Day Trip: Luss-Inverbeg-Rowardennan-Luss

Day Trip: Luss-Inverbeg-Rowardennan-Luss

Sunday 9th June 2024

Leader: Myles  Paddlers: Chris, Jess, Geoff and Mark

Weather: Bright and Sunny but Breezy: NW Gusty F4

Report: The wind is always going to play the major role in a sea kayak trip. The forecast for the day was F3/4 from XCWeather and F4/5 from the Met Office. It was decided that the original route Helensburgh-Kilcreggan/Cove was too exposed for an A grade trip and that we would try Loch Lomond at Luss.  It proved to be an excellent decision for this group in these challenging conditions.

After a hard paddle up the west shore to Inverbeg we ventured up the Douglas Water to the bridge. It is quite surprising the similarity between the entrances of the Fruin, Luss and Douglas. Each of these offers an incredibly tranquil canal between banks of sand and shingle deposited when the river is in spate.

It was a remarkably easy paddle across the Loch to Rowardennan for lunch by the car park. The toilets were good (and free) but there was no sign of the fabled coffee van.

After lunch we headed south enjoying the lovely east shore. We took another coffee break in the sun, sheltered from the breeze in a beach by the Ross Isles. Life was really good.

The final crossing back to Luss saw us back at our cars just after 3. It was a superb if challenging paddle in the sunshine in fantastic scenery. Difficult to imagine a better day.

Loch Sunnart 2024-05-11

Paddlers: Gordon, Gus, Stuart, Gary, Norrie

Saturday

Cars parked at Resipole Farm Holiday Park and set off just after midday into a F3 southerly breeze. Paddled over to the south shore and headed west. Met by inquisitive seal and a brief otter appearance. Sheltered paddle along to Glencripesdale where we crossed over to Dun Ghallain for a late lunch. Stunning views West.

We then headed over to Carna and through Caol Charna and onwards into Loch Teacuis – well worth the effort. Fair amount of tide running in the narrows which provided opportunity for a bit of practice breaking in and out of eddies.

Camped at 624582. Quick (and very refreshing) swim by some of the party before dinner.

Northern lights had been amazing the night before apparently but nothing to see when we checked at 12:30am.

Sunday

Civilised start – on the water for 9am. Tide was high enough to paddle round south of Carna and into Loch na Droma Buidhe and also to investigate the inner loch in Oronsay.

We continued clockwise around Oronsay – quite a dramatic shore. Then headed West, passing Ross Rock to the North, the northern tip of Carna and on to Dun Ghallain. From there we retraced our steps back to Resipole.

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!

River Tweed Canoe Expedition 15-19 March 24

River Tweed – by Thomas Ridsdill

I led my first canoe expedition for Helensburgh canoe club this weekend. 114km of fantastic river Tweed from Peebles to Berwick upon Tweed.

Water levels were up presenting an intimidating volume of flow over the Peebles weir but, once on the water, the group began to tune in to their new environment and started to relax. Stuart (very experienced), Gordon (a few rivers under his belt now) and Steve (novice canoeist) made up this formidable team and we speedily ventured around the first bend and into the wilderness for our 4 day open boat adventure. 

There were sections where the road meandered alongside the river but the noise of the traffic was barely noticeable. The pristine mowed grass of either golf courses or fishing spots were as frequent as the roads but, on the whole, we were in the wilderness with woods or agricultural land all around and barely any contact with people.

Due to the shuttle runs we got paddling around 1400 and covered around 25km by dinner. Averaged approximately 8km/hr! Our first campsite was a small mid channel island. We parked our boats in a swampy bay and set about the wild garlic, establishing our home from home. Stuart brought a spare tarp which was set up as a communal area for cooking and story telling. Just in time to shelter from the brief rain that fell. 

Overnight the temperature dropped below zero but stayed dry and windless.  

Day 2 and the first set of rapids around grade 2 were 29 km in. These were easily negotiated. Then the main grade 2 of Fairnilee begun. The rapids start just down stream of a 3 arched bridge. As I approached the bridge the flow looked decent river left and through the middle arch and I made the signal to ‘All Follow’. As I passed through the middle arch it quickly became apparent that the left arch would have been the better choice as a small island, initially hidden from view, popped up out of no where. A quick signal to go left helped 2 out of the three, however, Gordon had the same surprise as me and realised he would have to put some additional correction strokes in. Tbh, it was only after we had passed the entire section that we realised it was Fairnilee such was the wash out due to the river levels.

55kms in and the first big (and very noisy) weir of Mertoun Mill appeared after a right hand bend. This was lined down as the normal route on river left had very high volume with large haystack likely to swamp a canoe very quickly. 

At 59km in we took the decision to stop 3km short of the intended camp spot. The Island looked ideal and the weather was turning. So the tents and bivi were set up and the big blue tarp erected. And then the rain started. The rain didn’t stop until 4am and my bivi tarp finally had enough. At 0100 I woke to the heavens coming through the tarp and into my sleeping bag. Nothing like a spot of midnight damage control to get the blood pumping. With the spare tarp in place I managed to get to sleep again.

After a rather late set off we were quickly treated to Rutherford Weir and, again, lined. This woke us all up. It was also where we were supposed to have set up camp and we were chuffed with our decision the night before. 2km later and the crux of the river turned up to great us. Makerstoun rapids is a low grade 3 with a line down the right hand side. It was also a rather tricky lining activity and careful attention needed to be paid to the bottom section getting the canoes past a curling boat flipping wave. Not a problem for our veteran adventurers though. The group offered to set up safety cover just to watch me attack the rapids in the hope that they would see me go in. No such luck as I enjoyed a few hundred meters of checking and setting, reverse ferry gliding and running some nice waves and holes. (quite a bit of water made its way over the sides though. The Weh-No-Nah is a wet boat with a low freeboard)

We were at Kelso weir by midday (lined) and a chance for some lunch and leg stretching was welcome.

The next long section took us to the 75km mark and another large weir. River left had a 4 tiered fish ladder. Too good to avoid and so we didn’t. Last down was Steve. We all watched as he decided to attempt a broadside approach to running the top drop. The tail back would have meant a rescue so the relief was plain to see when he straightened up at the last moment and enjoyed an oblivious descent out of imminent peril.

The last Weir to be tackled on the trip was the huge, massive, and highly dangerous (or so I thought) Coldstream weir. During the shuttle run on day 1, I saw the weir from a high vantage point and when the river was quite full. It looked pretty impressive, and so this was to be a portage once there. But on the day, river right had a fairly decent flow but with no danger. And the weir wasn’t particularly bad either. Oh well. Didn’t I look the fool. 

At this point in the day we still had a few hours paddling in us making St Thomas’ island, the last ideal island on the river, our hotel spot for the night.  As we wove our way through the cacophony of crow calls and the farmers modern method of scaring the geese from their land, I couldn’t help but think how similar the noises would likely be to that of artillery gunfire zeroing their shots before a battle during the napoleonic war. The loud bangs continued throughout the days all down the Tweed valley but, thankfully, stopped during the night. 

The end of day 3 was celebrated with a tot of red label and we got our heads down shortly after sun set. 

The last day we had a deadline to be at Berwick upon Tweed by midday in order to deal with the necessary transport to get Gordon back for 1900. We left promptly at 0900 and 1 1/2 hours later we speedily emerged around the corner to be gifted with the sun shining on the plethora of rail bridge arches spanning the border of England and Scotland.

It was a fantastic way to end a very enjoyable expedition. Thank you to Gordon, Steve and Stuart for your company.

I aim to lead more canoe expeditions and overnight trips for HCC and to get the club boats ready for white water. If this article has wetted your appetite for some open boating look out on the club calendar. Unfortunately I am unable to plan too far in the future at the moment but will try to put any trips on the calendar with as much notice as possible.

Some may be interested in a new canoe trail starting next month. www.gotweedvalley.co.uk

River Awe 2023-12-10

Paddlers: Mags, Tom, Stuart, Steve, Gordon

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.

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.

River Teith – 2023-12-03 (Rocks and one Roll)

Paddlers: Mags, Andy R, Steve W, Gordon

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!

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.

River Teith – 22nd October 2023

Paddlers: Jessi, Chris, Paddy and Mags

A grand day was had by all on the River Teith!

We paddled 6km from the Meadows car park, Callander, to the Drumvaich layby on the A84.

The river level of 1.09 (the middle of Medium) was perfect, and the sun shone!

Excellent paddling from the group, all kayaking for their first time on a river, led by Mags.

Thanks to Paddy for the photos, unfortunately that’s why there are none of him.

Jessi and Chris ready to set off

Mags enjoying the sunshine

Mags keeping an eye on Jessi and Chris

Getting out to inspect the main event, Torrie rapid (Grade 2)

Jessi and Chris enjoying the beauty of the banks from the river