Castles of Loch Awe; Sat 20th March

Paddlers: Colin, Geoff, Stuart, Sharon, Bill

Weather: Excellent, Hazy Sun and Full Sun throughout day. Mostly calm but NW wind channeled up loch by mountains surprisingly strong in places.

Route

Report: A glorious day on a stunning loch. We met at 9.30 at the Rest Car Park, getting to the launch point at around 10.15. Parking close to the loch is not easy. This place is an old stretch of road down a steep rough access from the main road. There is a further steep descent carrying the kayaks to a rough beach where we launched

The launch site

From the access pint we crossed to our first target, the burial island of Inishail. There is a lovely sand beach on both sides of the small peninsular to the south of the island with potentially an excellent little camp site where a rough path runs along the shore to the mound on the west.

Inishail


A rough path runs along the shore to the mound on the west. On the mound are the ruins of an old convent and church with a graveyard. The age of some of the slabs appears to be considerable, probably back to around 1200 when Somerled was Lord of the Isles.

Colin, Bill, Sharon and Stuart examine an ancient grave stone

Both the 11th and 12th Dukes of Argyll chose to be buried here (in 1973 and 2001). Their graves are surprisingly modest. All told the island is strongly recommended for a really intersting half hour.

From Inisail we progressed on pas a couple of Crannogs to the beach beneath Ardanaseig Hotel.http://www.ardanaiseig.com/gallery/house/ We wandered up to the hotel for a drink and nose about. It is a really lovely place with some beautiful furnishings and paintings and very expensive beer. It was absolutely empty of all customers with ghost like staff.

The journey to the hotel from Taynuilt is long and tortuous but would appear to be worth it if you can afford it. The grounds are extensive and in the garden you can find 66 labelled species of tree.

Bill contemplates the hotel

After the beer, lunch was taken on the lawns beneath the hotel before setting off for our third target, the castle of Fraoch Eilean. This castle was built in 1267 by the McNaughton clan before coming under the control of the deadly Campbells. It has its usual collection of clan wars and seiges but is not now in a good state having been overtaken in the castle stakes by its neighbour Kilchurn .

Investigating the Ruins

The landing point on the isalnd is quite rough and bouldery and on return a sharp breeze directly on to it had sprung up. The loch had become alive with white crested wavelets. After we had negotiated the exit we swung round and were pushed eastwards towards our next target Kilchurn Castle.

Kilchurn must be one of the most photogenic of Scotland’s Castles. It is also one of the most popular and, despite the half mile walk from the road, was very popular on a lovely Easter Saturday. The top of the main tower was sadly shut so we could not get the best views of the loch and Ben Cruachan but despite that it was well worth the visit.

After a prolonged coffee break we ventured back; this time into the F3 breeze. It proved to be a surprisingly comfortable paddle with few breaks and no problems.

We were back just before 5pm for the 90 minute journey home. Conditions were fantastic and the route combined interest, beauty and just the mildest of challenges. All in all a perfect day.

Peer Group and Club Trips

One of the key objectives of the club is to bring kayakers and canoeists together for trips. Paddling alone is not recommended. Club Members who are on trips which conform to Club Policy have the advantage of third party insurance i.e. if there is an accident and they are liable then they have insurance cover. These trips which have a responsible leader are identified as Club Trips and can include U18s.

Many trips are arranged at short notice and have not been considered by the Club. Because there is no official leader and individuals, as adults (no U-18s) are free to make their own choices they are known as Peer Group Trips. These can be immensely rewarding and consequently are encouraged and reported.

Before Easter I was involved in three windy trips on the Clyde: Craigendoran -Kilcreggan with AndyD., Craigendoran -Cardross with Andy, Pete B, Garry (from Falkirk) and Cristabel (from Milngavie) and Craigendoran-Ardmore with Colin and Gordon, which was a late evening/night trip. All very rewarding.

Andy passing a glorious gorse covered Rosneath Point


Colin and Gordon pass Ardmore in failing light on a windy day

Erskine Bridge to Paisley Centre 8th March 2019

Paddlers: Damien, Thomas, Colin H, Geoff

Weather: Cold, Very Wet with blustery wind from South

Route: Boden Boo Beach (Erskine Bridge)-Clydebank Leisure Centre-Paisley Centre

Report: The original plan had been to kayak North Loch Awe on theThursday but last weeks mishap (3 kayakers rescued at Greenock with helicopter and lifeboat summoned) , led to hesitation when the wind forecast was F5 with F7 gusts. Instead, given shelter from the expected wind and a high tide at 1.30 we decided on the trip up the White Cart to to Paisley Centre through the Gilmore St. tunnels.

The launch point was the beach just to the east of Erskine Bridge by the old southerly ferry slip. There is an excellent parking spot here and an even better beach. Although it was raining heavily (as it had been from 9am) the paddle up the Clyde with the tide was surprisingly pleasant. There is no other outdoor sport where the rain makes so little difference.

From Clydebank we headed south up the White Cart. The river is reminiscent of the Leven before being cleaned up with collapsing wharves, oozing litter covered banks and industrial buildings. There is only one place to stop even if you wanted to (which you will not). The one place is a slip by a small green with a new housing development behind, marked on the map with a purple triangle.. It is dirty and covered with dog excrement but there is no other, so there we had lunch (about 12.30).

The next section takes you between high walls and to the tunnel under the town centre. Be Warned; The tunnels are only passable 30 minutes each side of high tide. Our timings were perfect and we were quickly through the tunnels into the old part of the city just beneath the Abbey.

The southern end of the twin tunnels with Gilmour Shopping Centre above and the town hall on the right.

The next section is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip ending in the mill pool beneath a wide attractive natural weir/waterfall.

Damien and Thomas risking the briny foam
Colin relaxes in the middle of Paisley

We turned back from the mill pool at about 1.30 with the tide, wind and current all in our favour. None were strong enough to worry and in a relativelt short time we were at the mouth of the river where, for the first time, there was substantial wind. As we turned down the Clyde (past the new Leisure Centre where there is now a pontoon where one could enter/exit the Clyde in a kayak) and were back at the beach just after 3, 1. hours for over 10km.

In summary, despite the cold and frequent soakings from the rain, it was an excellent and recommended trip.

Beginners Mark 2: Clyde Feb 24th 2019

Paddlers: Steve W., Colin B., Bungie, Thomas

Weather: Cold and Grey but Calm in the shelter

Route: Craigendoran-Kidston-Coffee-Craigendoran

Report: The Adult Basic Skills Course includes three trips of increasing adventure. The second of these was planned to be the Leven but the absence, through late illness, of Euan and the heavy rain led to a late change of plan. Thankfully Steve W. was available as support so we embarked on a sea trip along the Helensburgh shore sheltered from the north wind.

Departure from Craigendoran

One of the joys of paddling is quiet, unimpeded progress (no queues or traffic) in great company. And so it proved.

The coffee stop in the cafe at Kidston Park gave us a chance to get warm and save the world with words. When we exited the cafe we found that our timing of high tide was actually 30 minutes after we stopped and one kayak had floated away and been rescued. No harm.

Back at Craigendoran we took the chance of looking at the winter damage around the old pier. It is significant.

The sun breaks through

Despite the cold the trip was again both very useful in developing paddling skills and thoroughly enjoyable.

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

Route:

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

Route: 

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
Chris
Catherine

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

Andy

Gordon

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