Cape Wrath^

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Zoe Newsam
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Cape Wrath^

Post by Zoe Newsam »

A friend has recently suggested we paddle round Cape Wrath this summer- a dream trip for me.

Just wondered if anyone here had done this trip?

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Post by Jon Wood »

Recalling the BBC 'Coast' programme, I assume you will need to wear a tin hat, flak jacket and carry a metal detector to check the beach before you pull your boat over some unexploded ordnance.
I'm sure it's not all like that, but make sure NATO and the RN agree a ceasefire with you before you go!

On a more serious note, where do the forces publish firing schedules for their coastal ranges?


Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam »

No idea, but presumably it'll be the same as everywhere else in the UK (though I might try & check!)- us Brits don't go to war at the weekends!!

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Post by ian.miller »

The forces do publish cape wrath closure times locally in hotels, post offices etc but that is no use if you are on a time limited trip and find yourself barred from sneaking the corner. For long term planning it is best to contact FOSNI (Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland) based at Faslane naval base. They are quite happy to hand out the info and it might be that Mike B has their number since I passed this info on to him recently.
Apparently the defence of the realm does stop for holidays and I seem to remember that the range is free of activity for a longish period around August when they all go off to build sand castles.

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Post by MikeB »

Still working on that one as it happens - - -

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Cape Wrath

Post by ColinS »

Information about military activity on the Cape Wrath range can be foud here:

Disclaimer: Range Programmes sometimes change at short notice. The timings published on this website must not be taken as definitive. Before entering the range area you should seek up to date information by calling the Cape Wrath Information line freephone 0800 833300.

I have paddled a bit in the area, but have always avoided the Cape! If you need more information you could always try contacting Cape Adventure run by Rebecca & Will who are based at Ardmore on Loch Laxford.

There is also a description in Brian Wilson's excellent book "Blazing Paddles".

Hope this helps and let us know how you get on!

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Post by MikeB »

Just back from my travels, to find this in my inbox, following a call to MoD and a most helpful military type:

"Mike Buckley,

Since your call yesterday I have gleaned the following information re your enquiry: You may wish to access the following web site. I have spoken to the Duty Controller at the Marine Operations Centre at HM Naval Base Clyde – He has suggested that you should speak to the Queen’s Harbour Master – Commander Julian Ferguson at HM Naval Base Clyde on 01436 674321 Ext 3555. Commander Ferguson is available during normal working hours and should be able to advise you on where and when you can go in the Scottish coastal waters.

The waters off the West Coast of Scotland and the Inner Hebrides are the Royal Navy’s Scottish Exercise Areas (SXAs), which are controlled and directed from the Marine Operations Centre at HM Naval Base Clyde. The SXAs are routinely patrolled and used for operational sea training and exercises.

The Base is host to three Joint Maritime Courses (JMCs) each year which make use of the Base’s facilities and the Scottish Exercise Areas. JMCs allow collective training for ships, submarines and maritime aircraft in a ‘littoral’ environment – mainly the shallow waters between mainland Scotland and the Isles. A typical JMC will involve dozens of ships and aircraft and many thousands of personnel from a number of NATO member states and aims to put all units through a complex programme of warfare training in the maritime, land and air environments.

Who Works at HM Naval Base Clyde?
Scotland’s most senior naval officer and only admiral, the Flag Officer, Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland (FOSNNI). is responsible for all Royal Navy and Royal Marine activity in a land area covering more than half of the UK, stretching from the Shetland Islands in the North down to the Humber Estuary on the East coast and the River Dee Estuary on the Wirral in the West. He also has responsibility for all naval activity in the seas around this extensive coastline.

The Naval Base Commander (NBC) and its outstations in Rosyth, Greenock, Campbeltown, Loch Ewe and Loch Striven is responsible for the day-to-day management of HM Naval Base Clyde. The NBC is also Authorisee of the Nuclear Site.

As the Regional HQ of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base Clyde is also home to:

Captain Faslane Flotilla – ensuring that the base-ported ships and crews at HM Naval Base Clyde are ready for their duties as part of the Royal Navy Fleet.

Flag Officer Sea Training (North)– provides Operational Sea Training (OST) for all surface ships and submarines, together with land and air units and with increasing numbers of NATO and foreign participants conducting training under its guidance.

Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines– provides military support for the final denial of access to nuclear weapons submarines at Faslane and within the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Coulport.

Northern Diving Group – providing underwater and bomb disposal expertise across the FOSNNI area.

Queens Harbour Master.

Ministry of Defence Police/Guard Service – who patrol and secure Base sites and perimeters.

Babcock Naval Services – the Ministry of Defence’s industrial partner at HM Naval Base Clyde.

Maritime Operations Centre
1: Since opening in February 1996, following the closure of MHQ Pitreavie, the Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) as been home to FOSNNI’s Operations Department consisting of some 30 service and 2 civilian personnel. The MOC is manned 24 hrs per day by the FOSNNI Duty Controller and an assistant controller.

2: FOSNNI, as a Local Exercise Area Commander, is functionally responsible to CINCFLEET through COM (Ops) for activity in the Scottish Exercise Areas (SXAs). Responsibility for the day to day operation of these activities is delegated, through the Staff Operations Officer (SOO), to the specialist Staff Officers listed below. All surface, sub-surface and air activities within the SXAs are programmed from the MOC.

- DSOO - Departmental Deputy and submarine advisor to FOSNNI. Principal responsibilities are the production of the exercise programme, management of the Duty Controllers and MOC administration.

- Staff Officer (Surface and Air) - Responsible for the management and co-ordination of surface and air activity within the SXAs, with particular responsibility for the Cape Wrath Range.

Regards, Robert Carter


Wg Cdr


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Mark R
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Post by Mark R »

I don't have the low-down and specific details about all the folk named in that letter (good work on getting it, Mike) but I am willing to infer that between them, they have very significant firepower and plenty of free time to play with it. ahead.
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cape wrath

Post by raybaxter »

hi Zoe

Sean Morleys account of cape wrath is quite a read. Check his website. Also the guy who wrote Blazing Paddles (what's his name?) tells an interesting tale.

A few years ago I stood on the cliffs at cape wrath. The cliffs, swell and waves we're something else. Even at 1000 foot asl the waves looked awesome. In the right conditions it is looks like a fantastic paddle - even if very committing.

best wishes


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Post by meesh »


I did it! Back in May 1995 and it was fantastic! The weather was calm, so was the sea and we managed to paddle right through the arch...

It was part of a five day trip from Kinlochbervie to Smoo Cave.

Do it if you can!

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Post by thames kayak »

Hello Zoe

Phil Barry and I did the coast last year I am happy to give you as much info as I can, Its pretty straight forward and a fantastic piece of coast. I cant reply to your emails on this forum for some reason but get me on


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Post by CaileanMac »


What's with your new avatar - is it every air traffic controllers nightmare??

The trip around Cape Wrath is described in Doug Cooper & George Reid's Scottish Sea Kayaking Guidebook (Trip No. 35 or page 181-186) One of highlights of the trip seems to be Sandwood Bay. The bay is owned by the John Muir Trust. There's lot's of info on their website about Sandwood Bay and inspiring photos on the four pages (estate, environment, culture and management).

It's amazing whats' out there on the web about just one's down the UKSKGB harnessing the power of it's operatives/agents in hunting it down ;-)


Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam »

CaileanMac wrote:Zoe,

What's with your new avatar - is it every air traffic controllers nightmare??

Nope, just a trick of the telephoto lense. 2 A340's vertically separated- they just look close, but they're not really. There was a thing in the Daily Mail flapping about ATC last week, so I thought it was topical. Nice pic, too- and I figured someone might comment!

Thanks for all the info- very useful.

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