Scariff, Deenish & Puffin Islands 04.2014

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conorsmith
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:37 am

Scariff, Deenish & Puffin Islands 04.2014

Post by conorsmith » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:01 pm

Last visiting Waterville with trolly and golf clubs in tow, these have long since gone into storage and have been replaced with kayaks and kit. Although hostel and tents are more the norm for kayaking, I also like my comforts and with it being left with me to organise the accommodation, I took advantage of an excellent mid week offer, booking the group into the Butler Arms. 2B&B, 1D for €124 and highly recommended. On arrival all 4 were upgraded to suites. Food and Guinness were top class and the family run facility is highly recommended.

We were here to paddle for just two days, with 4 of us on the first day and 5 on the second. Some were hoping the Skelligs might be on and conditions were being followed very closely. For Thursday, winds were predominately F3/4 WSW, a 4 to 6ft swell with a mixture of sun and cloud but dry and clear with a spring tide. Heading to Derrynane Harbour for 10ish, many would argue this is the nicest stretch of the Ring of Kerry and the views can only be described as spectacular.

Setting out in sunshine and slapping on plenty of sun cream, we headed west toward Hog's Head. With reflection and clapotis, swell was a little less than predicted and we were able to get close to the sloping shore and low cliffs. With wind in our face and what felt like current against us, the route took an hour, with nice movement on the water.

From Hog's Head, we headed for the Scarriff Hedges, W of Scariff Island. A 6.5km crossing with wind diagonally in our face and a good 3 to 4 foot swell, it took just over 45 minutes. At this side of the island, there was plenty of clapotis and no photo opportunities. Continuing around towards S and SW shore, the water was flatter, allowing us to get close to the low cliffs and a few caves. The wind however was swirling, being forced around corners and at times it was focused and more like F6 in our faces at one or two points.

At the lower end of a spring tide, we were unable to land without tying the kayaks to a buoy and swimming in. It would have been too difficult to lift loaded boats onto higher rocks and we were not keen to tie them off against the side for fear of damage in rising and falling swell.

Continuing instead on to Deenish, we landed on a boulder beach in a small bay on the NE side. After 3 hours in the saddle, this was the first possible landing point on the chosen route. During lunch at a small house and ruins, we were delighted to spot two white tipped eagles flying in and around the island and for the hour or so we spent there. A walk to the top to enjoy the views is a must if you ever land here.

The preferred option on leaving is to head for Lambs Head and work your way back to the harbour. However, winds had increased to F4 almost beam on and offering little assistance on the first leg, this would have been in our faces on the turn back. The swell had increased to 4 and 5 ft and the combination of the two would have made for a bit of a slog on the final stretch. We instead headed back to the harbour with wind and swell coming at us from our 8 o'clock, the sea was quite lively.

Off the water shortly after 4pm, all were very surprised with the GPS reading of 27km with muscles feeling excess mid 30s. Between wind, currents and swell against us at almost every turn, each and every km had to be worked for, offering little or no assistance at any point during the day.

This route is given 5 for 5 in quality and 3 for difficulty in Oileain, I would very much agree and encourage anyone to put this on their list of must dos. Even without your kayak, visually, the area is spectacular.

Day 2 we took the coastal and scenic drive to Portmagee, stopping on a number of occasions to enjoy the sights. Still cool, the winds were forecast F2 and the swell was supposed to be lower than the day before. With two of the group under the weather (flu and not alcohol related), there were discussions about where to go, with 2 wanting to try the Skelligs. At the harbour as the boats were loading tourists, we discussed sticking together and instead taking the tourist option ourselves. The Skippers confirmed landing had not been possible the day before and unlikely today. With no guarantee of landing, we ditched the tourist choice and chose to stick to our paddling, with an easy option to head along the cliff front to Puffin island.

While the winds remained light and as expected, outside the harbour the swell was higher than the day before running 5 to 7 feet. Rolling in off the Atlantic with plenty of reflection from the cliffs, there was plenty of action and movement on the water with no opportunity to take a hand off the paddle for pictures. With an interesting sea, this was a great stretch of water, with gannet diving all around us and several early puffin in the water.

A cut on the NW corner of the island allowed for landing on a boulder beach shortly before LW, giving time for a quick lunch and a short walk on the lower section of the island. Again, spectacular views of the Skelligs and the Blaskets off in the distance amongst other beautiful scenery. Scrambling back to the boats, we sat and watched and inquisitive grey seal watch us from the water for a good 10 minutes.

Leaving Puffin and retuning via Bray Head on the SW tip of Valentia, again we had a lively sea. Looking to squeeze between the point and Bearhaboy Rocks for a look around the corner, conditions can only be described as nasty. Choosing the safer option, we called it a day and headed back into Portmagee on the rising tide.

A short visit with only two trips and as mentioned, this was my first time paddling the area. With spectacular scenery and views, next time I will make sure I am more paddle fit and hopefully spend extra time in this gem of a location.

conorsmith
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:37 am

Re: Scariff, Deenish & Puffin Islands 04.2014

Post by conorsmith » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:02 pm

And just a couple of pictures to go with the report:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/29110305@ ... 130974371/

Chancer
Posts: 114
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:37 am

Re: Scariff, Deenish & Puffin Islands 04.2014

Post by Chancer » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:50 pm

Thanks for the report Conor, looks really beautiful. Always a big sea feel in that part of the world. I like the pic of the large sea urchin. Apparently they are edible but never tried one.

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