Friday, August 28, 2015

Fire at sunset by the Sound of Bute.

Once we had got the kayaks up above where we expected high water to be we unloaded our bags just as...

...the sun was setting.

A few midges came out as we were putting the tents up but fortunately the breeze increased just enough to stop them flying.

There was no sign of the fire Mike and I had made back in June and we set a new fire in the same place.  It was nice having the heat of the fire while preparing our evening meal.

It was not just the fire that was glowing. Long after sunset the sky was too!

We decided that our new Helinox chairs were a fabulous addition to any camp fire!

Once the fire was well lit and...

...there were plenty embers we put the tatties in to bake.

We enjoyed our perfect baked potatoes in the twilight. The only sign of human activity was the Holy Island outer light and lights from a couple of fishing boats plying the Sound of Bute. All this, companionable conversation and no midges, we were certainly in heaven!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An atmospheric crossing to Inchmarnock with a sighting of a fire rainbow.

 At 6pm we landed for a second luncheon on a little shingle bay to the north of Garroch Head. We had paddled to this point in shorts and tee shirts. We put our salopettes on, not because it was cold (it wasn't) but because we knew we would arrive at our destination on Inchmarnock about sunset and that is when the midges come out!

As we restored energy levels with a snack and a hot drink we enjoyed the most spectacular view across to Glen Sannox on Arran.

Back on the water we had an 11km crossing to our destination of Inchmarnock. We passed Dunagoil Hill which is topped by an Iron Age hill fort.

As we crossed Scalpsie Bay clouds began to gather but the horizon to the west was clear, promising a fine sunset.

A little breeze got up as we passed...

...the fertile fields of Scalpsie farm on Bute which contrasted...

...with the rocky granite ridges of the Arran mountains on the other side of the Sound of Bute.

The sun was lowering towards the horizon as we...

...approached the south end of Inchmarnock. High in the sky we spotted cloud iridescence...

...which is not a commonly seen atmospheric effect. This is also known as a "fire rainbow" or a "rainbow cloud,"  It usually occurs in late afternoon on hot humid days.

The west coast of Bute is not easy to land on as at low tide there are a series of rocky reefs. It was near spring low water but we knew of a tiny gap in the reefs (about 8m wide). We arrived just after 8pm. This gully can be very difficult to launch from if there is any west in the wind. There are easier beaches at the south and north of the island. Although we had feared a midge attack we were pleasantly surprised that a little NW breeze stopped them flying.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

En route to Bute with Simian Rock and squadrons of shearwaters.

 We set off from the Little Cumbrae castle on what seemed like the first hot sultry afternoon of summer.

 The Arran mountains always delight and the sight of them rising...

 ...above the reefs of Gull Point  is always worth a photo.

 Little Cumbrae is composed of layers of lava flows from successive eruptions.

 Ian spotted this mimetolith high on the cliffs...Simian Rock.

 It was a spring tide so before crossing to Garroch Head across the south going ebb tide...

 ...we took a north going eddy to just before the lighthouse. This saves a lot of energy maintaining a high ferry...

...angle on the crossing. We enjoyed seeing porpoises and diving gannets but...

 ...the real treat on the crossing was seeing squadrons of shearwaters skimming the sea round us.

We were welcomed to Garroch Head by a very large grey seal.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rare doldrums in the Firth of Clyde.

It has been a particularly windy and mostly wet summer here...

...on the west coast of Scotland.

I have had a great deal of... in a whole variety of...

...conditions and in a variety of...

...craft even including a return to...

...windsurfing after a gap of 6.5 years due to my dislocating knees.

I am not interested in sea kayak camping in such weather though so it was with great pleasure that Ian, Mike and I saw a brief weather window open on Monday and Tuesday last week.

So we met at Largs at 1300 hours and spent a little time fitting Ian's new Flat Earth Trade Wind 80 sail to his kayak.

We set off for Little Cumbrae island in a flat calm.

We met the  beautifully restored wooden gaff rigged cutter Islay. She was built in 1936 by Cooper of Conyer in Kent. Her construction is of teak on oak so she should be around for many more years. She certainly was not going any where fast and her sails were shaking with the gentle motion of the boat.

 We set off across the Tan unsure whether to pass the north or south of the Little Cumbrae island.

 In the end a little NW breeze got up so we paddle sailed across...

 ...from the Ayrshire coast towards the south of the island passing several porpoises on the way.

 Passing the Little Cumbrae castle, it was too good an opportunity to miss a...

...stop for first luncheon.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

From the sublime to the ridiculous in the West Kyle.

As the two sides of the West Kyle of Bute gathered towards us we came to Kilmichael. In the field in front of the cottage there is a chambered cairn called St Michael's grave. St. Michael founded a church near by but this cairn predates the Christian era by about 2,000 years.

Just round the coast from the cairn is the ruin of this abandoned house. It was the ferryman's house for the ferry that ran from Kilmichael on Bute to Blair's ferry on the Cowal side of the kyle. Although the rocks look too inhospitable for landing, there is a little cut with a jetty just to the NW of the house. The ferry was established in 1769 and ran until 1940 when it was closed due to WW2 military operations and exercises in the area. The house was occupied until that time. The ferry man operated the premises as an inn called "The Bottle and Glass Inn". Unfortunately we had arrived well after closing time.

The Kames Hotel on the opposite side of the Kyle  was open but as it was such a glorious day we decided to stay in the sun for our second luncheon. Amazingly a southerly thermal wind picked up and gave... a little assistance past Tighnabruich to Caladh Harbour at the north end of the kyle.

Then at the north end of Bute we passed blow two garishly painted rocks known as the Maids of Bute.

As you can see from this close up from our March trip, they look nothing like "maids". I doubt they will be as long lasting as the chambered cairn at Kilmichael.

After a short paddle through the tidal south channel at the Burnt Islands we arrived back... the ferry terminal at Rhubodach just as the MV Loch Dunvegan was pulling away from the jetty. Our  four day trip from the Kyles of Bute to Loch Fyne and Inchmarnock was now over. Sadly the Scottish summer of 2015 seemed to coincide with those four days and it would be some time before we went on a camping trip again.

We took the Calmac ferry to Bute from Wemyss Bay then drove from Rothesay to Rhubodach. We covered 91km in 3 whole days paddling.