Monday, June 30, 2014

Lingering on the sands below the glacial symmetry of the Sannox mountains.

 Beyond Fallen Rocks on Arran's NE coast the land becomes more heavily forested and gave the clear water a beautiful green tinge.

 The forest hid the view into the interior mountains until we came to a gap where the North Sannox Burn enters the sea and...

 ...suddenly the stunning view of the Glen Sannox mountains was revealed.

As we approached the next bay, which is the outfall of the Sannox Burn, we caught sight of Holy Island on which we had camped 4 nights previously. This was the first indication that our little trip was coming to an end.

 A white post announced our arrival at Sannox Bay which we entered with several...

 ...seals in tow.

The wide sweep of the sandy bay compliments the glacial symmetry of this beautiful glen and the rocky ridges of its granite mountains.

We enjoyed the perfect location for a leisurely luncheon. We lingered in the sunshine not wanting the trip to end too soon.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Between Fallen Rocks and a hard place, a voyage from Cock.

We woke at Cock to a fine breeze from across the Sound of Bute. It was pretty good at keeping the midge numbers down. It did not take long to have breakfast and we were...

 ...on the water by 7am. From only a few metres offshore it would be very easy to miss the industrial heritage of Cock. I all looks so wild and natural. The dawn chorus was still ringing in our ears as we set off..

 ...eastwards along the north coast of Arran. Although it was cloudy there was a warm glow in the eastern sky above...

 ...Garroch Head on Bute and The Little Cumbrae.

We soon passed Laggan cottage which is part North Sannox estate. No road leads to the cottage, only a rough footpath climbs high over the hills. It is possible to hire the cottage from the Arran and Sannox Estates who can be contacted at .

 Your only likely neighbours will be otters and... deer.

Beyond Laggan we came to Millstone Point. Near the SE corner of the beach there is a millstone lying on the beach. It is quite tricky to spot from the sea unless...

...someone has marked it with a piece of driftwood in the axle hole such as we found on a previous visit.. According to Tucker in Millstone making in Scotland, Millstone Point was one of only 26 millstone quarries in Scotland. The hard gritstone at Millstone Point was suited to the manufacture of monolithic millstones such as this abandoned one on the beach.

As we continued south east it was easy to see how effectively the hard gritstone has resisted erosion by the sea. The rock has not broken down into cobbles and plunges straight into the sea without forming a beach.

This remote section of the Arran coastline is an absolute treat to paddle. Successive ridges plunge steeply into the sea until... arrive at one which has literally fallen into the sea.

 Whoever called this place Fallen Rocks clearly had a gift of words.

 In relatively recent times the upper old red sandstone conglomerate rocks slipped at their junction with the hard gritstone rocks we had just paddled past..

The scale and extent of Fallen Rocks is best appreciated from the sea. From the coastal path (which passes behind these blocks) you actually see very little of the rockfall.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Some coming and going and hands deep in pockets at Cock

The roadless and remote coast of the Cock of Arran proved to be surprisingly busy with a great variety of vessels coming and going in the Sound of Bute, which separates Arran from Bute. In addition to a large number of yachts, FV Kathleen TT5 from Campbeltown and...

  ...FV Kimberly OB345 from North Arran not to mention...

...the paddle steamer Waverley complete with...

...rainbow and the pocket... liner MV Silver Explorer all came and went. Silver Explorer was heading to Greenock after a cruise up the west coast of the British Isles from Portsmouth. From Greenock her next cruise was to Bergen. If you fancy a cruise on Silver Explorer you will need to put your hand deep in your pocket for about £5,000 per week. Mind you drinks are included but so they were on our little cruise which was not quite so expensive!

 An approaching squall cloud caused us to retreat to the tents.

The rain battered down for about an hour before the sun came out again so we enjoyed a nap before...

 ...embarking on the wood gathering expedition.

 Soon the sun was shining with wonderful clouds and...

 ...reflections on the Sound of Bute.

Back at the camp the stoves roared into life and our evening meal was cooked

 Then it was time for the bonfire, baked potatoes and 15 year old Dalwhinnie while...

 ...away to the NNW Loch Fyne took a pasting as the sun went down.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dangerous shafts at Cock.

Once we got our camp established at the north end of Arran, it was time to explore. Nearby we came to the ruins of the old settlement of Cock. It existed because of deposits of lignite a low grade coal which was used for a relatively short period of time (1710 to 1735) to fire salt pans for the local herring industry. You can read more about it in this previous post "The taxman's hand on the Cock of Arran."

Nowadays the shafts of the coal pits are flooded. I would not care to wander round here in a dark night.

Despite its industrial past, Cock is now a beautiful place. The area has returned to nature and is surrounded by mixed deciduous woodland filled with birdsong.

Crystal clear burns tumble down from the high hills and wild flowers such as primroses and...

...thrift were in full bloom in the woods and along the shore.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weather cocking at the Cock.

 As we left Loch Ranza thunder was rumbling round the glens high above us.the yachts were all weather-cocking on their moorings as the cold gusts swung down from different glens

The rain battered down noisily on our hoods but we were surprisingly insulated from the elements in our kayaks and gear. At least we were doing it for pleasure unlike...

 ...these fishermen on FV Stella Maris TT183 who need to work in all weathers.

We had been slightly concerned about what the sea state might be like as we rounded the Cock of Arran (which was fully exposed to the north east wind) but conditions were benign as the rain flattened the seas.

Then rather miraculously, the wind began to drop and a glimmer of sunlight appeared on the horizon. Then... and...

 ...the skies cleared as we reached our camp site. The temperature built very quickly to 22C and...

...we were perspiring by the time we got the tents up. The warm sun did a great job...

...of drying our wet and damp gear. The weather in Scotland is always unpredictable and variable but even us hardy kayakers were surprised by the rapidity of the change. F5 NE wind, torrential rain and air temp. of 7C changed to F0, full sun and air temp. of 22C in just under two hours...quite remarkable!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dark clouds over (but a warm welcome in) Lochranza.

From the shelter of Catacol Bay it was out into the wind again as we paddled round towards Loch Ranza. The entrance to the loch was still hidden beyond a headland but the line of the ferry heading over to Kintyre showed us how far we still had to go.

 It was great to get shelter in Loch Ranza but we did not waste any time exploring the castle, oh no..

 ...we landed immediately below the Lochranza Hotel and made our way straight to the public bar. Despite being in wet kayaking gear we were warmly welcomed and shown to a table.

Our starters were delicious sweet roll mop herring and very fresh salad and...

...for main course we chose scampi and chips and salmon steak and chips. The portions were huge but we soon polished them off and washed the lot down with some Guinness and filtered coffee. All in all the Lochranza Hotel proved to be an excellent sea kayaking pub.We thoroughly recommend a stop here.

Before leaving one of the visiting yachtsmen came over for a chat. He asked where we were headed and we told him we were going round the Cock of Arran. He warned us that it was rough even in his 38 foot yacht/ After such sage advice, leaving the cosy bar was rather hard. A big squall was approaching and the air temperature had dropped like a stone. Although it was still bright out to sea, that would not last long. A huge dark cloud was rushing down from the mountains above Loch Ranza. Large raindrops began to fall as we put our dry suit tops on. The rigging in the yachts started clanging and those on moorings swung round to face the approaching squall.