South America & The Falklands

With a combination of strong winds and heavy rain forecast for the Scottish Highlands, it was not without regret that plans for a trip north were shelved; at something of a loss I was happy to accept an invitation from Bill and Royanne to join a trip, not quite as far away as the South Atlantic, but into the wilder parts of Morecambe Bay, to find those areas only uncovered on the biggest of spring tides, South America and The Falklands.
It meant an early start; we were on the water shortly after 7am...
...the tide already exceptionally low and ebbing still.
Landing on remote sandbanks...
...over which the odd portage was required, taking care to avoid the quicksands for which these banks are notorious...
...followed by sections now too shallow to paddle, but with just enough water to save carrying the boats.
Finally, having paddled, portaged, dragged and waded our way across Morecambe Bay, we land on The Falklands, a GPS reading confirming our position. It is hard to describe this area adequately: a combination of big skies, wide and wild seascapes, the channels now rapidly flooding, curlews calling; it has a unique beauty that befits its status as the largest expanse of intertidal mud flats and sands in the UK.
The tide was now flooding and with more than 10m still to rise, it was doing so at a rapid rate of knots. More than 5 knots in fact in places. With a stiff breeze and such a huge tide, I had expected some interesting water at some point in the day...
...it started benignly enough, a combination of current, sandbars and wind waves producing explosive but small waves.
Beyond, the skies cleared and we paddled on without an inkling that we would shortly be amongst very similar conditions, but four or five times the size.
Having reached the Conger Stones off the western extremity of Foulney Island as we headed across the channel to Haws Point, on taking a transit it soon became clear we were making no progress. At this point the channel resembled a big volume river glide covered in boils and riffles but essentially flat. It changed in seconds.
The sound of a breaking wave and a quick glance behind was enough; instinctively I locked into the thigh braces just as the race overtook us. In the space of a few seconds the fast glide had turned into a minor maelstrom; waves broke from all directions whilst we plunged from one to the next, bracing, broaching, surfing...it was a wild ride, no chance of any photos, and having managed to ferry across to Foulney Point it was with relief that we landed roughly on the barnacle and mussel covered rocks.
From here, once more beneath blue skies, we punched through small surf back out into Piel Channel before heading back towards Roa Island, tea and medals...

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