A trip to the Skerries and a glorious day at the races!


We read about exotic paddling locations overseas and tales of ‘daring do’.. But it’s hard to beat what is on our own doorstep.  Anglesey and a trip to the Skerries never disappoints. The Skerries or better; Ynysoedd y Moelrhoniaid in Welsh (remember this word and ask Paul for help with pronunciation) lie around 3km from Carmel Head and 13km North of Holyhead. Light (F3 – F5 and dropping) winds from the North and a big smiley sun forecast, Saturday 22nd April was a day for the Skerries!

With small tides and flood beginning around 1400 at the Skerries, a leisurely start with time to play on the way was planned.

We went as a group of five. Two of us, myself and Dave Southern from Shrewsbury CC the others; Paul, Rachel and Ed will be known by some and are true ‘friends’ of SCC.

 GPS track of our route, taken from Paul's watch

GPS track of our route, taken from Paul’s watch


chart of skerries trip

A quick call to the Coastguard and our launch was from the pebbly beach at Cemlyn with a plan to take the ebb tide escalator to the Skerries. From the beach we could see some white water at Harry Furloughs rocks, marked by the green Harry Furlong (Harry Furlough) buoy and the first red ‘blob’ on the track.

Now, ‘Harry’ seems to have been a right charmer!

A local character named ‘Harris’ is reputed to have extinguished beacon lights that marked the rocks at Cemlyn, thus wrecking them on the rocks. The rocks were a furlong distance from the shore. Over time the name is supposed to have changed to Harry Furlough (Furlong) Rocks. The stone beacon was changed to a green conical buoy in the late 1960’s.

For us, the ebb tide flowing over the rocks created some fun surf waves in brilliant sunshine. Ever mindful of the ghost of old Harris and his wrecking potential of glass boats. Ed having been previously ‘got’ at this spot!

A trip to the Skerries involves a long ferry glide, punctuated by navigation aids and interesting targets. From Harry Furlough’s the first target is the North  Cardinal buoy of Victoria bank. Top cones pointing up, black over yellow  and flashes V.Q if you are here at night (yes, we do!)

Before the Cardinal marker another fabulous race formed! Rolling, blue waves which the boats scream down in a shower of sparkling spray. No rocks and a safe run-out made this perfect! (second red ‘blob’)

From Victoria bank we pass around 1km North of the islet, West Mouse. With the kayaks pointing North of the Skerries we have completed half the journey when the two navigation markers on Carmel head line up with the beacon on top of West Mouse. Coal Rock is the next Cardinal (South) Marker buoy (cones pointing down, yellow over black, flashes Q6+LFL15s at night)

Picture of Rachel at Coal rock, 'cos she's better looking than us!

Picture of Rachel at Coal rock, ‘cos she’s better looking than us!

As we approached the Skerries another race formed which provided some fun and rock dodging.

Arriving in the peace of the Skerries lagoon is a true joy! We passed a small flotilla of Puffins and we’re now met by many Grey Seals. After all, these are the islands of the ‘bald headed grey seals’ (I’m sure the big one had her eye on Dave?)

skerries lighthouse

For further information and history of the Skerries light, please see:


lunch at lighthouse

The view from the Skerries is a joy. A full 360 degree panorama which includes mountains, ocean, South Stack,  Isle of Man (but not today) and more tide races! Lunch involved the usual ‘intellectual conversation’ i.e. unremitting pxxs taking and relaxing in warm sunshine.

All too soon the sun went in behind high cloud and sweaty, cooling bodies had to be stirred into action for the return journey using the now flood tide.

A small tide, early in the tidal cycle meant we only needed a small ferry angle and aimed close to West Mouse, it’s white beacon with Wylfa power station behind allowed good transits to check drift.

Arriving at West Mouse and the last but fabulous race formed quickly in steepening, rolling waves. A real bonus towards the end of the day. The final, easy section past a now quiet Harry Furlough’s rocks into Cemlyn ending a glorious paddle with friends in a stunning environment which (today) allowed us to play.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. I sure ain’t no ‘David Bailey’ and I get emotionally attached to my paddle in tide races.  I really should remind folk that these are complex waters and cannot be taken lightly. The speed those Cardinal markers sail away is unbelievable!

The true end of the paddle was marked by a customary beer!

Richard Janes.


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