Loch Sween 6th Nov 2020


Geoff, Vonna, Serena, Gordon, Steve
SE F2, overcast, occasional sun

This is the 4th trip run under the Organised Sport Activity. Originally set up as a Peer Trip but converted to a Club Trip.
After an early start and for those from Helensburgh an escorted drive up the Rest & be Thankful Military Rd we were ready on the water for 10.15. Starting with a lovely paddle through the narrows at the top of the loch amidst autumn colours we followed the East shore to Castle Sween for lunch. Only Serena managed to walk the castle grounds as the rest of us were too busy nattering and our lunch schedule too quickly used. The return was made via the West shore with a quick nose into Linne Mhuirich. We met a group from Glasgow University who were surveying the maerl beds by snorkel one of whom was a past HCC member. With a favourable tide we were back at our vehicles for 1600.

Total distance 28Km
Wildlife seen: seals, brittle stars and unidentified raptor

Upper Loch Fyne – 26th October 2020

Upper Loch Fyne
Geoff, David, Damien, Robbie, Steve
WNW F3 & F4, Overcast with drizzle at times

This is the 3rd trip run under the Organised Sport Activity. Originally planned for Sat 24th and moved to the 25th but eventually taking place on the 26th when finally we appeared to have a gap in the weather.

After meeting at St. Catherines Jetty we headed down the loch for a brief warm up before setting out across the loch to Inverarary. Despite the headwind the crossing was made in 30 mins. From the jail ramparts we moved around to the harbour and viewed the Vital Spark – currently for sale. A brief attempt was made to cross the weirs leading to the River Aray but not enough water to clear the sill. We were more successful in paddling our way into Dubh Loch. Our destination the crannog, however little of the crannog could be seen other than a knoll of grass above the water line. With the wind in assistance fast progress was made to Dundereave Castle for a lunch stop. Lunch over by 1400 we decided to shorten the original journey plan to the loch head and cross directly to the East shore. By 1500 we were back at the jetty.

With so much inclement weather just to our West it was lovely to catch a small window to be out on the water.

Arduaine, Torsa, Shuna, Craobh Haven – 11th October 2020

Club Paddle – Steve, Vonna, Damien, David.
F2 from NW backing WNW, high cloud with sunny intervals.

2nd Club Trip run under Covid Restrictions, Central Belt now having additional requirements. All participants on this trip from within Argyll & Bute as also the travel and the on water trip.
10:30 all ready at Arduaine Jetty, departed 11:00. Arrived off Torsa N.end 12:30, ebb stream just started but little resistance to paddling and from opposite Cuan Sound running in our favour.
13:15 lunch at Ardinamir Bay. Followed Luing coast to Toberonochy before crossing Shuna Sound and SW & SE coast of Shuna. Crossed to Croabh Haven and made final stop for tea before heading up to Arduaine for 17:00.

Total distance 23Km

The trip had been billed as ideal for less experience paddlers unfortunately none had been available. The journey as well as being very enjoyable for us all confirmed its suitability for future beginners trips in good conditions.

Wildlife seen otter, porpoise & seal

Sound of Arisaig 18th-20th September, 2020

Participants: Steve, Hugh, Geoff & Innes

Due to the Covid restrictions this is our first Club Trip since January. Originally billed for Colonsay we rescheduled to Arisaig to avoid ferry travel and possible contacts with the small island community.
The key Covid requirements for running the trip were: that it is fully planned, is classed as organised sport with a governing body (SCA), everyone has the NHS Scotland contact app. and that a trained and nominated Covid Officer advises.

Following a previous period of unsettled weather the weekend forecast was light F1/2 winds and sunshine. Tides were Equinoctial Springs.

Having driven up in separate vehicles the team met at the Western end of the Arisaig South Channel for a 1730 departure. A short 3Km paddle brought us to a delightful beach at Port nam Murrach. Dinner and a beach fire followed.

Saturday morning saw us crossing the Sound of Arisaig via Eilean an t-Snidhe to Samalaman Island for late morning coffee on the beach. Another brief stop was made at the beach inside Eilean Coille before continuing for lunch at a wonderfully sheltered bay on the South West corner of Eilean Shona.

The afternoon was spent reconnoitring potential campsites at Artoe for future trips and to look for any remaining signs of a TV production called Eden : Paradise Lost, circa 2017 and set in the dunes to the North of the village. We did not find anything other than agreement on what a marvellous location for a ‘reality’ show it was.

The day finished with a paddle on the start of the ingoing stream through Loch Moidart’s South Channel by the fantastic ruins of Tioram Castle to the small Islet North East of Riska Island. Two open canoeists from the North East were already established but there was plenty of room for us. The quietude and greenness of the scenery in the loch is in wonderful contrast to the openness of the Sound and must be one of the very best places to spend a night. Plentiful supplies of wood gave us a nice campfire and setting for dinner.

Sunday morning and another 0900 hrs on the water start had us heading through the North Channel with high water past and the outgoing stream running. The coast was followed up past the Smirisary settlements and a re-crossing of the Sound to Eilean a’ Ghaill. The views from the top, among the barely visible remains of a fort gave a wonderful outline of our journey. We lunched on the beach opposite the island and confirmed it as another great camping location with streams for water.

The trip concluded with a short 5Km paddle back to the start point and a bit of a haul with equipment due to low water. Hugh & Innes departing first with Geoff and Steve taking a look at the skerries and hopefully delaying departure to avoid the Loch Lomond traffic. It turned out that the traffic was free for us all.

Next year should see us in the area again as part of an Oban to Mallaig trip. We can only hope for a repeat such ideal conditions.

New Years Paddle 2020

Paddlers: Martin, Andy, Hugh, Vonna, Harry, Steve W., Colin, Mason, Matt, Gordon

Weather: Overcast, light breeze. Winds significantly less than the forecast F3 even to south of Inchmoan

Route: Luss, Inchtavannach, Inchconnachan, Inchmoan, Ichcruin, Inchmoan, Inchconnachan, Luss

Gentle paddle round the islands. No wallabies spotted. Andy won the prize for best, hottest (and only) mince pies!

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
Charlie
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.