Into Position

Day 30 – Weyborne to Holme next the Sea - 19th June – 23.7 nm

It's a lunchtime start once again, as we aim to get into a good position to cross the Wash.

I've been using the Reed's Almanac as one of my planning tools and it has dawned that the tide figures are an hour or more out in some places – this stretch being one of them. So the plan now takes that into account and things should now run on tidal time I hope.

The swell is not too bad, but the launch still has potential for a tricky little comedy moment. It takes me a while to find a suitable gap (and the courage), and I must admit I am rather nervous of screwing it all up. But I get the timing right (for once) and it's a comedy-free launch, I paddle away relieved. The wind and swell are coming from the north east, it's a bit slow and splashy with them both against the tide, but there are no real problems.

Most of the day will be an easy, sandy coastline, but it comes as a bit of a surprise that even so we will still have to take an 'option' early on at Cley. We are running on the ebb of course, and after Cley the sand is a mile or more wide, backed by a similar distance of marsh before any chance of access to the world of the land-lubber. Not a dangerous stretch as such, but it could be rather inconvenient if I have to land early. I could carry the tent and stay on the beach if I have to, that wouldn't be too unpleasant at all actually, but then it means I also have to carry cooking kit, dry kit for tomorrow, food and water for two days and so on – that is, more if I can't paddle again tomorrow. All too much faff to be honest - so I take the easy option instead, the running shoes and off-the-water clothes go in.  A long trolley out may be a preferable practicality.

But I'm happy with the conditions at Cley and after a quick call to the Team Manager I carry on. It's a pretty stretch of coastline, but on springs and the ebb there is a huge expanse of sand. The optimistically titled Wells-Next-The-Sea isn't at all. As I pass, I watch a yacht anchoring in the shallows to await enough water, the channel is completely dry. The channel buoys sit stranded on the sand like sulky Weebles; Wells is now an extra mile from the water's edge.

A little further along I watch a light aircraft going hairy bears along the beach, low enough to part your hair. One sneeze and it would have taken them a week to fill the hole.

As I close on Scolt Head Island the wind drops away to nothing, I stop for a bite to eat in the perfect conditions – a forewarning of a change on its way perhaps?

I wonder if I'll see Frank Harradence having a go at his Scolt Head Time Trial. I enjoyed a magical paddle through the mist behind the island in 2012, but there is no chance to repeat that this time, again the channel is completely dry. Frank would have to walk today.

So I get to see the north side of the island this time. As I pass, I notice that the tide has called it a day on me, and of course the conditions do change with it. Crossing shallow Brancaster Bay towards low-water into a stiffening wind, becomes a rather choppy, splashy and tedious affair. I slog through the shallows, aiming towards a never-nearing group of trees by Gore Point.

But as I reach the corner I now get a little help from the flow heading into the Wash, and the wind is now on the beam. It is a welcome easy landing, on a sandy beach fairly close to, the once again not-quite-telling-the full-story named, Holme next the Sea.

It has been a lonely day, other than a brief wave from the anchoring yacht at Wells, I have not seen another human being all day. But it's Mission Accomplished all the same, we have reached a perfect launch point to cross The Wash – weather allowing.

We finish the day at a £20 per night campsite, it has new facilities that consist of nothing more than a cold water tap and a toilet. But this is tempered as we chat pleasantly, to a gentleman who is on a week long mission to walk between all the pubs in the area. He's surprisingly sober, and as we listen to his tales, we sit and watch an owl hunting in the meadow behind.

Life could be worse.