The best parking and launching site for sea kayaks is the viewpoint car park in front of the Oyster Inn on the on the A85, GR 909 343, this is on the south side of the water. You can also park on the old road at the northern end of the bridge but the carry to the water is horrendous with a sea kayak. Full details here
Paddling the falls
The falls are a useful venue for sea kayaks on both the flood and ebb tides and throughout the spring-neap cycle
Spring Ebb tides
Please refer to the schematic on the playboaters page to get an idea of how the falls flow.
- If you are expert, (and I mean expert!) you can try the main wave and centre wave. These waves are difficult in a long kayak and if you can stay on them you are likely to get a dramatic pop out. BEWARE Be very careful on the main wave on low tides. I believe that it would be possible to hit the bottom with the front of a sea kayak. Expert sea paddlers seem to prefer the centre wave as it is longer and has a lot more depth below it. You can get there by making a high cross on the main wave, an exciting move in itself.
- However, the Forever Wave is the top choice in a sea kayak. If it is working, carry your kayak over the kelp covered rocks under the bridge and launch on the upstream side. Float down backwards to the waves left of centre of the northern flow. The first wave is not often steep enough but the second one is superb. Alternately, if you are fast, get out into the broken white water in the middle, head for the north east corner of the white area and break into the current upstream of the waves.
- For sea paddlers, the southern shore also provides plenty of fun. Paddle up-stream under the bridge in the eddy by the southern bridge pier and break into the main current. Wow! Ride the jet and break out southwards through the boil before the car park. This is great fun and can be both challenging and exhilarating. BEWARE there is an old sewer pipe running into the water 30 meters east of the car park. It is fairly obvious but you would not want to hit it. The upstream flow from the eddy boil tends to take you towards it.
Spring Flood tides
There is plenty of sport to be had on the flood tide in a sea kayak. It has a safety advantage over the ebb tide in that it is heading inland, so it is ideal from a coaching point of view in that “situations” are less likely to get out of control.
The best time to paddle is the last hour before and 30 minutes after high water. The flow won’t reverse until 2 hours 10 minutes after high water but from 1 hour after, it is quite feasible to paddle “up” the falls, i.e. westwards back towards the sea and the car park. If you want to get off earlier you can portage the rocks on the South side (easy) or the North side (awkward). For flood tide times see the tide prediction tables