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No tall yarn from Sian

Posted: Friday 18th November 2016 by LivingSeas

Out to sea, some parts of the trip were safer not hugging the Anglesey coastlineSian out to sea

Sian Sykes, one of the outdoor activity providers we work with (Psyched Paddleboarding) revisits her circumnavigation of Anglesey on a paddleboard in the summer of 2016.

I was inspired to support The North Wales Wildlife Trust by my beautiful Nain (Welsh for grandmother). She loved wildlife, enjoyed taking photographs of flora and fauna. She was actively involved with the Wildlife Trust in North Wales, with volunteering to porpoise count at Criccieth and donating money regularly to the Trust. One day I joined her at Criccieth to count porpoises and I loved braving the elements and keeping my eyes peeled to count the porpoise and I enjoyed being a part of a team contributing to the Trust.

I’m pleased as punch to be the 1st person to circumnavigate Anglesey on a stand up paddleboard


My Nain is a big part of me and to continue her legacy, I support the Trust. I live on Anglesey, where I run my own paddle boarding business (Psyched Paddleboarding). I often run joint events with the Trust, such as coastal micro adventures on a paddleboard and more recently I came up with the idea to stand up paddleboard (SUP) around Anglesey. I wanted to raise money for the Trust. Secondly, I did it because I wanted a challenge and to see if I could do it! Anglesey has a complex and challenging coastline and it’s all in the planning and strategy to get it right. I hatched the plan after completing the 3 Lakes Challenge. I was the first person to SUP unsupported on the three longest lakes in Wales, England and Scotland and I loved the challenge and adventure. That’s when I came up with the idea to SUP round the whole of Anglesey!


I felt slightly apprehensive to make a grand announcement about my challenge, as I didn’t want to add pressure, but my key focus was to raise as much in donations as I could and to create public awareness. Once I created the Just Giving page, that was it, I was committed to the exciting challenge!

In preparation, I studied maps, tides and weather forecasts and decided to launch near to where I live and headed anti-clockwise around Anglesey. I paddled down the Menai Straits. It’s a narrow section of shallow tidal water, which separates the island from the mainland. The differential tides at each end cause very strong currents to flow in both directions at different times. This can create dangerous conditions. One of the trickiest areas of the Straits is known as the Swellies (Pwll Ceris in Welsh). Rocks near the surface cause local whirlpools. I loved every minute traveling through this section! It’s such a classic and iconic stretch to do and I always enjoy paddling there. There’s certainly a degree of risk, but if you have the skills and confidence it can be fun.

For the first couple of days I struggled battling with very strong winds and it made progress slow, which frustrated me. I had a low moment when I couldn’t carry on, as the wind was too strong, but I soon shook it off. The priority was being safe and able to say enough is enough and revise plans. It’s all about reading the weather correctly, understanding the tide, the conditions and having a strategy.

One of my fondest moments was seeing porpoise leaping and enjoying the tidal races. It felt truly magical to experience this and I will not forget it.

 

During my trip, I carried a lot of safety kit on my board. My support came from a friend who joined me on some sections kayaking, carrying extra gear or driving a vehicle whilst monitoring my performance from the headland. Committing yourself to this type of adventure, you need to be well experienced, have the right gear and know how to use it and have a clear strategy.

I really enjoyed my experience being in the open sea; the solitude, the sound of the water, the reflections, feeling at peace, the sun on my face and that feeling of utter freedom, away from it all and being re-connected with nature. Watching birds fly over my head, fish jumping out of the water in front of my board and seeing beautiful jellyfish float elegantly past me. Enjoying hanging out with the seals whilst having a quick picnic stop at Rhoscolyn; they were very inquisitive with my paddleboard. One of my fondest moments was seeing porpoise leaping and enjoying the tidal races. It felt truly magical to experience this and I will not forget it.

 

The hardest part of the journey was crossing into Holyhead Harbour, a 7km open stretch of water. A big hard push was needed as the tide was just starting to change. I was tired after paddling 37km and it was the last bit of effort. Also, I had to time it around all the big Irish Ferries coming in and out of the harbour.

I enjoyed pushing myself, especially in the notorious tidal races at North Stacks, South Stacks, Penrhyn Mawr and Porth Lynas. These areas on Anglesey coastline have strong currents, tidal races and choppy conditions, however, the conditions were in my favour and I loved it, working hard on the board in complex waters. It certainly was a good workout!

 

 

 

 

I was delighted with the support and generosity from friends, family and clients and I am very grateful and touched by the contributions made to the North Wales Wildlife Trust. I enjoyed the challenge, the excitement, discovering beautiful parts of the Anglesey coastline and seeing such wonderful bird and marine life. It was such an amazing feeling to complete the challenge and I’m pleased as punch to be the 1st person to circumnavigate Anglesey on a stand up paddleboard too!

I hope I can inspire others to get outside, to do what they enjoy whilst raising money for the Wildlife Trust. For an inspirational video of Sian's trip see here.

You can still donate to the North Wales Wildlife Trust and Surfers Against Sewage through Sian’s Môn Circumnavigation just giving page

 

 

 

 

Sian is a fully qualified outdoor instructor based in North Wales and runs her own business Psyched Paddleboarding. Sian’s mission is to inspire others to SUP and to offer a high quality and truly memorable stand up paddle boarding adventure either by hiking to a tranquil wilderness lake or exploring stunning coastlines.

Sian is a brand ambassador for Aquapac and Peak UK. 
sian@psychedpaddleboarding.com
01248 440 831 | 07928 475 419
Facebook – Psyched Paddleboarding

 

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