Archive for Firth of Forth

Early Morning on the Forth

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags , , on April 13, 2016 by Jinja Coo

A quick morning paddle before work, passing Inchkeith and with a breakfast stop on Inchcolm. Not quite early enough to catch the full changing light of dawn, but lovely to start off a week with sun rising over the Firth of Forth.

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

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags , , on January 4, 2011 by Jinja Coo

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.

2nd of January, 2011 – Newhaven to Inchkeith

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags , on January 2, 2011 by Jinja Coo

Three of us decided to begin 2011’s paddling with a jaunt out to Inchkeith from Newhaven Harbour.

A pleasant enough paddle over and back and a good hour or so exploring some of the remaining structures on the island left over from the Forth’s war defenses.

We had a slight detour on our way back to get a look at an even older war defense. However, this was a bit disappointing as we could not see much from the water of Leith’s Martello Tower and a landing wasn’t going to be easy, nor would it have been allowed as the tower now sits within the restricted area of Leith Docks. A shame, as from what I can gather online, there is no way of seeing this tower up close.

More info on Martello Towers available here.

28th of December, 2010 – North Berwick to Dunbar

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags on December 28, 2010 by Jinja Coo

Almost certainly the last paddle for me of the year which brings the total (days and half days) to about thirty sea kayak days this past year. Unusually for a sea kayak paddle, so far at least for the ones I have undertaken, this one involved a car shuttle as we were not returning to our starting point and like all good shuttles, it added a bit of complication and an unexpected amount of time to the proceedings.

Finally on the water shortly before twelve, ten of us set off from Milsey Bay, North Berwick with Dunbar as our destination and a certain amount of commitment in that goal with just about all the cars now at that end. A calm, dry, but dull day to begin with, but sky brightened somewhat relatively quickly. We had some gentle swell and surf to begin with which gave most of us a refreshing exit from the beach and this started to build as we rounded the coast from north facing to north east facing shores.

One of our party had to pull in early at Canty Bay and call for a lift and so it made sense to stop as a group for lunch here at the same time – a new stopping spot for most of us and a new land-based perspective on Bass Rock too.

The remaining nine of us continued on, deciding against a suggested deviation out to Bass Rock and passing surprisingly iced up cliffs under Tantallon Castle, Seacliff Beach and on to St Baldred’s Boat where the line of the coast changes direction and where we started to feel, see and hear the effects of the swell a bit more dramatically. Nothing too taxing to paddle in but the breaking waves on the shore to our right were not a place to be landing so it was onwards (or back) for sure now. Keeping a safe distance out from the reefs that dominate this stretch of coastline, we chatted our way down towards Belhaven Bay and then finally across to Dunbar with darkness encroaching as we finally entered the harbour slightly after 4pm.

Nice to have completed a new stretch of the Forth coast for me which the last two thirds of the day’s route were but slightly frustrating we could not venture further in to shore for a closer look at the rocks and dunes along the way.

12th of December, 2010 – Paddling 20 Metres Below Seal Level

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags , on December 12, 2010 by Jinja Coo

This morning six of us set off bright (actually, dark) and early from Anstruther Harbour with the aim of getting out to the Isle of May experiencing the sunrise en-route and hopefully being able to land and explore, all going well.

Leaving the harbour, a brilliant protected and convenient road-side launch site just slightly after 7am under a partially cloudy but otherwise starry sky, we headed directly for the obvious target of the Isle of May, visible itself in silhouette against the brightening sky beyond. The lighthouse was a focus anyway even if it had been darker.

Even though we had called in our trip plan with the coastguard by phone before launching, as requested, once on the water I called in again on the radio and I was surprised that they didn’t switch to a channel other than 16 for our conversation, I wonder if it just is quiet enough at that time that they were okay using 16 or instead, if it was a way for them to have all the fishing boats moving about in the area made aware of our presence on the water.

A quicker than expected passage out to the Isle followed with sky brightening but cloud building along the way had me think that the sunrise was going to be a non-event but about two thirds of the way out we did indeed get treated to pretty scene ahead with the sun breaking through the cloud on the horizon. Surprisingly, rather than the expected swell from the north, it was coming more from the east and with that we enjoyed the shelter provided by the island as we explored the nooks and crannies on the west coast including an arch and tunnel or two before rounding the SE tip back in to the swell and with that a realisation that a landing there was not going to happen. No matter, we had seen other options on the west side so continued on a circumnavigation to a small, rocky bay close to the NW.

Along the way we saw many seals with their pups and avoided disturbing them as best we could so we were quite pleased to land at our chosen bay with apparently no seals present. Soon though we discovered one lonesome pup at the back, high above us showing some surprise at our arrival. Scaling the slippy rocks to avoid approaching it we soon discovered other pups and some parents don’t restrict themselves to the coastal parts of the island but venture along the paths and up to some really surprising spots. I had assumed climbing was not allowed on the Isle but if that is the case, nobody has told the budding alpinists among the elite climbing seal pup community.

After perhaps an hour ashore lunching and then exploring, we set off back to Anstruther, under a stunning blue, cloudless sky towards Scotland’s best fish and chips at Anstruther which we could smell from a few hundred metres out to sea.

All in a really good day and not too cold for the time of the year, especially after the recent arctic temperatures suffered by the East of Scotland.