Active Travel: Kayaking in Guernsey

A few weeks ago, I had a brilliant few days in Guernsey with my friend Jo. As well as racking up my 50th parkrun, we had an action packed few days including a brilliant kayaking session with Outdoor Guernsey. At £37.50 each for 2 hours, it wasn’t cheap, but we had a great morning.

The health benefits of kayaking are numerous, including improved cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and engaging your core. I knew what a workout it can be and was expecting to ache a lot the following day – when we went kayaking in Jersey, I definitely suffered from some DOMS the following day.

 

Kayaking in Guernsey

Jo before we got into our kayaks

 

Outdoor Guernsey don’t have set locations for kayaking, instead they text you the night before and let you know where to go, depending on the weather and tides. We were really fortunate to be told that we would be meeting at Havelot, a 10 minute walk from the hotel we were staying at in St Peter’s Port. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed a pleasant walk to the bay where we quickly decided that wetsuits and multiple layers weren’t really necessary – it was warm! I had a bikini on underneath my t-shirt and tights and windproof running top. After I added the lifejacket, I even regretted the running top, it was warm out there and I’d stupidly forgotten to put some sun cream on. The back of my head is shaved, so this wasn’t my brightest idea, luckily our instructor Matt was happy to let us use some of his.

It was a slightly clumsy entry into the kayaks as we scrambled into them just off some rocks. Then we were on the water and on our way!

I was slightly nervous to start with. I really enjoy kayaking, but Jo is a stronger kayaker and more experienced so I was worried about keeping up and slowing us down, but I didn’t need to worry. After a few paddles, I felt comfortable and it was time to start our tour. The water was very choppy and hard going in places, but Matt cheerily pointed out that although we were going against the wind now in choppy waters, it meant that we would have a really fast journey back. It was hard work, but fun on the outward stretch and we kayaked past La Valette Underground Military Museum and the Aquarium. Other interesting points of interest were the outdoor swimming baths, which date back to 1865. On a walk later on in the trip, we discovered that they had been rejuvenated and were back in use. Fans of Les Miserables may be interested to note that one notable person who used to use them was Victor Hugo, who lived in Guernsey from 1855 until Napoleon III’s fall from power.

 

Guernsey swimming baths

La Valette Bathing Pools, Guernsey

 

Having never kayaked in choppy waters before, my arms certainly started to feel the burn but I had a great time as my kayak rode the waves. I felt like I was on a theme park ride at times, as my kayak bounced through the water. We also negotiated some gaps in the rocks which was good fun – I nailed the first one, but the second one wasn’t so clean as I bumped my paddle a few times. I definitely welcomed a short break after an hour or so though – my blood sugar levels were a little low and I was starting to feel shaky, but I was impressed I managed to ride the waves on my kayak up to the beach, where I sat for a few minutes with sugary water. Jo paddled around and it was really relaxing watching her effortlessly work the water in the little cove.

Soon it was time for the journey back and we paddled further out off the coast and headed back towards Castle Cornet, at the Southern End of St Peter Port Harbour. It was a fairly clear day and we were able to see across to the island of Herm, which we planned to visit the following day. We cruised back, talking about parkrun, with the help of the wind behind us this time. The water was still choppy, but it was much easier without the wind to contend with. That said, my arms were really starting to burn at this point so I was quietly relieved when we paddled around to the slipway to disembark. Matt offered to help us, but we both caught a wave and managed to ride it up the slipway – now THAT was good fun!

We squelched our way up to the restaurant overlooking the bay where they kindly allowed us to leave our belongings and sat outside with a well-deserved cappuccino to recover.

 

View of Castle Cornet after kayaking in Guernsey

View of Castle Cornet from the outside bar after kayaking

 

Kayaking is a brilliant way to see Guernsey as the views from the water are so special, I regret not wearing my GoPro. It’s great being out in the fresh air, getting a workout whilst seeing the island from a different angle. I highly recommend it, but do be aware that Outdoor Guernsey don’t offer storage facilities, so keep belongings to a minimum. They also offer activities such as climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, and coasteering – something I’d LOVE to have the bottle for.

Are you a fan of active holidays? What are your top tips for an active break?

1 Comment

  1. Lou
    October 17, 2016 / 7:31 am

    This looks fun. I think I would have got tired though.

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