Day 77 – Llandudno to Dinas Dinlle – 5th Aug – 28.5 nm

A day off is just enough to remind you of what aches, and where.

We head back over towards Llandudno to carry on the adventure. Driving along the coastal road we have the bonus of seeing the conditions out in Conwy Bay, to the W of the Great Orme. There’s a S breeze blowing over the top of the hills but there is not much more than a mild chop out there. The strong winds yesterday have left the water murky, but there is a distinct lack of whitecaps and I'm not too upset about that.

However it’s not all goodness and light. The forecast shows the 3 o'clock wind coming in, with some showers coming along for the ride too. It makes me think of previous Scottish squalls.

The tidal planning is a little complicated here; trying to match the ebb of the Great Orme to the flood of the E end of the Menai Straits is not that easy. So I decide to go a little early and paddle against the tide for a bit. The offshore S wind is welcome and means it will be calm and I should be able to sneak in pretty close to the Orme cliffs, using the eddies to work against the flow. Then around the end of the Orme it will just become a slog across the bay towards Beaumaris. But as we are still on big springs I shouldn’t have to worry about threading my way through the sandbanks, if I'm not too late.

There are plenty of places to land once the Straits are reached, so the plan is to find somewhere to sit and wait for the tide to catch-up. If I can make it to somewhere around Beaumaris or Bangor Pier for the first stint then that should make things a little more productive for the second one.

It’s not yet 7 am, but the Taran is off the stony beach and away. There are plans afoot to remove these imported stones and return the beach to its pre-meddled, sandy glory. I wonder what it will look like if they do.

But there’s paddling to be done now; time for one last glance over my shoulder towards Llandudno and then it's around the corner and into the suddenly-new world of the towering Great Orme cliffs. The goats are strutting their vertigo oblivious stuff, while there are ominous signs of new landslides along the way.

The eddy hopping plan works fine and I get my first view of Puffin Island for a while. Now it’s just time to slog, with ear flaps down to stop the windy wing-spray from flying down the ear canal.

The Snowdonia hills welcome me back, making a pleasant back-drop to the paddle. But by the time I get to Fryars Road the 4kt progress is becoming a little tedious. Eventually Beaumaris Pier slides past and the first shift ends, not long after, at Gallows Point.

Team Manager soon arrives with a welcome opportunity for a sneaky bit of van-based shelter, while we wait for the tide. But even better, TM has been to stock up on pies! Now show me a good pie, or even a sausage roll at a pinch, and my Northern roots will glide smoothly to the surface. There isn't the time here to discuss the nutritional merits or details of pie-powered paddling, but suffice to say that I've partaken in more than a few of said crusty-clad items on my way around. I have become more expert, perhaps even a connoisseur. But out of all that variety it has to be said that there was nowhere else on the UK coastline that could match the pies from the butchers in Menai Bridge. All hail to the folks at John Swain Williams, the king and queens of pies! Deserving of a true accolade.

Anyway, it’s time to set off once again, now with pie-power levels restored. First it’s over the bubble to the Bangor Pier and then straight towards the Telford Bridge, hanging in the distance. I take a quick breather at the Menai Bridge slipway and then head into the comfortable familiarity of the Swellies. The GPS shows pleasing figures while the Cardinal, Gored Goch and Brittania Bridge all slip easily by. Nelson gives a wink and then it’s on towards Felenheli.

Around the corner, down beyond Plas Newydd, the wind plays a part once again. Ali has a group of new sea paddlers out for a trip, and stops to say hello. It’s quite big and bouncy in the wind over tide here but they take it in their stride. Soon we part ways and they head across towards the village, while I turn towards Caernarfon.

It’s a bit of a splashy tramp down towards Caernarfon. The wider, lower ground here allows the wind to have its fun. But eventually I reach the confused water before Abermenai and then shoot out through the gap, nervous of just what lies out there.

The wind is strong now and there is plenty of white stuff out on the shallows of Cearnarfon Bar. But I'm heading south from here and hoping to take advantage of a trouble-avoiding, close-in route that I used in reverse here 3 years previously. When I poke my head around the corner the wind hits like an elephant in a pillow fight, a grey wall of heavy rain is heading up the beach. I sneak back into an eddy behind the steep shingle and take a breather.

The rain turns to hail, the gusts arrive and the hills disappear, followed quickly by Newborough beach.  After a few minutes things settle and I look around the corner again. Another wall of grey has smothered Dinas Dinlle and is swiftly heading this way, I sit this one out too. Finally there is a gap and I can see down the coast, time to put the head down and paddle.

By the time the groynes of Dinas Dinlle are reached I’ve been battered a few more times and it’s really hoofing it down now. While it’s only 6 more miles to Trefor, I’ve had enough. I look for a gap in the surf and head in.

The car park has a good collection of steamed-up cars holding summer holiday visitors; it’s not really a bucket and spade sort of day. A paddler from the Midlands comes over for a chat, wanting to know more about the Taran. But soon his family tire of the wait and drag him away, to places warmer and drier.

TM is stuck in a traffic jam it seems. I busy myself tidying the boat and clearing the deck, ready for another night back at the house. Waiting once again to be rescued.