As the first big storms of autumn and winter arrive on our coasts, so to does the sadly inevitable tide of marine litter that they carry with them. Every autumn and spring marine environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage mobilise an army of volunteers in a series of beach clean events around the country – at time of posting, 465 beach and river clean events had been registered! SAS’s team of hardworking regional reps leads the events and volunteers, and we are incredibly proud that our area’s rep is Cornish Rock Tors’ own Hugo Brown. Hugo’s organised this year’s Big Autumn Beach Clean for Polzeath on Friday October 26th, starting at 1.30pm at The Tubestation.
“People know that we are drowning in single-use plastic waste and the place we see it most obviously is on our beaches and river banks. Autumn is when the storms arrive and the flow of plastic increases. We are calling on members of the public to join the efforts and make this the biggest beach and river clean we have ever seen.”
Director of Campaigns and Projects, Ben Hewitt
If you live in or are visiting the area and can spare some time on Friday afternoon, even if only for fifteen minutes or so, then another pair of hands helping to keep one of our beaches beautiful would be very much appreciated. Hugo will provide all volunteers with gloves and all necessary equipment, so you just need to wear suitable clothing and footwear – and dogs are welcome too!
You can find out more and register your interest at the event’s Facebook page by clicking here.
On the afternoon of Saturday October 27th (the last Saturday of the October half term holidays) we’re excited to once again team up with Cornwall Wildlife Trust to run a special junior extreme rockpooling session for their Wildlife Watch club. Sponsored by John Bray Cornish Holidays and being offered at a specially discounted rate of just £10, this two hour session will lead youngsters on an adventure along the rocky shoreline learning all about the wildlife that lives there, interspersed with some exciting jumps and coasteering activities.
Wildlife Watch, the junior section of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, inspires future generations to care for Cornwall’s precious wildlife and wild places through the Wildlife Watch magazine and by providing fun educational activities. It is Cornwall’s leading wildlife club.
Booking is essential and is for children over the age of 8 years old.
Contact Wildlife Watch on 01872 273939 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Last weekend saw the final event in the INTOTRI Cornish triathlon series take place at Falmouth. Our Jon has been racing in the series, and a 3rd place finish in Falmouth meant that he took 3rd place overall in the series in his first season. What a result!
Jon has always been an exceptionally fit and active individual, having run many local trail races (including coastal ultra marathons), ridden the Land’s End 100 Sportive cycle race, and he regularly enters various local events – including other cycling sportives, road races and time trials. This is the first time that he’s entered a full series of mixed-format triathlon races, however. He committed and trained hard, focusing on the pacing required to complete races successfully and those tricky tri-transitions which can so often cost competitors valuable time.
The season started back in April with the Newquay sprint race (titled “TRI The Goat”), in which Jon placed 5th overall. He was only 11 seconds off the third place finisher however, and having lost some time in a transition it highlighted how crucial those changeovers can be. Then in May he placed 4th in the Bodmin (Tri The Dragon) event, before getting a podium finish coming in 3rd at the Bude Triathlon – an incredibly popular and well-attended event with a very competitive field. A fortnight later, the Penzance event was a “Hexatri” that started with a bike time trial, before a “classic” race comprising a swim, run, a second swim, bike, and another run. Phew! With a 3rd place overall in this event, Jon was definitely making his mark in his debut season!
With the incredibly weather that we had through the start of the summer, Jon was managing to get plenty of training in, in and around work, running cross-country from his home to Port Gaverne and often guiding the early-morning wild swimming sessions that proved so popular this year.
Through the peak summer he didn’t lay off the gas. Our local event in Wadebridge took place on July 22nd, and Jon put in his best performance of the year, again placing 3rd. Following that he then entered two events at Polkerris on the south coast that weren’t part of the series – an Aquathlon (swim and run) in mid-July in which he came 4th, and then swimming the 2km race in the Polkerris Swim Festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend (placing 2nd in age group and 9th overall).
Finally last Sunday, at the Falmouth Triathlon, Jon swam well in choppy conditions (all of that time spent guiding wild swims helping out, no doubt!) before challenging bike and run legs around Pendennis Point, and crossed the line in third place in the open category. This was enough to give him the third place spot in the entire series – an outstanding achievement for his first year. We can’t wait to see how he fares next year!
This autumn Jon is doing his Open Water Swim Coach qualification, so that next summer we can offer coaching as well as guiding on our open water and wild swims. Jon attributes a great deal of his success in the swimming legs of these events to the amount of open water swimming and training that he does – he came out of the water 2nd in both sea swim triathlons this year purely because he is much better in open water compared to the pool and can handle chop. If you want to improve your sea or open water swimming technique and overall performance, particularly if you are planning on entering a race or tri event next year, then please get in touch to find out how Jon can help you with a dedicated open water coaching session.
We are really lucky here in Cornwall to have the INTOTRI events. INTOTRI is a charity that aims to remove the social and financial barriers to participation in sport, and change the triathlon landscape. Open to all and affordable to everyone, they have pioneered initiatives such as the world’s first free triathlon series and triathlons at primary school games with the aim being to increase participation at every level. Whether you want to dip your toe in a single short (“sprint”) triathlon or tackle a full distance event or a series, their events are well worth checking out.
Find out more at: www.intotri.com
Penzance event photos copyright INTOTRI and the event photographer. All other images courtesy of Katy Austin-Waters.
At the end of the school summer holidays every year we have our annual staff outing – our version of a Christmas party for a business that isn’t fully staffed at Christmas. In the past we’ve done things like heading to Plymouth for a coaching session off the Olympic height diving board there, as well as two previous attempts at floating down the River Camel to Rock on inflatables, in fancy dress as our favourite sea creatures. This year, on the last Saturday of the holidays before some of our seasonal staff have to head off back to university, we undertook another epic river run – and this year, we made it all the way to Rock! In years past unfavourable winds and tides, punctures, and the problems that come with trying to paddle whist dressed as a crab, jellyfish or sea cucumber have combined to cause us to call the river run a day upon reaching Wadebridge, whereupon we have retired to a pub as a damp assembly of marine life. This year the wind was at our back and Liam had the bright idea of us all taking golf umbrellas to use as sails, which worked incredibly well. We all purchased the same model of inflatable dinghy (no fancy pack rafts here!) so that nobody would be left behind on an unsuitable craft, and duct tapped the bottoms for reinforcement. Fancy dress was, reluctantly, cancelled so that we’d have the best chance of going the full distance.
We put in at Groggly Halt, at Polbrock on the Camel Trail (between Wadebridge and Bodmin), where the river becomes sensibly navigable for small inflatable dinghys. Any further up river and we’d have risked punctures from shallow sections, or had sections that we’d have to get out and walk around. We paddled to Wadebridge, whereupon we met the dropping tide and “hoisted sail” to help carry us down stream towards Rock. Three and a half hours later, having covered a distance of almost 12km, we all successfully beached at Rock, on the beach next to the sailing school.
L-R: Hugo, Ollie, Hannah, Liam, Ben, Jon, Pete and Toby celebrating a successful river run!
To any of you who were disappointed at not being able to join us for any sessions or rent kit on that afternoon, please accept our apologies. The team have worked so hard this summer and it’s important to us that before some trickle off in September we all get together as a full team and celebrate another great season. The team that plays together stays together, and Cornish Rock Tors wouldn’t be what it is without these wonderful individuals and their hard work and dedication.
Note: Inflatable dinghies are not suitable craft for open water; we undertook this thoroughly planned expedition with safety precautions in place and back-up plans should we have encountered any difficulties along the way. Please don’t attempt to replicate this trip.
This summer our guided stand-up paddleboarding trips and SUP hire have proven incredibly popular – no surprise really with the incredible weather and conditions that we’ve had in Cornwall. Our guided sessions include instruction from our qualified staff, and every rental also includes a quick introduction to stand-up paddling as part of the safety brief, but for those who have been out with us and are now considering buying an SUP and setting out on your own, here are our five top tips for safe, efficient and enjoyable paddling:
ADJUST YOUR PADDLE TO THE CORRECT LENGTH
All of our paddles, and most entry-level paddles that come as part of a package, are adjustable. For regular paddling (on flat water, rather than for trying to surf) your paddle should be 6-8 inches longer than you are tall. This will allow you to generate the most power from your stroke, with minimal effort.
HOLD YOUR PADDLE THE RIGHT WAY ROUND
The blade on stand-up paddles are angled (called the “kickback angle”), and many beginners mistakenly hold the paddle so that the blade is angled back towards them under eh assumption that the paddle will “scoop” the water. The blade should actually be angled AWAY from the paddler (pointing towards the front/nose of the board) as this results in a smoother stroke and much more power being generated through the entirety of the stroke, particularly the middle section as the blade will be vertical as you pull it past you. Smoother, more powerful, and less stress on your shoulders can only be a good thing!
START (OR STAY) ON YOUR KNEES
This applies to both the start of your session, until you are familiar, comfortable and balanced on the board, and the start of every session when you mount your board in shallow water. When you first enter the water, kneel up on your paddleboard until you have paddled out into slightly deeper water; if you go straight to standing and fall off in shallow water you are far more likely to hurt yourself. You can paddle effectively (holding the shaft of your paddle part way up) from your knees until you are confident enough to try standing up, and return to your knees should you need to – perhaps if conditions change and the sea becomes a bit bumpier.
ENJOY THE GLIDE
At the end of each paddle stroke, there is no rush or need to dig straight into the next stroke; allow the power generated by the stroke to propel you forward, and enjoy the glide! Taking a short pause between each paddle stroke will mean you travel further, for fewer strokes.
BEND AT THE KNEES
With your feet parallel, shoulder width apart, and facing forwards in the centre of the board (roughly either side of the carry handle), it will be the muscles in your feet and legs that help you to keep your balance. Keep you feet, hips and head in a straight line, one above the other, and soften your knees. If you bend at the waist then your head and upper body (the heavy parts of you!) will be off centre and you are more likely to wobble and fall in. Soft knees, loose hips and a feeling for your feet will help you to maintain your balance as you move through your paddle stroke.
Have fun out there!
As part of National Marine Week, on Friday 10th of August we welcomed Cornwall Wildlife Trust marine biologists Niki Clear and Adele Morgan for a special Ecoasteering session at Port Gaverne.
With a 1.02 metre low tide in the middle of the morning we had a large expanse of intertidal rocks and rock pools uncovered and waiting to be explored. With Hugo and Toby leading a group of enthusiast of all ages, and accompanied by Niki and Adele, we set off along the south side of Port Gaverne. The first thing that we found were an abundance of Celtic sea slugs; admittedly they aren’t the most glamorous of marine creatures, but these small mottled grey slugs are quite rare and difficult to find so Niki and Adele were pleased to record a colony here.
Along the same rock wall we found several different small crabs, including a Montague crab and several small shore crabs. The Montague crab is a pretty pumped up little fellow with big pincers, and will grab hold of anything that it can and not let go – including in this case a small piece of plastic straw (which we managed to take off him and dispose of).
With Niki and Adele on hand to spot and identify, we worked our way along the intertidal zone, turning over stones in rock pools and trying to identify all of the creatures that swam and scuttled off into the shadows of the seaweed. We saw lots of shannies, and of course all of the creatures that can’t move of their own accord such as strawberry and snakelock anemones. Hugo also found a five-bearded rock ling towards the end of the session.
As well as scrambling around the rocks and rock pools, and exploring some of the large caves, the group also explored the gut at low tide, finding lots of beautiful blue-rayed limpets which are about the size of a grain of rice and can be found clinging to kelp fronds.
After a few jumps and a go on the “seaweed slide” – a slippery gulley on a wave-washed ledge, the group explored the exposed rocks all the way back to the beach.
“It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.”
These sessions with experienced marine biologists are really rewarding and very informative, for all members of the group and our guides who also get to enhance their knowledge. Rock pools and the rocks and ledges that are exposed as the tide goes out are each tiny little worlds within which, over the course of a single tidal cycle, countless dramas are played out by the species that live there.
We’re hoping to host more Your Shore Beach Rangers sessions in the future, and all being well Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Shore Search team will be joining us to do a proper survey at Port Gaverne, and officially record some of the amazing marine life that calls our coast home.
National Marine Week is upon us again (although these days it’s a fortnight)! Our friends at Cornwall Wildlife Trust are celebrating Cornwall’s extraordinary marine life with fun and inspiring marine events across the county from Saturday 28th July to Sunday 12th August, including a very special Ecoasteering session with us at Port Gaverne on Friday August 10th.
Join us for a coasteering session with a difference with marine biologists Niki Clear and Adele Morgan, exploring the coastline for fantastic wildlife in hard to reach places!
Friday 10th August, 10am – 1pm
This special Ecoasteering session will cost £36 per person, with priority given to residents of Cornwall who want to explore the beauty of their back yard.
This is a joint event with Shoresearch Cornwall and the Your Shore Beach Rangers team.
Take a look at all of the other National Marine Week events.
With the incredible clear and calm weather that we’ve had here in Cornwall through June and the start of July, it’s been really easy to spot some of the marine life that call our stretch of coast home. There have been numerous jellyfish drifting with the tide recently, mostly Moon jellyfish (Aurelia Aurita) and Blue jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii), but we have also spotted a few Comb jellies (Beroe cucumis) that are truly mesmerising. A Comb jelly is a sack-shaped jelly so looks very different to a “normal” jellyfish with their bell-shaped body and tentacles hanging underneath. They can grow up to 15cm in length and have been described as being “shaped like a small courgette”, however we have only seen small specimens about half that size recently – not much larger than an adult’s thumb. They are totally transparent making them hard to spot, but the eight longitudinal combs that run the length of the comb jelly and which they use to propel themselves reflect and refract the light as they beat putting on a spectacular light display. As they move, every colour of the rainbow seems to ripple along the length of the comb jelly. One friend called a comb jelly a “disco jellyfish” when she was shown one recently! They are also reported to be mildly bioluminescent, but it’s hard enough to spot them during the day let alone at night! Comb jellies are predators, actively hunting plankton and often feeding on other comb jellies. They feed by swallowing their prey whole through their large mouth.
If you’re paddling in the shallows around the rocks in any of Cornwall’s sheltered bays, such as here at Port Gaverne, this summer, then keep an eye out for the rippling light display of the comb jelly – they are a wonder of nature and a sight to behold.