Round Two At The Races! – Richard Janes

Round two at the races! 
Two recovery days from surfing South Stack and a great forecast of light Northerly winds with a Spring tide found our team of Roger, Justine, JF, Mirco, Jan, Garry, Geth, Steve, Barry, Paul and Me having a ‘staggered’ start from Porth Dafarch, heading North to the races of  Penrhyn Mawr and South Stack. Now, The meaning of ‘Porth Dafarch’ may have originated from the contraction of ‘Porth Dau Farch’ (harbour/inlet of two horses/stallions). We didn’t let accuracy get in the way of a good story (!) as the late arrivals (Paul, Steve and me) left Porth Dafarch behind as we paddled North towards Penrhyn Mawr and the first race. Thoughts of beautiful waves most definitely spurring us on; “Wild, wild horses, We’ll ride them someday” (Rolling Stones)
Tide pulling us through ‘mini Mawr’, we could soon see the rolling white of Penrhyn Mawr, along with the odd paddle flash from our friends already in the race. ….. And what a joyous race Penrhyn Mawr was today! Effectively, the last hour of a Spring tide, boils and whirlpools had subsided, water depth increased leaving beautiful rolling waves breaking, then running out onto an oily sea. Our efforts swiftly followed by lunch  in the sun at Porth Ruffyd
With domestic commitments for several team members, our group now split. Paul, Gary, Steve, Jan and me headed North. Beautiful rock hopping towards South Stack and beyond. Looking West, South Stack race looked lively with a light breeze blowing spume from the crests of waves. So that’s where we headed for a stunning surf session. Multiple and extended rides on rolling, near perfect waves. I truly didn’t want to leave; “Wild Horses, Couldn’t drag me away” …. But sadly, failing arms meant it was time to submit to the ebb flow and the paddle back to Porth Dafarch. 
Passing Penrhyn Mawr, now silent. Redolent and waiting for the flood, it was difficult to remember the excitement of the morning.
Our day finished with a beautiful sunset as we packed soggy kit and warmed chilled bodies after another fabulous day.

Diary of a magic day with old and great friends! – By Richard Janes

Diary of a magic day with old and great friends! 
You know you’ve had a good day when later, much later …you’re still ‘buzzing’! Well today was just such a day. 
We had not seen our good friends Justine and JF (Marleau) for a long while. Forecast today was for light (SW) winds, sunny periods and a chunky tide.  ‘The Stacks’ seemed a favourite choice when we met for a coffee first thing (ish) with Paul, Me, Geth, Steve, Lynn, Justine , JF (Marleau), and Mirco. A good sign of any group of friends meeting after a while is how quickly conversation begins and very quickly the months disappear. Today was no different. Paddling plans were made between general catch up and non stop conversation. 
Setting out from Porth Dafarch entailed  the usual discussion  of I’m too hot/cold, where’s the swell… And it goes on. Light on the cliffs was wonderful and early surf rides before the entrance to Abraham’s bosom a great warm up and lots of fun! 
Rock hopping towards South Stack was joyous. And the gap separating Ynys Lawd from the cliffs concentrated minds, as we paddled against a fast tidal stream under the bridge. ( ….Now, what was that noise? Paddles ‘clarting’ against rock or the heavy footsteps of the Ghost of ‘Jack’ Jones as he tried to climb steps after receiving a bang to his head from a rock?) 
A late start meant thoughts now turned towards lunch. Landings hereabouts are few and far between. Choice positions were taken up by young seals, so we paddled on to North Stack for a lunch afloat. Hmm… A ‘stretch’ would have been welcome! Nevertheless, Scotch egg and a final hurrah (!) for the turkey went down well. North Stack race was fast and furious. And the tail down toward South Stack had me regretting the Scotch egg, which I believe was trying to reincarnate as a chicken, feathers and all. 
…..BUT then, a wave appeared. A glorious, green and curling wave at the start of South Stack race. Rarely will you see a bunch of grown-ups (?) enjoying such simple pleasures. Absolutely amazing surf runs with boats hammering forward, enjoying the energy of a big tide. And the race continues to run. And we surf and surf. No escape, no eddies, paddles moving on. And eventually, as the race subsides, we start to feel a little knackered. I tried to pretend but I’m sure the look on my face would have been enough! Decisions made (thank heavens) and a quiet paddle with the setting sun and a brief dolphin sighting, took us back to Porth Dafarch. 
I’d seriously tried the notion of ‘Dry January’. But Geth is a bad man and my will power is (um) weak. How better to end a fabulous day with friends? 

A wander around Ynys Gybi or Holy Island, 23 June 2018

A solo trip report written by Richard Janes – Photos by Geth (from a similar trip)             

Richard (right) on another summers day at the Skerries


High Water Liv. (Gladstone): 0813 (8.1M)

Wind: NW F3-4

Sunny (ish)


Saint Cybi was a 6th-century Cornish Bishop who worked in Wales. The Island is called

‘Holy’ due to the numerous religious sites on the small island and are a source of much interest.

However, the island’s history has not only been one of Religious tranquillity. The bustling Port and Town of Holyhead will have had it’s share of ‘Sporting’ events with ‘Home’ and ‘Away’ games, possibly started by Cadwallon Lawhir (‘Longhand’), who defeated Irish Pirates on Holy Island (c.500)


What to do on a Saturday when all your Mates are working, on holiday, doing domestic stuff or don’t fancy an early start?


The Circum navigation of Holy Island includes fast tidal streams, paddling which ranges from shallow water over sand/mud banks to massive exposed cliffs, great wildlife, busy harbour and Port, two tunnels and a precise tidal ‘gate’. All in all, an interesting way to spend a Saturday Morning!


The tidal gate for this trip is Stanley Embankment where the water rushes  (floods) into the Inland sea and then drains (ebbs) to the North East.  After around half an hour the water is travelling much too fast to paddle against and forms dangerous stoppers. The plan is to be there just before the turn of the tide. My plan was to paddle anti clockwise around the island to make best use of the tides.


My starting point was Porth Dafarch . The origin of Dafarch was probably from a persons name; ‘Tafarch’ but I prefer to believe the less likely origin, ‘Dau Farch; two stallions. Especially when considering the tide races of Penrhyn Mawr and South Stack!

I set off at 0530. Probably around half an hour too early but I’m like that. Besides, it was a stunning morning and the temptation to launch with an early sun and oily smooth sea was simply too great!

Having the West Coast to yourself is an extraordinary feeling but far from lonely. I enjoyed stunning displays from Shearwater and the occasional fly past from Fulmar with their silent, knowing stare. Paddling South towards Rhoscolyn Beacon was a joy. Whilst the flood was still running, I took a  landward line and stayed in close down to the start of the Cwmyran Straits.

The paddle through the Cwmyran Straits to Four mile bridge is a peaceful delight! Heron, Egret and all sorts of wading birds within an environment which ranges from salt marsh to rocky shore. Getting lost is a real option here and another reason for my early start. The sea and air was mirror calm and the tunnel or what felt like a big drain to enter the Inland sea was surprisingly noisy. As my kayak took the drop, I seriously thought it might ‘ground’ but there was plenty of water followed by a wave train and tidal rapid.

Excitement over, it was a short paddle to Stanley and a long wait (over an hour) for the tide to turn and allow my exit from the Inland Sea. Stopping for a drink, I also felt hungry. Sadly, the soft sand of Porth Dafarch and a hungry seagull had earlier consumed my lunch. So I waited. And waited for what seemed like ages. My phone said about an hour, my broken watch said longer. A few times I tried to take the flow by storm but uphill paddling never was my thing and some stray pieces of rope dangling down gave me the ebegeebies, by the thought of getting tangled in them. Eventually, the flow gave up to my persistence and allowed me through.

The view now broadened to include the Skerries to the North East and my target, Holyhead harbour to the North West. A little further and I was talking to Port Control on VHF Ch 14. All very formal. I noticed he called me ‘Sir’, not been called that since I was teaching when I was called many other things besides. I had a good time window until the fast ferry was due but crossing the Harbour does make me feel strange. This is the World of proper big boats. Boats which don’t see you and with big propellers and stuff. So I paddled hard. Stupid hard, breathing a sigh of relief as I past the lighthouse on the end of the pier. Port control said they had been watching me on camera, so I waved. You can be a bit silly on your own. I’d already said ‘good morning’ to several seals and I’m sure the pretty one answered?

Phew! … Back on more familiar water, North Stack was a bit white and feisty. I tried surfing a few waves but they were too broken for whoops of joy. South Stack race was smooth. Oily, sexy smooth but not big enough for my enthusiasm. The cliffs and birdlife hereabouts are simply magnificent. The sea was littered with rafts of Guillemot, Razor bill and a good number of Puffins. I stayed offshore using as much push from the ebb as possible. Penrhyn Mawr came and went. A sleeping Stallion before his stable door would be opened?

Very soon Porth Dafarch came into view along with some good friends on the water (Steve Miles and Sarah) where I stopped for some of our usual intellectual discourse. And so back to the beach and a heavy, hot carry back to the van. I think it was about lunch time but my watch said the same time as when I left.

Biggest decision of the day. Sensible cup of tea or a cold beer. What would Cybi have done? What would Longhand have done…. and he did see off the Irish Pirates, after all!






An amazing blowhole and tiderace fun – 24 March 2018


What a wonderful spring day to explore and play on the sea!

Petr in white water.

Mirco coaching at Penrhyn Mawr’s Inner Race.


Petr enjoying the Outer Race at Penrhyn Mawr.



The steep waves were tricky to surf on this day.


Rachel after Penrhyn Mawr and on our way to South Stack.


Richard with South Stack and Paul behind him.


South Stack.


South Stack tiderace with lovely clean surf waves.


Paul and Rich at South Stack Tiderace.




Ynys Lawd Channel.




Ellen’s Castle.


Steve Miles coaching on our return through Penrhyn Mawr.


Roswitha enjoying the sun at Penrhyn Mawr.


The Middle Race at Penrhyn Mawr.


Porth Rhuffydd and the amazing blowhole.







A great day!  Thanks to – Paul, Rich, Rachel and everyone else we met today.

Photos by Geth


South Stack on the ebb, 20 Jan 2018

A fantastic wintry trip out from Porth Dafarch to South Stack on a 9m (Liverpool) ebb tidal stream.

The swell provided interesting rockhopping.


The big chanels between Penrhyn Mawr and Abraham’s Bosom.


Entering Abraham’s Bosom


Lunch at Abraham’s Bosom




More rockhopping


South Stack



North Stack


Approaching South Stack Tide Race



Paul, Richard and Gary surfing



Returning to Porthdafarch




Snow covered mountains


The end of another great paddle


Paddling today were: Paul, Richard, Ed, Rachel, Lynn, Steve, Gary, Jan and Geth.

Force 6(ish) NW Windy Day On The South West Coast of Holy Island, Anglesey


A great day of hiding from the wind and rough water fun on the Porthdafarch-Penrhyn Mawr coastline.  Paddling today were Paul, Richard, Rachel, Pete, Jan, Gary and Geth.

The local flood tide flowed until 13:30.  We played in this tidal stream at Mini Mawr and after lunch, once the flood current had finished, the swell at Penrhyn Mawr.  During the flood Penrhyn Mawr appeared to be in a confused state of huge breaking waves.  We finished the day with a superb downwind run home to Porthdafarch.


25 Nov 2017























Porthdafarch – South Stack, 11 Nov 2017

Great conditions for a South Stack trip – 1m 7 seconds SW swell with light F2/3 N wind.  Penrhyn Mawr was superb.

Lots of great company including Ed, Paul, Rich and countless other passing paddler friends.  Photos taken by Geth.