Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

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glaurenson
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Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by glaurenson »

Good news for a change :)

http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/3056138

Kayak trail economy boost

NEW ROUTE: A kayak trail will be created from Oban to Helensburgh

A new kayak trail from Oban to Helensburgh is being created thanks to a £500,000 funding package.

New car parking, safe water access, changing facilities and kayak racks will be provided at coastal locations on the trail between Oban and Helensburgh.

They include Oban, Seil, Arduaine, Crinan, Toward, Dunoon and Helensburgh.

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Kayaks'N'Beer »

YOU LITTLE RIPPER!!!

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Jim »

Good start, looks like those not taking the shortcut will find no new facilities around the Mull of Kintyre though :-)

Parking is pretty limited in some of those locations so even without the rest of the facilities it will be a great assest.

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Crinan certainly needs some kayak friendly facilities!
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Jim »

ruralweb wrote:Crinan certainly needs some kayak friendly facilities!
Interesting, I was thinking Crinan was an OK spot! I have only landed there once and I was alone so found it pretty easy to haul out on some concrete (slip?) right by the lock but I probably got lucky with the tide timing, and there wouldn't have been room for a group. I just hauled my boat up out of the way and went to the hotel and bought a beer to sit on the steps with until my lift arrived (I was supposed to race against my boss's yacht from Craobh Haven but it was too windy for them so I won by the whole distance, but it took them ages to haul de-rig the boat for hauling out before coming to look for me).

I guess apart from the small slip, Crinan is characterised by high walls/steep banks so pretty dfficult to get ashore?

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Yes the small slip is ok at highish tide. I was referring to the canal its self as getting out to transfer into the sea was a nightmare. High walls to drag the boats up and a mile portage back up the canal to get into the sea. Next time we do it we will get out the bridge before the sea lock, which is a steep bank but easier than the sea lock and you are right next to a slip into the sea. Speaking to lady at the canal office I got the impression that it was not a busy kayak route.
A pontoon at the sea lock which gave access to the slip you mentioned would be ideal.
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Image
The Crinan Canal is a masochist's delight for sea kayakers. Much more aesthetic to paddle down to Tarbert and then a short trolley portage over to West Loch Tarbert, on a pavement next to the road.

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Scots_Charles_River »

Anyone got a link to a map or access/egress points ?

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by rockhopper »

If you want to travel the Crinan canal... take a kayak trolley. The canal itself is a delight to travel through (excluding having to haul the boats out of the water to get around the locks every mile or so!!), especially the downward side towards Crinan itself. The views and vistas are gorgeous with the canal on one side and the estuary and sea loch opening up on the other. With the kind permission of the property owners at the small bridge before Crinan we camped on the grass slipway right next to the Loch. At high tide and with a careful bit of tent placing I could sit in the tent entrance and paddle my feet in the sea.
Definitely a place that holds very special memories for me and my mates.
Lovely place and lovely people...

Rog

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

The Crinan Canal is a masochist's delight for sea kayakers. Much more aesthetic to paddle down to Tarbert and then a short trolley portage over to West Loch Tarbert, on a pavement next to the road.
Thanks Douglas - I was looking at this the other day on google street view and as you say it looks a better option, I was thinking of posting to see what people thought.
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Rog you are a masochist! :o)

I have been through the canal about 40 times on a yacht and only once in a kayak. Once was one time too many, you can't see anything from water level anyway. I know the gentleman you refer to, a great chap.

Scots charles river we waited till high tide and paddled up to Lochgilphead (the mud at low tide here is another masochist's delight). We went into the canal here portaged from here to here then came out here, where there is a lower jetty with some steps up to the tow path then we launched into the sea on the other side of the tow path about the bottom third of a spring tide. I can't remember if there was a proper slipway on the sea side, it might just have been a rocky path. It was a great feeling getting into salt water again.

A practical point is that it is a real bastard getting a loaded kayak out of the canal. We did not trust end toggles but used Karitek portage straps. I think at one bit in the middle of the canal, we had to climb a ladder then use roof rack straps tied to the portage straps. This was when I dropped my non waterproof camera in the lock. I have said it before but just in case any one is swayed by Rog's eloquent praises... the Crinan Canal is a masochist's delight.

Douglas :o)

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

I'm glad it's not just me who thought the canal hard work!! - the central portage was so long that it melted the wheel bearings on my trolley and I had to return it for a refund when I got back. The only saving grace was the British waterways showers half way where we could get a shower to get rid of the sweat poring off us. We had plastic boats and I remember thinking while dragging them over the concrete walls that if they were composite I would be turning round and going back to loch fyne. The canal level was quite high as we had loads of rain so I Fred to think what it would be like in a dry spell.

We too were so glad to get back into salt water
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Douglas>
It was a great feeling getting into salt water again.
Mal>
We too were so glad to get back into salt water
I rest my case!

Douglas

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Scots_Charles_River »

Douglas Wilcox wrote:
Scots charles river we waited till high tide and paddled up to Lochgilphead (the mud at low tide here is another masochist's delight). We went into the canal here portaged from here to here then came out here, where there is a lower jetty with some steps up to the tow path then we launched into the sea on the other side of the tow path about the bottom third of a spring tide. I can't remember if there was a proper slipway on the sea side, it might just have been a rocky path. It was a great feeling getting into salt water again.

A practical point is that it is a real bastard getting a loaded kayak out of the canal. We did not trust end toggles but used Karitek portage straps. I think at one bit in the middle of the canal, we had to climb a ladder then use roof rack straps tied to the portage straps. This was when I dropped my non waterproof camera in the lock. I have said it before but just in case any one is swayed by Rog's eloquent praises... the Crinan Canal is a masochist's delight.

Douglas :o)
Thanks but meant the New Canoe Trail Route.

Can't seem to find anything online.

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Robert Craig
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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Robert Craig »

Did this trip solo a few years ago and found it a delight - was in a restaurant or tea shop every day. Took 3.5 days.

Couldn't see how to get a favourable tide at Clachan sound and at the Dorus Mhor on the same tide, so had to sulk in a tent for a couple of hours (it was raining) waiting for the tide to turn at the Dorus Mhor.

Trick with the canal is not to land at Crinan, but to paddle up the river Add to about a mile short of the bridge, and then climb the canal bank from there. OK single handed, with the kayak emptied. Canal needs a trolley for the central section, but the towpath is very smooth, and takes one past the the Carnbaan hotel just at lunch time. Hotel did seem to think it odd that there was a kayak on a trolley in their car park.

Chose to avoid the mud at Lochgilphead by paddling almost to Ardrishaig, then down to the sea. Geting over the fence here was the hardest part of the trip.

Seen to remember afternoon tea at Colintrive, and an ice cream somewhere north of Innellan.

It'll be clear what my paddling priorities are!

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Trick with the canal is not to land at Crinan, but to paddle up the river Add to about a mile short of the bridge, and then climb the canal bank from there. OK single handed, with the kayak emptied. Canal needs a trolley for the central section, but the towpath is very smooth, and takes one past the the Carnbaan hotel just at lunch time
yes it's very obvious coming from the Oban end that its impossible to get into the canal - as you say paddle up the river and the slip is obvious, it's not at all obvious coming the other way. We were warned by a chatty man just before the bridge but didn't imagine it would be so bad. There is a canoeists information leaflet for the canal but it makes no mention of how to get into the sea at Crinan. The path near the hotel we found to be in a terrible state and very hard going (may 2012).

Hopefully a little money carefully spent would make it a little easier.
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Mark R »

Sounds like a positive thing - is there a route map somewhere?

What do they mean by 'kayak racks'?
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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by parafinn »

Hi,

I personally have nothing against canals - I learned to paddle on the Forth & Clyde almost 4 decades ago.

But when you consider the West Coast of Scotland to be one of the world's finest sea kayaking areas - why spend hours sweating and grunting your way over locks, fences and mud?

Any wonder Yachties refer to canal boaters as trench crawlers?

The idea of a kayak trail is great - where in this day and age is the £500 k coming from? There seems to be very little further info available on the proposal.

Davie

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

But when you consider the West Coast of Scotland to be one of the world's finest sea kayaking areas - why spend hours sweating and grunting your way over locks, fences and mud?
I totally agree - we were in loch fyne due to a force 8 - next time we will be using the road at Tarbert!

I would have thought the trail would be better done the other way round ie with the prevailing winds. Also for people coming up from the south it would be easier to park at Helensbrough saving a drive to and from Oban?
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Mark>
What do they mean by 'kayak racks'?
I saw separate mention of "kayak racks" in connection with planning permission for the proposed marina, which will block off much of Oban Bay from the shore. Maybe it is to encourage local kayak outfitters (or at least get them onside for the planning process). This project is funded by £369,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund (Crown Estate Commission)and £150,000 from the Argyll and the Isles EU LEADER programme. It's aim is to enhance the Argyll economy by developing marine tourism.

Douglas

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

I saw separate mention of "kayak racks" in connection with planning permission for the proposed marina, which will block off much of Oban Bay from the shore. Maybe it is to encourage local kayak outfitters (or at least get them onside for the planning process). This project is funded by £369,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund (Crown Estate Commission)and £150,000 from the Argyll and the Isles EU LEADER programme. It's aim is to enhance the Argyll economy by developing marine tourism.
Ahh I remember reading about this ages ago - that would be why they want the trail to start at Oban, so that you leave your vehicle there and there-fore you are more likely to spend money there rather than just jumping on a train.

The "kayak racks" are perhaps somewhere to secure kayaks if you over nighting at Oban prior to starting (which they would encourage I suspect) - who knows with these grant aided things. I remember a few years ago struggling to find secure cycle storage in Oban so securing a kayak for the night could be a problem, although a short paddle south would secure a place to camp so who knows.
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by parafinn »

Hi,

might this be where the funding is coming from?

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... ng#p609629

If so it looks ugly and perhaps should be strenuously objected too - unless of course you like paddling through over developed marinas?

Davie

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Davie,

I remember Craobh was a favourite destination of ours when we were cruising Wayfarers on the west coast in the 1970's and early 80's. Then it was a lovely remote spot. It is a sewage filled hole now. Tony and I recently launched a Craobh Haven and had to wade through several metres of raw sewage from yachts to launch.

However, the west coast is a big place and things could be a lot worse. If the climate was better and there were no midges, it would not just be marinas, there would be high rise hotels round every bay.

I salute the highland midge: humble, unsung protector of the land and seascape.

Douglas

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by parafinn »

Dear Douglas,

what are you trying to say?

Perhaps that. . . Crap Haven is tolerable and that similar proposed developments on the Oban sea front will be equally benign?

By conjecturing that the situation could be worse, is surely no reason to be complicit in the spoiling of our beautiful West Coast?

respectfully yours

Davie

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Personally I'm amazed that yachts are allowed to discharge waste into the sea near the coast - it's like a caravan dumping waste on the m25. Why can they not store it and pump out like canal boats and caravans????
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Scots_Charles_River »

I'm in RHU just now (adjoining Helensburgh). It may be better to do sections, eg Portavaddie portage to Kyles etc. I think it's a very exposed route, contrasting with the Caley Trail. We sailed Wayfarers around Ascog Bay, at Scout Camps. We also rowed (pulled in Sea Scout parlance)through Dorus Mhor.

I hope people will not think it's a 'Safe Trail' as it's official.

Overall, anything that promotes Active Lifestyles has to be encouraged.

The Coastline fund is interesting as it seems haphazard, the Helensburgh pier has been half falling apart since the 80s and the Waverly often can't land as the tides out and it's too shallow.

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Nick, I was in 60th Ayr scouts in 60's and early 70's. In 1967 I got my first sea kayaking at Ardencaple on Seil which was a very large scout/guide camp with multiple troops. I also did my oarsman's badge at that camp with Rhu Sea Scouts and kept in touch with them at Loch Goilhead there after. At that time the Scout Sailing centre was based at Captain Pound's house doen the east side of the loch.

Are we contemporaries? (I might have asked you this before.)

Davie, I know what you mean, I weep for what Craobh harbour (natural) once was.
Image

I think commercial development lies behind this new initiative and as Nick says it is not an easy route, though it is possible to portage the Dorus Mor. I am not sure how much sea kayaking input has gone into this plan.

By nature I am a conservationist but that has opened me to accusations of elitism. On the other hand, members of my family in the West Scotland are long term unemployed and maybe this will increase employment. There are not many jobs going round here.

There is already pretty extensive commercialism in sea kayaking on the west coast. I recently drove all the way up to the Sound of Arisaig for a quiet camping trip. There were 5 large commercial groups of about 14 kayakers each in the area. One group was hotel based the others were wild camping. On the second last day I couldn't find any empty wild camp spots as they were all taken by commercial groups, doing their daily 7km per day between camp sites so they arrive early afternoon and not too tired... I ended up doing 2 days paddling (8 of theirs) that day and arrived back at the car very late. I don't have much energy for fighting the good cause these days, maybe that's why I have just been doing local paddles recently.

Mal, another really bad yachty sewage experience was at a bothy on the south side of Ulva. We were there in July and the anchorage in front of the bothy was full of yachts. Their sewage was all round the shore. Launching was horrible.

I have mixed feelings about this new development.

Douglas

PS on a brighter note, Merry Christmas everybody!

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Mal, another really bad yachty sewage experience was at a bothy on the south side of Ulva. We were there in July and the anchorage in front of the bothy was full of yachts. Their sewage was all round the shore. Launching was horrible.
how can anyone in thier right minds behave like this is beyond me.

Happy Christmas
Mal

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Scots_Charles_River »

Douglas,

I was in RHU Sea Scouts from 83-91, as Scout to Leader. So not we are not contemporaries. However, great way to get my sea legs and great fun. Still do voluntary OL with my school, as a payback fro all those hours and weeks - 2 week summer - camps that Leaders gave up for us.

I think if the TRAIL builds some better parking/access/viewpoints etc then all good.

Maybe some ferrymen can get extra business shuttling people etc.

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Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Robert>
and takes one past the the Carnbaan hotel just at lunch time. Hotel did seem to think it odd that there was a kayak on a trolley in their car park.
Image
Robert, I believe we may have gone to the same school of kayaking.

Douglas

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