The Beast of Boscastle

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300kilos of Blubber catching forty

Boscastle again. This time with Paul, Kevin and Dave.

Another sensational day. Each time I come the seals seem to get bigger, the cliffs taller, the islands craggier and the caves deeper, and my sandwiches staler.

Outside the harbour mouth we turned north for the three mile paddle up to the seal colony at Beeny. As I  was the most responsible grown-up of the group, I called up the Boscastle Coastwatch on the radio to let them know our plans. It is just remotely possible that the reason I called up the Coastwatch was because I was the only one with a two-way radio, and absolutely nothing at all to do with me being the most responsible (or  grown-up).

This is a really lively bit of coast and although careful planning of wind, tide and swell is the most important safety factor, it’s very reassuring to know that the Coastwatch volunteers, sitting in their little white tower on the headland, are there if you need them. If you end up swimming you are going to have to be rescued by boat (or chopper) because there really aren’t any accessible beaches….its just cliffs, and caves, and a load of water.

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Boscastle cliffs….they make your jaw drop

Today it was like a lake and nice and warm, and sort of sunny so it was about as relaxing and enjoyable as Boscastle could possibly be.

As we were embraced by the huge black cliffs of Beeny bay, the seals popped up around us. All shapes and sizes and colours, from very tame and inquisitive creamy-coloured youngsters, to a couple of enormous bull seals with big ‘Roman’ noses.

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Junior seal

We made sure none were resting on the beaches before approaching closer. The reason they use these haul-outs is because there is no disturbance from humans (or dogs) and we didn’t want to mess it all up and frighten them. When they are in the water they are totally in command so apparently show very little fear.

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Kevin being eyed (up) by the Beast

This particularly applies to the biggest bull seal of the lot whose is presumably ‘king-pin ‘ of the whole colony. He is really vast and can only have achieved this size, or so we mused, by having three marine MacDonalds  (plus mackerel Mcflurry) every day since we last saw him four months ago. And possibly before.

After he was rudely awaken from his mid-morning nap by Paul, he shadowed us as we toured around his domain. Actually he mostly shadowed Paul, probably because he was a bit miffed about being woken up.

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Paul being followed by ‘The Beast’

There were plenty of his entourage to keep us entertained as we decided to head back south. Kevin prepared his rod and feathers to do a spot of fishing as we paddled a bit further offshore to take a ride on the ebbing tide.

We swept (were swept) back past Boscastle, around the really excellent and unbelievably craggy and eroded Short and Long islands (neither of which is particularly long, or short) and aimed for a leg-stretch at Bossiney.

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Long island

We loafed about on a sandy beach which we had all to ourselves apart from the occasional swimmer who ventured round from Bossiney main beach as the tide went out. Inexplicably, as soon as they saw us, they swam back round the corner again and disappeared.

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Bossiney Beach

The return to Boscastle harbour wasn’t quite so easy as a bit of a northerly breeze had picked up which made it a bit lumpy in places especially where there was a tidal current such as inside the islands.

We couldn’t go as far into the big cave at Willapark as we would have liked because it was low tide, but it always makes a good pic:

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Exiting the Big Cave

The Boscastle seals will not be meeting any more kayakers for many weeks, probably a lot longer, as sea conditions have reverted to normal: wind and  big waves. Maybe it won’t be calm enough until next year.

So they can remain undisturbed. Even though we did our best not to disturb them. The big bull can complete his morning nap, and the mackerel don’t have to worry about Kevin’s attempt to catch them on the end of a hook (spectacularly unsuccessful anyway). They will be much more concerned about becoming Mackerel Mcflurries.IMG_8519.JPG

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2 thoughts on “The Beast of Boscastle

  1. Hi lone kayaker!
    What fabulous blogs! I loved the latest on Boscastle and will be heading down there soon! I have just come back from a trip to Asturias with my husband, daughter and 2 Perception kayaks. We explored lots of islands and sea caves and had a fabulous time. We’re based in Bideford and also have a base down near Land’s End and love paddling along the coastline and looking for wildlife. I’m also a keen landscape photographer but am frustrated with the pix I get from my only waterproof camera which is an Olympus Tough. Just wondering what photographic gear you use as your pix are great? Some caves are so stunning but I daren’t risk my Canon camera in a kayak.

    Would be great to meet you some time if you are passing Bideford.

    Cheers

    Jen Rogers (www.jenrogersphotography.co.uk is you are interested!)

    1. Hello Jen,
      thanks for your flattering comments. I currently use a Canon Powershot bridge camera which I keep well wrapped up in a dry bag (it’s not waterproof). I wouldn’tdare take anything more expensive out on the water. I too had an olympus tough, but like all those supposedly waterproof cameras, it eventually leaked (or maybe it sank…can’t quite remember).

      if you are interested I am doing a talk about my kayaking adventures to Bideford camera club on 30 Jan 2018. (or Taw U3A 21 Nov this year, or Taw and Torridge camera club 15 Jan 2018)

      if you want to get out at Boscastle watch the weather and surf (swell)forecast closely because it is hardly ever benign enough to be enjoyable, as i no doubt hinted in my blog.It certainly doesn’t look any good for many weeks.

      very best regards

      Rupert Kirkwood

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