Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Galloway and Ailsa Craig

With four days off work, good weather and nothing planned, I set off in my trusty paddle waggon to see where I would end up. The Mull of Galloway looked enticing on the map, and for good measures, it was spring tides too.

I parked up at Sandhead in Luce Bay, threw a few bits and pieces in the boat and was under way in less than half an hour. Visibility was not that great...

...but the sea was lovely and calm.

As I approached the Mull, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I could hear a roaring noise from a long way off but couldn't see any frothy stuff.

I couldn't really see anything much. The GPS said I was shooting past at 20 km/hr so I guessed that I was actually in the race. It was a bit hard to tell it was so flat. Finally I found an eddy line and paddled in to the cliffs.

Loads of fantastic crinkly rocks. Just as I was thinking of moving on, I saw the flash of a paddle in the distance. As I got closer the blur resolved itself into two paddlers, and who should I bump into but Mark and Heather Rainsley. I think they were out paddling when they should have been working, but don't tell anyone! We made a very tentative plan to meet up on Ailsa Craig on Thursday and then went our own ways. In my case this was to camp at Port Logan.

Next morning I was up early and on my way, to see if I could get within striking distance of Ailsa Craig. The coastline was spectacular, loads of stripy, crinkly cliffs and plenty of birds nesting. I stopped for lunch at Port Patrick and then had a favorable tide speeding me on my way north.

I found a perfect camp spot in Lady Bay, just within Loch Ryan...

...where I could watch the ferries as I cooked my dinner.

Next day, I was up and packed early ready to set off for the 28km crossing to Ailsa Craig. Mark told me he'd be leaving Lendalfoot at 10, so I reckoned I'd leave Lady Bay at 8 and meet him there at 12. As I set off I could see the outline of Ailsa craig on the skyline but it wasn't to last. About 3km in, the mist appeared and I was on my own with just a compass course to follow. Finally about 10km from the rock, I could see it.
I arrived to find the island deserted. I thought I had been stood up. After no more than five minutes I saw paddles over the pebble bank and Mark and Heather appeared round the corner.

We explored the area around the buildings, had lunch and then set off for a circumnavigation before heading back to Lendalfoot. The cliffs on the far side of the island were spectacular, more so because every ledge had a nesting gannet in situ.

Finally, our time was up and we set off for Lendalfoot together. The crossing was soon over. Just having company made the paddling easier.

Here's a map of my route. Thanks are due to Mark and Heather for suggesting a trip to Ailsa Craig. I probably wouldn't have thought of it myself.

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