Ailsa Craig August 2019

Paddlers; Steve W, Gordon, Innes and Hugh

Report: With the Islay trip to round the Rhinns and the Oa put off on the Saturday due to wind that made it marginally untenable it was decided that this peer group go for Ailsa Craig at 1630 on Saturday afternoon when the wind was forecast to drop from F4 to F3 allowing us to overnight and explore (summit) on Sunday morning before returning.

We set off from just N of Lendalfoot for the 7.5 Nm crossing with a helpful SSE breeze in sunshine and temperature about 21 degC. An uneventful crossing saw us land on the Craig at 1920 with enough daylight for a quick look round, getting the tents up and a driftwood fire going. A warm, dry pleasant evening ensued around a good fire and although Campbelltown and Arran were a fair distance away we could just catch the occasional faint aroma of their distilleries. Our sleep was somewhat disturbed by squawking birds and some strong gusts of wind so earplugs are a good idea if camping.

On Sunday morning we headed up to the castle which is more of a keep but nevertheless interesting and then steeply up to the summit at 340m (1120ft), a fairly spectacular viewpoint on a clear day. From there we could see a couple of small vessels carrying tourists out from Girvan. They had a picked one of the few days when it was exceptionally warm and no foul weather gear was required. In the higher parts of the island seems to support a substantial rabbit colony and many were out and about during the day.

Exploration continued back at shore level with a walk to the granite quarry and the redundant N foghorn served by a complex walkway with several bridges with wire handrails in rather unsafe condition. Evidence in the broken granite of curling stone diameter having been core out showed how some of the work was done before transporting back to the buildings for finishing.

The crossing back to the mainland was very pleasant in warm sunshine and calm sea and was made special by the appearance of what appeared at first sight to be a dolphin but turned out to very probably be a Minke whale. It surfaced several times as we approached – and in the Clyde! The Minke whale is the second smallest averaging about 7-8m and weighing 5 tons.