The Three Clyde Castles: March 2018

Paddlers: Geoff, Gordon, Colin, Steve T, Lee, Allan, Innes, Andy

Weather: Incredibly changeable. Millpond and warm sun on departure. Strong (F4) wind, cold and hailstones. Then sun again.

Route: 

Report:

This was a successful club trip about ten years ago and again proved ideal as a last minute, end of winter, paddle. The route includes three castles on the Upper Clyde, one very well known, one just known and one unknown. We set off in beautiful weather  in a flat calm at low tide at just after 10.30. This meant we were on the incoming tide and were expecting a light breeze behind us later in the day.

The crossing to Ardmore seemed long (it is!) and then on across the Clyde to Newark Castle (built 1458: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newark_Castle,_Port_Glasgow ) . This section of the journey took around 1hr 20 mins.

After a much deserved coffee break and quick scan of the outside of the castle (it was closed ) we headed off towards the huge rock on which stands Dumbarton Castle (originally built possibly 570AD  see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumbarton_Castle ). 

By now the breeze was getting up so our stay at the small beach by the castle entrance was relatively short.

The next section could not have been more different from the first. The breeze had turned into a wind and the whole area was shallow causing a lot of turbulence which was completely new (and a bit disturbing) to some of our paddlers.  To others the chance to surf downwind was taken.

The shore between Dumbarton and Bowling is a sad example of environmental damage and waste. With massive potential the land is unfit for use because of pollution from the oil storage. As we were passing the desolate jetties a huge barge with tugs front and back passed us heading for Rotterdam. 

Dunglass Castle is isolated on a rock promontory in the middle of the desolation and is now surrounded by security fencing fit for a nuclear base. The ruined sea facing walls date from 1380 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunglass_Castle ) with the rear walls being incorporated in the mansion built around 1800.

In the middle of the castle is a huge monument to Henry Bell of Helensburgh fame. Sadly, this time we could not get in to see it.

From Dunglass we continued east past the old Bowling shipyards, which once built fibre-glass minesweepers, to the Bowling Basin. As anybody who has travelled on the train to Glasgow will know the Basin is a graveyard with the bones of ancient barges and ships semi-submerged in the mud. It remains a mystery why nobody has moved in, cleaned the basin and turned the whole area into an expensive marina.

The final paddle was under the Erskine Bridge to the lovely little beach by the Boden Boo Car Park where the cars were waiting for us. An excellent end to an excellent day covering the 24km in just over 5 hours .

News and Decisions, March 15th

Helensburgh Canoe Club

 

At its meeting 15the March the Club Committee agreed the following

  1. The AGM will take place on Tuesday 3rd April at 7.30pm in the Scout Hall, John St. Topics for the Photo Competition this year are a). Blue Skies and b) Dark Skies and must feature either a kayak/canoe or be taken from one. Nominations are requested for anyone interested in joining the committee.
  2. There will be a Beginners Trip next Saturday 24th March from Luss at 10am. Everybody is welcome but please let us know if you need equipment ASAP.
  3. Club evenings will begin Thursday 18th April and run every Thursday throughout the summer until October. In April, May and June there will be 3 ”groups” a) Young Beginners on the Course (Euan and Allan) b) Intermediate Paddlers (John, Gordon and Steve) and c) Sea Kayakers (Hugh and Geoff). The Intermediate Paddling group is a Skills Training Group with a river orientation and should be of particular interest to younger non-beginners.
  4. The Pool will still be available on Tuesdays throughout April, May and the first part of June for skills practice and for the Basic Skills for Young People The latter commences Tuesday 13th April and finishes with a weekend camp on 24th/25th June. It will be run by Euan Forrest and Allan Jones.
  5. Trip Programmes for River and Sea will be available at the AGM
  6. Midweek Trips will take place on Tuesdays from 26th March
  7. The Club is promoting the BCU/SCA Leadership stream and will be arranging a 1 day FSRT Course and a 2 Day PaddleSport Leader Course.

Beginners Paddle, Saturday Feb 24th

Paddlers: Alan, Tim, Geoff, Robin, Andy (Lomond KC) and Mark (Lomond KC)

Weather: Dry and bright but cold. Brisk SE wind F3

Report: This Beginners Trip sadly attracted no beginners so we agreed on a short paddle to Inchmoan through the narrows. After a short break for coffee and nibbles Alan and Geoff headed off around the East side of Inchconnachan whilst the other 4 returned as per outward route. A pleasant 2 hour paddle followed by a glorious victory in the Calcuta Cup. A good day.

New Year Paddle, Loch Lomond Jan 6th 2018

Paddlers: Gordon, Geoff, Al, Damien, Adele, Stewart, Monty

Weather: Absolutely perfect; cloudless skies and no wind.

Report: A wonderful day. Initially the plan was to keep warm in the sun so from Aldlochlay, with a departure time of around 11am, we headed north and were rewarded with superb views towards Ben Lomond

Looking North

The initial plan was to have a break at the top of Inchmoan but the beach was underwater and because we were really enjoying the trip we decided to head over to Inchcruin and find a sunny sandy beach there.

Portrait 1: Gordon
Portrait 2: Stewart
Portrait 3: Al

No suitable beaches could be seen on Inchcruin or Inchfad so we pushed onto to a favourite spot, Port Bawn on Inchcailloch. A lovely table in the sun with hot mulled wine and mince pies. Difficult to beat.

Our return took us on the south side of Inchmoan where we met a large group from the Clydebank club.

Meeting the Clydebank Club

On round the end of Inchvannach, where Roy Rogers was busy getting a car back from the island.

Old Oaks (with Ben Lomond) at the end of Inchvannach a.k.a. Chocolate Box to be turned into a Jigsaw

Although the paddle was almost effortless we still managed some 14 km by the time we got back at 2.30. With almost an hour off for lunch the average was between 5 and 6 kph.

Aldlochlay was still frozen and by the time the kayaks were loaded freezing fingers were setting in. Without a doubt a fantastic day.

 

Barrs Bothy, Loch Etive, December 2017

Paddlers: Hugh, Geoff and Steve W

Weather: Cold, Wet and Breezy (F3 from west)

Route: Bonawe to Barrs and v.v

Report:

Uncertain weather and certain adverse tides led to a late change to Loch Etive and Barrs Bothy. We drove right round to the quarry at Bonawe to collect the key at the Kilchattan Priory. The launch site, on the east side of the promontory is small and a bit awkward but was well sheltered from the brisk and cold westerly. Visibility was poor when it was not raining and lousy when it was.

View from the lunch break
Lunch

The paddle up took around 2.5 hours (incl Lunch) and we arrived in time for half an hours wood collection and splitting.

The Bothy was in excellent condition with a ton of firewood both inside and in the store. By darkness (4pm!) we were sitting in front of a raging fire drinking coffee and relaxing. The evening passed in a flash with beer, wine and some excellent whisky combined with good food and cards. The large hot toddies to finish, did just that.

Heavy rain during the night gradually cleared and a decent day looked on the cards. Sadly the large patches of blue contracted and eventually disappeared and the cold westerly wind persisted. The visibility however was much improved.

Looking North
Looking East towards Ben Starav
Looking West

The brisk paddle into the wind took us directly back to Bonawe in 1hr45.  After lunch, the car journey home and a prolonged stop at for a coffee and the Whisky shop in Tyndrum.

Despite the adverse weather it was an excellent weekend and our view is that this should become an annual club winter weekend destination.

For reports of earlier bothy trips simply type in Barrs in the search box.

Club Meetings: November 2017

The club held two meetings in November. The first was an opportunity to view the latest Justine Curvegen CD detailing her trip along the Aleutian chain with Sarah Outen. All were impressed if not amazed.In addition, for our white water aficionados, the video Sneaky,Freaky, Creeky covering some incredible exploits on Scottish Waters was also shown. An excellent evening.
The second meeting was aimed at the less experienced. Geoff, Hugh, Gordon and Euan looked at the gear they used on winter days at sea, weekends trips, river trips and canoe trips respectively. A useful, and pleasant evening. Geoff’s list is shown on the Sea Kayak Training pages of the site.

Lower Orchy Trip; 11th Nov

Paddlers: Steve Thomas, Graham, Tom, Gordon, Jamie, Harry, Rowan

River Level: 2.5 at Falls of Orchy

Original plan had been to paddle the River Awe but it was was on release so we did the lower Orchy instead.  Weather was clear and cold with a fair amount of snow on higher hills.   We put in just above the steel bridge at the Falls of Orchy.  The bridge is about to be removed and upgraded incidentally – contractors were erecting fencing prior to the work starting.

Having all got on the river without mishaps (see video here), we dropped over the weir and started making our way down.   A series of rapids followed, some quite challenging (enough for me to take a swim).   We stopped for lunch just past the Catnish carpark/bridge and from there, it was a fairly long flat paddle to the next set of rapids and then on to the take out at Dalmally bridge.

Beginners in the Sun; 5/11/2017

Paddlers: Catherine, Andy, Sean; Lorna, AndyA, David (frae Ayr); Robbie, Lee, Tim, Allan, Douglas and Geoff

Weather: Beautifully Sunny with a breeze (F2) from west

Route: Craigendoran to Kidston and v.v. showing the flag to the local citizens

Report: A beautiful day with a slight bounce. We had a complete beginner join us, so the original plan of Ardmore and the Sugar Boat was ruled out, but the alternative of a paddle along the sea front turned out to be equally, if not more enjoyable, Lunch on the steps by the Henry Bell monument and a somewhat faster return , with the breeze , from Kidston. A good day.