Journey complete!

I’m in Bray, circumnavigation done.

A huge thank you to my sponsors: Rockpool Kayaks, Pump Technology, Peak UK, Typhoon & Karitek. Thanks Pete McInally for the Epirb. Not sure why I took that, I didn’t use it once.

Thankyou to the people who have been so kind to me during my time here, most notably Paul Cahill, Jon Hynes and Catriona Woods.

Thanks to everyone who I met along the way, countless acts of kindness which I could never pay back but will endeavour to pay forward.

Thanks to the generous people who donated to SAS. I have no doubt it will be used wisely to continue the fight to protect our oceans.

Thanks to Lesley Sleight, Jim Macgregor and Steve Watt for giving up their time all those years ago enabling me to discover sea kayaking.

Thanks for following the blog and for the messages of support. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I couldn’t have done it without you all.

Ireland has been a very humbling experience for me. I’m grateful to have  kept my head above the brine and proud of having stuck it out.

Day 34 and a short breakdown to follow.

Joe

Day 34: Clogherhead-Bray

Up and on the water by 0600. Miles to paddle, 36 of them. I broke the day into 3 sessions.

Ireland’s Eye was the scenic highlight of the day, well nested with colonies of birds.

pick up three

My backside, back and hands are shredded. I’m ready for some r&r.    

I destroyed the mileage today as I was largely protected from the offshore winds. The approach to Bray beach was a cruise on glassy water.

I was only three minutes late but already the band had left. Paul was there though. An inauspicious but memorable landing.

And so the journey ends. What a 5 weeks it’s been. Devastatingly tough at times but a great way to experience this rich coastline.

Day 33: Kilkeel-Clogher Head

Woke at 0415 to attempt the 54 miler and after porridge, thought better of it and returned to bed. Probably the right decision. It took me 10 hours to do under half of the distance. 

So I missed the morning high tide and had to wait for this:

   
…to become this:

  

I picked up three, then set about chipping miles off to secure and simplify a day 34 finish. Thank you Jacky et al for helping out this bedraggled mariner. 

  

This guy couldn’t hear a word I was saying. He told me he couldn’t swim because of his hearing aids. 

  

I laboured through some headwinds and unenjoyable crossings. In the end settling for my final night under canvas at Clogherhead. 37 miles tomorrow. Fittingly unfavourable conditions but adrenaline and focus will get me there. 

Eta at Bray is 1900 hrs. Will drop a note on here when I’m in. 

 

Day 32: Ballywalter-Kilkeel

I was joined for the morning leg by Will Brown who got in touch through the blog. Will set the pace and was great chat. He turned after a few hours and had helped me to get good early miles. 

I passed Ballyquentin Farm near Stragford where I made my first voyage to from the Isle of Man 10 years ago with the enigma that is Michael Butler.  

At Ardglass I sat down for a proper lunch before picking up three then being waved and sung away by the self-professed “banter squad”. 

 

“i dont like the english”

 
    

I ploughed as many miles as possible in the evening in the faint hope of a day 33 (Saturday) finish. Landed just short of Kilkee and scored a shower and bed in a static caravan. Thank you Jacky and co!

Aiming to be on the water for 0500. Not sure 55 nautical miles is quite in range for me but I’ll have a go…

Day 31: Garron Point-Ballywalter

This morning a dog barking woke me up and I had to explain myself to a bewildered family, why I’d camped on their lawn. 
Phenomenal conditions again. Great for mileage. Today I crossed over the route I paddled round Britain in 2012. Coincidentally, I crossed paths with Stuart Trueman currently circumnavigating the UK. We shared a few bits of pilotage and parted ways

I enjoyed again The wonderful Victorian walkway (now almost restored) and the crossing of Belfast lough.

  

Lunch at Whitehead with Harry Carse. He had just met Stuart and kindly took me for lunch in town. We chatted and I signed the visitors book the newly renovated yacht club. 

 

A happy landing in Ballywalter. Good times. 

Day 30: Inishowen Lighthouse-Garron Point

After a restful sleep i made sure to get on in good time for the last few hours of East going tide. 

I broke camp and with following wind, sea and tide, had paddled 21NM by lunch time. 

Today I passed the spectacular Giants causeway. Amazing rock formations worth a visit by land or sea. 

  
At 1400, I pulled in for my favourite lunch stop yet; Ballintoy. It is a quaint little quay with a great caff for lunch. Working hungrily into pie and mash someone walked in and asked if anyone had a canoe…”yes”….”well it’s just floated away!”

With the help of some fishermen I retrieved the boat in one piece. 5 minutes later and it would have been the most inglorious end to my journey. 

  
Rathlin sound was sporty. I timed it for slack water and still some sections of water were jagged enough to raise the eyebrows. 

Then the last of the four corners as I turned and started heading south. I put in a few extra hours to make best use of favourable conditions. 

Another donation for SAS. Thanks Nanny & Grumps x

Day 29: Dunnaff-Inishowen Lighthouse

I was on early to catch the tide round Malin head tide. It was a very turbulent race.

  

seal

  

I’d planned to work the flooding tide for most of the day but was forced to stay in the back eddys by the southerly wind.

    

I spent the whole day on the Inishowen peninsula which is an awesome section of coastline. At the foot of the steepest and least accessible part a guy with a collie and a big bag was collecting seaweed. I couldn’t fathom how he’d got down there and he couldn’t fathom how I’d travelled so far in a kayak. We shared a laugh and I made tracks. 

Sroove beach

I rounded Inishowen head and was ready to call it a day. This was my landing. Catriona came down to meet me again. What a legend! Nice to have company after a long day of solitude. 

Day 28: Currans Point-Dunnaff

A grim start to the morning. Up early to avoid a being stranded, I cut my foot on the dorliní (shingle stones) and couldn’t see for the midges. 

It was a great relief to get on the water. 

     

Finally some more favourable weather!

 
Clocked some decent miles and for the first time, did so without emptying the tank. Catriona came over again so I’m fuelled up for tomorrow. 

Day 27: Inishkeeragh-Currans Point

Yesterdays efforts left me hungover. I took the morning off and renegotiated my objective down to simply getting on to the north coast.  Hilarious weather forecast had the wind swinging from northerly to easterly around the time I was due to make the big right-hander. This confirmed my suspicions that this has all been an elaborate prank by Jeff and Harry.  Away from the wind, the day was perfect.            The afternoon push saw me round Bloody Foreland and put the west coast in my rear view. It has been tough , but has made me a better paddler. I am in good shape now for the final 220 mile push.

laundry

pick up three

shingle

Pitching my tent I got chatting to a local couple. They insisted I come round for dinner, so I did and it was great. Thanks Paul and Erin for kind hospitality.