Beautiful Plan B – Spring Bank Holiday

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2010-05-30

by Pete Bridgstock

It’s a bit of a juggling act, getting tides, weather and distance all working together for a trip. Tides and distance are the easy ones, but weather is always there to put a spanner in the works, no matter how thorough the planning, so I’s always worthwhile having an alternative or two up your sleeve…

The initial plan (let’s call it Plan A) was to set out from Largs, cross to Great Cumbrae, then over to the southern tip of Bute, on to Arran, finally heading to Skipness Point on the Kintyre Penninsula. Day two would see us cross to Cowal, then to Bute, stopping somewhere on the west coast towards the southern end. The last day would have seen us hopping back across to Largs.

The weather forecast was mixed, with no clear pattern, but winds were likely to freshen on the second day. After some deliberation, plan B evolved - leave out the crossing to Arran, and instead circumnavigate Bute. Not as challenging as a trip, losing some distance and some lengthy crossings, but less likely to see us stuck if the wind built as forecast.

Anyway, after a certain amount of faffing, boats were packed and we were on the water, heading from Largs Marina towards Great Cumbrae – now, this is supposed to be a busy shipping channel, with big ships entering and leaving the Clyde, and the odd nuclear submarine heading to Faslane, so with heads swivelling like Dales tourists we kept a watch to avoid getting run over. In the event, it was quite boring, as there was no traffic whatsoever. A bit disappointing really, I quite fancied trying to surf the bow wave of a sub. Onto Garroch Head at the southern tip of Bute. Lovely weather, no wind, sunny, flat sea, inquisitive seals, 'hmmmm, was the forecast right?' we could still get across to Arran. Anyway, lots of pootling saw us get to a campsite on Bute at about eight, with still plenty of warmth and daylight to camp and get a fire set.

On the water after breakfast, and we headed up to Loch Riddon at the north end of Bute. The weather was freshening, with a building wind – it looked like the forecast was right after all. Off south through Burnt Islands, and head down towards Rothesay. Here the wind was kicking up quite a chop, and we stopped off for a coffee at the old pier. After this stop we started looking for a campsite to the south of Rothesay, but as the wind had dropped completely, and it was flat calm and sunny, we decided to cross to Great Cumbrae, where we found a beautiful, if sandy, campsite on the back of the beach. Another late day off the water, but amply rewarded by the beautiful sunset as we ate dinner.

Next day, a stop off in Millport for a coffee and buns, before heading back to Largs.

A memorable trip.

Thanks Wendy, Ellie, John, Anna, Kay and Ann

Pete Bridgstock

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