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Paddlers: Vonna, John, Colin, Steve, Mark, Geoff, Allan, Gordon

Weather: Dry, clear, light breeze from west.

Route: (included so that the paddlers know where they went!)Night

Report: There was a good turnout of club members most of whom had never had the pleasure of a night paddle. As expected from the forecasts, as Friday progressed the weather got much better; the wind dropped and the clouds disappeared. An almost perfect night except that it was moonless. The darkness made navigating in the complex of islands problematic as the “gaps” between them could not be identified. We left Luss around 20:45, when it was still light. By the time we got to the narrows little light was left and it disappeared completely as we headed west along the south coast of Inchmoan. At the south east corner a decision was needed and we decided to head across to the island in the distance, which we mistakenly believed was Inchcailloch and turned out to be Inchfad. The light breeze seemed to be growing and the temperature was, by now, dropping quickly so we decided to abort and head for the jetty and beach on Inchcruin. Although the navigation  was nigh on perfect we nearly paddled straight past the beach; it was simply impossible to see any further than 5m (unless brightly lit).

Enhanced Photo with Duck Bay in distance

Enhanced Photo with Duck Bay in distance

After an increasingly cold break we headed north west into the breeze, guided by the bright lights of The Lodge on the Loch. Apart from colliding with the odd pile of rocks/islet never noticed before, this final section was simply relaxing, dead quiet and, in its way beautiful, with the dark sky dominated by the bulk of Beinn Dubh. We arrived back at 23.45 having what had, all agreed, been a memorable paddle.

 

Paddlers: Lee, Geoff

Weather: Bright and Breezy

Report: This midweek paddle is included for completeness. Standard route from Craigendoran to Cove Sailing Club with prolonged stop at the coffee shop at Kilcreggan and on Camsail Beach for lunch. Lots of seals on Green Island and a fresh westerly throughout an excellent trip

Lee approaching Rosneath Point

Lee approaching Rosneath Point

Loch Venachar 13th April

Paddlers: Colin, David and Geoff

Weather: Cold and windy and mostly overcast. Any sunny periods were matched by an equal number of  rain showers

Route:venachar

Report: The wind forecast was a steady F4 from the west and because this had been the case for the last 7 days it was felt that the planned Oban-Dunstaffnage-Lismore trip would be untenable. The chosen alternative was Loch Venachar in the Trossachs; chosen not for any obvious merit but because it had not been done by any of the paddlers. Parking and Launching was excellent, right at the start of the Loch on the minor road from Callander.ven 011

From the launch point we paddled along the south of the loch grabbing any shelter from the strong and very cold continuous wind. Most interesting feature was a large new respite centre/hopsice for cancer patients at West Dullater.ven 001ven 002

One and a half hours in we had covered just 4km. We landed at the Invertrossachs Scout Centre for a nose around, drink and some nibbles. The centre has improved dramatically over the years and was rather impressive. ven 003From there we carried on to the head of the loch and made our way up Black Water hoping that we might get to Loch Acray. Sadly after less than 1km the open water simply disappeared into reed. Not wishing to wade through soft slimy mud we decided to retreat towards the cafe which we had been informed lay on the north side of the loch.ven 005

This downwind leg was fast and we quickly arrive at a small beach adjacent to the cafe. The food and drink is expensive but very good. Thoroughly recommended as a stop. Whilst we were in the warm (and windproof), the wind strengthened half a notch running at a low F5. In addition the sun came out so the final leg only took less than 30 mins for the 3km.DSC_0148

In summary the dominating memory was the wind with the outstanding feature of the Loch being the cafe. Worth doing if only for the excellent launch point.

Training, Saturday 8th April

Paddlers: Robin, Maelle, Chris; Geoff Steve W.

Report: No photos for this one. Met at Luss with two training groups. Group 1, coached by Robin, was training for the 2 Star Assessment. Within the club our focus is on kayaks which leaves a gap for the skills assessment in the 2 Star and subsequent entry to the coaching stream. This morning was intended to start filling that gap. Group 2 undertook a shortish tour round the islands for those finishing the Basic Skills course and wanting to move on to longer sea trips. It was a cold, dry overcast day but,as ever, the beauty of the loch shone through. Another lovely trip.

Loch Sunart April 1st/2nd 2017

Paddlers; Jeannette, Francis, Gordon, Colin & Hugh

Route: sunart 2017

Report: First overnight trip of the year and the marginal wind forced a change of venue from Loch Moidart to the secondary consideration of Loch Sunart. After a couple of hurdles in way of departure, not least a long abandoned lunch box containing some foul, greasy substance had mixed with leaked seawater and coated the entire day compartment on a Tempest with what appeared to be the contents of a soil pipe. Thanks to whoever left it for someone else to find! Anyway, we got away about an hour late but having already decided on the alternative plan based on the Saturday morning forecast, it did not impact on the day. We crossed to Morvern on the Corran ferry and headed to Resipole on the N side of Sunart where there is a good launch beach. The slip and road are private but we were allowed to use it and park in the caravan site for £2 per car – pretty fair. The forecast for Loch Sunart was 15mph (mean) gusting 26mph (max) from the NW hence the run down the loch to the SE was without fetch and relatively benign as intended. Two harbour porpoises were spotted en route. Rounding the Point of Dun Ghallain we headed for the N end of Carna but now exposed to the wind and a short chop on the water it was a strength sapping slog and when the wind went up a notch it was decided to turn SW for the E entry channel to Loch Teacuis where it was intended to camp at a known site in any case after rounding Carna. On the way in to the E narrows two otters were spotted with one venturing fairy close to a kayak in curiosity. For a wild campsite at Drochaid Charna is far from habitation with a clean fresh water stream and ample firewood (axe and saw recommended). Nearest life was on Carna where there is a group of fish farm/holiday cottages served by a small jetty and a boat. The sound of children’s voices drifted across the water to us in the early evening so could be estate run away from it all holiday accommodation.

The fire got going courtesy of Colin’s proprietary log but the cool breeze from the NW took the edge of absolute comfort and so a dram and chocolate, nuts etc had to compensate.

Sunday was scheduled to be a better day and so it was with Gordon seeing otters playing in the channel in the early morning. Leaving close to HW and after a quick look up Loch Teacuis we headed out the narrow channel W of Carna and through the passage into Loch na Droma Buidhe known as the Doirlinn, only open to kayaks at HW it is worth the effort and gives easy access to the island of Oronsay that forms the safe anchorage (for yachts) of the loch, giving quiet alternative to the night life of Tobermory.

Heading up the W side of Carna gave a scenic view of Ardnamurchan with the red sandstone ramparts of Glenborrodale Castle at the centre some 2k away. A quick stop on Carna for a shared snack of mini hot cross buns, cashew nuts, dates, pickled chillies and more chocolate (included for information Geoff) followed by a non-stop breeze assisted paddle up the S side of Sunart in pleasant sunshine and back to our starting point by early afternoon.

 

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Total distance 17.33Nm (32k). Although classified as a training expedition due to mandatory equipment requirements, all participants demonstrated their value to an expedition and indeed the potential to lead a sea exped in due course should they wish to. Pics are courtesy of Gordon since my camera decided not to play.

What Happens after the Basic Skills Course?

There have been questions asked about what happens in the way of trips and training after the Basic Skills Course.

Star Qualifications: If you manage to get on the outdoor trips then Basic Skills should have taken you up to a 2 Star level in Kayaks. However you also need to reach 2 Star level in Canoes to obtain the award. Robin, who will be the assessor, is offering to take you towards this level in canoes this coming Saturday, 8th April, 10am at Luss .

If you want to do the training this Saturday (8th April) you must let me know as we need to organise canoe transport. Robin will not assess for the 2 Star until he is happy with what he sees. If he does think you are ready he will arrange an assessment. Note that the 2 Star is the normal target for the DoE Award.

The 3 star is discipline specific. It requires both experience and skills such as rolling. If you have done Hugh’s Sea Expedition Training, can roll and have been on a number of trips then you will be at or over 3 Star (Sea) and can go for assessment on one of the organised SCA Courses. If you fancy working on rivers (or surf or open canoes) then you should sign up for 3 Star Training as well as the 3 Star Assessment.  The open sessions in the Pool are intended to help you develop the skills.

To find Courses look at the SCA events calendar  http://canoescotland.org/events/events-calendar and use the filter to look at Star Award courses only. For example there is a 3*Sea Kayak Training and Assessment Course in Stonehaven this coming weekend.

Foundation Safety and Rescue: This is a course for all. The club will run one on Saturday May 20th, probably at Arden. Details to follow.

Coach Courses: If you fancy coaching (and we hope you do) then you need to start with a Level 1 Coach Course. The pre-requisites are the 2 Star and Foundation Safety and Rescue. The club has provisionally organised a Course for two weekends in July but needs to discuss this  with other clubs to ensure minimum numbers. Sports Scotland support is available to assist with costs.

Trips: There are two sorts of trips: Club and Friends. One of the aims of the club is to bring people together who simply want to paddle. Members on a Friends trip are peers and the trip has no official leader. It is understood that each adult takes total responsibility for themselves alone. A Club trip is normally a training trip and the leader will ensure that the members are of an appropriate standard, carry out the risk assessment and ensure that appropriate equipment is carried.   There is a day trip this Saturday (8th April) for anyone who has done the Basic Skills course meeting at Luss at 10am.  You must let me know ASAP if interested.  After Easter there will be regular Thursday evening Club paddles.

Club Sea Kayak Expeditions are for experienced paddlers who have completed the Sea Expedition Course including  the Open Water Safety element and a non-stop paddle of 12km. Each paddler must be properly equipped with flares, splits etc. The next planned Sea Kayak Expedition is 29th/30th April.

Leader Training: The BCU/SCA has just introduced a qualification stream for leaders and over time the Club will be hoping experienced paddlers will go for the qualifications.  The 4 star, to be renamed, is the middle level of this stream and is the obvious next step for a 3 star paddler who does not really want to coach.

North Loch Lomond and the Inverarnan Canal

Paddlers: Mel and Geoff

Weather: Cold and Overcast. Light breeze from the south.

Route:Inverarnan Canal 2

Report: The north end of Loch Lomond is usually ignored in favour of the islands or Loch Long or the Clyde. It has, however, its own attractions; a fiord like landscape, a lovely isle and its own canal. The last of these was dug out on the bed of the Allt Arnan to extend the water route to the West Highlands as far as possible in Glen Falloch to the Drovers Inn. It still exists but paddling it between the fallen trees is something of a challenge if still possible.

We started at the car park by Loch Sloy where you can get down to a couple of small beaches. From there we headed up the loch, past Ardlui and on to the Falloch. Where it suddenly turns east the canal can be seen behind a hedge of tree branches.winter2017 075

Pushing through the canal carries on for around 1km which is navigable, albeit with a lot of twisting and turning through fallen trees. It eventually widens (a turning circle?) but we could not even get into it and landed with some difficulty.

winter2017 074The Drovers is about 100m away.winter2017 073

The Drovers serves a good, if expensive bowl of soup; ideal for the cold conditions we experienced. The paddle back south was into the breeze which was noticeable without significantly impeding progress. The cloud covered the tops but was high enough to expose the snow still lying.winter2017 077

We stopped for lunch at the ruined hamlet of Ardleish and the lovely Island I Vow which has a nice camp site and a castle with a dungeon.  We arrived back at 4pm having left at about 10.30 and had over an hour for lunch at the Inverarnan and Ardleish. The total distance was just under 20km, a cruisng rate of just under 5kph; 3 knots.

Training and Assessment, Gareloch, March 2017

Paddlers: Hugh, Geoff, Euan, Gordon, Vonna, Jamie, Ollie, Colin and Steve

Weather: Glorious

Report: The main item on the agenda was the open water assessment of sea kayak expedition course but we also used the time for a Beginners Course paddle. A lovely morning based at the RNCYC .

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Winter 2017

The winter of 2017 will not be regarded with affection. The Ski Centres have only managed to open for the odd day and then with very limited skiing. On the water the wind has prevented a number of planned trips and the overall drabness, rain and cold has limited the appeal of those that have run. In earlier blogs two trips to the Loch and to Lake Menteith are reported. In this blog 2 Training and 2 Midweek are recorded.

Clyde 1st Feb  Paddlers: Dave, Geoff Weather: Grey and greyer, Report: A “why on earth are we doing this”  trip from Craigendoran up the Gareloch and return. Seals for company, of course, and some porpoise. Important information: you can get right along the shore under the small bridge at the Marina, land at the internal slip and have excellent coffee and cake in the cafe.winter 2017 016

Training Luss Sat 4th Feb Paddlers: Euan, Geoff, Steve, Olly, Colin (?) and ?    Weather Grey and breezy  Report The weather relented just enough to allow the first of the Basic Skills training paddles to occur.  The water pouring down the river prevented progress through the bridge and caused a couple of hairy moments in the trees.

winter 2017 017 From the river the group managed to the beach at Inchtavannach and after a break on to the seal lunch islet.

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The paddle back was uneventful but very useful in the context of training, and got us back in time for us to see the Scotland Ireland international.

Clyde 1st March Paddlers: Damien, Geoff, Peter , Callum +3   Weather: The one lovely day in January and Februarywinter 2017 022

Report  A  couple of last minute emails and a good weather forecast saw 7 of us gather off Helensburgh pier for a paddle.

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A leisurely paddle and a lot of chat took us over to Newark Castle (the east end of Port Glasgow)16991611_10208380935627894_7564699816277161146_o (1)

and then across to a beach in Cardross for lunch.

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Another leisurely paddle after a prolonged lunch and we were home. A good day.

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Training: Lomond Shores Sat 11th March Paddlers Euan, Geoff, Steve, Melanie, Adele and Stuart.  Weather: Calm and Grey   Report This was the second Training session for the Basic course and sadly the re-arranged date did not work for most paddlers. Those that came experienced an enjoyable session getting to grips with canoes and solo paddling under Euan’s excellent instruction. winter 2017 024winter 2017 026The route saw us across to Balloch Castle, down (and back up) the river and across to the Cameron House boathouse. Information: It is possible get up the east side of the river under a small bridge to minimise the impact of the river flow. An excellent morning and back in time for the big game.

Lake Menteith, Jan 18th

Paddlers: Allan, Geoff

Weather: Grey. Light but cold breeze from SW

RouteMentieth

Report: The Lake of Menteith is an unusual destination; too small for a day paddle, too far away for a half day or evening paddle, poor launch points and a fishing club that still resents paddlers. Why bother then? The simple answer is that the islands are lovely and contain both a ruined castle and a beautiful , ruined Augustian Priory. The Lake is well worth a visit.

We set off from Helensburgh at 9am and were on the water at 10.10. The obvious launching place is at the large Fishing centre but the “Private” signage was not encouraging. The Car Park for the summer ferry was closed as was the road past the car park (for repairs). We retreated to the Hotel and having asked permission to park, launched at the rear of the small pier. With a large party this is probably not an option.

From the hotel we followed the edge of the loch in a lovely quiet environment. The loch is at the edge of the Trossachs and was  attractive but not dramatic.menteith 002menteith 004

Turning at Dog Island we headed back towards Inch Talla and the ruined castle of the Earls of Menteith. Larger than InchGalbraith on Loch Lomond and much more impressive than the castle on Loch Ard it would still not be worth a special trip.

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The Priory on the next island, Inchmahome, is worth a visit. Built in 1240 the ruins include one of the few complete “chapter” houses in the UK. Mary Queen of Scots was brought here as a 4 year old on her return from France  to take up the crown.

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There are short walks, picnic tables and, in summer, toilets and a fee for landing. We arrived about 11.30 and after a good look at the ruins and a very early lunch, left about 12.15.

The paddle back to the hotel was helped by a significant breeze, apparently characteristic of the loch,  and we arrived at our launch point at around 12.45, a very short but very worthwhile day.

Finally on arrival we were approached by a polite young man who suggested we should have asked permission from the Fishery, who held the “Rights to the Loch”. Allan tactfully diverted my attempt to engage on the subject of Access Rights but, unless you wish to park and launch from the Fisheries beach my view is that to ask permission, even if it is automatically granted as he stated, would suggest that they do have a right to prevent access as opposed to a requirement to assist responsible access. As paddlers we need to ensure that the battles won are not lost by oversight.