Sea, wild camping and Betty Stogg

Undeterred from their last adventures in Cornwall with Jason Lomu and Richard the 1st, Toby–I can-now-drive-big-lorries-Bellinger and Yours Truly set off yet again for a weekend with SKC on the seas around Falmouth. We joined up with Richard the 2nd for a closed group paddle and wild camp weekend.

At SKC HQ we packed our boats all ready for 2.5 days at sea, never to see land again or have a wash until Sunday eve. Toby had reserved the Rockpool GT and it was love at first sight; he cuddled his Rockpool all weekend, giving her adoring glances all the way.

I had reserved the Scorpio. And I too was impressed. At last I have paddled something other than a Capella, which I have to say has served me well over the years. My Scorpio had a neat little deck hatch on the fore deck just perfect for storing my chocs and jelly babies in, as in easy reach. And it was yellow. I like yellow.

Boats all packed we loaded them onto the trailer where it was announced that my boat was undoubtedly the lightest. I beamed with pride at my ability to pack small and tight, and shun all luxuries, all ready for big adventures on the sea… I was actually thinking – oh dear, what have I forgotten?

Our guide for the weekend was Ian Prickett, who, as a redhead and with a surname like that, was tough and had stories about many an adventure to share. (He was part of the Ranolph Fiennes winter expedition to the pole in 2012…)

We headed right from Swanpool (a delightful little bay) and paddled into wind and chop almost immediately. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

As it was about 4 o’clock when we got onto the water we were heading for the first real sandy beach. Past Rosemullion Head we paddled, across the mouth of the Helford we paddled, around Nare Point and onto Manacle Point we paddled… where just around the corner was our cosy bed. As we surfed onto the beach on 6′ waves, Toby stood up, did a back flip and landed straight back in his seat! We broke out of our trusted vessels and set up camp.

Wild camping is great: it’s just nature and you and survival of the fittest and smartest. I’d forgotten my soups and Richard had brought the wrong gas canister for his stove, so we all cozied up to Toby, our hero, who had a great new toy by way of a stove to play with and plenty of soup. So yes, he would survive in the jungle and we’d be fed to the lions. Full tummies, tents up and rocks in place to hold everything down, and a neat washing line (again put up by our very own Toby) airing the wet kit, we all settled into our sandy beds for the night.

Next day we were fed and packed up in no time at all as any well practiced unit would be, even the mighty Tom Bailey would have been impressed. Not. Eventually we got going again. Into the wind again and we got to Coverack, a lovely little harbour. A few skeg repairs performed, we then paddled back from whence we came. Into the wind again – WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THE WIND?!

Our intial plan to incorporate an open water crossing to the lighthouse on Zone Point had to changed DUE TO THE WIND and Richard the 2nd diminishing energy levels, probably due to the fact that

his boat outweighed the rest of ours put together, with large tent, dinner table, candelabra and a selection of fine wines.

Well he is a yachty in another life, and he has standards.

So, up the Helford we went. On route to a charming little grassy knoll that was to be our home for the night, we had the fortunate decision to make of which pub shall we visit?! Betty Stogg and crisps. What a treat. Two pints in and off we set – the sea had gone and the mud was waiting to catch us out. I went fast and light and Richard went full splat in the mud! When we did get onto the estuary waters, yet again the wind let us know she was not done with us yet and through a few gusts in to test us and for us to fully appreciate arriving at our grassy knoll.

We washed Richard down, scrubbed his lovely dry-suit and boat clean, and camp number two was established. Richard dressed for a dinner of pasta, homemade fruitcake (made by yours truly) and a lovely sunset over the Helford. Beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Final day and we paddled to the source of the Helford at Gweek, passing the seal sanctuary along the way, and you’ve guessed it – INTO THE WIND. However, when we turned around to paddle the final leg back to base, the wind finally was on our backs and we were at Swanpool carpark in a jiff.  But not before Toby demonstrated his ability to roll his fully loaded Rockpool on both ways, with ease.

Post trip I gave Richard my best advice on sawn off toothbrushes – who needs a tent or soup anyway, as every ounce counts. Toby continued to have that in-love daze, and I found a mouse in my car that had survived on my packets of soup left in error and enjoyed the butternut squash option the most, if any mouse lovers need to know.

Sharron Bartlett



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