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On 25th July 2011 Jamie &
Alastair Drummond set off on a 500 mile journey:
Do the Big Loop
A 500 mile journey by kayak, bike and
foot, from Shrewsbury Weir and back to Shrewsbury Weir
Day 1 25/07/2011
Day 2 26/07/2011
Day 3 27/07/2011
We continued on, over
the final weir onto the tidal stretch of the River Severn. We followed
large meanders through enormous sand flats and awesome scenery and into
the Severn Bore territory
Day 4 28/07/2011
After a surprisingly peaceful night’s sleep under the Severn Bridge we had an early start to catch the tide to flush us down the estuary towards the Bristol Channel. Passing under the second Severn Crossing, this was the last of the 40+ bridges we had travelled under since leaving the Weir at Shrewsbury.
We almost managed to
paddle around Sully Island before the tide turned; no competition,
the tide won - time to retreat behind the island for a break. We
recommenced paddling in late afternoon, in strong winds and a rough sea,
making it to Aberthaw Power Station. A square concrete sea defence
provided a perfect bivvy spot for the night.
Day 5 29/07/2011
With another early start
to catch the best of the tide we headed across Swansea Bay, in poor
visibility but calm seas. We finished the day just passed Worms’ Head in
near darkness, at Rhossili Bay. Having covered a lot of
miles, we finished with a wet end to the day, paddling through the surf to bivvy in
the dunes beyond the beach.
Day 6 30/07/2011
Leaving Worms' Head
behind today brought our biggest
open crossing of the journey so far: Carmarthen Bay, avoiding the military
no go zone, enforced by the border control boat. We caught sight of
porpoises which was a pleasant break in the hours of paddling. We
eventually finished the crossing around Caldey Island, and ended the day
camping on a secluded bay just shy of Milford Haven.
Day 7 31/07/2011
Rough seas, wind and
low visibility gave rise to an anxious crossing of Milford Haven. In big
swell and avoiding the tankers in and out (!) we paddled on through
Jack Sound Skomer, just before the tide turned against us, into the
relative calm of St Brides Bay.
Crossing the bay was rough
– very rough! A lone puffin momentarily joined us to inspect our
slow progress towards Ramsay. We passed through Ramsay Sound (the infamous
bitches) into White Sands Bay for a well earned break.
We finished the day in
slightly calmer seas, paddling past spectacular sea cliffs and caves, to
camp at Abereiddy – cold, wet, tired and hungry.
Day 8 01/08/2011
In calmer seas we negotiated Strumble Head with relative ease, entering into Cardigan Bay and following the coast line into Fishguard. All the while we were followed by a solitary seal, which must have been in tow for several miles.
We stopped briefly to
replenish supplies and energy, before continuing but first a long trek out
to sea due to the low tide. Onwards in poor visibility,
which thankfully cleared to reveal some spectacular sea cliffs. It was a
long day, that finished near Aberporth, making camp on a sandy beach.
Day 9 02/08/2011
The home straight - well,
for the salt water leg of the Big Loop at least. This comprised a mornings
paddle into Aberystwth Harbour, with splendid sea cliffs, dolphins and
crazy sheep grazing on near vertical grass slopes overhanging the sea.
The afternoon was spent sorting and drying kit (at last!), followed by fish and chips for tea – by the sea.
Day 10 03/08/2011
Time to get the legs moving – we cycled from Aber Harbour up the long incline to Eisteddfa Gurig. On reaching the summit we parked the bikes for the dash up to the summit of Plynlimon and then on, by foot, to the source of the River Severn. We then followed the Severn Way to Nant Melen, where we remounted the bikes and continued on to Welshpool, following the river fairly closely all the way.
We camped overnight at the
Green Dragon Pub, with good pub food and a decent nights rest.
Day 11 04/08/2011
Up and away early on our final day we started with a further than desirable portage to reach the river. Once on the river we commenced the final long haul into Shrewsbury. We were interrupted by several tree blockages that required negotiating, in the early stages of the day. This seems to be a feature of the river in these parts in more recent years.
We continued on through very familiar waters, and paddled around “the loop of Shrewsbury” - the original inspiration behind DO the BIG Loop, which we finally did as we paddled up to Shrewsbury Weir at 4pm that afternoon.
Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 Sea Kayaks
Lendal Paddles, Carlisle split paddles
Palm PFDs, Palm spraydecks, Palm jackets & apparel.
Terra Nova Laser Light tent, MSR Hubba HP tent
MSR Bivi Bags
Therm-a-Rest Prolite sleeping mats
MSR Pocket Rocket stove
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
A useful Guide
for our trip was
said “The journey was hard work and required a lot of commitment,
but it certainly had its rewards”. As we made our way across St
Brides Bay in marginal conditions we were greeted by a lone Puffin
who flew around our heads a few times and disappeared. This brief
encounter helped to lift the mood”.
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