Mike Buckley's illustrated report from the 2005 SCA Solway trip near Gatehouse of Fleet

SCA Solway Trip - 2005

Mike Buckley

 

Anwoth campsite, Gatehouse of Fleet - 01557-814333

Having got the tents up, some of us explored the various watering holes in Gatehouse, eventually settling on the Masonic Arms near the top of the town where the surroundings proved convivial, the (local) beer excellent and the food superb!

Saturday morning saw Les, Kathy, Kate, Karen and me taking a short drive down to the beach at Carrick and launching onto a calm, blue sea. Well protected with sunscreen, we enjoyed a gentle run out round the Murrays and then headed SW to land on a gentle pebble beach on Barlocco for the coffee stop. Enlivened by your editor falling in the water (in the best traditions of the Goons) while getting out of the boat, this coffee stop turned into a leisurely break, as these things do - our excuse was wanting to wait for the tide of course, but in reality we were being seduced by the sun. It was a glorious day.

Click to link to Multimap

The immediate area

Heading out from Carrick

Eventually we return to the water and push down the coast in the general direction of Brighouse Bay, this being the intended turn point.

Kate and Les.

Sun, sea, a clear sky and convivial company - could you want more?

This is a pretty coast, as you pass down the cliffs there are lots of places to "rock-hop", little stacks to explore and caves to stick the bow of the boat into - the rock is mainly sandstone, twisted and contorted into some wonderful shapes and there's plenty to see and enjoy, especially on a sunny day. Clark Fenton (Sesmicscot on the Forum) tells me that it "is predominantly Silurian-age (444 to 428 million years old) Greywacke (sandstone deposited in deep water by turbidity currents)". It has certainly been subjected to some interesting land movement, given that much of what would have originally been a horizontal plane is now vertical, and in some cases formed into a U shape.

A wee sea cave to enjoy.

- and tight channels to thread the boat thro.

Another cave - something for the troglodyte and the geologist.

A leisurely lunch stop.

This section includes a leisurely lunch stop (these "A" grade trips can be sooo relaxing), and then we progress into Brighouse Bay where we play a little with towing systems and turn the boats to head homeward. The wind has picked up a bit, and with the outgoing tide, the sea conditions chop up quite a bit, making it a bumpy ride back towards the shelter of the Murrays.

Karen, in "Fingal", passing the end of Barlocco.

We decide not to seek out the "castle" - it's there, and it's hard to find! But it is worth the effort! Maybe next year? - and so fight our way against the increasing wind and back onto the beach at Carrick. Be warned, the tide goes out a long way here and we carry, lug and trolley the boats back up to the cars and thus return to the site and the pleasures of dinner in the Masonic Arms again.

I'm partial to scallops, and can recommend the Solway Scallops served there; not to mention the pheasant and venison bangers, the local lamb, the excellent fish, chips and mushy peas or the sea bass!

Sunday dawned with a real change in the weather so the original plan which had involved leaving from Brighouse Bay and running down to Little Ross Island and back was scrubbed in favour of what we hoped would be more sheltered conditions. Although we launched off the beach at Moss Yard with the intention of exploring the NE coast where there are more caves and some good beaches, the sea conditions were really outside the parameters of an "A" grade trip so the trip was cancelled once we'd got round the first headland and had the chance to land at the slip for the big caravan park there.

Returning to Moss Yard for lunch, the rest of the afternoon was spent playing in the surf and practicing rescues and towing. Overall a good trip and thanks to all those who came, some traveling from Newcastle, Edinburgh and Carlisle to enjoy it. The trip will run again in 2006 - watch the SCA web site for the dates.

This is a pretty coast, and worth visiting and exploring. A proper, extended trip with wild camping would be easy to arrange and there are plenty of possible camping spots, all wth ample driftwood but generally without a water supply. Were you to plan on passing the firing range at Dundrennan it would be prudent to check with MoD first unless you want to be a moving target, as they fire into the sea! I've not paddled that particular stretch of coast, although I have done the next section down the Balcary Heughs (cliffs) out of Rockcliffe a number of times and it's a very pleasant day out.

There is also lots to do for non-paddling partners / children - visit the local Tourist resources for ideas. This area also featured heavily in the 1973 cult movie the Wicker Man and although it's an old movie, there is now a Wicker Man Festival every year.

~ ~ ~

(Les and I had paddled the Brighouse Bay to Little Ross Island route the previous weekend - lovely scenery and great cliffs but with any form of wind and tide running the coast chops up badly. And it did when we were there. Here are some of the pics from the outward leg of that trip - there aren't any of the return!!)

Les amongst the rocks.

Geology!

Coming into Little Ross Island - an interesting and worthwhile little tide race forms here between the island and the mainland. The lighthouse is now a holiday home.

View towards the firing range at Dundrennan, from Little Ross.

More geology on the Dundrennan coast - the white tower is on the MoD range.

Looking back to Little Ross.

Isle of Man just visible on the horizon to the left of Little Ross.

Mike Buckley - 2005