Trip ideas for Bute/Cumbrae/Largs area??

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Gavin74
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Trip ideas for Bute/Cumbrae/Largs area??

Post by Gavin74 » Tue Aug 17, 2004 9:51 am

Does anyone have any advice/information on what I can expect paddling in the bute area.

I'm fairly new to sea kayaking, this being my first season with my own sea boat! So far we've
spent most of our weekends exploring waters we're familiar with (trips to the Tudwals, Rhoscolyn, Morfa Nefyn, etc).

Now I'm interested in organising a trip in the Bute/Largs/Cumbrae area. The whole of Bute seems perfect for paddling, but especially the north tip (Burnt Islands) and the south west coast and tip.......st Ninians bay/Scalpsie bay down to Garroch head and around into Kilchattan bay. Also the Cumbrae Islands look pretty interesting.

However, when it comes to going further a field I'm a bit cautious, before I start buying charts etc for the Largs area I'm trying to figure out if this area offers the "early intermediate" enough easy uncomplicated paddling (no strong tidal races/overfalls etc).

As with all things, the weather makes the biggest difference as to whether it is suitable or not. But if any one has ideas for straight forward day or multi day paddles in this area that would be appreciated, also any advice on tide strength, areas to avoid etc would gratefully received. Any advice would be great and would hopefully mean I don't waste money on charts for an area out of my league!

Thanks

Gavin

ps We're not total muppets so no need to call the cost guard, we have the right safety gear, had some coaching at ASSC and have spent the last 4 months paddling/scaring ourselves in North Wales. Thanks to those who manage this site, its full of useful bits and bobs for those new to the sport.

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Tue Aug 17, 2004 3:09 pm

Hi Gavin - welcome - the Largs/Bute/Cumbrae area is a really good choice to expand your paddlign horizons!

I wouldnt worry too much about buying charts, the OS map (63 Firth of Clyde) is perfectly adequate for the area for all general paddling. The tidal flows aren't generally a problem with the possible exception of the ebb (south going) in the Fairlie Roads which can require a little energetic paddling to avoid ending up in the pier and/or any moored ship!

On the flood it can get a little bumpy round the south facing headlands, especially if its a bit windy as well. Farland Point on Gt Cumbrae can be surprisingly nasty and Garroch Head to Glencallum Bay can be testing.

No overfalls to worry about. Tides, even at the top of the Kyle are worth taking into account, more from the benefit of a free lift than a significant hinderance.

No significant hazards really apart from the big ships passing up the Clyde who can't avoid you and the various gin palaces coming out of Largs who wont avoid you, assuming they even bother to look that is! Beware.

As for trips, there are numerous day-trip possibilites - the marina at Largs is a good put-in and we've left cars there for several days. Good start for day trips round Gt Cumbrae - Portencross is a handy launch for Little Cumbrae and the return past the outflow at Hunterston Nuclear Station is interesting! If you do launch at Portencross (in the wee bay by the castle) please dont block the access and leave cars in the car park.

The run round Bute is lovely - some good camp spots on the west side. Etterick Bay has a good coffee shop and if you manage to get that far in a day from Largs I guess you could camp in the dunes. We didnt but we did stop there for breakfast.

Further North is pretty (you need 62 to show the East coast of the peninsular) and takes you past Tighnabruaich and as you've spotted, the area around the Burnt Islands is nice.

Good pub/hotel at Colintraive. Coming down the Kyles of Bute back to the mainland I found to be one of the most boring, dull slogs I've done though. You might see the Waverley if you're lucky, otherwise it was unremittingly dull.

The crossing from Ascog Point back to Largs was even duller! If you are going to do that, be aware that it can be bouncy in the channel and I have to say I wouldnt want to do it if it was poor visibility owing to the shipping and fast gin palaces.

Probably better to come down the coast a bit before crossing to Gt Cumbrae and back to Largs. Dont know what camping there is on East Bute

Loch Striven is said to be a nice paddle as well. The other sea lochs to the North offer pretty paddling. If you've come all that way and the weather lets you down, then comeup to Loch Lomond where you'll get a couple of days of quasi-sea paddling with a bit more shelter.

Enjoy - send a trip report in if you like - it would be good to have a write-up of the area.

Mike.

RichardCree

the clyde

Post by RichardCree » Wed Aug 18, 2004 9:58 am

Hi Gavin,

the area lots of fairly good beginer / intermediate type paddling. you can camp at the castle on the Wee Cumbrie theres a small charge but you can have a bath (in warm water) there are a couple of places on the big Cumbrie that you could camp, although the island is very touristy and you are never far from the road, for scenery and wildlife the Wee Cumbrie is a better bet.

not alot to worry about regarding tides. as mike above said better to sort it out and have an easy trip rather than a slog.

ther are a few semi organised trips on Bute from a static base on the 3, 4, and 5th September. you would be more than welcome to join with.

let me know when your coming and i could join you for a day

cheers Richard

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Jim
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Round trip

Post by Jim » Wed Aug 18, 2004 7:30 pm

I did Bute in about 2 days a couple of months ago.

We launched on a friday afternoon out of Fairlie, southernmost picnic site on the OS map, close to the shoreward end of Hunterston Pier. Highish tide is a good idea for the launch because it's a long way to the sea otherwise!

Crossed to Gt Cumbrae, round into Millport bay, then directly accross to Bute. It was a bit windy so we expected to be blown up into Kilchattan bay but checking transits i realised we were on a good course for Garrioch head, so we just went round. A bit choppy because of the strong southerly but OK. Camped in the first bay, not amazing and sharing with cows but it was OK.

We couldn't really go much further as we had relative novices and crappy weather, Scalpsie or one of the other bays look much nicer.

Saturday we cruised with the southerlies up to Tighnabruaich, stopping before then for lunch on a stony beach. Stopped opposite Tighnabruaich for a break and were plagued by the wash from gin palaces - at one point the RIB from the sailing school had to head off some other powerboats cutting through the group at high speed! Cruised on round to the burnt isles considering stopping to camp there (it's lovely). Ultimately I had to go to work on the Monday and wanted to get a few more miles in in case of bad weather - I wanted to separate but hte whole group came along in the end! We continued down to the end of the East Kyle and camped up just north and around a headland from port Bannatyne - not a great spot, in fact it was awful! Few could have coped with any more miles and we would have had to go below Rothesay to find anywhere else to camp.

Sunday we cruised accross the bays and Ferry route and landed briefly on the South side of Rothesay to regroup. Then round to the pier for Mount Stuart where the beach becomes sandy for lunch. By now we actually had good weather. Crossing from lunch to the N end of Gt Cumbrae was uneventful - we spread out, most not wanting to hang around in the channel but could see right accross and there was no shipping. After regrouping at Gt Cumbrae and watching the powerboat racing we rounded the Cumbrae and headed down the east shore for a bit until we were happy that the powerboats weren't going to come up behind us crossing to Fairlie (they were using Largs marina as a base but racing north of Largs - another race more recently apparantly involved racing around the Cumbrae which would have made using it as a staging point impossible!).
We landed around midday Sunday so did it in 48 hours - it would be a bit of a push to try and do it in 2 days, BUT, I understand there is an annual SCA paddle where people start and finish in Rothesay the same day (think about it, light boats!).

If you are going to get ferries, don't put your vehicles on, walk the boats on by hand - much cheaper! If you are going to Gt Cumbrae (it's barely 1/2 days circumnavigation) definitely don't get the ferry there, but if stuck or tired get the ferry back - it's the only way on or off the island so they assume you bought a ticket to get there (they collect the tickets in on the way out which apparantly concerns people not used to the idea of not needing it to come back!).

Have only been to Portencross once - it would have been my preferred launch site over Fairlie, but obviously would have added more miles to our trip which became a medium-long distance affair anyway with my hurry :)

Tides aren't going to cause you any problems, like Mike says though, it's worth calculating to get a lift - I was assured that at only 1/2 knot it wasn't worth worrying about but 1/2 knot with you is 1 knot faster than 1/2 knot against you and that's a big bonus if paddling all day! I couldn't argue with the navigators :D

I'm told there is a kayak club meet at largs marina every week, so there must be launching there (I believe the car park is outside the marina and may be free?), otherwise it's not an ideal bit of coast for a launch. I have a friend in Largs and if push came to shove I could launch from his garden or the adjacent road end - couldn't do it on the weekend in question as the powerboats were racing past it! He says people do occasionally launch from the road end for evening paddles.

Other stuff in the area? I have a friend who paddles out to Lady island off Troon sometimes in the evenings - can't be particularly far! Douglas has put loads of trip reports up slightly further south again, round the heads of Ayr and stuff. Further north up the forth doesn't appeal to me as I've seen it all from ships on sea trials, but exploring any of the Lochs that branch northwards from the firth can be rewarding (let the police know if you are going up the Gareloch) and the trip to the sugar boat opposite Greenock is supposed to be a bit interesting too. Arran is another possibilty, not too far from Bute. You could get the ferry from Ardrossan, or if you have plenty of time cross either direct or via a stop on Bute first. Ailsa Craig is a way down the Firth and a challenging paddle which I keep getting told I must do, but then never being told the dates for - one day maybe :)

JIM

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:38 pm

Re launching at Largs - as you come into the marina, there is a car-park on the right from where you can easily launch from the (public??) slip - right to the water, even at low tide.

When we did our Bute paddle (2 days) we launched there but left cars in the marina car-park - just a bit further in to the complex. There seems to be two parking areas, one is private (for members I guess) and is secure - the other is public but a bit less public that the first one as you come in.

Good coffee shop and chandlers there too.

Mike.

Gavin74
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Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2004 9:47 am

Thanks

Post by Gavin74 » Thu Aug 19, 2004 5:53 pm

Thanks to everyone who took the time to offer advice, its given me plenty of material to use for planning a few days in Scotland.....there's too many options and not enough holidays!

I just hope the weather improves quickly.

Cheers

Gavin

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Thu Aug 19, 2004 6:34 pm

Well, the weather for the w/end is looking good.

Mind you, it is Scotland - if you dont like the weather, wait 5 mins and it'll change!

Mike.

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