Cold Start for Beginners: Loch Lomond Feb 2019

Paddlers: Euan, Andy, Geoff, John, Trish, Duncx, Colin B, Bungie

Weather: Cold and Overcast with occasional light rain. No wind

Report: This was the first Beginners Trip for the 2019 Basic Course and took the usual course from Luss Beach, up the river, around seagull island and home. Of course it proved much more for the participants and a really enjoyable, informative(?), beautiful trip. The River itself was in a strange mood being shallow throughout, possibly because it was blocked by ice higher up. Consequently it was very shallow at the mouth (only one channel was open) and very difficult under the bridge with the current both impeding progress and then swirling kayakers back on the other side if they did make it. A lovely safe challenge much enjoyed by spectators on the bridge.

All in all the trip demonstrated why kayaking is such a great recreational activity.

The Launch

Instruction from Euan
Trying to get under the bridge
The Class of winter 2019

Mist, Mince Pies and Mulled Wine

Paddlers: Geoff, Gordon, Chris, Adele, Stuart and Damien

Weather: Mist/Low Cloud/Fog but dead calm


Report: We met at 10.30 for the “first of the year” paddle on Loch Lomond. The forecast promised sun later in the day but it actually got darker and mistier giving a wonderful calm feel to the Loch. Instead of the usual trip around the islands we opted for the “far shore” and, in particular the “fort” marked on the OS map at Strathcashel Point, which none of use had ever visited. The paddle was wonderful.

The East Kilbride Club who departed just before us, heading north of Inchlonaig

Adele and Stuart
Gordon and Chris
Exploring the Fort

The original fort dates from the Iron Age (pre-Roman) but was built over by the Dukes of Montrose. Little remains except the stumps of walls.

From the fort we headed north looking for a good place to have our “picnic”, ideally with a picnic table. This was found at Sallochy Bay which also houses a pair of first class composting toilets. An excellent break with hot mince pies and mulled wine.

Lunch at Sallochy Bay

After a prolonged chat on the virtues or otherwise of Trump and Brexit, we set off again heading west to Ross Point then past the two small islands back to the east shore. South again past the camp site and we were back. To our genuine surprise it was only 2pm.

In summary it is difficult to imagine a better actvity in a better place. We are extremely lucky.

Coulport-Craigendoran December 2018

Paddlers: Steve W., Gordon, Geoff, Douglas, Colin, Andy and Chris L.

Weather: Clear Blue Sky, Strong Breeze from NW F3, Cold out of sun


Report: A wonderful day with a strong breeze to give us a good swell and a push from behind the whole way. We started from the car park just south of the roundabout and were away close to 10.15. The biggest problem launching here is the lift down from the wall and a rather rough beach. As usual the MOD police came to call.

Launching at Coulport
Heading South

At this stage the breeze was strong and the swell made the ride “interesting”, particularly for the less experienced . At the beach at Knockderry, Colin went ashore to readjust his back rest whilst the rest of us took a break at sea.

The Beach at Knockderry

With all feeling good we pushed on past Cove and Cove Sailing Club to another beach for a break and a coffee.

Coffee Time

The  paddlers (less Geoff)
Looking across Loch Long to Blairmore and Dunoon
Waiting for the “Off” with view north to Ardentinny

In the sun it was almost warm but the gloves stayed on as we headed east, past Kilcreggan, heading for Rosneath Point. Tiredness was becoming apparent as we pulled in for lunch just west of the point.

The beach at Rosneath Point

The sun was warm and the view excellent but sadly no porpoise so after a rather lengthy lunch break we headed on to see the seals at Green Island. Sadly no seals either so across to Helensburgh Pier to give the tourists something to photograph. Sadly the pier is now closed (although there were youngsters on it). So on eastwards with a strengthening westerly behind us to Craigendoran and the end of a thoroughly enjoyable trip.

We arrived back at just after 2.30 pm having covered the 16-18 km in around 4 hours including breaks.


Loch Lomond Nov 10th 2018

Paddlers: Andy, Chris, Catherine, Robert, Steve T. and Geoff

Weather: Bright and Breezy

Report: This was the third beginners training trip and had been transferred from Loch Long because of the high winds forecast and the better shelter offered by the islands of Loch Lomond. In fact the wind was light and the forecast rain never occurred.

We launched at Aldlochay and Steve undertook training to investigate the different characteristics of the sea kayak and “Tilt for turning”. The sun came out!

Sun on Aldlochlay Bay
Andy and Robert wait for instructions

We then headed south into the fresh breeze and then east to Inchgalbraith to investigate the ruined castle before stopping for lunch on Inchmoan.

Cetherine returning from a walk

Andy, Robert and Chris enjoying their coffee

From Inchmoan we proceeded down the narrows before stopping for a second time to explore the old summer house on Inchconnochan. 

On Inchconnachan

Homeward Bound

The sky was darkening as we headed back, and it just started spitting with rain as we came into Aldlochlay. For those familiar (very) with the islands the beauty of the surroundings still made it a lovely trip, for those new it was a superb day

River Leven 27/10/2018

Paddlers: Geoff, Gordon, Andy, Chris L and Sarah

Weather: Wonderful; Sunny with cold, light northerly pushing us on south.

This is the Leven!


Report: An ideal Beginners Trip. The river was high and fast (10-12kph) and the sun shone. That probably says it all except it only took 90mins as opposed to the schedule 150mins because conditions were so favourable..

Sarah and Chris just past Alexandria



The paddlers just past the A82 road bridge (Ben Lomond in background)



Blairmore Gallery: October 2018

Paddlers: Geoff, Dave, Andy

Weather: Sunny Periods; Westerly Breeze F3/4

Route: Kilcreggan (Fort Road), Cove SC, Blairmore and v.v.

Report: A strongish breeze plus tide made the paddle out a surprising effort but the return somewhat easier, if a little worrying for our novice. Main object of post is to report excellent coffee shop in Blairmore (but closed Mid-December to March) to add to reopened Rosneath establishment.

Turkey October 2018

For full screen, “double click” on the photo or map. 

Paddlers: Hugh, Geoff, Steve W.

Weather: Warm/Hot, Sunny, Light Winds, Dry (in fact superb!)

Location: Bay of Fethiye and Seven Capes area of Turquoise Coast in Southern Turkey

Getting There: The journey was straightforward and on time. We left Helensburgh at 11.30 for a 14:00 plane to Dalaman arr 20:20 (Turkish time) and Taxi to Lykia Park Airport Hotel for a night’s sleep and pickup the following day.

Day 1: After an excellent breakfast,at 9am Dean (the kit supplier) took us down to Gocek, a sailing centre at the west end of the Bay of Fethiye. The original Gocek-Marmaris plan had been abandoned in favour of a route done some 8 years earlier around the islands in the bay and then down the wonderful but exposed 7 Capes to Potara. 

Gocek Seafront

Ready to Go

From Gocek we headed for the island chain, stopping for a late lunch at a small cafe on Tersani (adasi/adas means island) where we were tempted by a portion of Calamari and Chips.

On then towards the southern most point of the chain where we had a beer in a small cafe and then made camp on a small, adjacent untidy beach.

Camp 1


A fire was lit and we settled down to bread, cheese and non-alcoholic beverages before turning in early.

Distance Covered: 19km

Day 2

A lovely day greeted us as we slipped from our beach and headed for the ruins of a Roman Bathhouse on the opposite corner of the bay.

Cleopatra’s Bathhouse

Our next port of call was a pristine sand beach and a cafe opposite the ruins.

The swim was excellent, the coffee better and the toilets superlative. Strongly recommended if you have lots of time but we were hoping to make it most of the way across the gulf to Karak Adansi and left a little late. En route we stopped at the Migros boat/shop  to try and get some wine. Sadly it was all committed to the cafes that surround this area.

We pushed on only to come to a dead stop when the back of Hugh’s boat sank beneath the waves. An emergency stop was made on a six metre long by half metre mix of rock and shingle. The “filling” of the skeg box (rubber and mastic) had come away and the hole at the top of the box (where the skeg cable enters the boat) was taking in water. If the sea is calm and the back light, the water does not get to the top of the box but sadly, in this case, it did. The boat was emptied of water and the skeg area taped, and off we went again, with the proviso we would stop on a decent size beach to dry out and check the taping.

Just across the next channel Hugh identified a slit in the cliff which he remembered as an impressive cave, filled with bats. Wildlife is scarce throughout the area presumably because of the heat and dryness. Bats were unusual as was the turtle that came up to the boats at one stage. On odd occasions we saw Feral Goats , large sea birds and raptors but sightings were very limited.

After the cave we were looking seriously for a beach but in the end had to go back to a camp site we knew , close to the cafe of the previous day. Here we stopped after a short day, put up the tents and set about trying to secure the boat from water ingress.

During our stay we were visited by a large (30 strong) herd of goats but they were harmless if over-friendly. The evening ended once again around a fire gossiping.

Distance Covered 16km

Day 3

Another beautiful day with a wonderful view. Completion of the planned trip meant trying to make up some time so a decision was made to cut straight across the gulf, about 20km. Although it was very exposed and there was a big swell coming in from the south, there was little wind so that when we reached the other side we just continued south. At this point the cliffs became quite huge and there were simply no places to stop.

Fortunately just before we were due to reach the first serious water at the Cape there is an inlet with a tiny beach at its end.

Amazingly perched on the cliff was a bar (closed) accessed by a funicular railway. The economics of the scheme are a mystery.

After lunch and a swim we embarked on what proved to be the “crux” of the trip. A large swell from the south-west had been with us since we started and increased in size as we moved out of the Gulf. We believe it was the product of the hurricane that had come through the Aegean the previous Friday. Whatever the cause the product was really rough water as we passed the Cape, hence an absence of photographs!  That said with relatively light wind and warm sea it was enjoyable rather than frightening and after 20 minutes or so we were round and riding the swell. What this period of turbulence did do however, was to periodically submerge the back and then front of the boat, causing any holes at the top of the skeg housing to become submerged and the rear hatch to start filling with water.

Some four hours and 30 plus kilometres after starting we finally pulled into Katakaoren, a small cafe and yacht mooring, for a couple of well-earned pints.

Blue Magic (for Hugh)

Time was running out when we returned to the boats and headed for the beach at the road end at Gemile. On the beach they were filming a Turkish comedy involving water sports so we wandered along to the cafe at the other end of the beach for another beer and to investigate the camp site. Eventually we agreed just to camp on the beach and just as darkness fell started pitching only to discover that Geoff’s tent was floating in a three-quarter full back hatch. Not happy; on sand with every bit of the tent, in and out, wet; no light; and physically tired after a long day and three beers.  Ten minutes, lots of swearing and able assistance from all and things were back on track with a meal, beer and a chat with the watersport locals by the fire in their shelter.

Distance Covered 35km

Day 4

Gemile Island lies just opposite the beach and was an important Christian Orthodox monastery dedicated to St Nicolas (Father Xmas) who was born locally. On the island there are the ruins of 5 churches dating between 400 and 700 AD. The most impressive feature, apart from the staggering views, is a processional colonnade that runs up the hill from the north-west.

St Nicolas Island is awe-inspiring, incredibly old (the Romans had just left Britain when it was being built) and really neglected. Turkey has so many ancient ruins (see previous reports) it simply does not have enough money to deal with them. In this case the very limited preservation work is being funded by a Japanese archaeological group.

The next planned stop was the resort town of Oludeniz for resupply and, if possible tape for the boats. However half way along a coastgaurd rib drew up and proceeded to interrogate us in Turkish. Finally they resorted to a smart phone and a translation system to tell us to be careful and not to go too far out. Why this was necessary is a matter of conjecture but our feeling is that perhaps we had been spotted rounding the cape the day before and somebody had phoned in their worries.

Oludeniz is an extremely attractive beach resort with a lovely lagoon and an excellent beach. The town itself is mainly cafes, many of which are orientated to the British visitor with football on the TV and English Breakfasts everywhere. Behind it the limestone mountains rise precipitously and provide a unique feature; hundreds of hang gliders launching from a platform close to the top. At any time there can be 40 or 50 hang gliders in the air descending to the promenade in the town. As with food and accommodation the cost of the flight (£45) is less than half the cost of a similar flight in Austria or Switzerland.

A fraction of the hang gliders above Oldenitz

After a fruitless long hot walk through town looking for tape, we set off again heading east for Butterfly Valley and if time allowed for Kabak. Once again there were towering cliffs and small coves (some with houses perched above them)  and the occasional sea cave to explore.

Eight years ago we had stayed in the holiday commune at Kiribak. This still exists but a much smarter complex of cafe, camp site and bungalows has sprung up right on the beach. After landing, a beer and the appropriate investigation we decided on the B&B solution at 100TL (£13) and were rewarded with a lovely bungalow with a balcony looking down towards the beach where we could cook, eat and drink red wine. Plus there was a superb hot water shower and another lovely sunset. Life was good..

Distance Covered 19km

Day 5

The breakfast was amazing. In addition to a pile of newly cooked bread there was butter, 2 sorts of cheese, 2 sorts of olives, tomato, cucumber, honey, peanut butter, a sweet date based type of jam and as much coffee and tea as required. In addition there was a plate of fried potatoes with frankfurters and 2 eggs each. Quite the best B&B ever.

After re-taping with the last of the tape (which took the best part of an hour) and a small prayer to the sea-god that it would survive the final two days, we headed off again towards the next inlet and paradise beach.

A break, a swim and then on again.

By this time beaches had virtually disappeared and we were looking for a small length of pebbles and a gulley. The first stop suggested we had found a place only to be ruled out by closer inspection of the awful map. Eventually we found our site, a small pebbly beach, a rock strewn gulley and a couple of flat terraces. With food and fire on beach and tents on terraces we settled in for an excellent final night.

Distance Covered 16km

Day 6

Morning broke, camp was cleared, the tape was intact and away we went for the final day of paddling. Once again the cliff scenery was fantastic along with a lovely beach where we went skinny dipping

The outstanding feature of today’s trip was the “Cathedral” cave, vast and high domed.


Further on. More incredible rockwork, more caves and more headlands.

The Final Headland


The final challenge was a surf wave at the entrance of the Patora river, which was duly conquered. At the final beach (freshwater!) was the cafe for beer and food and a short wait for our lift back to the airport.

Distance Covered 19km


A trouble-free 2 hour trip back to Dalaman for coffee and cake and then on to the airport by 20:20 for the 22:00 plane back to Glasgow arriving at 00:20 UK time. A quick exit and we were home about 01:30.


Another wonderful trip to a wonderful part of the world. We covered some 124km and had a dozen swims on a dozen different beaches. Temperatures at sea and at night were near perfect. Total Cost, including lots of beer, meals on the plane and in cafes plus two hotel “bed-nights” and airport parking was around £730. Tremendous value.

Surf Training, Ardrossan, Saturday 15th September 2018

Paddlers: Geoff, Gordon, Steve T.

Weather: Grey and windy (F4)

Location: South Bay, Ardrossan

Report: Surfing must be the very best activity ever on a windy Saturday in September. Normally undertaken in short maneuverable craft, sea kayakers occasionally find themselves having to land or leave through surf. So surfing in sea kayaks gives a combination of tremendous fun and sea kayak training.

South Bay, Ardrossan is an excellent place for safe surfing. It is a crescent of soft sand of around 1km between two rocky headlands backed by grass with easy beach-side parking. We parked right behind the toilets in the centre of the beach by the ramps on to the sand. Advice: Take a trolley as it can be a longish walk over the sand.

The car journey in both directions was excellent and took about 70 minutes.

The beach faces south west and we had a strongish force 4 from the South West. The tide had just turned and was on the way in over the shallow beach which resulted in extensive but not huge surf over a very large area, giving long runs. One of us was stationed on the beach the whole time to help with any capsizes (and to take photos).

South Bay Beach

Kayaker at edge of breaking surf waiting for a run in.

The paddle out was energetic and wet with kayaks either riding the waves or carving/smashing through them.

Geoff and Gordon on way out

A wet one

Steve making his way out

Geoff on way out

Still Paddling Out

Trying to figure out which waves would give a good ride was difficult as big waves were too frequent and broke too readily. The tactic used was simply to keep paddling and try (desperately at times) to hold the line. Normally on a run in you caught a big one and hurtled towards the beach  as long as you could hold it with your selection of stern rudders , low brace supports/turns and high brace supports.

Gordon on Run In

A run in

Stern rudder into support stroke

Steve on way in

Gordon on run in

Both Gordon and Geoff experienced very wet (upside down) exits and rather slow swims back to the shore. Equally we all had great runs and the satisfaction of conquering a hostile and at times quite frightening environment.

Smug after a great run

We had around 90 minutes for both morning and afternoon sessions, enough to get in around 16 runs each, more than enough. All in all a near perfect day.




Corryvrechan and the Grey Dog-1st/2nd Sep 18

Paddlers : Steve W, Steve T, Colin, Innes, Gordon and Hugh

Weather: Max 17 deg C, light SW wind falling away to nothing in late afternoon, sporadic sunshine/overcast.



The plan initially included an overnight stop on the W side of the Corryvreckan at Bagh Gleann nam Muc (Bay of Pigs) but as departure approached, the forecast weather for the second day carried too high a risk of not getting back out in the morning. And so a long day was planned for Saturday such that only a short run-in was required on Sunday.

On arrival at Easdale there were several cars in the car park with empty kayak racks and three lady kayakers about to depart for the Grey Dog via the islands to the W of Lunga and Rubha Fiola. Transpired the youngest was an instructor at the centre on Lunga and so well experienced in the area. The sea mist had been giving us second thoughts but seeing the ladies depart we felt rather sheepish to have done so. Departing some 40 minutes late due to deliberating, we headed out to Belnahua even though at that point we could not see it.



A quick stop of 10 minutes then down the Sound of Luing with the flow to the Grey Dog. On the way in an otter surfaced close to one of the kayaks but did not seem to be disturbed.

At the Grey Dog the 6.5 knot (as low as it gets) current was tamed by Gordon and the two Steves who managed get up the S side and rattle down the N side.

Our time contingency had been used before we got started and so we pressed on round Scarba to the place that strikes fear into most amateur mariners, the Corryvreckan. It is no faster than the Grey Dog (8.5 knots max.) but the overfalls generated by an underwater ridge on the flood are positively dangerous to small craft and must be avoided. Where eagles dare indeed, we had seen two of them.

On arrival at Bagh Gleann a Mhaoil some 40 minutes after target we could see no movement of the water but a group of paddlers could be seen hugging the shore apparently having just come through the gulf from the W. Pushing on to Rubha Righinn it was obviously slack water but crossing the gulf from here and getting back would take 25-30 minutes. The total time of slack was estimated to be about 50 mins but we could not accurately determine when the slack started (it was originally intended to watch it) and so the double crossing was reluctantly abandoned and we headed back to the safety of the SE bay for lunch and a look at the bothy.

On arrival there no less than 12 kayaks were on the shore and two of the owners sitting on a log in the light drizzle. The group of some 4 ladies and 8 men were simply a group of friends (some ex SCA Touring Committee) including our own member Grant Montgomery.

They had left Easdale at 0930 and entered the W end of the gulf on the last of the ebb. This was a brave decision because there are only 3 places to get out safely over a distance of 5k and that distance will take the full period of slack water. They had had to tolerate some turbulence at the SW point on Scarba to get the benefit of the flow. They too had reservations about the forecast for Sunday and like us were heading over to camp on Luing.

After a leisurely lunch and a look round the bothy, which has seen better days but in a storm in that area could be the height of luxury, we headed back up the Sound of Luing on the N going tide with the intention of putting in at Cullipool. However when we got there it was decided by the majority to head back to Easdale and stop off in Oban for something to eat on the way home.

A fair paddle which, with the help of tidal streams, covered an estimated 33k (17.8 Nm).

A quick chippy meal in Oban and back in Helensburgh before midnight with all having had an enjoyable day.

Post Expedition Note Re Tides.

As we all know tidal streams can often differ from prediction due to wind, barometric pressure and even weather some distance from the location therefore the best way to get accuracy is to eyeball it. We could not on the day due to the gulf being slack on arrival.

The predictions for the day for slack water used for the plan were;

Reeds Nautical Almanac 1343 – 1435

Tidal Stream Atlas (interpolation) 1325 – 1425

Clyde Cruising Club Yacht Pilot 1405 – 1455

On the day the most accurate proved to be CCC Pilot since we were still sitting in the gulf with no apparent movement close to 1500 but could not risk a further 25 minutes for a double crossing with the W going flood imminent.

The 12 kayak group entry to the W end of the gulf was estimated at 1355 and they confirmed tide was still running E on entry. So again CCC Pilot seems most accurate. A word of caution; Reeds gives slack water times while the CCC Pilot gives the start time of flow after slack water for both neaps and springs. The Tidal Stream Atlas has to have half the slack water time subtracted from and added to the calculated time of change. There are other sources of tidal stream information available for divers and kayakers but it is questionable whether they have greater accuracy.