Nothing Special

Day 15 – Portland to Swanage – 4th June – 22.2 nm

Last night we sat on the campsite at dusk, functionally eating our food when an owl alighted on the sign-post just a few metres away. It perched there, in no hurry, while we watched in fascination, our food growing cold. Eventually it became bored with us (well you would) and then silently disappeared into the darkness. One of those special moments.

But it was a late finish yesterday. Late finishes and early starts don’t mix too well for me. So, today the early start was only early-ish, as I struggled onto the water an hour late.
I sneaked quietly out of Portland Harbour, crossing the path of a boatful of military types on their way across to the office on the Sir Tristram training ship. 

Outside of the harbour wall things made a pleasant change from recent days, the sun was just breaking through and the headwind was still only a breeze. This end of the bay was sheltered from the remnants of the swell by shadow of Portland Bill. Lulworth Range was closed too and so there was not a great deal to bother me for the next 16nm or so, as I made a straightline to St Alban’s Head. A pleasant paddle.

We were starting to suspect that tide timings in the book were an hour or so out in some places, today was one of those places. Add an hour for a tardy start and it was no surprise that the tide was not sticking to the plan when I reached the headland. The headwind strengthened too as the tide changed and soon my stress free paddle wasn't any more. I scratched my way along the bottom of the cliffs, trying to find some shelter from the wind and flow, while the swell rebounded unpleasantly. It seemed to last forever (only an hour or so according to the GPS) but eventually I scraped around Durlston Head and then sneaked over the rocks of  'my, that's shallow' Perveril Ledge. Swanage Bay was a welcome sight.

Here my eye was drawn to a lone kayak making a bid for freedom, and then to a furiously waving angler on the beach, who had been trying to hook his wayward boat without luck. The rebellious boat was returned to its owner and I paddled gently over to the sandy beach. I felt a little guilty for not taking any more miles from the day, but the geography of Poole Bay meant that extra miles would achieve little. We hurriedly loaded the boat as a Traffic Warden warned that vans weren’t allowed on the front, and then off in search of a campsite. 

We found one, one without hot water or lighting but hey, you can’t expect such luxuries for £30 per night can you?

Later the wildlife theme continued, a fox came to investigate as we sat in the sunshine, on our strangely quiet campsite.

There was nothing remarkable about today, and that was fine by me.