Paddlers: Colin, Serena, Innes, Hugh, Matt, Geoff, Steve W, Vonna, Damien
Weather: Lovely with light breeze from the north. Quite Cool
Route: Portencross Castle, Little Cumbrae House, Lighthouse, Portencross Car Park
Report: The Cumbraes are an excellent venue for a winter’s day sea paddle, being just over an hour from Helensburgh. We met at 10 and after a short debate went to the castle to unload. Despite worries there are no problems provided you simply dump gear and take the car away ASAP. The advantage is the small sand beach in the harbour entrance at low tide.
The paddle across to the island was pleasurable if uneventful. Only a couple of the group had been over before and the rest seemed surprised at the size and condition of the little castle.
A quick tour and coffee and then on to the best part of the trip. The Arran Hills, which were always a presence, were topped with snow and beautiful in the weak sun. To our left the cliffs grew more and more impressively until we reached the lighthouse.
Landing at the lighthouse is not easy. There is a broken slip and a broken rock foreshore that require some attention.
Around the old dock are ruins and remnant of the old railway/crane system used to build the complex above. Steep stairs climb the cliff to the complex which contains not only the light but a series of cottages for the men and their families. Many of the buildings are still in a retrievable state although some also still contain rusting machinery . After and investigation lunch was taken at the summit with superb views over the Clyde to Arran.
After a difficult launch, the return was equally uneventful and we were back at Portencross just after 3pm. It was a relatively short but excellent days paddling in an interesting and beautiful area.
Because the tide was now high we landed at the car park which was difficult and rocky. The number of paddlers (9) was such that it was almost certainly the correct place but with smaller numbers the castle harbour would still be recommended.