Archive for Inchkeith

Early Morning on the Forth

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags on April 17, 2014 by Jinja Coo

The forecast was good and when heading to bed the night before a full moon and stars were shining brightly, suggesting good things to come. Just a few hours later, two of us were meeting up, with that same moon an hour or so from setting and signs of daybreak hinted at in the sky to the east. It was early, very early, but this would allow us to squeeze in a paddle before work.


We launched and made a direct route out to the island of Inchkeith, covering the crossing in about an hour and a half. Signs of the sun rising behind Inchkeith drew us along and behind us the moon was setting and changing colour too – though less to do with the lunar eclipse taking place than the thin cloud it was passing behind I think.



Whilst still some distance away from Inchkeith, the sounds of the many birds could increasingly be heard, and we had occasional fly pasts from curious fulmars casting a beady eye over us. Only up close did the familiar smells associated with these residents add another sensory experience. Seals too in evidence, huddled closely together, awaiting the warmth of day on a rocky beach.



We rounded the island to get the best of the sun rising before stopping at the harbour for a quick breakfast. Being on the shaded side now, we cooled off quickly whilst watching Edinburgh’s distant buildings (windows especially) catching the light.





It didn’t take long to warm up once we were on our way again and already the sun was adding its own warmth to the air around us.

The tide had been ebbing all the time we were on the water which meant now we had a bit of a flow against us, hard work, but we made it back to the city, now very much awake. The morning rush hour would be quite a contrast to our slow, tranquil journey.


What better way to start a Spring day?


2nd of July, 2011 – Inchkeith at Dawn

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

Three of us set off from just behind the Granton gas works as planned at 5:30. We followed a direct line to Inckeith with the sun in our eyes, dazzling to begin with but soon it was obscured nicely by some cloud. This soon burned off giving us back a nice clear, blue sky.

Sun rising behind Inchkeith

Part way towards Inchkeith

Edinburgh at dawn

Almost at Inchkeith

In an hour we landed at the island’s harbour and had breakfast before wandering up to the lighthouse much to the disapproval of the seagulls who squawked continuously, dive bombed us and unleashed chemical weapons with varying levels of success.

Swooping birdies

Departing, we headed anti-clockwise round the island but were delayed along the way as we enjoyed the company of some very curious seals. One youngster in particular was obviously fighting the urge to get ever closer. For a brief spell I think we were both enjoying the unusual company.

Young, curious seal at Inchkeith

Raft of puffins at Inchkeith

Thoughts of paddling over to Fife were ditched as time was indeed rolling on and there is no point in a dawn paddle if you can’t be back for breakfast. We headed to Leith Docks and followed the coast back to Granton passing an early sun-bathing paddler out on his sit-on-top. Not a bad idea as just a few early hours on the water had tanned my arms a surprising amount.

Heading back to Edinburgh

Back to Granton, a good launch spot for low water, just after 10am.

Entrance to Granton Harbour

A new toy was tried out for the first time, a GPS tracking watch which can record the path taken over time. Though more for running training, this will be great for getting an accurate distance and record of jaunts out on the water too, the path followed on this particular paddle can be see here.

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.

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.

18th of April, 2010 – Paddle to Inckeith

Posted in Kayak, Paddling, Sea Kayak with tags , on April 18, 2010 by Jinja Coo

A paddle out to Inchkeith Island, my second visit but the first where I have spent any time exploring the island and five of us having paddled out spent almost two hours wandering from one building to another over land and even under some! There is a bit of a shabby feel to the place in a way with lots of scrap lying about and varying degrees of degradation to the remaining buildings on the island but it doesn’t entirely spoil the experience of visiting.

First difficulty of the day was getting across Portobello’s promenade to the beach where we launched from as a half marathon was underway and after this novelty, the difficulties continued, launching in to surf and then paddling there and back with a stiff breeze and large swell hitting us side on.

The birds are moving in for the season and soon it will be difficult to explore much of the island as it will be covered in nests as it was when I last visited in July.