The following paddles have been described in and around the Isle of Man. These descriptions are a brief guide only, and should not be used alone for trip planning purposes.
Manx Paddle Sports information page.
Buy Palm, Dagger and Ainsworth kayaking gear through Mobex. Mobex are a Manx children's charity specializing in outdoor activities for kids. All profits are ploughed straight back into Mobex.
myKAYAK is the Facebook group where you'll find many of the kayakers involved with KAYAK.im .If you are looking for a paddling partner on the Isle of Man, Paddle Buddy is a way of linking with local Manx sea kayakers, surf kayakers and river paddlers.
Detailed wind, temperature, precipitation, visibility and tide reports for the Isle of Man all in one handy place.
The Guide pages provide brief descriptions of Manx paddles and are aimed at those planning paddling holidays to the Isle of Man.
The Calf of Man is a small island measuring 1 square mile in area situated at the southern most tip of the Isle of Man. It is one of the best Manx paddling trips, but can also be one of the most demanding. It should be undertaken only by the most experienced kayakers, preferably in the company of an experienced and expert local guide. The journey involves paddling through or across some of the most ferocious tidal races in the Isle of Man, and in a very remote area where cellular and VHF communications can be difficult or impossible. (read more about the Calf of Man)
An anticlockwise passage will be described, but a clockwise circumnavigation may be preferable depending on wind and tide direction. The journey is about 4 Nm in length and takes about 1 hour.
Commencing the trip at the Calf Sound, and having crossed the three tidal races between the mainland, Kitterland and the "pepper pot" marker, head southwest along the most westerly coast of the Calf. Once past Cow Harbour on the north west tip of the Calf, there are no reliable escape points until over half of the circumnavigation is complete. This section is marked by shear grassy and rocky cliffs with no beaches at their base. About half way along this section is a rocky promontory which marks an underwater reef. At this point, when the tide is running, a tidal race is often present. Although no challenge for a kayaker experienced at tidal race paddling, this could certainly unseat the novice. Far worse awaits the paddler however, at The Stack.
Situated at the base of the south west tip of the Calf, below the light houses, this Stack lies approximately 40 ft offshore. The resulting narrow channel can be extremely tidal as millions of gallons of sea water are forced through this narrow gap. If the flow is against you it can be a real battle to paddle the 50 ft or so to escape the race. If the flow is with you an exciting enclosed tidal race surf requires caution, as it is easy to be smashed against the steep cliffs forming the margins of the passage. It is difficult to avoid this narrow passage as paddling around The Stack takes you into even more severe, exposed tidal races which can be treacherous even to the experienced paddler and can run for several miles in each direction. Once beyond this point, there are no easy escape points and another similar tidal race awaits. This means that you cannot escape back to the Manx mainland without paddling one or other race. The Stack, Calf of Man.
In addition, from this point onwards, wireless communications become difficult. There is no going back once beyond The Stack.
The southern most coast of the Calf is initially bounded by steep, shear cliffs. On the top, the many lighthouse for which the Calf is renowned, are located. However, as you proceed south east the cliffs do become lower, their bases more rocky and intricate, and it is possible to appreciate more the landscape of this beautiful little island. Usually, this section of the passage is straightforward if you hug the coast. I have at spring tides however, known it to be tidal along it's whole length. Looking south east, Chicken Rock Lighthouse is visible. Some extremely strong and complex currents meet at this point creating a very disturbed and treacherous area of sea.
Sothern Coast of the Calf with the "Drinking Draggon" far right.
Below: South Harbour, Calf of Man.
Curving around to the north east slightly the paddler now meets the "drinking dragon" (or the Buroo), so named by us due to it's resemblance to this mythical beast. There is a very narrow passage between this elongated stack and the Calf. This however, is only reliably passable at high tide and even then beware the myriad of rocks just below the surface which can become exposed if there is a swell. More usually we pass to the outside of the "dragon", through another tidal race between it and a small group of rocks further east. The entrance to this race is guarded by often turbulent water created by the meeting of an eddy and tide. This race can be as treacherous and fastflowing as any other, but once beyond it safety can be found at the South Harbour on the Calf of Man. This provides a safe, sheltered exit point large enough for small launches to access.
Paddling northwards from South Harbour, once again the coastline returns to the familiar steep and inaccessible cliffs before returning the kayaker to the Calf Sound and completing the circumnavigation of the Calf of Man.
Warning: Kayaking can be dangerous. Non of the information provided here should be used to plan paddles by inexperienced kayakers, and without expert help and appropriate equipment. In no way should any person assume that any information contained on this site is a recommendation of the safety of the location, facility or professionalism of the instructing personnel. Indeed, some of the locations described can be dangerous.
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