Steep Holm and Flat Holm
4th November 2007
The day was to start well, still sitting in bed drinking tea at 9am, what a change from the usual 7am starts for most paddling trips. We were to meet at 10.30am just a 15-minute drive from my home.
The plan was to paddle from Brean Down to Steep Holm, on to Flat Holm, and then back direct to Brean Down.
The seven of us, Clive, Mike, Ian, Glynn, Steve, Sid and I changed in the car park to lots of strange looks from the walkers and holiday visitors!
The sun shone and we started down the beach with boats on trolleys, as the sea was still a long way out.
The plan was to complete the paddle on one tide, so we needed to start with the tide a long way out and as anyone who has paddled this area before will know, this means a lot of mud, so much in fact we had to walk along the rocks on the side of Brean Down.
After 40 minutes of ankle and back breaking stumbling and with a near mutiny from Sid and me, we finally got close to the sea, but we still had to cross some calf deep mud, most of which got into the boats with us and then we waited for the tide to float us free.
20 minutes after our planned start time, we set of in what was almost the completely opposite direction of our first destination to allow the tide to wash us down to our target as the tide range in the Bristol Channel is the second highest in the world.
We paddled hard and arrived at Steep Holm, which is now a nature reserve but with a long history of inhabitancy, so several buildings can be seen.
We decided not to land as we needed to make up the time lost setting off – this had been our planned landing point on Steep Holm.
We went straight on to Flat Holm with flat seas and very light winds, no need for a cag today and its November!
We arrived at the lighthouse and decided to go round the Island with a wave from whom we guessed was a warden and many rabbits enjoying the sun.
We landed on the northern side at the slip way and within seconds another warden approached, asking for a landing fee if we were to explore further than the beach.
As again we were short of time, we decided just to each lunch and leave.
30 minutes later we were heading back to the mainland and again with little wind and a gentle following swell.
We arrived back at Brean down about 75 minutes later, just the small tide race off the headland to negotiate and it was only here you got to appreciate how fast the tide runs, this would be a challenge with some wind and a big tide.
At 16.15 hrs we hit the beach still with a fair walk up the beach back to the cars. We had to be out of the car park by 5pm or get locked in!
We had completed 13.5 miles in just about 4hrs, and a new paddle to us on our doorstep.
We think an evening summer paddle to Steep Holm would give us an hour or so on the Island to explore but it needs careful tidal planning and good weather – the same afternoon the coastguard cliff rescue team were in action on Brean Down to rescue a Labrador that had got stuck on the cliffs, so it is an area to be treated with respect.