Editor's note:Susan Martinez is a bilingual psychotherapist, accomplished kayaker and enthusiastic poster on theEddyline Kayaks Owners Group superfan facebook page. For a special treat, she did the following write up on her recent trip to Bannerman’s Castle in the Hudson Bay. On a side note, Susan’s idea to connect with a local paddling club for a kayaking excursion in a new territory is an excellent way to get out and about and create a bigger paddle community. You should try it too!
A little about Susan: Always posing a love of the water and sea, she has been seriously kayaking for the past four years. Susan fell in love with Eddyline kayaks and is the proud owner of both a Sandpiper and a Sitka. She is an avid, year around kayaker, and always seeks to improve skills taking classes with LL Bean, and some of the numerous kayak clubs of which she is a member.
It was a cool crisp morning; excitement was in the air as we prepared to set out and explore Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island just north of New York on the Hudson River. I barely slept the night before full of angst and excitement. I was nervous about strong wind, waves, and currents- and there was anticipation about paddling with a new group, the Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association.
I planned my entire weekend around this trip, visiting The River Connection Kayak shop in Hyde Park Friday, renting an Airbnb near New Paltz for Saturday night, and then traveling to Cold Spring, New York with my Eddyline Sitka, early Saturday morning.
Arriving at the launch, Foundry Dock Park at 9am, the flotilla of 12 mirrored my excitement for the paddle. Many were visiting the Hudson for the first time. The group was well organized and well prepared for the journey.
As we launched, a train passed by on the far side of the bay. The flotilla’s first stop was Denning Point. With anthropomorphic roots stretching back to 4,000 BC notable through Wiccapee and Shenandoah artifacts, Denning Point also entombs snippets of history for Alexander Hamilton and, you guessed it, General William Denning of George Washington's staff.
After reaching Denning’s point we continued onward to Pollopel Island and Bannerman Castle. We headed into the wind and paddled against the current. This area can blow a good gale and currents are affected by tides. Checking conditions in advance is advisable.
The island brandishes its name from a tale told by Dutch sailors, in which a young girl, Polly Pell, was rescued from breaking river ice, and landed on the island with her companion. The story is a romantic saga in which Polly is betrothed and married on the island to the lad that rescued her. Hence, the island was named in her honor.
The island holds a connection with the Spanish American war and the American Revolution. The connection is through a Scottish arms dealer Francis Bannerman, 1851-1918. Legend has it this was an ideal place to stash prized artillery as it was away from the city, an island and native lore held it was haunted which often kept intruders away.
Bannerman built the traditional Scottish castle on the island in 1901 to house his munitions and as his home. In 1967, a fire erupted in the castle, and a great deal of the munitions, and the castle, went up in smoke. It was abandoned until 1992 when the Bannerman Castle Trust was erected and turned the castle into a paddlers paradise and tourist hot spot.
The castle and its remnants were a sight to see. Some said it was like we were paddling on the set of Game of Thrones. The beauty and majesty was breathtaking. We paddled around the castle, took in the wildlife and the gothic essence of the ivy laden remains of Bannerman’s legacy. Bannerman’s castle remains a gem amidst the beauty and the grandeur of the Hudson and a must see for avid paddlers visiting the area. Our group passed several charming bridges and where we completed our journey we had amazing shrimp and chorizo tacos from a local vendor.