After our warm-ups on the Teith and Tom’s successful White Water Leader Canoe leader assessment on the Tay, it was time for the Awe. Stuart and Tom were in open boats, the rest of us in kayaks.
There was supposedly a damn release but the water levels did not seem very much higher than normal. There was however, plenty of water.
The kayakers successfully navigated the Grave Yard, although Steve and Gordon both took swims afterwards once we had navigated the difficult bits. The open boaters (sensibly) lined round. From there we progressed down through the various rapids until we reached magnetic rock (Gordon taking the opportunity for another couple of refreshing dips at the easier bits).
We all got past Magnetic Rock without incident and stopped for lunch while we watched some others play in the waves.
From here we descended the rest of the river without incident, taking out at the car park at Loch Etive.
Participants: Steve Wheaton, Gordon Smith, Stuart McCartney, Geoff Riddington, Mark Newal
This was the last planned sea trip of the year, the date swapped with our usual bothy trip, which was held in November. Frosty but calm F2 from EEN, cloudy with intermittent sun. Launched from the slipway beside the new swimming pool. Water flat and smooth, under 1.5 hrs to Newark Castle via Ardmore. Lunch by the castle and walk around the building. 5km run along shoreline between Port Glasgow and Greenock. We were not sure if the Great Dock was navigable through the Western end (it is) so took the route outside the sea wall. The sea became increasingly choppy with the wind against tide which was surprising given the relatively benign conditions. On making the Clyde crossing towards Rosneath Point the conditions eased and we were followed into Helensburgh by a very friendly and inquisitive seal, often coming up and nosing the back of our boats. Just back intime for the last of the daylight and 20km covered.
This was the second introduction to white water trip that Mags had run down the River Teith. Postponed from October, temperatures had fallen somewhat in the meantime and we set off from the Meadows car park in flurries of snow.
Some exercises trying to write our names with our tracks soon had us warmed up and we set off on what turned out to be a rather scrapey paddle – the river level was at 0.6 and although paddle-able, the less experienced of us frequently found ourselves sat on top of rocks.
However, confidence built as we practiced ferry gliding, breaking in and breaking out. Lunch part way down saw evidence of possible beaver activity.
There remained time for a couple of the party to take refreshing swims further down the river before the get out (by the lay by). One successful roll, one unsuccessful!
Participants; Steve Wheaton, Gordon Smith, Ian Walker, Stuart McCartney
This trip was planned for December last year, when poor forecasts had us heading for Mark Bothy instead. This year though the South of the UK was seeing storms we were enjoying a much quieter period under the centre of a large low-pressure system. Incredibly the wind kindly moved Northeast over the weekend giving gentle Easterlies on Saturday and Westerly to take us home on Sunday.
Saturday 4th Wind E, F2/3 Distance 12km. Met at Ardruaine Jetty at 1030 and paddling just after 1100. Short stop at the bottom of Luing before nosing into Bagh Gleann a Mhaoil with the very start of the flood. Afternoon spent collecting wood from the beach and setting up in the bothy. Before darkness a short walk was made to a promontory above the caves South-West of the bothy.
Scarba bothy has a truly remarkable setting on a South facing slope looking out across the entrance to the Corryvrechan.
Sunday 5th Wind W, F1/2 Distance 26Km. Early rise in the bothy at 0530 for paddling at 0700. Used the last of the flood to take us through the Corryvrechan along the South shore of Scarba. Conditions very good though with just a few swirly bits to make it interesting. Some reflected waves on the Western shore which might normally have allowed some close in shore paddling but given the length of exposed coast with few options to get out we continued at a safe distance. The Grey Dogs were passed through within the 1st hour of the Neap Ebb flow in ideal conditions. A brief stop was made below Kilmory Lodge on the Eastern shore of Scarba before heading across the Sound of Luing and up the Eastern Shore of Luing for a lunch stop at the top of Shuna. Back at Arduaine and all packed and way for mid-afternoon. A super visit and stay at a remote bothy.
HCC Trip Report Club Trip BBQ Finnart / Carrick Castle / Finnart, 13Km, Grade A Sep 30th / Oct 1st 2023
Participants: Steve Wheaton, Stewart McCartney, Geoff Riddleton Wind F2/3 from E & SW
This trip was organised as an option for those attending a BBQ at Carrick Farm Castle kindly run by club members Jai & Vonna for the HCC & villagers from Carrick Castle. As with the earlier September club paddle the preceding week was very windy but fortunately quieter conditions occurred just in time for our journey. The wet weather though did deter some from paddling and electing to drive.
Sat 30th 1630 departed from Finnart lay by amidst the divers on the sunken pier site. Easy paddle to Carrick Castle with a following wind. Set up camp and enjoyed a lovely evening with curry and beer in the barn.
Sun 1st 0945 for paddle back to Finnart with again a favourable wind, this time from the South West – couldn’t have been better.
What a good turn out! 8 boats afloat. The forecast was for Easterly winds up to force 4 with rain for most of the day. We mustered at Balmaha for a 0900 start and went through introductions. It was really nice to meet new members and for existing members to finally meet each other. A general introduction, safety and route brief completed we set off from the slip and headed out and around the bay to find our way into the hidden Endrick water entrance at around 1.6km. (slightly off track but a painless correction got us into the correct section.
The river mouth was shallow and a few of us decided to wade the 30mtrs into deeper river.
The initial straight section was about 2km before the left hand bend but we were out of the wind fairly quickly and, until a lot further up the river, we would remain out of the wind. Rem and his family met up with us in his lovely kevlar We-No-Nah and joined us for a large section of the trip.
The river meanders right up to the A809 bridge with 12 bends within a 10km stretch. A flash of a kingfisher was the lucky sighting of the front paddlers. 2 swans and their 2 signets couldn’t work out what to do and, so, kept ahead of us for a few miles before eventually hiding in a tree strainer until we paddled past.
After the second bend a sheep was seen half in the water appearing to be stuck and unable to get back up the bank. Pat, Colin and I went to investigate with Pat jumping ashore to reach down and grab the horns and together we helped the heavy water logged provider of fine fleece back up the muddy bank and to safety. Woodend Lodge was the first and last bridge across this river until the A809 and it looked quite rusty. Im sure it will stay.
The rest of the river was very pleasant with willows and Himalayan Balsam lining the banks and there was even signs of beaver and otter activity on the sections before the golf course. Himalayan Balsam is an invasive weed species rapidly spreading river banks but the flowers are pretty and the seed pods are mighty fun to play with. They explode on touch. Apparently the weeds are easily removed if done out side the flowering season due to their shallow root system.
Colin ventured ahead and witnessed (photos as proof) cows walking on water! but, around 1300 and approx 4.5 miles up the river, we stopped at a convenient sloping bank in the woods for some lunch. This was where we said goodbye to Rem and family and wished them a safe return paddle.
At around 8 km up the river the flow started to become a challenge along with the random shallows. After struggling against the flow and making no gains enough was enough and the bridge eluded us today. The late turn around was welcomed and now we had the flow with us. In theory we would have the wind behind us too but it disappeared. A tail wind would have been useful as folk were getting tired. For those more used to kayaking the new set of muscle groups required for canoeing were being tested. The rain started stronger now as well and the boats started filling but it was still a very enjoyable return. Not as many sightings of wildlife on the return though. By the time we had returned to the river mouth the wind and rain had left leaving the last 1.6km very relaxing and, silently, we cruised back into the slip. For me this was the second attempt to get to the bridge thwarted but that did not take the majesty out of this river.
HCC Trip Report Club Trip Firth of Forth, Grade A September 23rd 2023
Participants: Steve Wheaton, Gordon Smith, Stewart McCartney, Colin Hosey. Bright & sunny morning slightly overcast in the afternoon. Wind F2/3 from S and SW This trip has turned out to be the Club’s only venture over to the East coast this year. Earlier plans for St. Abbs to N. Berwick were cancelled due to strong winds in July. The trip was just squeezed in between two windy periods. The route is set out in Doug Cooper’s excellent book North & East Coasts of Scotland.
Starting beside the Forth Rail Bridge we paddled out via the battle-ship shaped island of Inch Garvie to Inchcolmn stopping for lunch and a walk round the Abbey (£7 visitors charge). On past Oxcars light and a second stop on Inchmickery – another island set up and disguised as a battle-ship. The last island of the day Cramond was passed with the turning of the tide to the West and a home run skirting (or in my case not quite) the Drum Sands and back to Queensferry.