Exploring Lands End
As kayak anglers, we live by the weather forecast and long for those perfect conditions to fish the desired mark. Lands End, the Westernmost point in mainland England, is one of those marks that requires a rare set of conditions to paddle and fish safely. It is very exposed to the wind and is often subject to swell even when the rest of the coast around it is calm. The fast tidal currents from the South and North coasts collide and swirl making the water conditions particularly treacherous. Shallower ground off the headland is surrounded by deeper water and the tide will race up over the shallows causing races and overfalls. It requires very very calm conditions along with small tides to paddle and fish safely - even then it is not recommended for novice paddlers, and some experience in fishing/paddling in and against faster currents required. This is not the place for short or slow kayaks. The closest launch, Sennen, is about 1 mile away, and the next safe landing spot can be found around 3 miles further round the coast. There is little room for error and the tidal currents will throw you offshore and have you heading for America if you are not careful!
Anyhow, the weather and tide was looking just about perfect for a session fishing the coast around Lands End this weekend. Light winds, no swell, a neap tide and a late morning low tide - we could fish it a couple of hours either side of slack water to avoid the worst of the tidal flows. As the tides picks up and stops play we could head back for shelter of Sennen Cove and continue the session.
Adam messaged to say he was coming down from Southampton and was soon onboard for the session. So Sunday morning myself and Andrew headed down to Sennen to meet him for a long day on the water. Kayaks rigged, planned discussed, we carried the kayaks down to the water and launched.
We headed West and soon felt the wrath of Lands End.... the forecast 5mph winds were certainly at least twice, maybe three times that - this is often the case here on the exposed section of coast. The forecasts can be very hard to read on this part of the coast and several sessions have ended before a launch due to incorrect forecasts! With the ebbing tide and a stronger than forecast opposing wind we has some really messy chop to contend with. This was great testing ground for the Revo 16 - having a lack of paddle to brace with in these lively conditions took a little while to get used too. A strong hand on the rudder controls and i soon learnt how to negotiate with the choppy battering. The kayaks are getting thrown around a lot but we battled through to the desired mark with the odd soaking from rogue waves!
A quick drift over a reef and we were moving at nearly 2 knots.... to fast! Bugger. Onto a deeper section of ground. Less tidal drift but still too much wind drift.... anchors down! Andrew anchored his Viking Profish Reload, with myself tethered off his bow and Adam off mine. At least we weren't moving. Time to try and spot of bottom fishing with bait whilst we waited to see if the wind would drop and tide would ease. No messing about though.... whole mackerel down on 8/0's.... we wanted Congers!
That plan soon went to pot. A pack of Dogfish started mauling the baits. I had 3 without even hooking one, then just didn't want to let go of the bait. We stuck at it for an hour but it soon got boring. At least they were putting a bend in the rods!
On a positive note, the wind was just starting to ease and the sea was settling. We untethered, and Andrew set about pulling the anchor up. It was snagged on the rough ground. After some serious pulling it eventually came free.
That light house looks enticingly close....
The Longships lighthouse sits just over 1 mile offshore of Lands End on an outcrop of rocks. It is surrounded by deep water on its outer edge and has a serious tide run going past it. We were about on slack tide so now was the best time to go and take a closer look. Not before a few drops of the lures on the way out first. We started to find a few Pollack...
Onto the Longships....
We approached from its Eastern side and managed to get right beneath the rock on which the light is built. Usually this whole area is awash with swell and white water, we were very lucky to get so close! As we moved round to the back of the lighthouse on it Western side we were subject to a hellish tidal run flowing to the North against us!
It was moving really fast over the shallow ground around the rocks and the kayaks could only just make headway against it with some hard paddling/pedalling - it must have been moving at around 2.5-3 knots. Considering that this was the start of the flood on a small neap tide this seemed mental. Things would be immense here on a Spring tide! This would be no place to be in windy or rough weather, and certainly not when there is swell running. No wonder the area is well known as the final resting place for many a ship over the years. The wind had dropped so we continued our way against the tide to do a lap of the Longships.
It was actually really enjoyable to be in such lively conditions to see how the kayaks performed. It was pretty much un-fishable but that didn't matter. The scenery more than made up for it....
We continued along the rocky islets beside the light, and rounded the Tal-Y-Maen outcrop a few hundred metres along from the light. The tide was really pumping, trying to throw us up onto shallow rocks before releasing us into calmer waters. A few seals were frolicking in the tide and came to say hello.
Back to the fishing. We moved around to find some ground with less tidal flow. Despite the raging tide further out, a few spots were in lee of the flow so the lures went down. Adam found a better Pollack
And then a nice Ballan Wrasse, which was a PB for him of around 4lb.
Andrew and myself were starting to catch too. I had a few up to 6lb then lost a big one which powered itself all the way back to the rocks before shearing the braid and freeing itself. As a consolation i had a better fish of around 8lb not long after....
We continued catching fish for around an hour before the flooding tide made the drifts faster and the lures more difficult to work through the water. Time to go exploring the coast!
We paddled into the cliffs right below Lands End. The towering sheer granite rocks are absolutely stunning....
A little way along the coast we reached the famous Enys Dodnan rock arch, seen in many post card images of Lands End.
Seeing as it was calm we kayaked straight through it! Around the back of the rock there was a small boulder beach so it was time for a nature call and leg stretch.
The view towards the Armed Knight rock and onto Longships was simply stunning.....
Back on the water and we headed back around Lands End to Dr Syntax's Head - the Westernmost Point on mainland England.
The rocky outcrop just off the headland is know as The Peel. The tide really can race off the end of this point, perhaps giving it the name. We weren't going to paddle around that though, that'd be too easy. We were going to kayak through the headland itself.....
We found a tall but narrow cave passing directly through Dr Syntax's Head and we couldn't say no to going through it! Awesome! I can only imagine the hell that goes on in this cave during big swell.
Heading back towards the launch we paid a quick visit to the shipwreck of the RMS Mulheim found onshore at the small rocky inlet known as Castle Zawn. The cargo ship ran aground here in 2003 and the stern section of the ship remains on the shore today. It wasn't quite calm enough to land amongst the boulders here today, with the odd surging swell that would have thrown us in too hard against the rocks.
That finished the tour of Lands End so it was back to the launch. We stopped off for 10 minutes fishing on the way but the fish were't playing. We called it a day. It had been a great day though. We had favourable weather, some nice fish and fantastic scenery. A great day on the water. We had covered a fair few miles and i was feeling it. I'm a sucker for punishment though. I would be kayak fishing again the next day too!
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