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Loch Ard Sat 19th November

Paddlers: Francis, Ginette, Gordon and Geoff

Weather: Misty, cold but sunny for most of day. No wind. Quite breathtaking. 1-dsc_0140




There is a lay-by and small beach just as you come to the main loch. Surprisingly, given the cold and mist, there were two inflatables and a SOT (Epic8) already there when we arrived and some time later a canoeist arrived. As the mist lifted the sun started to break through. With a light layer of snow on the mountains it was quite beautiful.1-dsc_0141




Francis with Ben Lomond in background



We started at about 11am and initially paddled along the south shore rounding it at Kinlochard sailing club. The tea-shop was closed with the reeds presenting a virtually inpenetrable barrier to the beach. Our initial plan for lunch was abandoned and so we headed off past a sizable number of fishermen to the ruins of “Duke Murdoch’s Castle” on an island to the SE of the main loch. It is possibly the most uninteresting ruin in the country. We eventually lunched on the north shore before pushing on down the feature known as the narrows. The loch here is river wide but with only a very slow current. It soon widens again before finally narrowing and becoming the River Forth (with slightly stronger current). Whilst turning Gordon decided to catch his paddle in a tree and undertake a close inspection of the water. No harm done and the resulting fastish paddle to keep warm took us back to the launch by 3pm.

It was a very leisurely paddle and thoroughly recommended for a short cold winter’s day.

Loch Lomond 5th and 10th and Clyde on 12th November


The original trip on the 5th was on the Forth but gale force winds in the East forced re-consideration. The west looked better (sun all day) but forecast very windy F4 plus with F7 gusts. So we (Dave & Geoff)  tried it and found, at Luss, a more general F5 gusting F7 plus. Tried to go north but were beaten back at the headland so decided to keep inshore to the south. Quite pleasant with wind behind and kept tight in to bay at Camstradden House. The dolphin tree/wood sculpture is worth recording.ll1116-001


The return was less easy and more interesting. The Loch was very shallow with breaking white water at every point near the shore. The wind gusts made anything but directly into it very precarious as Dave found when he was turned by the wind and unceremoniously tipped in. Lunch was followed by a short walk to the river entrance and a pleasant paddle up and down the river. Unfortunately the exit was too shallow to paddle. So out of the boat and a new launch into the wind and water. Eventually we go back to the beach having covered about 3km in nearly 3 hours. An educational trip!

Loch Lomond

It had snowed on Tuesday evening and Wednesday and the mid week regulars were unavailable for the proposed Loch Awe or Loch Ard trips. However the weather on the Thursday was lovely if cold and the solo trip did generate some lovely photos which are presented here.

Looking North

Looking North


Ben Lomond

The first snow of the winter: Glen Luss

The first snow of the winter: Glen Luss


Saturday 12th was billed as a Beginners Trip. Initially the weather was forecast as too windy and the beginners quite reasonably looked for alternative occupations. By the time it was realised that it was going to be possible only the leaders, Euan, Geoff and Allan were available. Geoff decided to try sailing but even with the breeze he was slower than the paddlers!

It was a really pleasant paddle from Craigndoran to Clynder and back followed along Helensburgh prom by an inquisitive seal.





And seal

And seal

Critical information is the coffee shop in Clynder has closed for good.




Clyde October 2016

Paddlers: David, Matt, Damien, Colin, Innes and Geoff


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Weather: Hazy Sun. Calm

Report: Late interest and evening commitments led to a postponement of the Oban-Lismore paddle and the substitution of a clockwise Clyde route (the last identical circuit being anti-clockwise). This is thoroughly recommended as a strategy; it is really surprising how different the landscape looks.  The starting point was the beach just to the east of Kilcreggan by the gate posts on Fort Road. Whilst getting ready we met the factor of the estate that had flattened off the beach for easy launching. He was very encouraging and discussed plans for establishing the site for wind surfing dinghy sailing, paddle boards etc. We were naturally supportive.

The paddle across to Gourock was uneventful apart from the pod of 3 or 4 porpoises midway between Kilcreggan and Gourock. We then paddled along Gourock promenade, past the Royal Gourock Yacht Club and McInroys Point ferry terminal to the lighthouse at Cloch Point. Everybody was feeling good so we then struck across the Clyde again to the lighthouse at the Gantock Rocks.  These are just south of Dunoon Pier and were famously where the Waverley ran aground in 1977.

The Gantock Rocks just south of Dunoon Pier

The Gantock Rocks just south of Dunoon Pier

The short hop to the south beach of Dunoon concluded the first leg of the trip .


The beach cafe is recommended for the coffee and scones (as is the cafe at Kilcreggan). After a half hour lunch break we set off again north along the Dunoon promenade to Sandbanks and the ferry terminal at Hunters Quay where we crossed the mouth of the Holy Loch. It is worth noting that an intelligent teenager has no knowledge of the old US Base.

THe second stop was just short of the pier at Blairmore. The main reason was to establish if there was any ferry service from the pier but it is worth noting that there is a small pleasant cafe by the pier which sells ice cream!  For the record during the summer season the Waverley calls on a Tuesday and there is a boat from Greenock on a Wednesday.



The final leg took us across the mouth of Loch Long and along the promenade from Cove to Kilcreggan. particularly  interesting was Craigownie Castle in Cove, a massive structure that is normally not seen by the public.

We arrived back at the beach just before 15:30 having started at around 9:30. We covered around 20km at a leisurely, non taxing pace, in just under 5 hours of paddling. It was a lovely relaxing day.

Crete October 2016

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Paddlers: Geoff, Ken and Hugh


Crete is a long large thin island in the eastern Med some 160 miles north of Libya. It has a spine of mountains running east-west cut by very deep narrow gorges. The summits of the chain are in excess of 2000m (6500 ft) and are snow-covered in winter. east-med

In summer, when the winds are mainly from the north, it is very dry and hot with only teaspoons of rain from May to October . Like most of the Aegean the winds come up to F4 most afternoons (sometimes above) and sweep east along the south coast. However the biggest problem are the winds known locally as katabatics (although I am informed they are a mix of katabatics and foen winds).  When the wind speed in the north is greater than that of the south it rises up the mountains, where it condenses and is compressed in the gorges, accelerating the flow as it comes down the mountains towards the sea.  This can happen very quickly (30 minutes) and produce winds of F8 or more. As a consequence there is virtually no yachting and very little motor boat traffic. The very few kayakers are advised to stay close to shore (the cliffs) and prepare to get off the water very quickly. The support from the hirer includes Text messages to warn if any such winds are possible.

Crete has a long history dating from the earliest European civilisation (the Minoan) over 6000 years ago. The population  is 630,000 and the economy is based on agriculture and tourism with over 2m tourists visiting in any year. Unemployment is currently 30%. For the vast majority of tourists the clean sandy beaches are the main attraction with mandatory visits to the relics of 6000 years of “civilisation”.  Along the coast there are dozens of “taverna” which are particularly attractive in the heat of the afternoon. Greece has an Open Access policy which includes wild camping even on beaches between dusk and dawn.

Apart from ubiquitous goats,  we saw very little wildlife, which is probably due to the absence of rain during the summer. Midges, mosquitoes, flies and other insects were simply (and thankfully) absent. A swallow type of bird lived in the many caves and we saw large raptors (eagles or vultures) over the mountains. We saw no fish or other sea life apart from tiny whitebait skipping across the surface. This appears to be confirmed by the lack of fishing vessels.


The Route

Stelios, who runs the company Enjoy Crete ( offers day and multi-day guided tours, which include an 8 day trip along the South coast. If you have proven experience and skills he will also rent kayaks to individual groups for self guided tours. We opted for the 8 day tour (self guided) with the hope of a relatively easy 6 days and the expectation of at least one day trapped by wind.crete-map

This started in a village known as Palaiochora and finished in the village of Kokkinos Pirgos, at the head of a wide broad valley that heads due east and is the centre of Cretan agriculture. Each easy stage was characterised by spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches and excellent taverns. It is impossible to get lost!

Days 1 and 2: Glasgow-Heraklion-Sougea

We caught an afternoon plane for the 4.25 hour flight direct from Glasgow to Heraklion. The time difference is 2 hours so we arrived just after 9pm and got to our hotel in central Heraklion by taxi before 10pm. Heraklion, like all the Cretan towns we saw, is a jumble of squat white blocks, wires and vehicles.


From the hotel balcony

The pedestrianized areas in the centre have a range of restaurants and cafes which provided good food at cheap prices.

In the morning at 9.15am we took another taxi to a car park on the sea front where we met Stelios with car and trailer for the long 4 hour journey to the start point at Paliosgora. The wind was blowing F4 plus from the west a couple of km offshore. After purchasing fresh supplies for the next few days (bread, milk, cheese, fruit, gas and, above all else water) and loading the boats we said goodbye to Stelios and at 3.30pm started the journey.



This first section was one of the best. The wind had died slightly but there was a big swell and we were pushed along quickly.



Sougea Beach

Sougia Beach


Night at Sougea

Our destination was a village called Sougia. Spread along the beach were a large number of tents (big and small), camper vans, caravans, hammocks and stretched tarpaulins. In addition most of the tourists, mainly from northern Europe particularly Germany, preferred not to wear clothes. Sougia appears to be a left-over from the hippie days of the seventies.

In the village there are good shops and taverns where we spent an enjoyable evening.

Day 3: Sougia-Agia Roumelli

The previous afternoon’s paddle had identified a few equipment problems. Hugh had problems with a buckled back rest which was fixed to the back of the seat and could not be moved, causing quite substantial bruising in the lower back. Ken’s spraydeck fitted the cockpit perfectly but was too small over the deck area which resulted in no body sleeve. This led to water simply running to the waist and pouring into the boat via the trousers. We spent the best part of an hour trying to remedy this by shifting the seat forward  which made it tolerable but far from perfect. Despite attempts to straighten the back rest it immediately folded down on use. Because of these ad hoc repairs we did not leave until after 10am, the latest of any day.

The onward journey was the perfect mix of tiny buildings, sandy beaches, tall cliffs and sun.


Small Church and Goats

1-crete-0181-crete-022Our initial target was the entrance to the Samaria Gorge at Agia Roumelli. This  gorge is world famous and the centre of Crete’s major national park. Hundreds of people are bussed to the top, walk down the gorge and are then taken by boat back to Sougia where the coach meets them.

Ayia Roumelli

Ayia Roumelli

At the village as we walked up towards the steepest and narrowest section the wind started to become noticeable and by the time we returned at around 4pm was reaching F5 with stronger gusts. It was clearly impossible to move on so we retired to the tavern. At just after 6pm the wind dropped but it was now too late to move so we practiced erecting lightweight tents on a sandy beach in a F4. The food and drink in the adjacent taverna  was excellent.


Day 4 Agia Roumeli-Hora Skafion

We made an early (8.30) start to another sparkling day.

Depart from Roumelli

Depart from Roumelli


For the next couple of days the edge of the sea became interesting. There were rock gardens and caves as well as intricately twisted cliffs interspersed by sandy beaches and a couple of lovely resorts.



The village of Lautro

A feature of the Med coastline/beaches is steepness and dumping surf. The usual attempt to ride the biggest wave to get as high up the beach as possible can result in the kayak nose diving the beach and broaching. In addition attempted landings were often in front of sunbathers enjoying the spectacle. Although we had no capsizes we rarely got in without a soaking of some sort.

By now another major problem had developed in Hugh’s boat. Despite only being a couple of years old, the boat was taking in water into the rear hatch through the skeg box . A whole day resulted in around 6 litres of water. As last year no direct solution could be found and the whole box had to be taped up. To avoid damaging the tape the boat had to be lifted in and out of the water and even then over time the tape started to peel. Of course the skeg could no longer be used.

After a prolonged lunch break we eventually camped on a small isolated beach just after the village of Hora Sfakion. Behind the beach were high, steep, unstable cliffs. Our worries were not helped by a couple of goats who strayed onto the cliff at the very top, showering us with loose stones. At this site we made our only camp fire. These are banned from most areas and there is very little wood on the beaches so it proved very welcome. The sea crashed on the beach with some ferocity all night.


Day 5/6 Hora Skafion – Plakias-Agia Fortini

The area around the village of Frangokastello had been identified as potentially the most dangerous. Katabatic winds sweep down from the mountains and a large are adjacent to the shore was shallow and covered with jaggy rocks. The swell is ever-present. We had decided to cross this area early in the morning when winds are lightest and did so with minimum problems.



The castle was built in 1371 by the Venetians who ruled Crete from 1212 to 1669 after the fall of Byzantium. The Ottoman Turks then held Crete through a succession of revolts until 1898. Whilst Orthodox Christianity was always the majority religion, over this period there was a growth in Islam that eventually applied to as much as 45% of the population. The hostility between Greeks and Muslims (aka Turks)  eventually led to the expulsion of the Turks from Crete paralleled by the expulsion of the Greeks from Turkey. This hostility still exists even amongst the young and educated.

A gentle paddle with an extended lunch break eventually took us to Plakias, a thriving resort town where we restocked and then pushed on to the end of the beach.Ken has a swim!!

The morning of day 6 took us around the headland into Damnoni and the Hapimag Beach resort for coffee. If you are going for a beach holiday it is difficult to imagine a nicer place with a lovely beach, water sports and a beautiful (and empty) swimming pool.

The next stop was at a lovely beach called Preveli. This is one of the very few places with a river and, as a result hosts a palm forest in the deep gorge formed by the river.

The palm forest at Preveli

The palm forest at Preveli

A walk up the gorge, a few cans of beers and we were off again getting increasingly close to our final destination at the village of Agia Fortini.


The small beach at Agia Fortini




Day 7   Agia Fortini- Agia Pavlos- Agia Georgas-Agia Galini

From Agia Fortini we headed on to a lovely beach resort at Agia Pavlos (aka Meltemi) for a prolonged coffee break and then on to Agia Georgas for lunch.  The pub served good food and excellent beer  to the sound of good sixties/seventies pop.We had got into the habit of a relatively early start, an extended lunch break and a shortish paddle in the late afternoon and headed on to the next village at Agia Galini in very good spirits.

The quality of the landscape, both land and marine, surprised us. It was truly wonderful with some awesome caves.

Depart from Ayia Georgas

Depart from Agia Fortini



A deep Cave


Another Cave


The evening camp at the end of day 7 was at the far end of the beach at Agia Galini, an important tourist resort. The evening meal was the last of those carried from Scotland.

Day 8

The paddle along the coast to Kokkinos Pirgos was only 4km and took less than an hour. We had expected strong easterlies in our face but these failed to materialise and instead we had almost a full day on the beach, swimming, eating and drinking. 1-crete-102At 3.30pm Stelios turned up half an hour early and we packed the car and trailer and were away soon after 4, arriving at the airport at around 6.30 for a 10.30 flight. As might be expected with hours in hand we shot through check-in and security. The plane was early on departure and early on arrival. Baggage handling and passport control caused no delay and we were back in Helensburgh just after 2am.

Concluding Thoughts

This was a wonderful trip with no problems in terms of times, distances and weather. There were equipment failures but we managed to overcome these, albeit with inconvenience. We spent a lot of time in bars and restaurants and these helped make the trip very enjoyable. An accommodation based trip is more than feasible, indeed it is an attractive alternative. The total cost  was £850 (for everything from taxis to ice creams); about £100 more than our trips to Turkey. We would thoroughly recommend Crete as a destination.

Middle Fyne 22/9/16

Paddlers: Pete, Geoff, Boo, Vee and Anne

Weather: Beautiful, sunny and flat calm morning which clouded over and started to blow at midday.

Route: fyne2

Report: We met at 10am at the car park opposite Old Lachlan Castle on a beautiful flat calm day. The tide was right out so after a short walk we floated the boats out down the river to the main loch. The morning was made for photos.


Lachlan Bay


Looking Across the Loch towards Crarae


Looking south

Our first stop was Minard Castle. Built by the Campbells of Knockbuie in the eighteenth century, Knockbuie House was renamed Minard Castle in the mid-nineteenth century, when a new castellated front was added. After periods as a hotel and then up-market B&B it is now a private house.

Minard Castle

Minard Castle

After a welcome coffee we headed on south into an increasingly strong wind, the objective being Loch Gair. We expected to have a number of wonderful beaches for lunch but ended up sitting on a rapidly flooding shingle bank.

Port House at the entranc of Loch Gair (with waes)

Port House at the entranc of Loch Gair (with waves)

After lunch we set off again back across the loch. The original plan of a direct line back was swiftly abandoned as it became clear that our least experienced paddler was unable to cope with the rough seas. As in so many cases, instability and lack of directional control led to “dipping” rather than paddling resulting in lack of progress, further instability and even less control. As we slowly progressed across the loch the problems seemed to mount for the paddler until Pete decided that a tow was required, primarily to stop the boat broaching and allow some progress. It also allowed a second experienced kayaker to raft up alongside to try to improve morale (and stability).  It should be said that at the time some of us doubted the wisdom of a tow but now concede that this was actually the most appropriate action. When we reached the other side our shaken novice was landed with a flask of coffee whilst we headed back up the loch to the vehicles.

The paddle back up was excellent with a strong push by the wind and tide, although the following waves were rarely big enough for surfing. We covered the 8km in about an hour, enough time to have a quick inspection of old Castle Lachlan from the sea.


Old Castle Lachlan

The Old Castle is a fifteenth century fortress occupying a rocky headland overlooking Lachlan Bay on the east side of Loch Fyne. It was the major building of the local clan, the Maclachlans. There has been a castle on the site since at least 1314. The old castle fell to ruin after the Clan of Maclachlan supported Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite rebellion.  Their chief joined the Prince’s army but was killed at the ill fated Battle of Culloden (1746).

Back at the car park the high tide substantially eased kayak loading and we eventually left to pick up our fifth paddler just after 5.45. This was completed without a problem and we were back in Rhu by 7.30 after an excellent day with all of us a little wiser.

Lower Loch Fyne, 14th Sept 2016

Paddlers: Geoff, Pete, Lee and Boo

Weather: Warm, Sunny intervals, Breezy F3/4 from East

Route: lower-fyne

Report: Because one of our group had only the Ardrishaig-Portavadie section of the Argyll Sea Kayak trail still to complete. we decided on Portavadie as the launch site. The journey from Helensburgh took just over 1.5 hours and at Portavadie there is a small car park and a rough slip on to a flat beach that dries out at low tide. We were on the water at around 10.45.

Our intial thought was to go as far north up Loch Fyne as possible. This was then amended as we thought a crossing to Kintyre was more attractive and challenging and, given the strengthening south-easterly there was an easy escape route on the ferry back (compared to a long slog south). The section going north was delightful, pushed on by the southerly wind. Pete demonstrated the merits of carrying  sail and shot away to the islets of Eilean Buidhe where there was a huge sea colony (c 100seals). fyne-002sail-and-sealfyne-001fyne-003

The crossing to Barmore Island (which is joined to the mainland by a causeway) was quite bumpy and we were all looking forward to the first break. Sadly the beaches that appeared to be quite landable had a fringe of jaggy rocks which when combined with the surf were too high risk. So we struck south into a strongish breeze and some swell to reach the shelter of East Loch Tarbet. This proved quite tough on the least experienced member who blistered his hands and quite understandably decided to use the ferry escape route. Lunch was taken on the quite pleasant beach by the ferry terminal.


The paddle back was very enjoyable; it was sunny and bouncy without too much of a headwind. We arrived back at 3.45 pleased with another excellent day

N,B. The ferry is hourly and the single fare is £2.60. There is no charge for a kayak.

Clyde Sept 2016

Paddlers: Tim, Allan, Dave, Lee, Pete, Geoff

Weather: Calm and quite Warm

Route: Craigendoran-Kilcreggan-Royal West (Gourock)-Craigendoran

Report: A very late arranged trip on a well worn route. Coffee and Cake at Kilcreggan and lunch soon after at the RWBC. Of note: Demolition of Coastguard Building at RWBC now complete giving a totally different view of what will become a really attractive club house. Arrival of member is century old rowing boat who showed us round the hsitoric boat house and its superb working collection of rowing boats (and sea kayaks). Passage through a pod of porpoise (or were they dolphins) in mid channel. Left c9.30; back just before 2pm. An excellent day


[Remember to double click on image for full size]

Initial Programme Autumn 2016


Tues 23rd   Pool Re-Opens for individual practice

Week 23rd-29th Sea Kayak Outer Hebrides. Contact Hugh

Tues 30th   Pool Session


Tues 6th. Pool. Basic Skills Course Starts1

Tues 13th. Pool.

Sat 17th. Outdoor Basic Session. All welcome particularly improvers

Tues 20th Pool

W/E 24th Sea Expedition to North West

Tues 27th Pool


Sun 2nd Pinkston White Water Course

Tues 4th Pool

Sat 8th Outdoor Basic Session. All welcome particularly improvers

Tues 11th Pool

Tue 18th Pool

Sat 22nd Outdoor Basic Session. All welcome particularly improvers

Tue 25th Pool


Tue 1st Pool. Basic Course Ends

Tue 8th Pool. Sea Exped. Course Starts

Tue 15th Pool

Tue 22nd Pool

Tue 29th Pool


Tue 6th Pool

Tue 13th Pool. Sea Exped. Course Ends

Tue 20th Pool

Wee Cumbrae (or Peace Island) 16th August

Paddlers: Geoff, Colin, Lee

Weather: Fantastic


Report: Portencross is a cluster of houses around a small castle. By the castle is a tiny dock that provides easy launching but no parking. Fortunately 135m before there is an excellent car park so it is recommended that you drive to the dockside, unload and park in the car park.

Leaving Portencross

Leaving Portencross

The weather was superb with just a light breeze and a gentle swell to keep things interesting. Arran looked wonderful in the glaring sunlight.

Heading for Wee Cumbrae with Arran on our portside

Heading for Wee Cumbrae with Arran on our port side

After rounding the headland we headed for the old lighthouse station.

The old lighhouse station

The old lighthouse station

We landed at the foot of the cliff on rocks and broken concrete that once formed a dock for the lighthouse and its community. There was once a considerable complex here with three houses, the lighthouse itself, a huge fog horn and numerous ancillary buildings. From the ruined dock materials were transferred by a small railway  then lifted up the cliff by a jib crane. A steep long set of steps provides access on foot.

Lee recovers from a landing mishap

Lee recovers from a landing mishap

The Complex

The Complex

Looking down to the dock from the lighthouse

Looking down to the dock from the lighthouse

The Crane

The Crane

Exploration of the site and an extended lunch break in the sun added the best part of an hour to our journey. The choice was then to cross to Bute or go for an ice-cream in Millport on Great Cumbrae. We opted for ice cream.

The paddle across to Millport was surprisingly bumpy. Just off the beach we met a mature trio from Clydebank Canoe Club out from Largs for a paddle in the sun. The beach itself had a coating of small children and mature enjoying the sun. The ice cream was delicious.

Millport Seafront

Millport Seafront

From Millport we paddled back into a stiffening breeze, to the east side of Cumbrae where there is another small castle and a lovely house passing hundreds of seals and a variety of sea birds including Geese and guillemots.

Common (or Harbour) SEals basking in sun

Common (or Harbour) SEals basking in sun

Seals, Geese and Wee Cumbrae Castle

Seals, Geese and Wee Cumbrae Castle

View from Wee Cumbrae castle towards Portencross

View from Wee Cumbrae castle towards Portencross

The cluster of houses and the castle belong to an Indian doctor who, with his wife, is a devotee of an Indian sect based upon Yoga and meditation. Wee Cumbrae appears to be an important centre of the sect. The castle is well preserved, fully open and well worth a visit.

After a prolonged coffee break in the sun, we headed back across the sound to Portencross.

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The return to Portencross

It was a hugely enjoyable paddle. Wee Cumbrae is thoroughly recommended as a destination and Portencross a recommended departure point.


Jura 23rd to 28th July 2016

Paddlers: Hugh, Sue, David, Robert, Ken and Geoff

Route: IMG_0103


Jura is a wet, windy, midgey lump of granite and peat bog and offers some of the best sea kayaking in Scotland. As those who have attended Hugh’s Sea Exped course will know, to the north is the dreaded Corryvechan whirlpool, to the south the tide races up and down the Sound of Islay, to the east is the fast running Sound of Jura and to the west an unforgiving coast exposed to Atlantic swells and high winds. Circumnavigation, our original plan, therefore needs excellent, calm, stable weather. Sadly it was wet and windy, Corryvechan looked to be too dangerous and we had to retrace our steps. The following describes our journey and hopefully generates both interest in doing the circumnavigation and some useful information if trying it.

Day 1: Saturday  A major consideration was getting on a south going tide (and the north current up the Sound of Islay after low water). The choice appeared to be a very early start from Helensburgh or an evening drive and an early start the following morning.  With a strong wind from the SE forecast for Saturday we opted for the evening drive. The three of us who ate in the Tayvallich Inn would strongly recommend the food. The chosen departure point was Keilmore jetty (on the Sound) but there was no available parking for 1 car let alone 3, so we came back to Loch na Cille where there is a launch point and some adjacent rough camping. The rain rained and the midges swelled their stomachs. The agreed departure time was 08:00.

Camp 1

Camp 1: Loch na Cille

Day 2: Sunday

At 7.15 Hugh and Ken arrived from their superior site just up the road and by 8am we were away into a  foggy but wonderful peaceful and calm environment.

Arduanie 006

A misty morn



jura 012

Heading South

We headed almost due west across the Sound being gradually taken south by the tide.

After 3hours we took our first break on Jura, some 20km from our start point. There was an unusual urgency about the trip because of the need to make the tides. In the next period we wanted to be at the islands at the mouth of the Islay Sound by 2pm so we pressed on past Craighouse to the boathouse at Ardfin where there is a small beach just to the west of the jetty and, importantly, a picnic table.

The Boathouse at Ardfin

The Boathouse at Ardfin

Jura is a very strange place with a total population of 196 for an island of 367sqkm, the lowest population density in Scotland. For comparison Lewis has a population density 20 times that of Jura. On this remote place an Australian financier is building an 18 hole golf course for “his friends” which stretches down to Ardfin. At the boat house in 1992 the “acid house” pop band KLF burnt £1m in notes as a cultural/artistic gesture. More stupid than £2m a golf course?

From Ardfin we were helped up the Sound by the tide passing Port Askaig (and its tiny Jura counterpart) Feolin, stopping for a further break at Bunnabhain.P7240047



Passing Port Askaig and the Lagavulin distillery

Passing Port Askaig and the Lagavulin distillery

From here it was another 18km heading west into a strengthening wind and then north west. The cliff scenery was excellent but the wind and intermittent rain made for a tough few hours.P7240050057jura 016

We finally arrived at our target, an excellent beach at the end of Glen Battrick at the mouth of Loch Tarbet. We were all surprised to find in this very, very remote spot (18km by hill track from the nearest single track road and 21km from Port Askaig) a family holiday home, with putting green and some rough cut fairways and greens. We sought permission from the cook/housekeeper to camp on the mowed green area adjacent to the sea and quickly settled down to a meal and bed. Like all of Jura there was no wood for a fire, rain and 10 million midges for company. A rather grim end to a tiring day (60km in under 12 hours). {Note: It appears that the family due was that of David Cameron. Samantha’s stepfather, Viscount Astor (or to be precise an offshore trust based in the Bahamas) owns this part of Jura. There is a video of Cameron taken at the cottage at which gives views of the surroundings, house and camp site }.



camp site 2

camp site 2

Day 3 Monday

As forecast  a brisk F4/5 wind from the west was blowing and it was decided to explore Loch Tarbet. This is a huge sea loch that nearly bisects Jura and effectively has 3 parts. The outer and middle are joined by a wind exposed channel that was “lumpy” as the strong westerly hit the outgoing tide. Inevitably the photographic record does not include the roughest passages.loch tarbert

The inner is reached by a thin passage between cliffs; a quite extraordinary feature. Inside the wind was less of a problem. At the far side of the inner loch a good track runs to the road providing, we were glad to note, an escape from the hostile west coast.


After a luch in the inner loch we headed back out and tracked across to the MBA bothy Cruib Lodge.

Cruib Lodge

Cruib Lodge

From Cruib we battled in to the wind back through the narrows and the outer loch to an excellent beach and camp site near a ruined farm called Ruantalain. The wildlife consisted of 5 Black Goats and 20 million midges. What do midges live on when humans are not around?110124

Looking across to Camp 2

Looking across to Camp 2



Despite a massive search for driftwood none was found. Where does it go on Jura? And so to bed.

Day4 Tuesday

A major problem always faced is when to turn back. Corryvechan is safe in calm conditions for about 1 hour at Neeps. In an F5 or outside the slack it is dangerous. There is usually a period of light wind in any system (e.g. in the early morning) but it has to coincide with the slack water. The forecast was continuing north westerleys F4/5 eventually switching to north easterlies. It seemed likely that if we had carried on in fairly rough water, we still could not have gone through and quite possibly have been stuck for  2 or 3 days or even more. So it was decided, with some regret, to retreat.  The paddle back was windy but we caught the tide in the Sound and were back at Ardfin for a late lunch.138


From Ardfin the travel north was both windy and very wet and the stop at Craighouse very welcome.


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Camp site 4 (&5)

The campsite at Criaghouse is adjacent to the shore, perfectly green and flat, well sheltered and has excellent showers and a large dryer. It is adjacent to the pub (where you pay and get the shower block key) and at £5 per tent it is excellent value. A shower, good meal, dry clothes and a beer then bed.

Day 5 Wednesday 

The tide north finished at 11 and did not restart until 5. If we were to get back we needed to either leave early or at the latest 5pm (unless we wanted to paddle at night). Sadly a strengthening wind made both impossible and so we spent a pleasant day waiting for the wind to drop and debating about when to go and what to do if the strong winds did not ease. For reference the eventual escape route plan involved the drivers going on the afternoon Craighouse-Tayvallich Rib service and a taxi back to Loch na Ciche whilst the others got a trailer down to Feolin with the kayaks and carried them on to the Feolin (Jura) and afternoon Kennacraig (Islay) ferries. The drivers would then drive round to Kennacraig.




Thankfully by the late evening the wind had eased and an early morning (6am) departure was agreed before the winds got up again and the tides turned.

Day 6 Thursday

5am in Craighouse was flat calm and grey. With relief we managed to be packed up and ready to go by 6am, just as the only sun of the day broke through the clouds.DSCN0858P7280063267

We paddled north and after a short break after 2 hours crossed the Sound. As on most of the trip we were often accompanied by seals, both grey and common.


The crossing was uneventful, the only slight difficulty being locating the entrance to Loch na Cille.


By 10 am we were back on shore having had an excellent few days.

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Lessons and personnel

The key lesson? Do the most difficult, weather dependent section (in this case the Corryvechan) as soon as possible when the forecasts are most reliable. It is still not clear when we could have got through safely given the wind changes. The second lesson is that even in adverse conditions, sea kayaking is wonderful.

This last section is simply to provide space for photos of colleagues taken on the trip


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