The idea: Paddle to a beach and spend the night, before exploring the caves and bays of the Jurassic Coast.
Location: Jurassic Coast, Dorset.
Transport: 1x inflatable kayak, 2x inflatable stand up paddle boards (SUPs)
Essential kit: Waterproof bags, waterproof phone case.
Less-essential kit: Poundland tarp.
Kit we wished we’d had: Something drier than a Poundland tarp.
Cost per person: Free – £60 for a kayak – £300 for a Bic SUP
Jake had timed it to perfection. His girlfriend was at work, the neighbours were out and the courier was minutes away. His heart felt like it was about to break through its fleshy cage and his tongue was dry with anticipation. The doorbell rang, the box was ushered in and its contents carefully, delicately revealed themselves. She was stunning. He had seen her online and in catalogues and had waited for this day ever since his funds had reached the tipping point. Luckily she came with a pump, which he gingerly inserted, thrusting away until her shapely figure materialised. Replacing her bung, he stood back and took her in. He couldn’t wait to have a go in her, so slipped into something more comfortable, and lowered himself inside. Suddenly a key enters the lock, the door springs open… Jake’s girlfriend takes a moment to survey the scene, then a huge smile breaks on her face: “Amazing! You bought a boat!”
Unknowingly, I had a parallel experience a few miles along the coast, except with an inflatable SUP made by the company famous for its trusty and ubiquitous pens, BIC. This has led to frequent use of the phrase “smack my BIC SUP”, which, I’m sure you’ll agree is a cracking play on words.
“"With the light rapidly disappearing and an hour of trials on the sea’s unwelcoming bosom, general feelings of terror rose as we realised we would soon have difficulty seeing."”
Eager to test out our new toys on the ocean we hatched a characteristically ambitious plan to meet at the home of adventure – the Jurassic Coast – and float our various vessels to a sleeping spot for a wild bivvy overnighter. Jake and I, having work of the slightly more flexible variety, headed to the coast early and had a run along the infamous coastal path. The first hill caused my heart rate monitor to flash up a number that would beat even the finest dart score from Phil “the Power” Taylor. I slowed things to a walk and managed to heroically catch up with Jake when he kindly decided to turn around.
From there, we tested something that was inspired by a book I had just finished reading: the excellent Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. The book promotes a natural style of running and mentions a visionary coach who told his students to run barefoot on dewy grass three times a week. I had dabbled in barefoot running and was keen to get Jake involved. So, we kicked off our overpriced sneakers and felt the grass beneath our feet. For the next ten minutes we frolicked like a couple of wide-eyed doe. As soon as we stubbed our manicured toes on a bit of gravel we reverted back to a more civilised and well shod nature, albeit with a little bit of sadness.
Our only EA team companion for this trip was to be Matthew, fresh from a London desk and a crowded train carriage. Preparations were done, inflatables pumped and cars parked. Ready to go, the sun unfortunately had the same idea, leaving us in dusky twilight when we left the calm of Lulworth Cove for the choppiness of the open sea. Stand Up Paddle boarding quickly became Knees Up Paddle boarding as we struggled to avoid a dip in the briny depths.
With the light rapidly disappearing and an hour of trials on the sea’s unwelcoming bosom, general feelings of terror rose as we realised we would soon have difficulty seeing. Luckily, St Oswald’s Bay opened up in front of us and any thoughts of a longer paddle were soon abandoned in favour of a place to land and eat our dinners.
Mackerel devoured and one single beer shared, we were left with very little to do other than have a kip. I managed to force myself to have a brief swim to freshen up for bed and then we all slipped into our bivvys for the night. Well, two of us did, and Jake, unfortunately bivvy-less, opted for a tarp he bought from Poundland.
The night was not kind to us, intermittent showers tested the integrity of the Poundland tarp and bad planning resulted in us pitching on a slope, which made for constantly sliding. Sunrise was a welcome interruption and knowing that we wouldn’t be getting any sleep, we packed up and set off in search of our favourite places to play. Durdle Door was first and the obligatory “SUP through the door” shot was taken. Next up, Stair Hole with all it’s glorious nooks, crannies and cliff jumps.
Our final stop was a visit to our good old friend #EAGnome to see how he was getting on in his new home. Turns out that there had been a bit of a kerfuffle with the neighbours and EAGnome was in need of some major surgery. Climbing around the surrounding islands, we found a number of other homes and vowed to return to place some of his brothers and sisters again. More on that soon.
At 11AM we headed back to the cars and realised we had squashed almost a full day of adventure into the amount of time that people normally spend in the land of nod/semi nod. Feeling that glow that only comes from severe lack of sleep and a bracing morning dip, we headed off for a bit of brekky and inevitably, and not particularly ruggedly, an afternoon nap. ▲