6.05 h to 17.25 h
N 52.94432 W 06.01649
Kilpoole behind Wicklow Head
All ladies were up in time and ready to launch at the harbor at 6 am, just Niamh decided she rather had to look after her three kids. Thanks for looking after me yesterday! It was a pleasant calm, about an hour’s paddle with following or no wind around the headland from Howth, but none of the ladies did sign up to cross Dublin Bay with me…and they probably did well on that decision! Offshore side wind was full-on, still around 20 knots, and the bay was deep enough with some long fetch to develop some ugly occasionally breaking high wind waves. But the tide was running still with me, and my speed on crossing was ok with 6 km/h. Just a bit hard works this morning to stay awake! At least none of the ferries was crossing my way.
At the other side of the bay, Dalkey island was giving some shelter to relax, and I quickly pulled into the wee harbor of the Dalkey rowing club for exactly doing that. I expected some nice low wooden jetty to launch those long slim tippy sport racing rowing bats, but here, there I rather found tied up to both ends of the harbor walls those ocean-going big nutshell rowing boats, just like a small fishing boat. I had to find my way through a bunch of low hanging ropes to land on the wee beach.
Later, one of the rowing boats came across me, still in the island’s shelter, one guy rowing, one guy looking out and steering. Why the heck do they need to carry around a second pair of eyes and a second brain attached to a heavy body just to know where the rower is going? Just sit the other way round and look and move forward in style like us paddlers, guys! 🙂
I forgot the tide had changed meanwhile, and was starting to cross directly over the 10 km bay to Bray, but at half way I rather opted to go in and to hug the shore as close as possible to find an eddy and to get shelter from the wind. This was working rather well all the way down to Wicklow. The beach was steep and high, I was paddling within just 2-3 m of the small dumper, but found some perfect wind shelter with the railway dam on top and some at least somehow current-free water, if you wouldn’t call this straight line an eddy. Easy going paddle!
Bray Head was a nice interruption of the monotonous steep gravel beach with some nice tunnel constructions and architecture inside the cliffs to get the railway around the rocky high head. They had also constructed a walkway just above the railway, looking well worth for a nice stroll!
After Greystones, it was just steep gravel beach again, but I had nothing to suffer from ugly side winds in my small lee. Close to Wicklow, I almost forgot about the railway line running above me, when suddenly a loud long car-like honking woke me up out of my paddling dreams! I got scared to death, who is close to run me over here, out on the water? It was just the train approaching some pedestrian crossway…
Wicklow Head was supposed to be one of the trickier ones with some strong current running around, only to be done with the tide running down. I was just arriving at slack high tide at 4.30 pm, too early to call it already a day in the safe Wicklow harbor…? “This is what most people do.”- the ladies at Howth said to me, and this would have been probably the more reasonable decision. But I feel like not wanting to be like “most people…” – “only dead fish are swimming with the current!” I wanted a nice ride at the end of the day, still having plenty of energy – and a calm remote campsite on a natural beach, not in an ugly harbor. My very sore elbow last night I didn’t feel at all on paddling, and as the water was since a few days from freezing cold back to almost swimming temperatures around 17 degrees, my finger was also not as painful as in colder water.
So get a nice flush around Wicklow Head with a good wind push from behind! Approaching the harbor entrance was already pretty lumpy-bumpy with reflecting waves blown to the steep rocky shore line. Should I not better go in there and do the famed Wicklow Head tomorrow, well-rested in probably less morning wind and lower seas, but in the same good tide? No, that’s not me…so I had to endure some nothing less than some west-coast like ride, with heaviest reflecting and very confused waves with many rocks for quite some while in high speed well over 10 km/h, at 15 km/h max. What a ride!
Well, if you’re feeling solidly seated in your horse’s saddle you can go for this bull ride… But actually, the real throwing breakers are missing in the high speed moves in those reflecting up and down and criss cross waves…I did just one kind of a concentrated paddle, mentally not even thinking of anything happening than finishing this relatively long ride upright and in style, and finding the eddy soon, with some German mantra on my paddle strokes on my mind: ”Ich sitze – fest – im Sattel, ich sitze – fest – im Sattel, ich sitze – fest – im Sattel…” (I’m solidly seated in my saddle…)
All good, the thrilling ride was eventually over in some fat eddy, a short look back over my shoulder showed some really impressive rocks! Not much time to admire the probably impressive rocky head during the ride though…and you better go early in the morning, if possible! 🙂
Three lovely sandy beaches were offering themselves to call it a day, but some large campsite was sitting on top of the cliffs. My hope the last smallest one was not accessible from the top was not fulfilled, but good enough to be my home for this night. That last handful of noisy people would be gone soon! No phone reception here though, but writing almost 2 hrs update of the last two days before cooking dinner.