Day 79 – Aberdaron to Borth – 7th Aug – 35.9 nm

Not far to travel today to get to the water, just down the hill; but still it’s an early start to catch the tide again – sliding off the sand for 07:00

We couldn't get an updated forecast last night, but the conditions look ok. There is only a gentle breeze, the blue sky is scattered with cumulus and it looks like a pleasant day lies ahead.

Away from Aberdaron beach and left turn, instead of the usual right, to head out of the bay. It’s not upsetting to have Bardsey Sound falling behind.  There is not much of the tide left now, so the plan is to head around the corner to Abersoch and wait there for the ebb to return once again, later in the day. Porth Ceiriad would be the more convenient option paddling-wise, saving 3 or 4 miles, but it would mean staying on the beach all day or abandoning the boat to climb up the cliffs up to the car park. We choose Abersoch instead.

There’s a tiny chop as I round the headland that stops Hell’s Mouth falling off the Lleyn, but turning N towards St Tudwal’s Road things grow oily-smooth, the headland taking the energy out of the breeze. The sun joins the party too, flexing its muscles, ready for later on.

The low water landing makes for a Taran trolley ride to get off the flat beach. TM has already arrived, and has a smile on her face. The sun is out, she’s finally been freed from the van, and takes the chance to take a look around Abersoch. She is now wandering around here, barefoot and happy in the warm shallows.

Sneakily, she has even taken a prime piece of car-park real estate on the water’s edge. Even more appealing is that she arrived before the warden had shaken off his slumber. He grudgingly, but generously, tells her she doesn't have to pay as she beat him down to the beach. It’s a small but pleasing victory in the never-ending car-park wars.

It is a pleasant spot, but I get a feeling the peace can’t last, it’s going to be a sunny day in the August school holidays after all. We wait for the madness to rise.

There’s nothing much to do for me, plans are checked and timings worked out for the coming days. Kit is dried in the sunshine and Aberdaron cake is eaten. It’s pleasantly relaxing.

But the car park is starting to get busy – it goes from crowded, to chaotic and then to carnivorous as it becomes every driver for themselves. They fight for any last space, it doesn't matter where as long as it’s close to the sand. Eventually the rulebook goes out of the window - cars are abandoned wherever, stupidity and self-interest go hand in hand. Things grow heated now and then. Early leavers return to their trapped cars, gesticulating and wishing doom and gloom to be spread liberally on the inconsiderate. It’s entertaining, but not quite as relaxing any more.

This corner of the beach is crowded. Bikinis, beer, bald headed blokes and tattoos abound. But for such a busy place there is still a relaxed and friendly vibe. A group of kids are practising their civil engineering skills where the stream comes out. It reminds me of my childhood, I want to grab a spade and join in, but figure it may raise a few eyebrows.

Like a woolly-jumper on a boil wash the beach shrinks, and the crowd density increases. I have to apologise as I weave the big pink boat through barbecues and wind-breaks. It’s a flat-calm launch and then out of the bay, keeping a slightly nervous eye on speed boats and jet-skis.

Inside the Tudwal Islands it is hectic; speed boats drag kids on wide-arcing inflatables, boorish jet-skis buzz closely by, while a dinghy race enters into the mix too. There seem to be boats everywhere, but as I move further out the traffic steadily thins until I'm finally back into peace-and-quiet world.

Clearing the Tudwals also brings the 3 o'clock wind. Life chops up a bit, but the sun is still out and things could be worse, it’s not from the front at least. No swell, no headlands, no tideraces – just 18 nm of steady open water to Tywyn on the other side. There’s not much more to do than get into a routine and paddle on. 

The water goes a little squirrelly as I cross over the far-offshore shallows of the Sarn Badrig, a shallow shingle spit that fingers miles out into the north end of Cardigan Bay. But even this is half-hearted on this warm and lazy day, the chop is only slight. More paddling.

Tywyn finally draws level, I’m struggling a little but there’s enough left in the tank to cross the River Dovey to Borth. Team Manager is taking a look around Tywyn, remembering previous visits. There’s a quick call to breaks the news that she now has to drive around, the reply isn't enthusiastic.

It gets a bit bouncy at the mouth of the Dovey, as the river empties across the shallows. It breaks up the monotony in a fun-but-don’t-screw-it-all-up-now sort of way.

From the water the beach at Borth is long and feature-less, the village is hidden by a high sea-thwarting bank. There’s a little nav confusion within the team, both parties explain the obvious to the mis-understanding other, but eventually we link up and the day is done. It’s a welcome easy landing with the sun setting over the shoulder.

Thankfully the chip shop is still open, the paddling day is nicely rounded off with pie and chips on top of the wall. We watch the soft glow on the horizon as the sun finally slips away. The prom is a curious place; the high wall prevents any view of the sea from the road. Even if the wall was magically removed you probably couldn't see the view anyway, it lies behind an endless row of camper vans, parked along the side of the road, setting up for the night or cueing for the public conveniences. They prepare to slumber in a curious place, on the roadside, a few metres across from the houses.

We soon can see why, the campsite is no more. We decide not to impede the householders view any more than already is and head up to the N end of town, to make a sneaky camp by the pleasant sands that lie there.