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.

Endrick Water Canoe trip 17 Sep 23

What a good turn out! 8 boats afloat. The forecast was for Easterly winds up to force 4 with rain for most of the day. We mustered at Balmaha for a 0900 start and went through introductions. It was really nice to meet new members and for existing members to finally meet each other. A general introduction, safety and route brief completed we set off from the slip and headed out and around the bay to find our way into the hidden Endrick water entrance at around 1.6km. (slightly off track but a painless correction got us into the correct section.   

The river mouth was shallow and a few of us decided to wade the 30mtrs into deeper river.

The initial straight section was about 2km before the left hand bend but we were out of the wind fairly quickly and, until a lot further up the river, we would remain out of the wind. Rem and his family met up with us in his lovely kevlar We-No-Nah and joined us for a large section of the trip. 

The river meanders right up to the A809 bridge with 12 bends within a 10km stretch. A flash of a kingfisher was the lucky sighting of the front paddlers. 2 swans and their 2 signets couldn’t work out what to do and, so, kept ahead of us for a few miles before eventually hiding in a tree strainer until we paddled past.

After the second bend a sheep was seen half in the water appearing to be stuck and unable to get back up the bank. Pat, Colin and I went to investigate with Pat jumping ashore to reach down and grab the horns and together we helped the heavy water logged provider of fine fleece back up the muddy bank and to safety. Woodend Lodge was the first and last bridge across this river until the A809 and it looked quite rusty. Im sure it will stay.  

The rest of the river was very pleasant with willows and Himalayan Balsam lining the banks and there was even signs of beaver and otter activity on the sections before the golf course. Himalayan Balsam is an invasive weed species rapidly spreading river banks but the flowers are pretty and the seed pods are mighty fun to play with. They explode on touch. Apparently the weeds are easily removed if done out side the flowering season due to their shallow root system. 

Colin ventured ahead and witnessed (photos as proof) cows walking on water! but, around 1300 and approx 4.5 miles up the river, we stopped at a convenient sloping bank in the woods for some lunch. This was where we said goodbye to Rem and family and wished them a safe return paddle.   

At around 8 km up the river the flow started to become a challenge along with the random shallows. After struggling against the flow and making no gains enough was enough and the bridge eluded us today. The late turn around was welcomed and now we had the flow with us. In theory we would have the wind behind us too but it disappeared. A tail wind would have been useful as folk were getting tired. For those more used to kayaking the new set of muscle groups required for canoeing were being tested. The rain started stronger now as well and the boats started filling but it was still a very enjoyable return. Not as many sightings of wildlife on the return though. By the time we had returned to the river mouth the wind and rain had left leaving the last 1.6km very relaxing and, silently, we cruised back into the slip. For me this was the second attempt to get to the bridge thwarted but that did not take the majesty out of this river. 

Paddlers were





Stuart and Sally

Me (Tom)

and guest staring Rem and family

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.

Loch Lomond Canoe trip 05 Aug 23

The forecast was for F2, gusting 3/4, from the north. Colin, Chris and I arrived at Luss to be greeted to a large assembly of singing church goers. It became apparent that a few folk were being baptised by being completely submerged into the warm loch waters. Our first obstacle was to get our boats and kit through the happy, cheery crowds and down to the waters edge. The evolution was akin to canoeing through a group of kayakers on a grade 3 play hole! Once achieved and after a quick safety and journey brief, we set out across to Inchlonaig. Colins new found goon stroke skill was well executed and he managed to keep a straight course without having to swap sides. (That said, the swimmer ahead seemed to be increasing his distance from us!).

We paddled anticlockwise around the island in the lee stopping at the beach on the NE end for a leg stretch. The northern part of the island was broadside to the wind and, with both Colin and Chris demonstrating their understanding of the importance of a good trim, we easily battled the cross wind. Chris was utilising his new skills, practicing upwind and downwind strokes, and the longer we paddled the more fluent his paddle strokes.

At the SW end of the island we covered another open water section down to the passage between Inchconnachan and Inchtavannach. Here the wind died once again and we enjoyed the peaceful paddle around to the bottom of Wallaby island. During a bite to eat the heavens opened. This would continue on more than off for the rest of the journey and, at times, a few cms of rain water had to be sponged out of my boat for fear of it totally submerging.

Rounding the southwestern tip of Wallaby island we had an awesome view of the nesting Osprey, but we must have got a wee bit too close as it flew off before I could shoot it (with a camera of course!). Shortly there after we did get to shepherd a swan. Not sure what the swan was thinking but it kept swimming in our direction.

Clockwise around Inchmoan took us to the little crannog castle island, Inchgalbraith. We decided to check it out. Thought to be the crannog stronghold of the clan Galbraith there is a remains of a small castle. Someone had recently stayed, and presumed plonking a big rock on the top of a fire will put it out! It didn’t and was still white hot.

Our next route was to return to Luss via the inland passage and past wee Peter, the statue of a boy. Luss pier was quite busy. Boats coming alongside, boats leaving the beach, crowds looking over the edge, SUPs, bike boats, jet skis and swimmers galore. We paddled under the pier and hugged the beach back to the start point. Good journey, no capsizes, a plethora of paddle skills practiced, wind and no wind and an Osprey made for a pleasant trip. Even the rain was nice.

Attendees; Tom Ridsdill (canoe leader), Colin Hosey and Chris Clark

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

Treshnish Isles 13-14 May 2023

Paddlers: Gordon, Hugh, Ed, Gary
Sat F2-3 SW. 27 km
Sun F3-4 NW. 23.5km

Having got the ferry 19:30 ferry from Oban to Craignure on the Friday, we camped overnight at Salen campsite and launched from the (very steep) slipway at Ulva Ferry. We left the cars at the far end of the car park (making the requested donation for doing so).
We paddled around the south of Ulva and across to Little Colonsay and then on to Staffa for lunch, stopping at a skerry on the way to fix a wayward foot peg.
Fingal’s cave looked dramatic but the southerly swell and high tide precluded close inspection.
We then paddled to Lunga, landing in the bay on the southern end at 276414. Having setup camp, we walked over to the West side of the island past the sea stack and the hugely impressive array of sea birds.

On Sunday, the wind had picked up a bit and swung round to the NW. We paddled up the Treshnish islands, to the west of Fladda and landed on Cairn na Burgh More. From there we crossed across to Gometra. The remnants of the SW swell and the building NW swell made for somewhat confused water and we had to deal with a capsize on the way over. Although we had to contend with the NW swell for the rest of the journey, it dropped as we progressed along the northern shore of Ulva.

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.