25th of April, 2010 – Paddle in Loch Long and Loch Goil

Three of us set off from Glenmallan on Loch Long, crossing first to the west side of the loch and hugging the coast from then on. We passed Finnart Oil terminal across the loch on our left and a small cottage (Mark’s cottage) on the shore beside us which has recently been taken on by the mountain bothies association.

Finnart is a large oil storage and pumping installation for fueling Grangemouth among other things and within the site there are a couple of grand buildings (quite out of place), one of which had lights on and is clearly used and the other all boarded up as are numerous other buildings in the vicinity – a bit sad they are just going unused. I wonder if the private company running the place maintains them at all?

Within an hour of paddling we had rounded the coast in to Loch Goil, passing a stretch of pine forest and a couple of nicely situated cottages before crossing over to Carrick Castle for our first lunch stop.

Back on to Loch Long following the western shores and staying well out the exclusion zone of the Coulport MOD base. A yacht passed much closer and within shouting distance of one of the police boats who seem to just hover about and take turns to gun up and down the loch – giving impressive swell in their wake. Maybe the yacht was within a suitable distance but another smaller motorboat seemed to be too close as it looked like it was escorted away.

We didn’t see any of the otters I had heard about but not long in to the trip, somebody spotted movement ahead which turned out to be the first of half a dozen or so porpoises we saw throughout the journey. They seemed to just surface for a few breaths before vanishing for a while and we had maybe four sightings in all.

Another lunch stop just across from Coulport, north of Ardentinny then we headed back, crossing over to Loch Long’s east coast once safely beyond Coulport. We passed under the piers of Finnart and were soon back at the cars and after a largely dry day it decided to rain quite heavily for us getting out and changed.

The forecast F3 winds never materialised and we paddled unhindered, largely on glassy water, in fact, it just got slightly rippled towards the end. Lots of atmosphere from the mist rising out the trees on the sides of the loch and obscuring anything along the coast beyond a couple of km. Despite the surprisingly noisy police boat engines which carry well, it was very tranquil with loads of birdsong and calls – lots of comical sounding eider dugs trying to pair up – I think there will be a few disappointed males among them as they were split 1:10 f:m!

All in, a nice and very relaxed paddle with added wildlife and industrial / military interest to add to the scenery.

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