Escape from Withernsea

Day 34 – Withernsea to Hornsea – 23rd June – 13.6 nm

Strong winds rattled the van overnight. By morning things have eased a little but it is still draughty. A miserable grey drizzle is blowing on the NE wind.

The forecast is for the wind to drop a little mid-afternoon and then for things to brighten up later. The forecast also shows a bit of swell left over from last night’s wind, sneaking down from the north later on.

The tide starts running around lunchtime, so it’s a lazy start. This gives me a last chance to show Team Manager the sights of Withernsea. We walk across dog-poo field to take a look over the edge. It’s a mixture of choppy coffee coloured water and windy froth – yeah, there’s no hurry.

Kit is sorted, plans checked and cake eaten. We head down to seafront to wait for the weather. As we wait, I watch the Hi-viz clad, ‘Community Payback’ boys prodding the flowerbeds with their hoes. A prod, then have a fag, another prod, then check the phone, another prod, then another fag, and then it’s time to knock off. I wonder how long it will take to pay it back at that rate. It must work though, the flower beds are colourful.

Late starts are not too popular within the van; half the day has usually gone by the time I am faffed-out and the weather is good enough. This leaves a rushed afternoon of driving and food buying for Team Manager, with little time to do anything more exciting. There must be more to life is the consensus... Rightly so I admit.

For me the daily ‘should I or shouldn't I’ decisions are beginning to get a little wearing too. I'm starting to find it stressful to have to make fairly significant decisions every day. It is good to have Team Manager to discuss and debate options with - this takes some of the pressure off. But the buck stops here, and it is a lonely thing to have to make the final call each day. Confidence is a fragile concept. I worry about the day when I get it wrong. As for today, well, I won’t be too upset to get away from Withernsea.

The tide turns and the wind drops, but it is still a couple of hours before things settle enough to get on. I am tired and feeling a little sorry for myself, it’s cold, grey and miserable. I pull the dry-suit out as a little confidence booster, I zip myself into my own little warm and dry, danger-negating world.

The surf is a bit splashy but not a great problem, I get the timing right for a change and take a nice dry line out. I turn north now and start my slog into wind, a dozen miles or so of sad, muddy cliffs lie ahead.

The swell comes and goes; sometimes it’s enough to make you watch for the next one, in-between it’s no more than a bit of chop. Looking off-shore, I get the feeling that Flamborough Head is sheltering the coastline from the worst of it. The wind lessens as the afternoon progresses, it becomes the sort of paddling where there is enough to keep you awake, but not so much that it’s a hassle. Life could be worse.

Closing on Hornsea a decision needs to be made. The cliffs continue northwards, the next get-out at Skipsea is an hour or so away - a quick calculation and I guess this hour will save me 30-40 mins tomorrow.

Hmmm, another hour into wind today to save 40 mins tomorrow? The rule is always to take the miles.

I know I should.

I know I’ll regret it later if I don’t.

But – I – just - can’t – be - arsed.

The forecast is good for tomorrow anyway, I can paddle a bit further then...

And besides, I see a sign for a chip shop behind the high sea wall – Pie and Chips or another choppy hour? Tough one that...

From my perspective the surf looks quite lumpy between the groynes, I clear the deck, remove the lanyard and do a Major Tom (helmet on). Over the radio, Team Manager assures me it’s not all that bad – but I'm not convinced. What does she know?

She is right of course.

I paddle in through little more than large ripples.

The sun is out and I dry my kit in the wind as we eat our chips, they’re not bad, for Yorkshire. It’s going to be sunny tomorrow too they say...