Friday, 18 February 2011

Tenby to Caldey Island

Caldey Island is a mile or so off the coast of South Wales at Tenby. Caldey is actually made up of two islands, Caldey itself and, off its western tip, St Margaret's, home to thousands of cormorants. Famous for the monastery, the monks of Caldey Abbey are Cistercians and live according to strict rules (which I think include no women or kayaking).  As a paddle, Caldey has a bit of everything and if you are feeling adventurous you can go right round it. 

Tides and sea conditons

The best place to leave from is the sandy south beach at Tenby, which has a good car park. There is a slipway of sorts across the sand but the tide goes out a long way so it can be a long carry.   Sea conditions vary a lot, so it is important to check the forecast as well as the tides. Setting off from the south beach, it is just possible on a clear day to make out the landing on Priory beach

The prevailing current sweeps towards this shore, so the outward trip is a fairly easy paddle, depending on the cross winds.  There is a buoy at the half way mark which helps keep you on course and I usually stop at it for a rest.

Deserted Island

In the summer the Island is popular with tourists who pay £11 (just under $18 – a good reason to travel by kayak!) to make the crossing on boats from Tenby Harbour.  Out of season, however, I have landed on the beautifully unspoilt Priory beach - without so much as a Cistercian monk in sight. 

There is a bit of an unpredictable rip tide if the sea gets up and swirls around the island but that only adds to the enjoyment of this satisfying Pembrokeshire paddle. 

On Prioriy Beach, Caldey Island

( YouTube Video of a large group of Caldey Island kayakers )

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