Archive for Inchgarvie

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.


30th to 31st of July, 2010 – Inching

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags , , , , , on July 31, 2010 by Jinja Coo

For a while I have wondered about paddling the four Inches of the Firth of Forth (Inchcolm, Inchgarvie, Inchmickery and Inchkeith) in one go and after looking closely at the distances involved on the map and deciding it was possible, I started to think it may be more interesting to split it over two days with a camp or bivvy out and enjoy some of the west bound paddling in to sunset followed by some of the east bound paddling in to sunrise the following day.

After floating the idea to others, plans were made and eight of us gathered at Aberdour where we would start and finish.

First off, the short hop over to Inchcolm with easy paddling along the way. On arrival we joked about whether a landing was required, just a passing touch or even a walk up to the highest point for us to count each of the islands we wanted to cover during the whole trip. In the end I settled for touch, some got out for a pee break at the handy toilets and others stayed afloat offshore.

Almost immediately on leaving to continue west, we were held back by the ebbing tide in part, but more so by the early arrival of forecast winds. We struggled against this double whammy, making slow progress up to North Queensferry where we gathered and discussed plans for crossing under the Forth Rail Bridge to Inchgarvie. By now it was getting dark and that, together with the faster current of the narrows under the bridge, and the wind’s effect on us and its howling through the girders above, made for an exciting crossing. The general lumpiness and swift moving water resulted in there being no discussion about going close enough to land / touch the island.

The moon rose above some cloud in the east and shone a path in the direction of our final destination for the night. By now, tiredness and hunger from the upstream battle and proper darkness had us keen to get east to Crammond Island and off the water as soon as possible. However, it wasn’t as quick a journey as it might have been as the receding tide had us falling foul of the sand bars that lie far out from the high tide line. After a few hassles of getting stuck and separated before re-grouping, we eventually arrived on Crammond Island to a muddy and long walk up the beach to close to where we would camp for the evening. Character building stuff!

Tents up, nibbles, some chat and eventually bed for a very comfortable and solid … four hours or so of sleep before up, breakfasted and ready to be back on water by 7am.

From Crammond, we headed out to our third Inch, Inchmickery and again no contact, just a brief pause before taking advantage of the current and following wind to blast our way down to Inchkeith, 9km in just over an hour with a good bit of surfing on the waves en route.

We stopped briefly for a second breakfast on Inchkeith (still only 9am) before paddling round it then over to the Fife coast knowing the final leg of hard work was yet to come, the struggle west against tide and wind again up to Aberdour. It wasn’t the final struggle, we had a final lengthy, muddy carry of gear and boats up to the cars.

All in a great trip but not surprisingly hard work with the winds we were dealt. I wonder if it is worth doing again but all in a single day and with more time on each island – of the four Inches, I’ve still to stand on Inchgarvie.