Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24135
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 15 times
Contact:

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Mark R »

Douglas Wilcox wrote: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 actually have no problem with what you describe here, except...what on earth were they all doing in the same limited place? Scotland's coastline is vast, easily able to absorb huge numbers of coaching groups without noticeable disturbance. I've spent many months paddling most of Scotland's coast and many of the islands...I think I've met less than a dozen paddlers on the water on those trips.

Obviously where a designated route such as that described here is concerned, things will be slightly different, especially in an accessible and popular area such as the Firth of Clyde. But not necessarily...e.g. I've paddled the length of the 'Scottish Sea Kayak Trail' and met one small group of paddlers along the entire length.
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

ruralweb
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:14 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

what on earth were they all doing in the same limited place
A mate of mine told me the same thing this spring - he was in Arasaig and could not believe the number of other paddlers. There was groups of canoeists with boats stacked high with firewood as all the drift wood had been burnt and places to camp were few an far between as they were full???

He was with an organized trip as were most of the others - it may be that thats the easiest place to take groups as its quite sheltered if the weather blows up
Mal

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3639
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 50 times
Contact:

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Hi Mark, as I said somewhere above, the west coast of Scotland is a very big place and despite being out on the water pretty regularly we seldom see other sea kayakers, even in the Clyde.

The reason the Sound of Arisaig is so popular with commercial groups is a mixture of sheltered water, graded crossings and offshore islands but particularly the stunning, white sand beaches (and machair for wild camping) which are about 7km apart. On the weekend in the summer we were there, two local companies were running three tours (one hotel based) and two companies had travelled a long distance. We stopped to talk to two of the groups and waved as we passed three others who were either afloat or ashore. We also met three small groups of two or three independent seakayakers. That makes it sound terribly busy but the reality is that the sea is huge and 5 minutes after meeting someone you are alone again.

Image
Some very happy sea kayakers enjoying a commercial tour of the Sound of Arisaig based on day trips from a local hotel.

Suitable wild camp sites are another matter, there are not that many, (especially if you have a lower limb disability like me). I am not even sure if the terms of the Scottish Land Reform Act recognize the right to wild camp in a group as large as 14 (particularly if it is a commercial trip). I ended up camping that night in a commercial camp site north of Arisaig (which was actually quieter than my intended "wild" camp site). We may criticise yachts for dumping sewage but think of 14 poos round a wild site several mornings on the trot. I think that is also several too many. Talking to two of the guides of one of the groups, it was clear they were working with the other groups, following each other round the Sound so that they each landed on a free site each day. That is great but what about independent travellers in the area?

The group using the hotel were clearly contributing a lot to the local economy. On the occasions we have camped in a larger group, we have chosen commercial camp sites on places like Arran, Gigha, Mull, Arisaig etc.. rather than wild camp. Perhaps commercial operators should also consider using commercial camp sites on at least some nights of their trips. I know many other individuals on this board do the same if they are in a large group.

With the current degree of commercialism in the summer, Arisaig is no longer then a wilderness area. I am not saying that is right or wrong, it is just an observation.

The rationale of this new trail is to generate income for the local area, which is a very good thing in an area of high unemployment. It will also be good if it encourages more sea kayakers to take up this fantastic activity because there really is plenty of space round the west coast. However, particularly in the Clyde part of the proposed trail, there are not that many wild camp spots round the route that this trail would follow. Would commercial guided tours tend to use those sites or would they choose to stay at local hotels or commercial camps sites, such as the excellent Carry Farm on the West Kyle of Bute? I don't know but the experience of Arisaig suggests they might prefer the wild spots.

I am very much for developing sea kayaking and the infrastructure to support it. Parking, access to the water, access to showers and toilets, perhaps more commercial campsites, opportunities for retailers, outfitters, coaches and guides to expand their businesses but I think it needs to be carefully planned, otherwise congestion on land at honeypot launch sites and wild camp sites could increase.

Image
Lastly my advice, if you intend to visit the Arisaig area, as you should, is to Google for the dates of commercial trips and avoid them (in the summer they run through the weekdays as well as weekends). Or for a real wilderness experience, do as Ian and I did last January, go mid week in winter! If you compare the August photo with the January photo the weather will probably not be much different!

Douglas

R3V
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:30 am

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by R3V »

When wild camping dont you take all your waste with you -including poo (and paper) or do you just bury it all? I dant beelive commercial groups would simply leave it all there-perhaps they do

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3639
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 50 times
Contact:

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Good question R3V.

Image
A commercial expedition on one of the few wild camping sites in the Sound of Arisaig area. There are 10 small tents (at least some appear to have more than one occupant) and one large tent (the operator website says they try to put two in each tent for environmental reasons).

Last year, a friend was on a guided trip with one of the operators we met at Arisaig. He was told to "go" below HW mark with no mention being made of what to do with the paper. There were 12 clients and 2 guides on that particular trip.

In comparison I usually wild camp in small numbers 1-3. I try to use proper loos, which is a good reason to stop at a hotel or pub at some point during the day. If there are no proper loos nearby, I try to go below HW mark if in a tidal area or bury it if there are shell fish farms in the area or in less tidal areas like the head of a sea loch. I burn or carry toilet paper out with me. With a small number of people on a seldom used site, I do not see a problem with this. However, with popular wild camp sites and big numbers, it is a significant risk to the environment. Burying poo in exposed machair on the windy locations is a real risk. The cut turf can blow out and the wind can rapidly erode a large gully in the sand below. This has been a particular problem on Tiree and North Uist.

In many areas of the World it is a requirement to carry your poo back out from the wilderness. Perhaps it will also become so in the future in the UK. Whatever, toilet facilities will need to be something the planners of this new trail will need to consider.

Douglas

ruralweb
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:14 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

In many areas of the World it is a requirement to carry your poo back out from the wilderness. Perhaps it will also become so in the future in the UK. Whatever, toilet facilities will need to be something the planners of this new trail will need to consider.
not having been on a commercial trip I would hope that they make plans to take human waste back with them - after all they are making money from the trip. The activities of a small number of wild campers will be absorbed by the environment but the numbers in Arisaig look way to much IMO.

I did the Caledonian canal trail last year and similar to Arisaig the wild camping locations are very limited and those that are there look well used. The trail managers have realised this and are/have built dedicated trail campsites with loos to cope. Sounds like the commercial operators could get together and sort something out for Arisaig eg composting toilets in descrete locations.
Mal

ian johnston
Posts: 687
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:36 pm
Location: Aberdeenshire
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 7 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ian johnston »

Douglas Wilcox wrote:Good question R3V.

Image
A commercial expedition on one of the few wild camping sites in the Sound of Arisaig area. There are 10 small tents (at least some appear to have more than one occupant) and one large tent (the operator website says they try to put two in each tent for environmental reasons).

Last year, a friend was on a guided trip with one of the operators we met at Arisaig. He was told to "go" below HW mark with no mention being made of what to do with the paper. There were 12 clients and 2 guides on that particular trip.

In comparison I usually wild camp in small numbers 1-3. I try to use proper loos, which is a good reason to stop at a hotel or pub at some point during the day. If there are no proper loos nearby, I try to go below HW mark if in a tidal area or bury it if there are shell fish farms in the area or in less tidal areas like the head of a sea loch. I burn or carry toilet paper out with me. With a small number of people on a seldom used site, I do not see a problem with this. However, with popular wild camp sites and big numbers, it is a significant risk to the environment. Burying poo in exposed machair on the windy locations is a real risk. The cut turf can blow out and the wind can rapidly erode a large gully in the sand below. This has been a particular problem on Tiree and North Uist.

In many areas of the World it is a requirement to carry your poo back out from the wilderness. Perhaps it will also become so in the future in the UK. Whatever, toilet facilities will need to be something the planners of this new trail will need to consider.

Douglas
Image

On the same beach as Douglas' photo above, a fire ring in the fragile turf above the high water mark in which a quantity of plastic waste and nylon rope had been burned. This could of course have been done by independent paddlers, walkers or anglers - this particular beach is a great spot and understandably popular.

It is though, as Douglas points out, now pretty much a no-go for an independent paddler through the summer. In fact, getting a parking spot will be a bit of an issue in the main summer season. On a trip last summer whilst paddling into Arisag village from the south, just about every possible parking spot on the minor road leading from Arisaig village along the south shore of Loch na Ceall was occupied by boat trailers.

Not a criticism - just an observation...

Kind Regards

Ian

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 14110
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 71 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Jim »

Advice for launching at Croabh is to launch on the beach to the north of the spit through the trailer parking, not in the marina - many of the yotties are apparantly nervous about poorly steered kayaks potentially damaging their shiny white sea toilets. The bank down to the beach is rather steep - Douglas, you would need help with the kayak for sure and probably to get yourself down it. Paddling past the Marina entrance a few years ago I was blissfully unaware of any foul outflow. :-)

I don't know what all the fuss about the Dorus Mor is anyway, get your timing right and it is easy in a kayak. After leaving my yottie friends at Croabh (F6 easterly too windy for their little trailer sailer) a little later than intended I arrived at the great door exactly when I had orignally planned too, had a wee look and decided it looked fine so nipped through against the flood of big yachts heading out from Ardfern. There were some nice waves on the Crinan side but I put my bow to the wind and was soon in the lee of rabbit island trying to envisage my friends wee yacht beating up and down the length of the race and making little ground upwind - they made the right choice! Easy to win a race when the other boat doesn't set out!

I think the idea for the trail is great, it is a serious coastline and I hope that any informative material that accompanies the route will make this clear to people. Goodness knows there have been tragedies around Craignish before and the fast tides make finding casualties almost impossible (is this the right place to lament the loss of Clyde Coastguard?), but it is also something of a sea kayakers mecca and with the correct approach to tidal planning and weather forecasting it should be within the capability of most regular sea paddlers with a couple of years experience behind them. (And I don't recommend Dorus Mor in F6, especially not solo, I just happened to be in my comfort zone that day).

I seem to recall a former colleague telling me that he could get his yacht out of the Clyde and up the west coast in just a few hours (Cruiser not racer, although I have worked with some of them too) under sail, which he reckoned was quicker and since no diesel miles needed, cheaper than a transit of the canal - he couldn't understand why yachts use it at all - puffers (fewer miles, less fuel) and wee yachts perhaps, but if a wee yacht can't tackle the Mull of Kintyre, should it be tackling Dorus Mor? The racers had a similar view, they certainly didn't use the canal to get out to Tobermory to race, but obviously they make faster passage. I beleive you have to work hard to get through the canal in half a day?

As for commercial pressures around Arisaig (and anywhere else that is popular) I don't know what the current practices are but clearly in the not too distant future the providers will need to move towards carrying waste out. There are solutions that would suit sea kayaks but if guides can't stomach that but are all using the same same few sites perhaps they could club together and arrange for a separate boat to do a round robin swapping portaloo cassettes daily. Portaloos hidden under camo nets during the day and removed if there isn't going to be a group camping? Perhaps entire toilet kit delivered in the evening after groups land and removed in the morning before they launch? There must be way to organise it without building composting toilets or other permanent structures on wild campsites. It's so much easier with an 18 foot raft along (no portaloos, just a groover, but with a seat so you don't get grooved).

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8127
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by MikeB »

There are many practical solutions available for the problem of human waste from large groups so it's really sad to find this is still, it seems, a problem. We debated this some years back, with one or two of the commercial outfitters providing positive assurances that they helped their paying clients in understanding what to do, or providing them with a practical solution.

One solution is this - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TravelJohn-Disp ... pd_cp_sg_3 - certainly Karitek were offering something similar some years ago, called the Restop. I remain firmly of the view that if businesses are making a living from taking paying clients into the wilderness, it's incumbent on them to deal with the issue.

Mike

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3639
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 50 times
Contact:

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Hi Jim,

yes the north east side of that causeway at Craobh Haven is good but as you say no suitable for anyone with mobility problems. An alternative is the little bay at the SW side of the marina enclosure. Drive past the red "A" mark on Google maps until you get to a stone barrier across the road. Leave the car here and make your way down a gentle gradient to the beach at the green arrow.
Image

Unfortunately this is also often contaminated with raw sewage, presumably from the many yachts in the marina.

You are right about the Dorus Mor, it truly is the gateway to a whole lot of fun, especially little day trips from Crinan:

Image

Image

Image
And the Dorus Mor has such fun filled features!

Douglas

ian johnston
Posts: 687
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:36 pm
Location: Aberdeenshire
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 7 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ian johnston »

Douglas Wilcox wrote: Image
And the Dorus Mor has such fun filled features!

Douglas
Douglas, is that a poo flushing feature on your port bow?! Truly, nature thinks of everything! :o)

Kind regards


Ian

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 14110
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 71 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Jim »

ian johnston wrote:
Douglas Wilcox wrote: Image
And the Dorus Mor has such fun filled features!

Douglas
Douglas, is that a poo flushing feature on your port bow?! Truly, nature thinks of everything! :o)

Kind regards


Ian
All part of the biggest flushing loo in the world! It only flushes twice a day but no jobbie is too much for it. Give it long enough and it will move mountains, or at least carve them into caves, arches and stacks....

swagstaff
Posts: 557
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2006 6:59 am
Location: Oban & further west
Been thanked: 5 times
Contact:

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by swagstaff »

Even though I have 2 commercial sea kayak businesses in Oban the newspaper article was the first I heard of this, which is really good as I am really grateful when someone else sends business my way.
I assume its supposed to increase tourism and in turn provide jobs which will mean a more self supporting community.
Image
I would see it an ideal opportunity for some new commercial campsites in the area or a formalizing of those informal ones where we pay a landowner a few quid, such as at Ellenabeich or on the Craignish Peninsula and an excellent opportunity for sea kayaker friendly B&Bs. There are certainly lots of B&Bs along the route.
I dont agree with large groups wild camping together and regularly turn down schools that want us to take a whole class out on a wild camping trip and all camp in the same place. When I go sea kayaking for myself and visit remote places wild camping, I would rather not come across a large group. How can I justify doing the opposite and I try and avoid using the places commonly used by many independent sea kayakers. Our max group size is 6 .

However I accept the commercial necessities of larger groups who want to "wild camp" .In other parts of the world these groups set up a network of temporary/seasonal facilities along the route. This contains the impact and everyone else knows where to avoid. It is almost inevitable that in 10 yrs time we will see flotillas of double sea kayaks on their way from Oban to Inverness or Helensburgh to Oban or all around the Summer Isles.
Image
The Arisaig area has received a great deal of publicity such as National Geographic 's article on the "best Trips in the World " .We regularly get requests to include it on an itinerary which involves sea kayaking on all the Scottish Sea Kayaking highlights in a week and they wont take no for an answer. Its the answer we give because they want to go in the middle of August and we employ our staff because they would much rather be out paddling than driving.
Its why the best time to visit the San Juan islands in Washington State is in the spring or Autumn and despite the thousands of people out sea kayaking in the peak months you still get plenty of peace and quiet and solitude to enjoy the sunset and the friendly & helpful wildlife in the off season
Image
Image
WHITEWATER ALL YEAR LONG

Scots_Charles_River
Posts: 830
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 6:10 pm

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Scots_Charles_River »

Some specific sites mentioned here
http://www.argyllandtheislandsleader.org.uk/?p=2924

Stramash is involved, a Community Enterprise that provide Outdoor Education.

Ian_Montrose
Posts: 286
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:16 am
Location: Montrose, East Scotland
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Ian_Montrose »

MikeB wrote:There are many practical solutions available for the problem of human waste from large groups so it's really sad to find this is still, it seems, a problem. We debated this some years back, with one or two of the commercial outfitters providing positive assurances that they helped their paying clients in understanding what to do, or providing them with a practical solution.

One solution is this - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TravelJohn-Disp ... pd_cp_sg_3 - certainly Karitek were offering something similar some years ago, called the Restop. I remain firmly of the view that if businesses are making a living from taking paying clients into the wilderness, it's incumbent on them to deal with the issue.

Mike
A BDH container with some disinfectant in it is my solution. Just dispose down the toilet when back home.

MacUalraig
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:09 pm

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by MacUalraig »

This trail looks like being fantastic, but is currently threatened by a massive industrial fish farm in the middle of Seil Sound at Port na Morachd. Lakeland Marine Farm, a subsidiary of the Polish giant Morpol, but soon to be part of the Norwegian Marine Harvest are the applicants. There's still time to register comments on the planning application, as it won't go to a hearing for another month or two. Full details of the application and the issues can be found on http://www.saveseilsound.org.uk, where there's also a link to the Argyll & Bute Council website.

It's important that anyone commenting should make clear their interest in kayaking, especially if not resident in Argyll.

About 800 people have objected so far, but very few from the kayaking community.

ruralweb
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:14 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Anyone got any news about the trail? - I'm planning to try it in August from the Helensburgh end. What is parking like at this end.
Mal

Owen
Posts: 2181
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:42 pm
Location: Nr Stirling
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 12 times
Contact:

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Owen »

MacUalraig wrote:This trail looks like being fantastic, but is currently threatened by a massive industrial fish farm in the middle of Seil Sound at Port na Morachd. Lakeland Marine Farm, a subsidiary of the Polish giant Morpol, but soon to be part of the Norwegian Marine Harvest are the applicants. There's still time to register comments on the planning application, as it won't go to a hearing for another month or two. Full details of the application and the issues can be found on http://www.saveseilsound.org.uk, where there's also a link to the Argyll & Bute Council website.

It's important that anyone commenting should make clear their interest in kayaking, especially if not resident in Argyll.

About 800 people have objected so far, but very few from the kayaking community.
They got the planning permission, I'm not sure whether they've started work yet.
ruralweb wrote: I'm planning to try it in August from the Helensburgh end. What is parking like at this end.
I wouldn't leave a car in Helensburgh, follow the coast road north to Rhu or behind the outdoor centre at Blairvadach.

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8127
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by MikeB »

I've seen the suggestions / plans for the pontoons and storage racks, and they seem really well thought thro. I also know that some well respected folk have been heavily involved in the design. For example, the pontoons have been designed to make it easy to haul a boat out, and the racks will have a covered area to make loading easy in the rain, as well as a means of securing the boats.

Parking is included in the thinking, and there is even a suggestion that (where possible) wi-fi access will be provided so checking forecast etc becomes easier. Information boards would be placed at each location - with the suggestion that they would make reference to specific hazards (like the Dorus Mor).

Overall, what I saw impressed me. I'll make enquiries to see if anything is available on-line for us to look at.

Mike.

ruralweb
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:14 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Thanks Owen & Mike for the update
Mal

User avatar
Robert Craig
Posts: 806
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:55 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 42 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Robert Craig »

MikeB wrote:I've seen the suggestions / plans for the pontoons and storage racks, ..... Mike.
I'm impressed that you managed to get information. I had to try very hard, first with Argyll and Bute, them with Stramash, before I could even get an acknowledgement that this project existed.

I did try to get involved, but got only silence.

All looks fun, and a great thing.

User avatar
Jurassic
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 1:41 pm
Location: Helensburgh

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Jurassic »

ruralweb wrote:Anyone got any news about the trail? - I'm planning to try it in August from the Helensburgh end. What is parking like at this end.
There is free parking at the pier car park in Helensburgh near the slip but speaking from experience I'd let the police station know that you're leaving your car if you decide to use it. My wife received a phone call inquiring as to my welfare the last time I did an overnight trip parking there. My van and my friends car were both fine but I was a little uneasy at the thought of leaving a vehicle there as that area is a popular venue for the local youth to hang out.
There are plenty of other options to park though (PM me if you want any specific suggestions), my preference would be to drop the boats and kit at the sea front leaving someone to keep an eye on them and then park on one of the streets a couple of blocks back and walk back down.
Regarding the proposed Kayak Trail, it may be unconnected but I was recently chatting to the folks in the chandlery at Rhu marina and they mentioned that the marina owners were keen to attract small boat owners (including paddlers) to use the marina facilities and were considering installing pontoons for that purpose. I got the impression that there would be a charge for this should it go ahead though. I don't know if there have been any further developments or plans to do this or if the plans were part of the Kayak Trail.

ruralweb
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:14 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Thanks Jurassic :)
Mal

ruralweb
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:14 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by ruralweb »

Is the trail officially open yet? - I know they have built slipways and shelters at various locations but have heard nothing else particularly about car parking
Mal

seafreedom
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:36 am
Location: Connel, by Oban Scotland
Contact:

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by seafreedom »

Hi folks. From the above, you probably all already know this but....

The Argyll sea kayak trail is an initiative by Argyll and Bute District council with the co-operation of Scottish Canals. It's supposed to be opening this spring. It is apparently based on the route of the "Canoe Boys". Facilities are being created at Toward, the north end of Bute (with a camp site), Crinan, Ganavan and, best of all, Arduaine. I checked out the Arduine site last week and there is parking there now, with a barrier round it, but nothing else. The facilities will consist of parking space, launching access, a changing shelter and some signage. The kayak racks and trolleys for the canal locks got deleted from the plan and the last time I asked, no loos. It has been suggested that there may be more funds in the future for other sites and loos, but don't hold your breath (or noses) on that one. Kayak level access pontoons are being provided at the locks on the Crinan canal. I understand that the website is due to be launched very soon. Meanwhile, if you want more info or advice on paddling the route, contact me (Tony at Seafreedom) or Roddy McDowell at Sea Kayak Bute.

It will be interesting to see how all this turns out. One problem is that whilst the route to the east of Crinan is fairly tame (though a spring ebb and a southerly wind can make crossing Loch Fyne very entertaining) the section from Crinan to Oban passes slap through the Dorus Mor! Will people who are capable of the Dorus Mor want to paddle the first half and the Crinan canal or will they prefer to follow the excellent route described by Simon Willis, starting at Gigha? So I'm a bit sceptical as to whether many people will really want to do the whole route from Helensbrough to Oban. Never mind, because the new facilities at the north end of Bute and at Arduine are very welcome, so no grumbling please!

User avatar
uxb
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:50 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by uxb »

The Dorus Mor can be a nasty, nasty place in the wrong weather but a really entertaining pussy cat on a nice day. I doubt any relatively inexperienced sea kayaker would be stupid enough to set off from Crinan on a windy day with a spring tide? Experienced paddlers might like to seek out such conditions though.

I paddled through the Dorus on Sunday for the second time on the tail of the ebb and even a relative novice like me thoroughly enjoyed it. I wouldn't go near it in a kayak in a breeze of wind though - I sail through it regularly in a well found boat and have had some serious beatings over the years.

Here's a link to some photos I took a couple of months ago showing the layout- allegedly, the next to useless access ramp to the beach was to avoid upsetting the Crown Estates...

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... 4&t=109885

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8127
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by MikeB »


User avatar
uxb
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:50 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by uxb »

Is that not the auld public lavvy with some woodwork nailed on to the end?

In Crinan there is a nice new wooden building going up in the car park at the top of the basin- I wonder if that's part of the trail ( as well as being an upgrade for the yotties )

Colin C
Posts: 740
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 7:19 pm
Location: Bothwell
Been thanked: 7 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by Colin C »

seafreedom wrote: Facilities are being created at Toward, the north end of Bute (with a camp site)
I was paddling over the weekend round Bute and found a shelter and toilet had been built, but not where this post suggests, if we are talking about the same thing. Toward is on the mainland opposite Bute, but there may be another place with the same name. The shelter is in Balnakailly Bay,at the north end, and there is nowhere to camp near it. It looks like the spot was chosen to ensure no camping. Others with more information may be able to enlighten us, to let me know if I have missed something.

Colin

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8127
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Kayak Trail - Oban to Helensburgh

Post by MikeB »

Was that you in one of the pair of red boats passing Callums Hole on Friday? Or the pair of boats who passed as we were setting up in Scalpsie Bay on Saturday?

The shelter and shed (toilet) is indeed "the place" - there's a strip of grass just back from the shore for camping, between the shore and the shelter. At least, that's where a tent is shown pitched in one picture on F/book.

Post Reply