Though geographically close the two areas covered in this sea kayaking guidebook are as different in character as it is possible to conceive. The South East of England has a varied landscape of chalk cliffs, pebble beaches, vast expanses of sand, mudflats, and river estuaries. At one extreme the tidal Thames runs through the densely populated City of London and at the other the deserted North Norfolk coast.
Conversely the Channel Islands are a small number of large islands and a vast number of islets and reefs. Here we are talking pink granite, white sandy beaches and very strong tidal streams. They are closer to France than to England (a mere 12km between Les Ecrehous reef and mainland France). Many of the routes here are very committing but there are also a good number of gentler paddles.
Derek Hairon is a BCU Level 5 sea kayak coach and has paddled throughout the Channel Islands for over 42 years. In 1978 he completed the first circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak and subsequent expeditions to Alaska, Nova Scotia, Faeroe Islands, Aland Islands, Brittany, whitewater rivers in Nepal and most of the classic UK sea kayaking destinations. He owns Jersey Kayak Adventures and runs a range of sea kayak introductory and advanced courses plus guided coastal sea kayak tours.
The impetus for the South East England section of the guide was originally provided by Chris Wheeler, whose enthusiasm and commitment to kayaking knew no bounds. On his untimely death on the River Dart others stepped into the breach and the section was a combined effort involving seven different contributors. They are Andy Levick, Mark Rainsley, Mark Gawler, Annie Newport, Guy Smith, John Brett, and Kurt Finch.
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