Kites, Kings and Toads

Walney Island and its immediate surroundings lay claim to more than few facts of note - the UK's first nuclear powered submarine was built across the channel, it is the eighth largest island in England and is home to the largest gullery in Europe. It even has its own king. Well, Piel Island, joined by sand banks at low tide does. No matter that the pub landlord and king are one and the same, this remains an intriguing place. It has also hosted the National Kite Surfing championships, something that may cause kayakers to raise an eyebrow or two. Wind is something of a constant here. 
And so I was not unduly surprised that the F2 promised, actually looked and felt far more like F5 for the best part of the day. Still, we had a good sized tide to ride up the sound - the head wind and resultant chop adding around 20 mins to our passage up to the northern end of the island where we took our only break, sheltered from the north-westerly, soaking in the sun.
Black Combe beyond the dunes of North Walney NNR, a site of no small importance to the natterjack toad. I have never seen a natterjack toad. Disappointing really given one fifth of the national population of natterjack toads call this area home. 
But then our focus is usually elsewhere, particularly when there is a little wind pushing against the tide. Nothing huge today, but some nice waves between two and three feet at their height gave a few fast rides before we turned to head out and around the northern tip of the island, beginning the long drag south.
Turning Haws Point, the 700 year old Piel Castle is a familiar and welcome sight, Roa Island - not an island at all - our starting and finishing point just beyond.

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