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Here is story about our recent trip to Anglesey, from the Stopford’s point of view. We are sure there are many other stories out there but hope we caught the essence of the trip in this story. Where possible I have left peoples names out to save them from embarrassment but you know who you are “The Unknown Paddler” (TUP). Finally, it is likely to be the longest report ever produced for the club, as there is a lot to say.

We arrived on Wednesday at about 19.30hrs to disturb the piece and tranquillity of Tyn Rhos Campsite, Trearddur Bay and the Boycie’s who were relaxing in their “Awwwning”, said in a southern accent. We set up camp and claimed the top of the camping field for the club. We had Beef in Beer for the evening meal in our campers, with Boycies as guests, it can be quite civilised sometimes.

We awoke Thursday a glorious dry day and decided to have a non-paddling day and just chill out. By 10.00hrs I was clock watching, what do you do if you do not paddle? Decided to go to Penrhyn Mawr just south of the “South Stacks” on Holyhead to scout the tidal rips and coastline for trip later in the week, I knew I’d get kayaking involved. In the mean time others arrived and they decided to join us. So we went for a hike, whilst the younger people went fishing. The weather was wonderful and the scenery was equal. I think we had walked less than half a mile when a TUP asked “are we there yet?” and, so I was told, they fell over whilst toileting! Some of us free climbed a 30ft pitch on the cliff edge just to add excitement. Three hours later we returned to Tyn Rhos for tea. BBQ, as per usual. Others arrived in the meantime. We had a few drinks, go on then quite a few drinks and a TUP, after too many drinks, fell over as she exited the awwwning. It was time for bed.

We awoke Friday had breakfast and we decided to paddle at Cable Bay. A TUP decided to paddy about the fact that someone had forgotten his shorty. Paddy over, Cable Bay beckoned. Small surf was present about 1ft. The sun was glorious again. We paddle the surf, did a bit of rock hopping in the boats and occasionally jumped of the rocks. One TUP swam in 6inch of water and is tipped to be the next rubber duck winner already. Another TUP got pinned in a rock gully when the wave receded; the panic on his face was great to see. Another TUP swam on a 4inch wave. Den swam, nothing new there then. After a full day of fun and others joining us we returned to Tyn Rhos for the usual BBQ session, followed by the usual awwwning session. The funny bits were Quigley wearing a ginger wig so he could idolise his Hero, Rooster. Unfortunately Pete decided to try on the wig and scared us all, it was Scary Spice in drag, how we laughed. One TUP had an uncontrollable giggling fit and the other TUP was the centre of attention. Tom got drunk and stayed up till midnight, I said I would not tell his mum, so mums the word everybody.

We awoke Saturday and it was Four Mile Bridge, a tidal flow through an arch, with boils and whirlpools to test the best paddlers and scare the unwary. One TUP had drunk too much and was in trouble, I mean trouble. The TUP made up with kisses and cuddles, so I was informed. But I know the truth; it was the promise of a shopping trip that won them over. What a day, hundreds of paddlers on the water from our club, well about 20, that’s huge for us. Some of us swam through the arch and were drag underwater by the whirlpools, its great and scary at the same time, but totally safe as you wash out into a safe pool. Quigley’s sit on tops created hours of fun for everybody young and old. I was told not to mention that Jessica and Roberta swam, so I won’t. Lots of TUPs swam on this day, including the more experienced paddlers. Nine-Lives and Rooster were lost at sea when they got caught in the eddy line on the arch when they swam. It was great to watch all the up and coming paddlers test their skills breaking in and out of the flow. The bank support team were basking in the sun and providing sustenance to the paddlers. A highlight was managing to get six paddlers on a double sit on top but swam when we went through the arch. Can I say thanks to everyone for the excellent teamwork in helping load and unload vehicles, making sure we left the beach in better condition than when we arrived by litter picking and getting on so well it is a credit to you all!

Saturday night we tried something new we had a take away meal for 30+ people the organisation of this fell to brave Elaine and what a top job she did, considering the problems we encountered. Like me I am sure we all want to thank Elaine for her great efforts and we will do this again, as it generally went well for a first time. It is very unusual to eat takeaway outdoors and not in front of a TV watching a film. After the take-aways it was to the awwwning for silly goings on. Oh my goodness me I did not believe that the stick and insults could get worst than last year but they did. This is not for the faint hearted entering this zone. Everybody had to endure stick and abuse as it goes round bit by bit with the occasional TUP who gets more than most. The best way to sum up the awwwning sessions is:-

“A stream of consciousness in the crudest way that never causes offence!” (Pete Godfrey 2006)

So be warned!

Late get up Sunday, I wonder why. Anyway the usual Egg Hunt was set up with fun and games for the young paddlers, with the usual host yours truly “Bigdawg”. Simon Says game was very interesting, and I challenge you to do this, “Simon Says touch your left head on your left knee”, young Josh managed it with ease. Sleeping lions was great fun; I tried all my cunning trickery but still 4 lions slept. Had to resort to foul tactics like pouring water on them and have a dog sniff their faces, two TUPs won they beat me. Then the egg hunt began, eggs were hidden everywhere around the tents and Campers. The self-control and teamwork demonstrated by the young people was great, as they had to bring all the chocolate to Debbie, before it was fairly handed out.

Cable Bay beckoned again as it was red hot for the time of year. There was a little surf. There were sandcastles made all day and I am not too sure I approved of Tom’s as it was the wrong way round and stood a bit proud for me. I do belief that a very young small TUP got buried too. We decided to have a mini sea trip south of Cable Bay and once again there was 20+ paddlers. It went well considering the numbers with all the HXCC competent paddlers covering everyone’s safety. Some of the teenage TUPs struggled with a little hard work. I was with a group who were rock hopping. However I was in a double sit on top with another TUP, how foolish are you? We took all the paddlers through a gap in the cliffs too, the whole trip was full of wildlife for those who were looking, Razorbills, Cormorants, Gulls, Terns and occasional seal, or was that a swimmer in a wet suit?? We returned to the Bay and with one TUP remarking on how comfy sea kayaking in a playboat was? Many of the TUPs decided to go jumping of rocks and one TUP decided to body board down the dunes, which must have been fun, but is that ecologically sound? We returned to Tyn Rhos for tea and usual drinks, 02.30hrs when we got to bed.

We woke up Monday and I had a headache and was hung-over, although I was pretending not to be but Rhosnieger finished me off later. It was sad to see so many tents being packed away, I lie I was staying for the rest of week. We decided to try Rhosnieger to surf and what a good choice it was we managed the occasional 2-3ft surf. The weather had turned for the worse with a cold breeze and little sun. There were lots of kite boarders and jet skis about. One TUP swam claiming his strap had moved? Jellyfish. TUPs were surfing giving high fives etc, on the waves. Other TUP ran into another TUP causing a deep muscle injury, we would be reminded about this for the rest of the week. I got off early, still feeling the affects of the night before. When everyone was off we walked around the village on a promise of a Chip Butty, but the chippie was shut. Got back to Tyn Rhos had tea followed by drinks at Quigley’s. It was a subdued evening, due to the weekend which had taken its toll on the body.

We awoke Tuesday, it was a no paddling day and off to the South & North Stacks for the scenery and wildlife. The sky was blue and sun shone with birds everywhere, with the occasional seal. Picnicing overlooking the North Stacks we watched the RAF rescue helicopter practice. If you have never been worth a visit, but visit in late May. Crab fishing at Four Mile Bridge followed this. We managed to catch crabs and lose two crab lines. Back for BBQ with drinks at Quigley’s not many left now just us, Quigley’s and Moz’s.

We awoke Wednesday and it was off to Porth Dafarch for the day. Another hot, bright and sunny day. Three TUPs went for a serious sea trip this time that saw us go north of the bay. This is not for the fainted hearted, as there are no beaches only cliffs. Rescue plans discussed and of we went. What a trip, paddled at high tide with the tide running north to south. Paddled through a 30ft archway, another personal goal ticked, paddled into a huge sea cave, and I mean paddled for a good minute in and out. Very dark at the back and I turned round as I could not see and heard a lot of noise from the water. This followed by a paddle up a short gorge into a bell shaped cove with steep cliffs all around. We got out and took the opportunity to stretch our legs. The tide was turning so it was time to get out of the gully and we timed it perfectly as the last of the TUPs emerged the waves started to break in the gully. We got to Penryn Mawr and went on until we could see the South Stacks. We then returned to the bay by the straightest line with the tide on our side. Quite an achievement for us with no incidents and paddled in play boats. (Note if you are going to paddle this know the risks). We returned to the bay and surfed the tiny waves and generally messed about. Two TUPs swam. We returned to the campsite for Pizza night and drinks.

We awoke and decided to check out Rhosneiger for surf. Not a sausage. Quigley then explained that he had been to a place where kids were jumping of a harbour wall and we could probably seal launch, so we set off for Amlwch. From here on in you should not be sat alone as this is a scary tale of close knit community of towns folk. We will be visiting again next year, so be warned and read on.

We dropped down off the hills above Amlwch and could see the whole of the town. It nestled on the north side of Anglesey hugging the rugged cliffs above a milky calm sea. The sky was overcast and grey. As we approached the outskirts the Quigleys needed fuel so stopped at the Texaco fuel station. The lights were on and a lady sat in the kiosk. Quigley put the nozzle in the vehicle to be disturbed by a clatter on the window of the kiosk. The women shouted with a welsh accent “There be no fuel here!” Quigley, shocked and astonished, replaced the nozzle and drove away. We should have turned back here but we laughed it off, as canoe folk do. As we entered the town an old Volvo, the big one which looks like a brick passed by with lilac coloured wheels, blacked out windows and large bore exhaust.

As we entered the harbour area children were playing in a play ground with only one see saw, they stopped what they were doing and began to stare at us, this was getting weird. We moved on still laughing & joking and parked up. We walked round to the harbour to discover that this was not the place that Quigley remembered. As we explored the harbour a fisherman, leaning over a wall with navy blue arron sweater and pipe wished us good morning and returned to leaning on the wall. It started to rain so we sort refuge in the heritage centre. We stepped through the door and fell forward as the floor sloped away. And I mean slopped. As we looked around it was a café on the top floor and a visitor centre underneath. In the café there was another family having lunch. We looked round keeping our footing and decided to have drinks. In the meantime the owner was overheard saying “That’s another eight my dear!” What was weird was the downstairs sloped the other way and the sign outside sloped downhill too! We left the Heritage centre and had a closer look at the harbour. The harbour was strange in that it nestled in a bay using the natural coves to create moorings and what was stranger still was that there was only 5 boats moored up, when there was space for an hundred or so. Then there were the garages with no roofs and we began to get freaked. It is funny but we walked back to our vehicles with a brisk pace. We got in our vehicles and made our way out of the town still looking for a fuel station.

We ended up at a t-junction and another old Volvo (740) estate passed by with another half of a Volvo attached as trailer, all with blackout windows. I was afraid at this point. We continued our journey and were nearing the outskirts when the Quigley’s pulled over and asked for the nearest fuel station. The stranger pointed back to the town centre. Off we went, past a concrete church, an old bloke on a motobility buggy going like the clappers, a burnt out fire engine and then to the fuel station and you guest it the Volvo and trailer was parked there. Quigley filled up without looking at a soul, quickly paid and we were off to escape this weird town.

After this we went onto a Cemlyn Bay, a shingle spit separating the sea from an inland lake. This was full of birdlife and unusual scenery. The shingle was piled and sorted by size, amazing. We went in to Holyhead and had Fish & Chips on the sea front over looking the sailing club practicing. I think we need a powered inflatable for safety too, or is that just for me to play on?

We awoke Friday and sadly it was time to pack up & leave. We had the customary McDonalds experience on the way home and it was back to life and bills

Many Thanks to all who helped out and attended this trip. It was great fun for all and the young people really looked like they got something out of the Halifax Canoe Club.

John Stopford



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