But Jessica is a paddler of some note herself. I was lucky enough to train with Jessica while she was studying at Bangor University; while I lost a few pounds over the winter, Jessica went on to win the Pre-World Championships, the World Championships and the World Cup - the only British paddler to have achieved such a feat. Anyway we had a good old chinwag and it was interesting to hear her take on Joe's trip and just to catch up on what she is doing now.
The dawn chorus in Polzeath put all the others to shame, they don't mess around down there. And so the day started.
The warm hospitality of the Valley Caravan Park continued as Martin kindly brought me a brew and some juice to get the day going before wishing me well.
Soon I was on the beach with the early bird surfers and then heading out. The forecast was for strengthening SE winds and large swell late in the day.
And so I had a plan. I would keep in close enough to the cliffs to scrape the barnacles off my bum, looking for shelter whilst keeping an eye out for any changes in the weather. It would be a short day with the furthest option being Bude.
I cut the corner from Pentire Point but by the time I was closing on Tintagel the wind gods were reminding me that I wasn't playing by the rules and I had to get in close again.
Tintagel looked intriguing; wasn't there some dude there with a big table or something? I never could remember my history. I smiled at the large groups of tourists traipsing around forlornly in the rain - what are you folks bleating at? I've been wet for the last 60 days.
The cliffs between Tintagel and Widemouth Bay were very impressive, with extensive rock folds showing through the atmospheric gloom. Knowing it was going to be a short day with a definite end (maybe...) took the stress off and I was quite enjoying my soggy bimble below the cliffs.
I stopped on the float beneath the imposing cliffs at Campeak for lunch and then decided to cut a touch off the corner to get to Bude. But the weather gods were watching of course and punished my cheek with a strong offshore wind out of Widemouth.
The swell seemed to be increasing and the wind was around the 25-30mph mark; as I neared Bude I could see the offshore wind blowing the spray off the top of the surf, so I sneaked into a bay to put my helmet on, tidy the boat and batten down the hatches. I then paddled around the corner and behind the breakwater to find flat calm - oh well, better safe than sorry.
My first visit to Bude, seems quite nice. Claire in the Tourist Office was very helpful arranging accommodation for me and so I wheeled my way over.
Later I went out for a meal, treating myself to an Indian - I figured with a likely day or two off for the weather I could even risk a possible ring-stinger.
Looking out later I could see the swell had not arrived. With the wind direction and hindsight it seems that I could have rounded Hartland after all.
But then I'd rather be 100% below the 'in big poo' line than 1% over it.
I'll take my time in Bude without regret; I might even go for a gentle paddle up the canal if I have time.
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