A fleeting glimpse of Flamborough Head

Plans for the west coast had been abandoned in favour of the promise of sun on the east but as I contemplated the relaxed paddle in spring sunshine envisaged, motivation to change into paddling kit as the temperature refused to rise above a chilly 3 degrees and the fret blocked all warmth from the sun, was noticeably absent.
Launching on the flood tide, we pushed out along the low cliffs towards Flamborough Head, the fog horn sounding ahead, as yet lost in the mirk. In places, the clag thinned and a watery sun appeared overhead and I was soon warm, finding a rhythm after long months away from the sea. Curlews called from the chalk pebbles, just visible beneath the cliffs rising in height as we neared the headland. A fulmar carved across my bow and as it rose beyond I realised how much I had missed this other world of shimmering seas, the wild freedom only felt once afloat.
At times, all sight of land disappeared, only the dull sound of small surf betraying the shoreline's presence.
But before long the mists thinned, the long line of cliffs reaching ahead affording a fleeting glimpse of Flamborough Head whose caves, arches and stacks we had come to paddle amongst. A gentle swell of around 1ft rolled in from the east but every so often a larger set would cause excitement in the narrow passages and above shallow platforms. The largest of the day caught us idling in front of an undercut cliff that sent spume high into the air. Camera in hand I turned to see a wave rearing up behind Chris - calling a warning, the camera hastily shoved into the hatch I backed away from the cliffs as quickly as possible, no time to turn the boat. A second wave rushed in, clearly about to break as the stern rose too steeply, water filling the hatch as I crashed down beyond, a hasty brace checking unbalanced backward momentum. Around three to four feet, they were the only waves of any size seen all day.
Beyond, we paddled into clear sunshine, through the myriad of channels, coves, stacks and arches. Evidence of the winter storms was clear, mud slides and rock fall punctuating the coastline before we turned in to sit a while in the sun at North Landing.
Heading out once more beneath white cliffs and a warm sun, fog banks visible to our south. Before long we were immersed in the mists, thicker than before, and again we paddled out of sight of land. A solitary gannet appeared momentarily above and I was reminded of our journey around Shetland Mainland where the gannets, skuas and fulmars were our constant companions.
The day ended as it had begun, a watery sun above muted cliffs, curlews calling and the wash of gentle waves on white pebbles.


Tony said…
3 degrees, ummmmm, nice *lol*

Tony :-)
Will Herman said…
Hi Tony - Yeah I realise that's warm for you guys just now!