Helensburgh – RWSABC – Helensburgh, 31st March 24

Participants: Steve W, Gordon, Norrie, Stephen, Damien, Seb , Chris, Jessica, Mike

The first sea trip of the year was popularly supported. A gap in a windy and wet period was greatly appreciated.
10:00 met at RNYC to organise club boats before setting out in light easterly F2. Short stop at Meiklecross Bay before crossing over to the RWSABC. Lunch on the beach and chat with a couple of paddlers just heading out. Much interest shown in a Seb’s sleek and fast Taran. Crossing back to Rosneath peninsular was a bit more bouncy as wind picked up from east to the top of F3.
A really quick and efficient deep-water rescue carried out S. of peninsular A couple of us tried some rolling back at the RNYC, one a perfect 1st timer and me on 4th attempt!

Helensburgh – Newark Castle – Helensburgh 3rd Dec, 2023

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.

Scarba Bothy, Nov 4th & 5th ,2023

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.

BBQ at Carrick Castle Farm

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.

Firth of Forth 23rd Sept

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.

Ullapool to Balnakeil 3-11 June 2023

HCC Trip Report
Club Expedition Ullapool to Balnakeil
June 3rd – 11th 2023

Participants: Steve Wheaton, Gordon Smith, Ian Walker

This trip is a continuation from three earlier trips: Helensburgh / Oban May 2019, Oban / Arisaig Sept 2021, Ullapool / Arisaig Sept 2022.
Support for the trip looked good a month earlier with six people showing interest, as the date drew nearer that had dwindled to two which would not have met the club criteria for a minimum of three. Fortunately, Ian popped up at the last moment enabling a Club Trip.
The trip was graded as a ‘C’ due to tidal streams, likely conditions and lengths of exposed coastline without access to the shore.
There are three significant tidal areas on the route, the most exposed being Cape Wrath. Despite the forecast showing predominantly Northerly winds all week, the weaker tidal streams occurring at the end of the week suggested a S. to N. journey.

Sat 3rd Helensburgh to Ullapool (car)
Mid-day departure and arrival after a couple of stops in the early evening at the Heathfield Campsite. Drinks and food in town as it would be our own rations for the week.

Sun 4th Ullapool to Isle Ristol N F3, High Cloud / Sun, 31 Km
On the water for 10:00, large cruise ship coming into Ullapool. Stopped for morning break on the mainland beach NNW. of Isle Martin. Spotted a pair of sea eagles. Lunch stop on beach adjacent to Badenscallie burial ground. Crossed Southern end of Badentarbet Bay to Tanera More, Taneras Beg for short stop then onto Isle Ristol and beach on N. of the island to camp.

Mon 5th Isle Risol to Bay of Stoer N F2 am & F5 pm, Sunny, 25 Km
04:00 wake up to be on the water at 05:00 and the NE going stream around Rubha Na Coigeach. Tucked into sheltered area behind rock just short of the headland. Slack water gave gentle conditions around the headland. Crossed Enard Bay via A’Chleit and Soyea Islands. Pushed on up to Achmelvich’s Northerly beach – 4.5 hrs paddling, so really good to get out of the boats for a stretch. Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring the area and lounging on the beach. Such an idyllic setting and could easily have stayed but decided to continue on up to the Bay of Stoer to make easier what will be another very early start tomorrow. With wind in the N. the beach was an easy landing but any Westerlies would have the surf running. Good camping just above the beach.

Tue 6th Bay of Stoer to Handa Island N F2/3, Sunny, 41 Km
Another 04:00 rise for paddling at 05:00 and Point of Stoer at 07:00 with the start of the NE going stream. Stop on beach 1.75 Km S. of point and another on Oldany Island before crossing Eddrachillis Bay via Meall Mor and Ox Rock to Rubh’an Dobhrain. Had planned to camp but not a great location. 12:30 after lunch moved on up to Scourie to check out the camping eventually deciding on continuing up to Handa Island. A long day but rewarded with a superb site on a grassy terrace on the Southern bay. Fine views of the Old Man of Stoer in the SW. Swim, dinner and bed for 21:30.

Wed 7th Handa Island to Bagh Sheigra NE F3 am F4 pm, Sunny 20 Km
Walked the bird spotting trail around the West of the island. The breading season being in full swing we saw guillemots, puffins, shags, skuas, kittiwakes, terns and more. Clear skies gave us views of both the Point of Stoer and towards Cape Wrath. Apparently, a pod of Orcas had been spotted last night heading N. outside the island.

Back on the water for 11:30 to get the last of the NE. going stream in the Sound of Handa. Brief stop in a narrow bay before crossing the heads of Lochs Laxford and Dughaill. Quite choppy proceeding into the wind towards Kinlochbervie. Stop on beach behind Eilean a’ Chonnaidh before checking out the beaches at Oldshoremore, Beg and Droman. Finally settling for Bagh Sheigra and a fine elevated terrace on the East side of the bay for camping. Running low on water but a fortunate meeting with a couple of climbers and an offer to drive us up Blairmore to refill at a standpipe gave us supplies for the rest of the trip.

Thu 8th Bagh Sheigra to Sandwood Bay NE F/4, Sunny 8 Km
Forecast for F4s out of the N. so decided on a short day up to Sandwood Bay. Hugged the coast to avoid the wind most of the way. Bit of surf going into the bay. Set our tents up on the SW. corner of the bay below the cliffs. Lunch and out for a walk on the track to Blairmore then E. to Strathan Bothy. Chat with the keeper out making a list of jobs for a future working party. Back to the bay via Strath Shinary and the E. side of Sandwood Loch. Not back until 20:00 for dinner chat and bed.

Fri 9th Sandwood Bay NE F4/5, Sunny
Forecast again not suitable for Cape Wrath and absolutely no difficulty in deciding to spend the day around Sandwood Bay. Swim followed by a walk up to Bay of Keisgaig and freshwater showers under the magnificent waterfall. Picknick lunch and walk back to the campsite. Afternoon walk to Am Buachaille where from the clifftop we watched a couple of climbers reach the summit, abseil down and swim back to the mainland. Nervous checking of tomorrows forecast showed it was still holding good.

Sat 10th Sandwood Bay to Balnakeil NE F2, Sunny 30 Km
O7:30 on the water and a good run up by the cliffs and caves to the Cape for slack water at 09:30. Easily made 6+ Km/hr with the lift from the remains of the S. going steam that provides a N. going eddy close in. Perfect conditions at the top enabled us to go inside the rock and narrow channel off the point, then the arches east of the point. Another hour took us down to Kervaig for a break and a walk up to the immaculate Kearvaig bothy. Bit of surf even in these benign conditions and like Sandwood easy to see how different it would be in stronger winds or just a large swell running.
Final 12 Km in gentle airs down to Balnakeil. Porpoises in the bay to greet us. Campsite picked above beach below golf course.
Walked into Durness for a couple of drinks and dinner, plus a reflection on how lucky we were with the weather and what a superb week we all had.

Sun 11th Balnakeil to Helensburgh (taxi and car)
The Durness Bus Co. as promised called for us at 09:30 and within two hours via luxury minibus and trailer delivered us back to Ullapool and our car, the marine version of which we had just spent seven very enjoyable days on.

Three Head North 4.6.23
Sea Eagle 4.6.23
Taneras Beg 4.6.23
Achmelvick 5.6.23
Exploring Between Achmelvich & Bay of Stoer 5.6.23
Caves South Of Scourie 6.6.23
Handa Island Camp View 6.6.23
Old Man of Stoer 6.6.23
Handa Island Looking North 7.6.23
Handa Island Looking South 7.6.23
Sand Wood Bay 8.6.23
Am Buachaille 9.6.23
Bay of Keisgaig Waterfall 9.6.23
Sandwood Bay from the North 9.6.23
Cape Wrath Arches 9.6.23
Cape Wrath 10.6.23
Balnakeil to Ullapool Transport 11.6.23
Ullapool to Isle Ristol 4.6.23
Isle Ristol to Bay Stoer 5.6.23

Bay of Stoer to Handa Island 6.6.23
Handa Island to Bagh Sheigra & Sandwood Bay 7.6.23 – 9.6.23
Sandwood Bay to Balnakeil 10.6.23

Mark Bothy December 3rd – 4th 2022

HCC Trip Report
Mark Bothy
December 3rd – 4th 2022

Participants; Steve Wheaton (Leader), Rem Fowler, Gordon Smith

Originally planned with two options final decision dependent on weather and participants – Scarba Bothy or Mark Bothy.

Late in the preceding week the wind forecast moved up to F3 / 4 from ENE which would have made the return journey from Scarba to Arduaine wet and slow. Mark Bothy was selected.

Saturday 3rd Wind F3 ESE
1230 Set off from Arrochar, followed West shore line via short exploration of old and partially dismantled torpedo testing station. Coffee stop at about 6Km and onto Mark 12Km. Bothy fire still showing embers from previous incumbents. Firewood cut, dinners made and an evening of chat and cards.

Sunday 4th Wind F2 / 3 ENE
0830 departed Mark Bothy for Helensburgh. Followed West shore to Ardentinny beach for short break in the sun. Tanker departed Coulport. Onto Gairletter Point and crossing to Knockderry Castle. Lunch at Kilcreggan before push into Easterly wind to Rosneath and crossing to Helensburgh Pier. 26Km.

Loch Lomond South Oct 29th 2022

HCC Trip Report

Day Trip Loch Lomond Southern Island, Grade A

October 29th 2022

Participants: Steve Wheaton, Gordon Smith, Gary Nealon, Damien Theaker

A second attempt at a trip to the Cumbraes and again thwarted by poor weather in the Clyde Approaches. Fortunately, Loch Lomond offered more sheltered conditions, F3 though with rain forecast for the afternoon.

1030 start from Luss alongside a waterside baptism ceremony. Easy paddling East in light winds,

Lunch at the South end of Inchcailloch.

Rounded Creinch where it was decided to not include Inchmurrin as rain had stated and the shorter route through the islands was taken back to Luss.

Loch Lomond North 1st Oct 2022

HCC Trip Report
Day Trip North End of Loch Lomond, Grade A, 16.6km
October 1st 2022
Participants: Steve Wheaton, Gordon Smith, Gary Nealon

Originally planned as a circumnavigation around Great Cumbrae, the forecast of Westerly F4s with F7 gusts required a more benign venue.

New member Gary was brave enough to venture out sporting his new Virgo boat and kit.
1030 on the water at Inveruglas and headed North following western shoreline. Good shelter found close into the shore but occasional gusts coming through the hills with the headlands often changing the winds direction. The intermittent sunshine making for superb views of the hills.
Lunch stop taken on East shore at the top of the loch. Afternoon spent following Western shore South with a stop at Doune bothy and again at Island I Vow. Crossed loch to Inveruglas Isle and back at car park for 1600.

September 3rd – 11th Club Expedition Ullapool to Arisaig

HCC Trip Report
Club Expedition Ullapool to Arisaig
September 3rd to 11th 2022

Participants; Steve Wheaton, Gordon Smith, Steve Thomas

This trip follows on from two earlier trips: Helensburgh / Oban May 2019, Oban / Arisaig Sept

Originally planned to run South to North taking advantage of neap tides in Kyle Rhea and expected South Westerly winds, the forecast settled out to indicate predominantly Easterly / Northerly winds. The final decision to run N to S was made while travelling up over coffee in the Green Welly at Tyndrum.

Sat 3rd Helensburgh to Ullapool (car)
The advantage of a small team is that travel can be done in a single vehicle and subsequent logistics get the lucky driver some scenic runs on public transport. The Heathfield campsite in Ullapool could not be better placed with both town and beach at hand.

Sun 4th Ullapool to Mellon Udrigle Easterly F4/5, G7. High cloud, 30 Km
With a moderate Easterly wind we sped down and out of Loch Broom. Just to the E of Leac Dhonn Steve W was briefly inverted by what had become a cockpit filled with water by the following sea and a worn deck. Continued round Carn Dearg for coffee and deployment of an over jacket / combined deck. Interestingly Steve Ts boat was also largely flooded but his paddling skills had prevented him from testing his rolling. Crossed Little Loch Broom, Gruinard Island (now declared free from anthrax) and onto camp on the beach at Mellon Udrigle. Pod of dolphins at close quarters as we approached Mellon Udigle. Gordon & Steve T in for a swim. Evening walk up Meall nam Meallan.

Mon 5th Mellon Udrigle to Camus Mor E F2, bright with little cloud, 23 Km
0900 start and round Greenstone Point with the tide. Slaggan Bay for lunch and swim – beautiful sandy beach. Camas Mor for mid- afternoon. Other than a young couple that had walked over from Rubha Reidh for the day we had the whole place to ourselves. A beautiful location with a fine sunset.

Tue 6th Camus Mor across Loch Gairloch to an un named Bay South of Red Point. E F2, bright with little cloud, 36 Km
Earliest start of the week with 0630 on the water to get slack / start of the WSW going tide around Rubha Reidh. Conditions perfect and rounded headland by 0700. Into little bay to South of lighthouse for good and apparently rare opportunity to view the lighthouse from this position.
South down dramatic coast with sea eagles, caves and tunnels. Met a couple paddling North to Ullapool. Past Melvaig to Seana Chamas beach for mid- morning stop. Longa Island SW Bay for lunch. PM rounded Red Point to bay just East of Tioram Island. Evening walk out to abandoned fishing station.

Wed 7th Across Loch Torridon to Applecross Bay E F2, bright with little cloud, 29 Km
An 0900 start which became the norm for the rest of the week. Crossed Loch Torridon, break at Loch nan Eun. Lunch at Sand and chat with lone kayaker returning to Plockton after rounding Raasay. Swim in the bay. PM into Applecross Bay and found camp to North of the village. General camping in this area has recently been discouraged by the community though, as helpfully explained by a local ranger an exception would be made for a small party arriving by kayak. No fires were requested and complied with. Walk to the village for drinks.

Thu 8th Applecross Bay via Uags Bothy, Loch Alsh to Glenelg Bay E F2/3, bright with little cloud, 34 Km
Usual 0900 start and South with tide inside the Crowlin Islands. Hard push East to Uags Bothy for lunch. Bothy in a lovely remote setting above the bay. Long lunch break to time arrival at the Skye Bridge for the start of the ingoing tide to Kyle Akin. Encountered a work boat apparently leaving a fish farm as we crossed Loch Carron. We were going to pass just behind it until we realised that it was towing the fish farm. Afternoon tea in the old harbour at Kyle Akin. More paddling into the wind in Loch Alsh to arrive at the entrance to Kyle Rhea for slack water and then the start of the South going stream. Tides at Equinoctial Springs so relieved to get through in less than an hour. Zipped by the Glenelg ferry where filming by drone was taking place and tight into the North of Glenelg Bay. Just found room for our 3 tents below the single-track road.

Fri 9th Glenelg Bay, Sandaig Islands, Loch Hourn, Doune to Sandaig Bay E F2/3, bright with little cloud, 27 Km
South West out of Glenelg Bay to get a nice push towards the Sandaig Islands. Lots of mini whirlpools and easy to see how this area would need to be avoided in a strong wind against tide. Everyone feeling energetic so decided to push on across Loch Hourn for a stop at Camas Garbh. Sea Eagles at close quarters. Lunch on Airor Island. Chat with paddler off Doune (new owner of accommodation and restaurant) and invited to camp nearby. In the spirit of maintaining the remoteness of the trip plus wanting to have a short day to finish on we pressed onto Sandaig Bay. Walk onto Torr na Innse with views across South end of Sleat. Distant and certainly large marine mammals spotted, probably basking sharks moving up the sound. Good swim but savage midges. Darkness and a campfire eventually driving them away.

Sat 10th Sandaig Bay to Back of Keppoch E F1/2, bright and sunny, 16 Km
0830 start to cross loch Nevis. The dramatic scenery of the north beginning to give way to more mellow views. Plenty of sea traffic in and out of Mallaig harbour and very different to the past 6 days. Morning break on bright yellow beach below River Morar (many to choose from here). Down through the skerries to a beach below our Back of Keppoch campsite. Lunch and swim.
Gordon onto the train to start the trip back to Ullapool via a bus and overnight in Inverness. Dinner in the Arisaig Hotel for the 2 Steve’s

Sun 11th Inverness to Ullapool (bus) Ullapool to Arisaig to Helensburgh (car).
Gordon returned mid afternoon via Skye Bridge and Armadale ferry. Loaded up and all 3 of us back in Helensburgh for 20:00.

200 Km of dramatic coastline, high cliffs, caves, rocky headlands, loch crossings, sightings of seals, dolphins, porpoises, sea otters, sea eagles, basking sharks. Distant views of Skye, Rhum, Eigg, nearer of Rona, Rassay, Scalpay. Added in with a couple of major headlands and tidal gates and 8 nights camping.

A great trip now fondly committed to memory.

Next year – Cape Wrath!?

Steve Wheaton

Loch Broom
Mellon Udrigle
Slaggan Bay
East of Camus Mor
Camus Mor
Rubha Reidh Lighthouse
Exiting Tunnel Rubha Reidh
Applecross Beech Trees
Applecross Locals
Uags Bothy
Sea Eagle North of Airor
Sandaig Bay
Back of Keppoch