3 February, 2023
The blue pastel tones of early evening blurred sky with sea on the horizon. As the wind whirled around me on my lonely SUP and whistled through the twisted crags of Welsh headland, I was reminded of my presence as a visitor, an observer, existing in this wild place.
The Llŷn Peninsula boasts a vast and beautiful coastline, however it is the remoteness of the wild welsh bays that gives them their unique charm. In the dusky haze of a quiet summer’s evening, clouds were cast across the sky in long brush strokes, the sea rippled gently, completely bare up until the horizon. I ventured out on my solo SUP, gliding over the glassy surface, suspended over the deep, blue, mysterious depths beneath, my silhouette cutting through the undisturbed coastline. The only noise echoed from the ocean swell lapping on the rocks, and distant halliards dancing on the moorings. An eerie, perfect stillness settled on the quiet surroundings and seemed to swallow me up on my SUP. Nature holding its breath. Moving, painting my wake on the dark, marbled surface, I felt the slow, gentle rhythm of the ocean ripple through my my body, connecting me to the depths beneath.
The old white lifeboat station sat perched precariously on the verge of the rocks as the tides swirled underneath. It attracted birds overhead and their cawing echoed, tossed over the bouncing sea. Then, a shoot of water jumped up into the air and emerging gracefully, pushing through the mercury surface, the long, graceful arch of its dark, supple body and small hooked fin. A minke whale. I watched its long, dark shadow soar, twist and twirl under the surface, gliding, slicing through the clear sea. It dived under and around my board, rising to the surface with a playful leap, flicking and fanning its broad, beautiful tail fluke.
The pastel stillness of the remote cove was brought to life by the graceful, majestic creature. Each soaring surprise of its dorsal fin and playful shoot of water took my breath away. It moved with agile, darting speed through the clear body of glassy blue, yet with such a calming and serene presence as it leapt up beautifully. I watched the whale in amazement. The playful sound of its blowhole was an immediate and sustained explosion of water, firing up at various points around me, it almost felt like the minke was a child beckoning me to play. Encased in the beautiful, wild surroundings of sea and sky, I stared as it propelled itself through the ocean with a curiosity, and splashed playfully in the swell. Instantly, I felt immensely connected to this beautiful beast. The glassy sea was almost a mirror, as we each explored our own worlds in the same way. We were each the only other living thing in open sight, and in the quietness of my hushed surroundings, I could just about hear the whale’s deep, husky breathing.
I currently study English at Cambridge University and have a range of writing and journalism experience in the university setting- I edit a magazine, and an academic journal and have created my own travel- based student magazine which I edit and write for. Also, I really enjoy extreme sports and frequently sail, surf and paddleboard. I am passionate about outdoor activities and sustainable fun!
Most recent articles in WINTER
Ed Leigh is a notable voice in the world of action sports. Having commentated at the Olympics Ed is no stranger to the microphone. He joins Dom on this weeks episode of the Outside & Active Podcast.
Deeply snow-covered slopes against a backdrop of high alpine panoramas, creative culinary delights rooted in tradition, and an almost limitless array of offerings beyond the slopes define the picturesque Zillertal Valley, promising an unforgettable winter vacation.
If you are looking for varied slopes, rustic huts and charming villages, Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau is the place to be.