Tan-y-Bwlch to Barmouth – Paddle
Barmouth Llechollwyn – Paddle
Kayak to Portmeirion
The next stage is the paddle to Barmouth via a short orienteering special stage at Portmeirion, except the paddle is to be curtailed. The wind and swell in the Irish sea is deemed too dangerous and the stage as been cut short, we’re to go to Portmeirion and then cross the estuary to Llechollwyn
and transition to the bikes for our journey to Barmouth.
By now the wind is a blustery force 3-4 gusting force 7-8 and tide is coming in up the estuary. Making any headway in these conditions was tenuous at best .
Just over half way to Portmeirion we had to get out and portage the kayaks around 1k or so to avoid some workings on the rail bridge at Penrhyndeudraeth. The difficulty in the portage itself was compounded by the difficulty of getting back onto the water. The area was a maze of swampy hollows and inlets and we half paddled and half dragged the boats over mud flats and tide-ways.
The final 5 or so km to the beach at Portmeirion was a huge trial, with waves constantly crashing over us and swamping the boat, we paddled as hard as it as possible to do with out a seconds break. To have stopped paddling would have meant we’d stop dead in the water and the tide and wind would have turned us around and probably have capsized us. It wasn’t even possible to pause to take a drink or eat. By the time we got there we’d been paddling and carrying the kayaks for three solid hours.
I was also constantly worried about the other pair, Steve and Heather in their Kayak. We both supposed to stay together, so while Jill and I just concentrated on forward motion into the gales, we couldn’t see or hear anything from them, we had no idea if they were 10m or 1000m behind us.
The stop at this odd place, built in the style of an Italian, some say Sicilian village, was for some teams a bit of a freebe. The change in plans and the tide had meant that some teams had been timed-out and many were still “flat-out” asleep on the quayside. We unfortunately were a bit later than most and while we did get some free time it was just a few minutes. But the sun was out and the orienteer around the village was straightforward enough, if a little bizarre. The queues of tourists meant that we didn’t manage to get a coffee or food from the various cafes.
Once we’d collected all the control points it was back onto the water to paddle to the far side of the estuary at Llechollwyn. Well I say paddle, in the end we paddled about 100 yards or so across the tideway and then had to haul/portage our personal kit and the boats across the soft sand as the tide went out. Sinking ankle or axle deep into the sand and wading through remnants of the estuary was tough and seemed to take forever.
Llechollwyn to Barmouth – MTB
Once we landed on the far side it was another “extra” Transition, back onto the bikes to complete the stage. By now the change of transport was almost routine, unpacking and re-assembly of bikes and making sure that paddles and buoyancy aids were packed away and loaded on the van. We couldn’t afford to leave anything behind. We set off into a massive headwind and the route to Barmouth involved some tricky navigation and very steep climbs.
By the time we reached Barmouth it was dusk. Transition was in a sports hall and was very warm, welcoming and comfortable. Transit through transition is never as smooth as one would like, there’s always something that takes too long, and by now sleep, or rather lack of it was creeping up on us all and none of us was function on all cylinders.
However the food regime I’d now established, Itsu Pot Noodles or one of Extreme Food’s spicy options was the hot food of choice. 500 calories at a time and most important palatable and therefore it was going in. Supplement that with a frequent additions of mars bars or some other sweet thing had lifted me off the bottom.