6 Sep 2011

Day trip on Loch Long - (Missing the 'Royal Wedding') 29-4-11

WELL, it was either stay in and watch the 'Royal Wedding', or, make one's apologies and beat it out for a paddle on a gorgeous day.
I had thought of launching from where I used to go diving at Finnart Pier, just north of Garelochhead, however, on arrival there I found that there was now a notice up at the ramp to the water just past the car park at the gas tanks and pier -  'No launching - Private Property' - and the path down from the car park we used when diving was in bits, so I couldn't really lift the 25kg 'Capella' down over the very loose rocks.
So, it was a wee drive south to find a suitable launch site.
'Coulport Naval Base must have a wee slip?' I thought to myself.
But, obviously as a 'Naval Base' there wouldn't be too many easy access points.
However, from the gate of the base I could see a nice easy wee beach area next to the road a couple of hundred yards down the road.
So, after a wee portage over a field with, firstly the boat then the kit, it was launch time from a place called Peaton Layo, with a view to paddle up Loch Long for a bit of sight seeing.
A wee trundle past the Naval base and a couple of beaches across the loch caught my eye, so I headed off towards Ardentinny.

Launching from Peaton Layo with Coulport Naval Base just on right hand side of photo and Ardentinny to left on opposite side of Loch Long as Creachan Mor rises 657m above the loch on the right.

 Now on west side of Loch Long where a few sandy beaches were inviting

A small derelict pier north of Ardentinny was quite appealing.
A small derelict pier north of Ardentinny was quite appealing. 

Eventually the invitation of the beach at 'Shepherd's Point' was taken up for a lunch stop

Eventually the invitation of the beach at 'Shepherd's Point' was taken up for a lunch stop. Coulport Naval Base across Loch Long with the hard hull Police security boat shining across the water.

 The loch-side path to/ from Shepherd's Point picnic area.

Lunch stop/ Glenfiddoch stop more like, but it was a lovely spot to stop at with cracking views down the loch.

As the day wore on and I hadn't moved, the wind picked up and waves grew, so I decided to hit the road back across the loch and home.
However, as I did set off the waves grew higher and the wind blew harder maybe F3 with F4 gusts so I headed straight across the loch which unfortunately saw me head straight into Coulport Naval Base waters...
So, I turned to skirt the coast to head back to the car, BUT, as I was half way out the base waters, I could hear a distinct RIB engine headinf my way behind me.
I said to myself 'if the engine slows, it's the POLIS..' and yes, the engine slowed and I turned to see a big black RIB with the key word 'POLICE' written on the side of the boat as two burly chaps dressed in black and flak jackets carrying sub-machine guns closed in on me quickly.
But, before I could say... 'this is just like being stopped by the traffic polis, one shouted 'Haw, do you know where you are?'.. I thought if I plead ignorance and say 'Naw, I don't..' I would appear ignorant of what I was doing, so I I had to admit, 'Yes, I know where I am as I was just hiding from the wind and waves as I crossed the loch..'
'That's no excuse, this is Navy property and you shouldn't be here.'
I apologised profusely and smiled a lot and told them where I was, where I was going and where I lived.
I pointed out my car a kilometre down the coast and gave reg number.
They explained that if I was caught in the base' waters again there would be serious consequences for me, I told them 'they wouldn't CATCH me here again,' and I paddled off.
Just before I got back to my car a Police car had left the base, gone to my car and stopped, presumably to take notes of the car and drove back into the base.
The main hard hull Police boat moved into view and sat in place as I paddled back to my car's beach and didn't move til I drove away.
This was the Friday before reports of Osama Bin Laden was shot on the Sunday.. so, I am sure I would have been 'lifted' if it had been after the shooting incident.
A great wee day out and a short paddle with fab views of the Loch Long mountains.

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