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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Menai Straits
Monday, June 12, 2006

We're in training! This weekend we head north to attempt to kayak from mainland Scotland to Shetland. I'm speaking at a symposium there at the end of June so we'll have about 10 days to try to cross the Pentland Firth, island-hop up through Orkney and then hope for good enough weather to do two 25-mile legs to Shetland via 'Fair Isle'. I was recently sent an article about the first people to do these crossings, Karen and Dan Trotter. It sounds like they had an absolute epic and the journey shouldn't be underestimated. It is very windy in those parts and strong tides take you first one way and then the other - but perpendicular to the desired path. To top it off, when you arrive at Fair Isle or Shetland, a large tidal race guards the entrance and you have to summon up some energy to fight your way in. We'll be getting to Shetland one way or another or the symposium organisers will be very upset, and we'll enjoy a week or more of paddling there. I'm really looking forward to that as I've seen photos and the caves, cliffs and birds look beautiful.

Karen and Dan Trotter also attempted to cross from Shetland to the Faroe Islands, 200 miles to the North. Amazingly they managed to paddle 150 miles against the wind and tide but didn't quite make it. We're not even going to try and we'll take the ferry there and enjoy paddling around some more beautiful islands for a couple of weeks!

So this weekend we went for a long paddle closer to home on the Menai Straits between Anglesey and mainland Wales. 'The Staits' is called 'Aber Menai' in Welsh, which means 'River Menai' and it's easy to see why. It's less than 1km wide for most of it's length and the tide rips down there at 5 or 6 knots in places. If you are going with the tide, as we were, it's a great ego boost as you come away at the end of the day having paddled miles and feeling very smug. It's a great spot with lots of places to play in strong currents and big waves. Here are a few photos when it's calm. I'll be doing some filming here for my next video sometime later in the year.


Blogger Michael said...

I see a Greenland style paddle! Interesting. Will it be used to paddle to Shetland? I used mine all the way around Manitoulin Island - a 12 day paddle - with Wendy Killoran a few years ago and have never put it away since.

Whichever way you do it, enjoy the challenge! Sounds like loads of fun!

1:15 am  
Blogger Justine Curgenven said...

Yes, Alun always uses a greenland style paddle now and he will be using it to cross to Shetland. He started using one about a year ago when we went to Orkney and hasn't looked back!

10:48 pm  

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