Paddlers: Steve W., Annie, Charlotte, Myles, Colin and Geoff
Weather: Perfect. Clear with a light breeze. No moon
Report: We met at 10pm at Luss car park with some new and some rare faces. with the expectation of dark at 10.30. In fact, despite the absence of a moon, there was enough light not to use torches/light until the unpacking, tying on stage at 01:30.
We were meant to call in at a beach on the south side of Inchmoan but the site was occupied so we pushed on to the long beach on the SW corner of Ichmoan. From there we paddled on through the Narrows and on to the mainland towards Luss and the cars..
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Paddlers: Colin, Steve W, Geoff, Francis, Robert
Weather: Fantastic. Sky Blue, Hot Sun and some quite strong breezes from all quarters to make life interesting
Saturday: Developed as a weekend alternative to the Outer Hebrides, the trip proved to be wonderfully successful. In part this was due to the fantastic weather and in part to the excellence of the scenery and the camp site.
After meeting at 8am, stops at the Container and Finnart for boats and people we left the are at 8.45 arriving at about 10:45. Unloading the cars and packing the boats added another 30 minutes so that we eventually got away by around 11.15 for the longest paddle of the trip, the crossing from Claonaig to Lochranza, a distance of 9km. The sea was surprisingly bouncy but without any big swell and the 2 hours soon passed. The only incident worth recording was the rafted stop to allow Colin to pump out his boat, which was gradually sinking because of a crack in the deck.
The landing by Lochranza pier offers toilets, a bench and table and an excellent sandwich shop. A long stop, witty repartee and a bit of self congratulation on successfully negotiating a serious crossing, followed.
The paddle down the west coast of Arran was much calmer with time to admire the scenery and photograph the sea rowing boat that passed by
We had a break at Pirnmill for beer (off-Licence) and Ice Cream. There is now no pub, only an unlicensed restaurant which to Steve’s disgust does not welcome dogs.
After a laze in the sum it was on towards a potential camp site at Whitefarland Point. The shore here is covered in boulders that stretch around 100m, very unpleasant to try and take gear and canoes across. However just on the point of giving up we espied a stretch of sand, clearly a place where someone had removed the boulders to allow boat access. It was near perfect
At the end of the path was a flat tufty area of tall grass, ideal for the tents. In addition on the beach was a ton of well dried driftwood ideal for the fire. The only negative was the kittiwake nest with three speckled eggs just at the end of the path from the water. Discovering this we moved tents and kayaks a bit away and eventually the mother returned.
The evening was the normal mix of eating, a short walk, midges and a big fire to keep the midges away. The addition was a swim(!) anda glorious sunset over Kintyre.
Sunday: If anything the weather was even better, certainly breezier. The plan was to get up at 7 and try to leave by 8 for breakfast in Carradale but this proved impossible and at 8.20 we were ready for the trip across Kilbrannan Sound to Carradale. Rather to our surprise as we progressed towards Kintyre the swell got significantly larger with the occasional wave breaking over the boats. It is less surprising that there is no photographic record .
We reached Carradale at 9.30, just over 1 hour for the 4.5km. Carradale is an attractive village with an excellent harbour and landing beach.
The tearooms, hotels etc do not open until 10am so we walked up the village high street before returning to the tearoom for breakfast on the lawn.
There was a mix of purchases; bacon rolls, full Scottish, Scrambled Eggs and so on all washed down with tea and coffee.
After a very lazy couple of hours we were off again heading north for Grogport. The wind had eased and veered west and the coastline was excellent.
Things were going so well we decided to press on to Cour Bay for lunch, a lovely remote sand beach.
We took a long lazy contented lunch before commencing on the final 10 plus km leg back to Claonaig. We were helped by an increasingly strong westerly and arrived back at the pier at almost exactly 5pm.
Packing up took the best part of 40 minutes but we managed to just beat the car ferry that deposited its cars at 5.40. Fish and chips at Inverary and home just after 9pm, an excellent weekend and a recommended destination.
We had 5 taking the course , Alex, Harry, Cammie, Lewis and Sandy, and they had 10 pool sessions and 7 paddles in the loch, sea and river. These included
Luss, Lomond Shores, Kidston (and Rosneath) , Royal Northern (Canoes), Craigendoran (Polo) and the River Leven. The course finished with a Canoe Camp on Loch Lomond. Our conclusion is that, once again, it proved very successful.
Paddlers: Euan, Geoff, Alex, Jenny, Jessica, Rebekah and Paul
Weather: Good on Saturday, Brilliant on Sunday
Report: The choice of canoes and sea kayaks was intended to give more experience to the Paddlers in a run up to the 2 Star assessment. For the record the sea kayaks unsuprisngly proved the more popular.
We met at Aldlochlay at 2pm and were away before 2.30 for the first leg over to Inchtavannach and Inchconnachan. At this time there was a good breeze from the north.
We stopped at Inchconnachan to investigate the old summer house and hunt wallabies. The former was more successful. The summer house is gradually rotting away but some rooms are still OK including the one with the mural
A very gentle paddle through the narrows took us to our camp site on Inchtavannach.
A long rest and we were off for an evening paddle. Our first stop was Inchgalbraith, a tiny island with an old ruined castle eminently climbable.
On to the long sand beach on Inchmoan for a stroll.
Finally back to the camp for a swim, evening meal and a camp fire
The evening finally darkened at around 10.30 and we went to bed shortly after midnight.
The morning was glorious with Loch Lomond looking at its very best, which is as good as anywhere in the world if not better.
A slow lazy start but we were still away just after 10am.
We moved quite quickly and by 11am were opposite Aldlochay and decided to climb to the top of the hill (the highest point on Loch Lomond at 86m (282 ft). It is surprisingly steep but are rewarded with exceptional views south. The boats are just visible at the edge of the trees/loch on the right.
The climb is steep and the path poor/non-existent but still worthwhile but an excellent way to spend 30 minutes.
A quick paddle and we were back at Aldlochlay just before midday. An excellent and Hopefully instructive trip.
Weather: Dry with light winds. Sea Mist and overcast at times, otherwise sunny
Report: Day 1: Two hours is normally regarded as a maximum time for active exercise without a break. Crossings in excess of 10km, such as from the mainland to the closest of the small isles, Eigg, are therefore regarded with caution. We left Helensburgh just after 8am arriving at the Back of Keppoch Campsite, by Arisaig at 11.15. The campsite is thoroughly recommended with access directly on to the beach and no charge for parking. After packing the boats and lunch we finally set off about 12.30 into the sea mist that prevented any sight of Eigg.
Within 20 minutes our departure point had disappeared and with nothing in front of us we paddled on due west using the boat compasses. These are expensive but absolutely essential in these conditions. Two hours of blind paddling and the shape of Eigg started to emerge through the gloom
There is a shingle beach at the north end but camping is impossible there and Hugh was anxious to source a camping spot for future reference so we pushed on round the point to a potential area. Sadly landing was on to weed covered rock and the possible campsite turned out to be a small weed infested sea water based bog. After coffee we pushed on again into the mist surrounding our next target Rum.
As we paddled the mist slowly rose giving a beautiful late afternoon. The south of Rum has virtually nowhere to land and no camping spots until Kinloch, at the head of Loch Scresort.
The campsite is excellent but the infamous Rum Midge makes the place close to unbearable. If you come BRING A MIDGE NET. Pitching, eating and above all drinking were a pain so we went off to look for a bar. The hostel and associated bar/brasserie in the castle have now been abandoned with the hostel moving up to the pier and the drinking place to the island shop by the community centre. A very pleasant evening was had by all, with much story telling and vigorous debate, before returning back to the campsite and diving into the tent to avoid the ….,
Day 2: The midges were still there in the morning in even greater profusion. A quick getaway saw us on the water about an hour after exiting the tent and into the midge free zone on the loch.
At the mouth of the loch we were surprised to come across a couple of kilometres of quite serious water, with the meter swell occasionally breaking on to the boats.
From the point we progressed along to a beautiful sand beach only really accessible by kayak
A cup of tea and a laze in the sun was the order of the day before the crossing to Canna.
Before crossing we travelled a little further west to the sand beach at Kilmory, a farmstead that houses the Deer Research Station.
From there we set off on the 9km paddle across the Sound of Canna to the harbour at A’Chill.
The previous night Hugh had inadvertently stepped off a bank and jarred an already strained back. On the crossing his discomfort grew to a level that on reaching Canna made further paddling too painful and potentially damaging.
Canna harbour dries out and our camp site was over a large and growing sand/rock bank. Both Hugh and I had brought Lomo trolleys and it was thought that these could be used realtively easily to get the boats the 400m across the bank to the water and the camp site. Further discussion on our experiences with the trolleys can be found on http://www.helensburghcc.org.uk/a-note-on-trolleys/
The campsite itself is at the edge of another glorious silver sand beach and virtually midge free. What a pleasure!
The evening was spent repairing the trolleys and debating loudly.
Day 3 Although there was some recovery it was agreed that the risk of going down the exposed east side of Rum, which only has one very poor landing and crossing the Sound of Rum (which can be dangerous) to Eigg, a distance of 28km, was simply too risky. Instead we opted to take the ferry, the Glen Nevis, to Eigg. A very relaxing morning followed with a very gentle paddle to the pier and a coffee at the cafe/shop.
Using the ferry to avoid the long crossings is a very pleasant alternative. Fares are low (£5.90 Mallaig to Canna) and the kayaks go free. On the Rum-Eigg leg there were 5 different groups and 15 kayaks on the boat. A return to Canna with a circumnavigation is high on my “to do” list.
Adding to the pleasures of the scenery were the gastronomic delights of freshly cooked fish and chips washed down with tea.
After Rum the boat progressed on to Galmisdale, the focus of life on the island and our destination. The camp site is just across the bay from the pier and the excellent cafe/shop/bar. There is a very basic toilet and a lot of flat grass for free.
The chance find of a plank of wood and the deft use of the excellent saw on both plank and a colossal tree trunk, provided enough wood for the only camp fire of the trip.
Day 4: Time had improved Hugh’s back and he felt confident of making the crossing. The conditions were ideal; cool and flat calm.
The journey over took just under the expected 3 hours and was pleasant and uneventful.
The final problem was actually finding the campsite.The inlet is hidden from the open sea and our search was not helped by the high tide significantly altering the scene. We finally arrived almost dead-on three hours after we departed. Lunch, loading, a drive and a cup of tea in Ballachulish brought us back to Helensburgh by 6pm.
Overall it was a good trip with fantastic scenery and excellent weather. A return to Canna using the ferry is required.
It seemed like a good idea; sunshine forecast in the East, tide running west to east in morning, east to west after lunch and points of interest; Boness, Blackness Castle, Hopetoun House, the Three Bridges and the new aircraft carrier being assembled at Rosyth. The reality was Mud, More Mud and enough clapotis to worry.
We assembled at 08:30 and were away by 8:45 for the 1.5 hr drive. Our first delay was finding the sea at Boness but eventually we found, behind some factories, an excellent parking spot by the yacht club with a broad slip adjacent. Sadly the delays meant the water was already receding leaving 50m of glutinous, smelly mud between the end of the slip and the water. A test revealed a capacity to absorb boots, indeed potentially bodies, so we were forced to carry the loaded boats around a rough seaweed strewn, rocky beach for 800m to the water. Even here the mud led to an unpleasant departure.
The paddle down the Forth was pleasant if uninspiring. The mud made any investigation of the Roman port unattractive and even a visit to the majestic Blackness Castle was ruled out because of it. At Hopetoun we hoped to have lunch and a “hard” beach was only 10m from the water’s edge. Tim got out and suggested it was solid enough but this proved to be Fake News. Thirty amusing minutes of sinking in an oily quicksand, falling over into the water as boots got repeatedly stuck and generally getting boats, clothes and persons coated in mud followed. Sadly the water was so filthy it could not be used to wash off the mud. The retreat was sounded.
On then to a promised broad concrete slip at Port Edgar, beneath the bridges. Colin’s staked reputation was shattered as we found 1m of mud between water and end of slip and evidence that it was as disgusting as that we had already experienced. So we decided to cross the Forth to a potentially hard landing at North Queensferry. Beneath the bridges the tide swirls around the rocks and bridge footings which causes some worrying quite rough water. The beach however was excellent being fine-grained sand. On the beach the thickest mud was removed, the long-delayed lunch was partaken and the sun came out.
By this time an alternative plan to return to Port Edgar as the tide got up to the slip and then use a Taxi to get the car at Boness was adopted. The plan was to paddle back via the rail bridge and the South Queensferry slip but the turbulence was so worrying to one of our team that he made a beeline direct to Port Edgar without having a look at the fort at Inch Garvie. He did not miss much.
Back on shore the alternative plan was enacted, the car was collected (it is a surprisingly long way from Queensferry to Boness in a taxi) and we got home just after seven. A memorable day of around 20km but the Upper Forth is not recommended as a paddling destination except for hippopotami.
The Beginners and Intermediate Thursday night training trips continued through May at Lomond Shores, Craigendoran and on the 17th at Kidston. The last of these was a perfect night with sun and no wind; a little different from the aborted trip last year. Youngsters Paddling on the 17th were: Rowen, Jessica and Jenny (Int) plus Cammy, Alex and . Leaders: Steve T., Allan, John and Geoff
Paddlers Holly, Lee, Steve T, Colin, Gordon, Steve W and Hugh
Weather Breezy and Bright. Rain overnight Sunday.
A good turnout for the first club sea expedition of 2018 with 3 cars headed to Mull for rendezvous at Ulva Ferry or rather just to the north of it where we managed to find off road parking near to the water at Laggan Bay. We assembled rather early since most of the ferries were booked out for the bank holiday and we had to take the 0730 sailing with Colin and Steve T going up late Friday and camping.
Day 1 The wind forecast was 18-20 miles/hour mean, force 4/5 with gusts of 30 miles/hour from the SW so we decided to keep protected from the swell and close to shelter by going from Laggan Bay along the N side of Ulva and Gometra to camp at the extreme W end to hopefully take advantage of the better forecast for Sunday. After a stop for lunch and walk through the tidal gully between the two islands 7.36 Nm took us to Acairseid Mhor, an inlet sheltered by the HW island of Eilean Dioghlum and used by Gometra House. Space for 6 tents was found just S of the tidal channel and a sheltered spot for a driftwood fire. Good camp site for future use.
Day 2. Due to good internet reception we were able to get a full Met office forecast for our location and Sunday had changed overnight to higher winds pm. This meant we had to get to relative safety by midday so a decision was head direct to Lunga to camp and spend the rest of the day exploring the island. Overnight rain was followed by a dank misty morning. The 4.27 Nm crossing saw conditions improve and the wind freshen to give a brighter day. A 1 metre ocean swell with a superimposed light wind chop made the crossing interesting with the inevitable carpet of sea birds on approach to Lunga.
We landed on a stony beach on the S half of the island which the oldest member of the group had last used about 25 years ago. It was good enough for all the tents and provided enough driftwood for a fire. The afternoon was spent exploring Lunga and visiting the various sea bird colonies including the famous puffin shelf. Gordon then produced a pair of swing rhythm bags (somebody had to tell me what they were called) and did a pretty good demo of an Olympic gymnast before moving on to teaching 3 item juggling. A pleasant evening by a good fire and off to bed for a quiet night, or so we thought…. No one seen them so we can only presume that several birds, probably geese, flew in to roost in safety only to find several tents on their landing strip, with one crashing into Steve W’s pots outside his tent, anyway they flew around making a racket for what seemed ages before all went quiet. So much for the peace and quiet of an uninhabited island!
The forecast for Monday had ruled out a return via Staffa and a very early start to ensure we made our 1815 ferry booking so at 0845 we headed N up the Treshnish chain and stopping briefly on Fladda where Holly found a bag that turned out to be a long lost sea kayak towline, requiring only cleaning. On then to Cairn na Burgh Beg and Cairn na Burgh More, both with castle ruins visited by the fitter members of the group whilst the aged checked the wildlife (greater black backed gull with 3 eggs) and drank coffee after forgetting the tea bags.
The crossing to Gometra was uneventful in that there were no whales, dolphins or basking sharks but that was compensated fully by the sighting of a pair of white-tailed sea eagles, an otter and several deer as we retraced our outward course along the N of Ulva. Arriving back at the cars in pleasant sunshine before 1600 having covered just over 13Nm, a good paddle. Steve W even managed a victory roll to test the loaded kayak and found little difference. We were at the ferry in time to get a refreshment in the pub and then had an outdoor fish and chip party on Oban promenade in pleasant sunshine.
A good trip and surprisingly for a bank holiday no other sea kayakers on Lunga.
Paddlers: Hugh, Geoff plus Steve W, Gavin and Sean
Weather: Dry and bright; occasional sun, wind F2. Occasional squall F4 with hail
Report: Part 1 of the day was the outdoor safety test; the conclusion of Sea Kayak Expedition Training. The first exercise involved rescue of an upturned paddler and was accomplished with some expertise in extremely cold water (<8 degrees).
The second task was a solo rescue using a paddle float, the most reliable method. Again a success, albeit after a few capsizes as the body twisted into the seat.
The third task involved getting warm, lunching and preparing and ready for the Trip
The Trip Part 2 of the day involves a longish journey to ensure that the paddler would have the stamina to reach safety if conditions degenerated suddenly. The chosen target was the sugar boat.
The trip out of some 8km was something of a slog for all of us. Nobody wanted to try their hand at climbing on the sugar boat and after a rather cursory visit we were off heading for Rosneath Point and Green Island.
We landed at the good beach at the Green Island signalling/degaussing station for a coffee, stretch and chance to relax in the sun.
After the 15 minute break we headed off across the bay towards the mouth of the Gareloch. On the rocky promontory were a colony of seals but in the north-east could be seen some pretty rough weather which hit us just a few minutes after departure. The wind rose to a strong F4 and the shallow nature of the bay induced a sizeable swell that Gavin and Sean were completely unfamiliar with. Unable to turn Sean was toppled into the sea and Gavin ran for the beach. Although the rescue was achieved without problem the accompanying heavy hail was less than pleasant. With Gavin relaunched, Sean’s boat pumped out and suitable head-wear found, we were off on an uneventful 4km trip back to our start place at the RNCYC.
As ever it was a good trip with the additional benefit that it taught the Beginners a great deal and showed to all of us why we carry out this safety training. As some of us had previously experienced on Loch Etive the weather can change from calm and pleasant to maelstrom in a matter of minutes.