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Gigha Plan B

Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:01 pm
by blueythe
me and a few friends are planning to circumnavigate Gigha this march. Douglas Wilcox's account of his adventure here has inspired us to take on the challenge. We will be setting off from a campsite at Muasdale on the Mull of Kintyre, out to Cara for one night then circumnavigate Gigha over next 2 days. However, although the tidal streams in the sound of Gigha appear tame compared to rest of this area, Douglas does mention that it can get a bit tasty with wind, swell and tide combos and should not be underestimated. We are travelling up from Chester regardless and I'd like a Plan B if conditions prevent us circumnavigating Gigha.
So Douglas, if you or anybody else with good local knowledge have any suggestions for other, maybe, more sheltered paddles nearby, it would be great to have that up our sleeve and and any suggestions very much appreciated. BTW unlike the rest of Scotland, Kayaking info in this area isn't very well covered. It's screaming out for a guide-from my point of view at least!

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:46 am
by mcgruff
There is a place in Argyll where you're guaranteed flat water no matter what the weather & tides are doing: The Crinan Canal :)

I love canals. They're so peaceful. Not quite the adventure you're looking for maybe!

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:57 am
by Robert Craig
Sounds a good trip!

As for bad weather alternatives, Loch Sween is very beautiful and very sheltered. I guess one could paddle the inland arms of that loch - Linne Mhuirich and the like - in almost any weather. Eilean Mhor, off the entrance to Loch Sween, is a good paddle as well. The is tidal flow there, but much less than in the Sound of Gigha, which fairly tanks along in the narrowest bit.

There's room for kayaks on the Gigha ferry, if it all looks like going wrong.

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:40 am
by MikeB
If nothing else, your Plan B could be to take the boats over on the ferry - paddle as much as you can in whatever shelter you find, and return on the ferry. As noted, there is a considerable flow in the Sound of Gigha and on at least one occasion I've paddled over from the mainland, and returned on the ferry as conditions had deteriorated.

Also as noted, Loch Sween can offer the opportunity to get on the water (especially up at the top) in very poor conditions. Just go canny with your tidal planning as it does dry out and the mud can be both deep and sticky!

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:07 pm
by blueythe
Many thanks guys for your advice. Loch Sween looks good so I think I’ll adopt that as our plan B. Is the Imray pilotage worth buying for this area?

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:09 am
by seawolf856
Yes, thanks for the Gigha plan B suggestions. I am going on the trip with blueythe and the suggestions so far have been great, should we be unlucky with the weather - its a long way to go to do nowt!!.

Loch Sween looks nice and remote and I want to ask about specific launch points as the Southern end looks to be very inaccessible. There is an obvious put in up at the top at Tayvallich jetty and a couple of jetties in the tributary of Caol Scotnish. I know half the fun will be picking our own locations but having some local knowledge up our sleeve will save time with searching and get us more time on the water. Any good launch points for Loch Sween would be appreciated.

I also really like mcgruff's option of the Crinan Canal if conditions are very bad. It looks to be approx 10km end to end (Ardrishaig to Bellanoch) so a day out doing it both ways would be ideal. Again I want to ask about specific put in options. Is the Ardrishaig Pier end a good place to start and also there are at least two sets of locks on the upper end (Dunardry Locks). Is this an easy portage or would you simply stop short of there and not bother?

We are going for an adventure and Cara/Gigha are the intended destinations but that doesn't mean it won't be an adventure without a big scary sea trip. The one way trip and ferry return is a very good option too. Thanks for all the input so far, please keep the suggestions coming.

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:16 pm
by rockhopper
As an experience the Crinan Canal paddle is great and wonderfully scenic (especially as you approach Crinan) however having done the trip a few years back I would definitely take a trolley as they will not let you transit the locks. This is especially wise if your kayaks are loaded with gear....the portages carrying loaded kayaks can be brutal.
We did it as part of a trip from the Isle of Bute and up Loch Fyne, joining the canal at Ardrishaig. There is a bit near Crinan where the canal is right next to Loch Crinan and we lifted the boats out and continued in the Loch....plenty of places to camp. We did a shuttle so that we only paddled in one direction...not sure we would have been keen to paddle both ways!

Rog.

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:22 am
by Robert Craig
There's access to Loch Sween at the caravan site at Castle Sween, and near the stream about 1 km north of Castle Sween (there's a wee track down, not passable by car). There's access at high water only ('cos of mud) at the causeway leading to the Isle of Danna. There are no tidal streams in Loch Sween, except at the entrance to Linne Mhurich (which is a wee bit of fun for 50 metres or so). There is a bit of a stream running through Eilean Mhor and Cor Eilean, but nothing serious.

It's a beautiful place.

Nice cafe in Tayvallich.

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:10 pm
by Owen
there's also Carsaig bay, turn right in Tayvallich village. Although if the Sound of Gigha is too rough, Carsaig bay will be as well. The food and beer at the tayvallich arms is good as is the pub on Gigha.

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:20 pm
by PeterG
Loch Craignish is lovely with scattered islands, launch near the Ardfern village hall, plus the chance for some fun in Dorus Mor if you catch it right. Easy to arrange a one way with shuttle to Croabh Haven and spend some time on Luing, Shuna etc.

Re: Gigha Plan B

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:40 pm
by blueythe
Wow! Thank you all. So many options I think I might need 6 months to explore this area not 4 days. Great to know that there are so many wild, remote sheltered options. And my mistake for discounting the Crinan canal, after investigating further it looks a very interesting place to paddle. Really looking forward to our trip now.