Loch Lomond Dec 2019

Paddlers: Colin, Steve W., Vonna, Geoff, Gordon, Martin, Steve T.

Weather: Wet and Grey but relatively calm. Forecast high gusts did not materialise.

Route: Luss, Inchcailloch, Inchfad, Luss

Report: The forecast suggested a window in a period of awful weather, albeit with strong gusts later in the afternoon. What dominates my memory is heavy and persistent rain that completely emptied the loch. In long experience of paddling the area I cannot remember the total and complete absence of other boats and, on return, a beach and pier at Luss without a soul.

The route took us from the Luss Beach and through the narrows between Inchtavannach, Inchconnachan and Inchmoan before passing the south end of Inchcruin to end up on the beach at Port Bawn on Inchcailloch. As can be seen from the above a good speed was maintained in reasonable conditions.

Inchcailloch is a super attractive island with a good beach, composting toilets, picnic tables and a small camp site.

After lunch Colin, Steve T, Gordon and Steve W. walked over the hill to the graveyard, returning just as hypothermia for the remainder was threatening.

At the graveyard

Inchcailloch is also an attractive island from the water. The weather was getting wetter and visibility poorer. We hardly saw Balamaha as we passed en route to Inchfad. Here we visited the harbour with 2m walls made from prefabricated concrete blocks before pushing on in heavy rain back to Luss

We arrived back just after 3pm where we packed up in pouring rain and headed for the Village Rest in Luss for tea and cake. This cafe can be strongly recommended as indeed can the whole trip. It was a real pleasure to paddle with excellent company in superb surroundings and there is nothing better to do in this sort of weather. A really good day.

Little Cumbrae, November 2019

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.

Launch Point

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.

Beginners Paddle, Clyde 10/11/2019

Paddlers: Mason, Charlie and Geoff

Weather: Fantastic; cloudless sky which gradually misted over as a light easterly developed

Report: Sadly illness and unavailability restricted numbers significantly but, given the fantastic weather it was decided to go ahead anyway and use the sea kayaks at Craigendoran. Stage 1 of the learning process was about being properly prepared for paddles in the winter in Scotland. Lessons were learned in terms of how to dress and what to take . Stage 2 was launching and landing. This proved another excellent learning experience. Stage 3 was paddling! Both paddlers performed extremely well in the new craft type and are ready for more challenging trips. Stage 4 was a lesson in how quickly it can cool down with only haze and a light breeze and why Stage 1 was important.

Overall the trip was a complete success with the main objective, enjoyment, being more than achieved. Once again I am struck by how lucky we are to live here with such wonderful canoeing literally on the doorstep.

Mason with Ben Bouie in the background
Leaving the lunch beach at Ardmore Point
Approaching Craigendoran
Arrival, with sun streaming into camera

Sea Kayak Safety Exercise: Sunday 3rd November

Paddlers: Hugh, Gordon, Geoff and Andrew plus Pat, Joe and Andy (Clydebank)

Weather: A bit grey and overcast but no wind

Report: The session had been set up as a joint training exercise with the Helensburgh lifeboat but unfortunately on the day this was not possible. Although this was a disappointment we decided to proceed on an “as if” basis, going through the three scenarios planned by Hugh. These involved an on-shore serious accident (located just past Castle Point, Rosneath; a capsize/terrified casualty set at MacGruers; and a multiple capsize set back close to the lifeboat station at Rhu.

heading north from castle point
Dealing with the frightened capsize

These worked well and were instructive; not least for this participant the section involving towing was informative on new methods. A useful and enjoyable morning.

Innes Chonnel, Loch Awe October 2019

Paddlers: Colin, Bill and Geoff

Weather: Grey and Cool. Wind F2 from north

Location: The south end of Loch Awe is rarely kayaked. 9 years ago the club had a weekend paddle reported at http://www.helensburghcc.org.uk/wp/2010/08/30/loch-awe-weekend-27th-29th-august-2010/ with the route shown below.

During that paddle we came across Innis Chonnel Castle, one of the most impressive castles and least known in the whole of Scotland. This was the target of this trip which also covered the Burial Island to the south of the castle, a nearly submerged classic crannog and the strange village of Dalavich. The route is shown below;

Report: The Argyll Council Access Map https://argyll-bute.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7fa23d13020b4a2cab6485b39a22986d indicates by blue dots access points to the water throughout A&B. The indicated point in this case, provided parking a few steps away from an easy launch, about 6km north of the castle..

It was an easy paddle south with the breeze gently helping us along. A number of islets, which were potentially crannogs were investigated. The actual marked crannog was almost completely submerged because the Loch was so high.

From the crannog we pushed on to Innis Chonnel and the castle. Dating from the 11th century it was a stronghold of first the Campbells and then the MacDougals. For further limited information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innis_Chonnell.

The entry is by some steep steps opposite the mainland and we were surprised to see a couple of open canoes parked there. Our surprise turned to astonishment as we climbed up into a scene reminiscent of Hogarth. We had inadvertently stumbled into the “morning after” an annual “rave” with a bank of sound decks, lights, a cover and a set of inebriated and/or high characters in strange outfits or parts thereof.

The Castle entrance
Colin on the Dance Floor (partially covered by a white tarpaulin)
The back of the decks with the dungeon entrance beneath the metal plate.

Apparently there were 50-60 friends at the party and camping on the mound opposite. The Rave has been going on for 10 years and we have no reason to doubt that the mess would be completely cleared up by the organizers as there was little trace over the rest of the castle

The open courtyard adjacent to the ruined main tower, the main location of the party
The steps up to the path round the walls
Looking South from walls
The view over the wall to the mainland; note the height
Looking South
Looking Back

After a good look around we retreated from the scene and headed for the burial island of Innis Errich. This is completely overgrown with the old chapel just four low walls and a mass of brambles. Bill carried out his normal inquiries and established from the gravestones it was possible to read that it was in use from about 1750 to 1950

After lunch we headed across to Dalavich. Ten years ago this was a sad place. Built by the Forestry Commission to house workers but the forestry jobs had dried up. The village had no amenities and seemed strange and isolated. In the following years the atmosphere seems to have changed dramatically with a large community centre with a bar that opens every evening and a shop/PO /cafe to cater for daytime needs. There is a regular (if very slow) bus to Oban 4 or 5 times a day. Empty houses have been refurbished and rented out as holiday homes. A major change.

The new playground with community centre behind

From Dalavich we headed back towards the car, with a slight detour to see if we could get up the river to the waterfall. We couldn’t so a brisk walk and Colin and Bill were in for a very cold shower. Why?

Back to the car and home after a very, very satisfying day. One club member doubted if it was worth going all that way for a day trip. It was.

Beginners Paddle, Luss, 28th Sept 2019

Paddlers: Euan, Steve T., Bungie, Mason, Charlie, Ian, Stu, Sharon and Geoff

Weather: Excellent, calm and mostly sunny

Report: The trip followed the familiar pattern. From the beach at the north end of Luss we headed south, stopping just after the pier for the first “coaching” interlude, which in this case was Draw strokes. Meanwhile the Lomond Club, who were also meeting at Luss paid a visit

Heading for the river
The Lomond Club

The river was unusual in having a good depth but little flow; ideal for introducing Beginners to moving water. Coaching point: Ferry Glides. From there we headed further south before crossing to Inchvannach at the narrowest point and rounding the point to the beach for lunch.

After an enjoyable lunch we headed back to the mainland and then out to Fraoch Eilean (Seagull Island) for further instruction on the seal launch (and kayak bouyancy!).

Sharon and Stu then left us to go sampling at the Cove Beer Festival whilst we went back again to Luss Water for more coaching and games. We got back to the north end of the beach at around 2pm after an enjoyable and we hope instructive four hours .

There has been some discussion on the effectiveness of a “trip” which involves a mix of journeying and coaching for a mixed ability group of paddlers. In evidence this trip seems to have “worked” for all involved (including the leaders). We do welcome comments from participants.

Finnart to Carrick Castle and v.v Sept 22nd 2019

Paddlers: Geoff, Andy, Serena, Gordon, Colin, Bill and the spirit of Vonna

The group at Mark Cottage opposite Finnart

Report: This was a hastily put together “WhatsApp” Peer Group trip on a lovely sunny afternoon in September. We met Bill and Vonna at Carrick Castle, Bill having paddled up from Lochgoilhead. Sadly Vonna was called away at the last moment to rescue a hired van that was to take a micro-brewery from Bute back to Carrick Castle but had met the bus and been pushed into a ditch. Bill took the opportunity to paddle back to Finnart with us and get a lift onwards to Lochgoilhead.

The trip was uneventful (and scenically stunning) with short breaks at Carrick Castle , the ruined village at Carron (identified from an old photo by Bill) and Mark Cottage bothy. Speed for the 12km was between4 and 5kph Little more to say other than thanks to the organisers for a great afternoon

Carrick Castle
Looking South East from Carrick
Looking North West towards Lochgoilhead
Location of the ruins (foundation walls only) of the township of Corran

The South Ayrshire Coast: 13th September 2019

Objective: The object of the website is threefold, to keep a record of club activities, to encourage those who might be thinking of taking up the sport with the club and, finally to provide information about where to go, where to park and what to expect. The Search system on the website, for example can be used to call up any trips by club members to Ailsa Craig. This Blog report is on a trip by the “Mid Week Sea Kayakers WhatsApp Group ” not the Club , but it is believed this report will more than fulfill the other two objectives of the website.

Report: The coast between Ayr and Turnberry is a spectacular mix of exposed rocky cliff and long broad sandy beaches. In addition there are two lovely villages at Dunure and Maidens, a spectacular ruined castle at Dunure and the huge majestic Culzean Castle (NTS). There are established car parks at Ayr, Croy and Turnberry. Because of the time taken to get to the start (nearly two hours) a weekend trip along the length, with a car shuttle, is an attractive proposition.

We put in at Croy where there is an excellent car park and toilets. The sea goes out a long way and a trolley is suggested. The concrete slip onto the beach has a scaffolding type barrier but the boats on the trolleys will just go under the one on the extreme right (looking at the sea).

The beach is an excellent surf beach; good enough to spend a day practicing here. The weather was an F2/3 breeze from the South West and the cloud was due to disappear as the wind got up to F4/5 in the late afternoon. The forecast was wrong; the cloud coverage increased and the wind got up quickly so that there was a strong F4 by midday.

The Beach 2 hours off high water

We paddled south towards the castle that dominates the cliffs at the far end of the beach

Passing one of the self catering cottages on the NTS Culzean estate
Heading for Culzean

The “Gas House” (far left) and Culzean

The shore/shallows are very shallow here making for an enjoyable section of rock hopping. The cliffs have a number of caves accessible along the shore at low tide. The first (most northerly) was apparently used for smuggling whist the second has been “improved to form a 3 floor apartment with tunnel to the main castle.

We pushed on south in increasing wind until white horses were occurring with some frequency. Just before Barwhin Point a decision was made to turn north again back to our starting point with the possibility of then heading further north to Dunure. The resultant trip was a very useful “skills” practice.

When we reached our initial departure point, enthusiasm for continuing was absent and so the final task was to get ashore without capsize. This correspondent would like to report an absolutely perfect straight, fast run-in on possibly the biggest wave of the day. Chuffedness knows no bounds.

A line of breaking waves are to be seen a long way out.
A lovely sea for kayak surfing

A very short yet highly satisfying day. This coast is really worth paddling but possibly a 2 day trip as it is a long way to go in some horrible traffic.

Inchmurrin, evening Tuesday 27th August

Paddlers; Matt, Geoff, Bungie and Mandy

Weather: Beautiful; sunny whilst light, clear later.

Report: The plan was left deliberately open as Matt and Geoff were in sea kayaks whilst Bungie and Mandy were in their inflatable double. There was also a degree of mis-communication about objectives with Geoff suggested going as far as Creinch and Mandy assuming we were going directly to the pub (she had not eaten!)

Having started from the beach mid way along Duck Bay at just before 7pm we headed out to the west side of Inchmurrin Island. After a short discussion, we then headed north before rounding the tip of Inchmurrin island. A short on-water stop to alleviate hunger was followed 10 minutes later by a stop at the pub, arriving just after sunset.

The paddle back to Duck Bay was in the dark with no moonlight. It was however completely calm and cloudless, which resulted in a lovely “night paddling” experience. We got back at around 9.30 having paddled some 11km, a good rate for an inflatable.

Loch Lomond August 2019

Paddlers: Andy, Stuart, Serena and Geoff

Weather: Glorious; Hot and Sunny with no wind


Report: The Ailsa Craig trip (previous post) was most definitely a C Grade with 10 miles of open water. This trip was drawn up at the last moment for those unable through inexperience or other commitments to go to Ailsa Craig but wanted to make use of the fantastic weather. It was recorded by Stuart using a 360 Automatic Go Pro mounted on his foredeck.

The 360 Camera can be just seen on the foredeck

For those interested a section from the video of the group heading north from Rowardennan video is available at https://youtu.be/ONFch1Php2k  

WE arrived at Luss Car Park at 10.30 and by 11am the car park was completely full. After the mayhem of the beach the paddle north east was quiet and quite delightful

We stopped for a pint at the pub at Rowardennan which was relatively quiet although the car park here was also full as were the beaches. After a mile or so north along the shore we headed north west to Firkin Point before tuning for home.

Stuart, Andy and Serena

Although the loch had become much busier, with jet skis/bikes, speed boats and water skiers, compared to Luss Beach which we got to about 3pm, it was a quiet oasis. Loading the cars and simplt exiting the car park was not a pleasant experience. Advice: Avoid Luss on hot sunny Sundays.

The total journey time, including stops, was around 4 hours and we covered some 16km. A good trip.