuff. The Aries I was trying was really enjoying the conditons and didn’t appear too slow (my worry). Little Orme was as awe inspiring as ususal, but with the added bonus of a decent little chop.

Entering Llandudno bay we picked up our fourth compadre and said hello to the very generous shuttle bunny. After that it was off round the main event – Great Orme. The conditions were perfect, a following sea so the trip was not boringly flat, but equally not super scary.  Just enough to allow us to get close in to the cliffs whilst still having to actually think about paddling.

Unfortunately we didnt see too many seals, but we saw loads of puffins and other sea birds. This was added too by some cheekly little surfs as well – fantastic. Rounding the Orme it was paddle hard into the strengthening wind back to West Shore, where we only had a little carry back to the waiting car.

A great LCC day on the sea.

Mike, Tony V, Kirk W, John & Sue C

How to pack a sea kayak

With the upcoming sea kayak course, here are some thoughts about packing for those longer trips – but remember it’s not the only way!

Time to start dreaming and planning. Single overnighter to multi week trip, its all good.

Inccident Reporting

British Canoeing (BC) have launched an incident reporting system. Not only is this for accidents or near misses, but it is also for disputes re access, disputes with other water users, environmental concerns etc etc.

Luckily problems are rare, but BC appears to be reinvigorating itself with a greater focus on paddlers, its members and their concerns. So, if there is a near miss, or a problem with someone on the bank, let them know!

Its only by gathering facts can reasoned debates be made. NB, anyone can report an incident, you dont have to be a BC member.


100 miles in 4 days team event!

This looks great! Is anyone able to drive this forward? The Wye is a great river for kayaks or canoes, and 4 days paddling it sounds fantastic.

Join The 100 Mile Canoe Test This Year!

The 100 mile canoe test was conceived as a personal challenge for youngsters coming together in teams from youth clubs all over the country. Over four days the participants call on their skill, determination and stamina to complete the 100 mile route. The achievement brings a sense of personal fulfilment and team camaraderie that will remain with them for life.

Lock On Trent

2017 sees the event will running for its 55th year and it will take place on the River Wye over the late May bank holiday. The event was originally developed for the network of youth clubs who are part of what was the National Association of Boys’ Clubs. This year participation in the event has been opened up, through partnership with British Canoeing, to welcome all canoe clubs.

The ‘Test’ alternates each year, between the Wye, Severn and Trent. In 2016 it was on a very windy Trent. One of the younger teams taking part struggled and was unable to complete the last day past Newark because of the waves being blown down the river towards them. Such is the determination of youngsters taking part, the team came back later in the year and completed their 100miles!

How Does The Event Work?

Teams will arrive at Fownhope on Friday evening (26th May) and set up base camp. On Saturday morning a procession of mini buses and trailers leave for the start at Glasbury and the first leg of paddling.

Each day Safety Marshall’s set off first, scout the river for hazards and set up any necessary cover. The teams will paddle as a unit with, their own leaders, sometimes passing other groups and socialising.

Groups are checked on and off the water and their progress is monitored and supported by a team of both water and land marshals. At the end of the day the boats are stowed on the bank and the groups are bussed back to base camp. Each evening there is a briefing meeting for team leaders.

The event ends on Tuesday lunchtime at Monmouth Rowing Club with a mass paddle over the last mile involving all of the teams. During the four days the youngsters will paddle Symonds Yat twice (by popular demand).

Who Makes This Possible?

PaddlePlus work closely with Hinckley Water Activities Club, Young LeicesterShire and Young Bristol to provide a strong, safe framework within which the event is staged. All of these organisations have a long association with the Challenge and have experience of delivering this and other paddling events.

Essex Bc

What Is Required To Join?

Each team needs a competent leader(s) on the water, a driver and base camp support. The recommended minimum age is 14 yrs, however, it is down to the discretion of the canoe leader as to the ability of younger members to participate in the test. Practice before the event will make it more achievable and enjoyable for all concerned. Any craft can be used and teams find a mix of solo and tandem canoes and kayaks work best to keep paddlers motivated.

The cost is kept to a minimum, each canoeist pays £40 for camping, safety cover, medals and certificates. Team leaders are not charged. Each group is responsible for their own food and transport. Many groups use the training paddles leading up to the event to raise some funds to cover some of the costs.

What Support Will Clubs Get Before The Test?

Newark Cc

We will be using Social Media to engage with young people as they prepare and train for the event. To do this we have changed the registration process and ask all groups wishing to be involved to send a deposit by the end of February to book a team place. This will enable us to connect you to the media pages and support your preparation.

Any affiliated youth groups that would like assistance or advice with their preparation and paddling skills can be offered links to local canoe clubs and coaches to help them get the best out of the experience. This includes training in qualifications, local contacts and developing skills at all levels.

How Do Teams Register To Join?

For further information, or to register a team, please email Andy Oughton at: or via the Facebook Page.

The 100 Mile Canoe Test takes place during National Go Canoeing Week. Any miles paddled during the week can be entered at and will count towards the the grand total for the week.