New to team Palm for 2016 is Dr Lou Luddington, sea kayak guide and marine biology expert. We caught up with her last week for some quickfire questions on her inspiration, wildlife, and where best to paddle in her neck of the woods ...
Solva near St David's in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
I went paddling a few days ago along the coast near St David's. Its looking stunning at the moment with all the coastal flowers in bloom and many of the seabirds nesting high up on the cliffs.
Doing my five star training on Anglesey with Roger Chandler on one of the biggest spring tides of the year. We had to get stuck in to some big water which was challenging and a lot of fun. As a contrast my other highlight was doing a Greenland rolling course with Cherrie Perry and Turner Wilson. I now have a Greenland paddle and often go out and find a calm spot and just roll. Its very relaxing and I love being underwater anyway so I wear my diving mask and hang out for a while!
The west coast of Scotland is hard to beat but locally I love to get out to the offshore islands, Ramsey, Skomer, the Bishops and Clerks - the perfect combination of moving water, wildlife and the feeling of remoteness.
Vancouver Island, BC. If you love wilderness and wildlife this place is simply stunning. I spent five weeks there a few years ago with my husband and two friends. We were all experienced paddlers so just hired boats and headed off for several days at a time. We immersed ourselves in the spirit of the place and were rewarded with so many memorable wildlife encounters. I wrote a two part article about it for Ocean Paddler(issues 39 and 40) in which I recount waking in the darkness to the sound of a humpback whale breathing as it circled the tiny island we had chosen to camp on. It was a magical few weeks and I dream of going back.
Paddle with wildlife in mind – minimise the disturbance you cause, especially at breeding times. Focus in on the small things – some of the tiny encrusting plants and animals that grow on rock or float by as you paddle along have some fascinating life stories. Be curious!
The natural world inspires me and paddling is a very honest way to experience it. No motor or fuel required except the food needed to power my muscles which means you get some exercise too!
Any one of my homemade wholefood bars. I have a small, side business called All Good ( allgoodsoulfood.com) – snacks made with dried fruits, nuts, oats, coconut oil, cocoa, maple syrup – all the good stuff! They are packed full of sweet, wholesome energy! A Coco Dream Bar or an All Day Breakfast Bar are probably my favourite for paddling.
A favourite trip of mine is launching from Whitesands beach where there is potential for a little surf then going in the ebbing tide along Ramsey Sound, taking in the Bitches for a play as the tide picks up. This is the best time to see porpoise at the south end of the sound so you can often get great, up-close sightings. There are plenty of seals and seabirds on the water during the spring and early summer too. Then head east along the south coast of the St David's peninsula stopping off for lunch at Porth Llysgi beach where there are great rockpools to explore at low tide. You can then rock hop your way along the coast to finish at Porth Clais harbour. I like this trip because it is close to home and has a bit of everything including plenty of marine life.
I have some wildlife focused weekends planned called 'Sea Kayak, See Life' (check my website for details luddingtonmarine.co.uk), one of which includes an overnight stay on Skomer Island which I am excited about. I will also be at the Stackpole Sea Kayak Festival (21st and 22nd May) running wildlife focused trips. And I'll be out working on my five star skills, rolling with a stick and getting out to the islands for some immersive wildlife paddling as much as I can.