4th of January, 2011 – Blackness Castle, Limekilns and Inchgarvie

A friend joined me on a paddle in the Forth, taking in Blackness Castle, Limekilns (just) and Inchgarvie following a clockwise loop starting and finishing beneath the Forth Bridge at South Queensferry.

Winds were as forecast (F4 from SW) and so we opted to paddle first to Blackness Castle with the relatively calmer conditions and a bit of shelter found on the south side of the Forth. Despite the winds, we were surprised to have paddled the 8km or so in just over an hour and a quarter but in doing so had earned a rest and snack and we clambered out beneath the bows of ‘the ship that never sailed’ and had a quick cuppa and some nibbles out of the wind and chatted about the view across the Forth towards the town of Limekilns.

Deciding that we were up to the challenge ahead and knowing that the winds, which would largely be behind us, would mean bigger waves as we progressed, we set off and made good progress across, remembering the ‘green cross code’ as we blasted through the shipping channel. A good amount of surfing was had thanks to the waves, and the wind helped with our speed too but despite this, I had to pause a couple of times to give my arms a rest from correcting direction where the odd wave knocked me off course.

A quick pause at Limekilns before deciding to continue onwards, now in the waves at their biggest and in some ways their most chaotic as the effects of shallows and clapotis off of the sea defenses along the way took their effect. Waves were now pretty much side on too, so there was a good few braces on this next stage to avoid a dunking in a cold and chocolate coloured Forth – not desirable.

We passed by Rosyth dockyard but were focused on the job at hand and didn’t see much of interest bar a couple of submarine towers rising above the sea wall.

With the wind largely behind us, we soon clocked up the remaining few kilometres to North Queensferry where of all things, we encountered icebergs! Well, not quite, it seems to have been chosen as the final destination of the last of the recent snows being cleared off the streets and dumped in the sea.

A quick stop to allow a ship to pass under ‘The Bridge’ and we were off to Inchgarvie which sits at the base of its middle section and is part of the foundation base for this section. Having passed this island umpteen times without landing, I was keen to do so finally, and despite the difficulties involved, we were soon landed and wandering about the tightly packed buildings and ruins that comprised some of the bridge’s war defenses. A quiet time with respect to birds but a fragrant place nonetheless!

A final short paddle back to start before a couple of rewarding pints, one of soup and one of beer.

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