Calm in the Clyde

The last few days have seen us explore the relatively sheltered waters of the Clyde, in some fine weather. When the waters west and north of the Mull of Kintyre can be rough and tidally constrained, the Clyde, benefiting from the Mull and the various mainland peninsulas, is often calm by comparison. In recent years marinas and buoys have proliferated, which has made life easier in some respects, but there are still many places where you can get away from it all and anchor. Compared to the waters of southern England, there are far fewer yachts.

Sue and I were joined by Johnny and Lucy, and together we set off from Ardrossan and anchored for the night off the island of Little Cumbrae by its castle. After a calm night, not far from a seal colony, we headed over its sister island Great Cumbrae and moored at Millport for a stroll around the island.

On top of Great Cumbrae

After a cup of tea with the crew of another Squadron yacht we headed up East Kyle, one of the passages around the Isle of Bute. We passed through the very beautiful Burnt Islands before anchoring in behind Eilean Dubh, in Caladh Harbour.

Coming into Caladh Harbour
Not a bad place to wake up. Despite a water temperature of around 14 degrees, one of the crew swam…

The next morning the girls went for a walk, and Johnny and I sailed down West Kyle and joined them in the purpose-built Portavadie, where we had a celebratory birthday lunch for Sue.

We then decided to head up Loch Fyne, one of the typically long sea lochs which stretch right up into the mainland. Passing through the Narrows, we continued on and found a settled anchorage in Loch Gair for the night.

Our aim the next day was to get to Inveraray, near the head of the loch. Its well-known castle is the seat of the Duke of Argyll – the current incumbent is the 13th – and it made an excellent visit after we had strolled past and taken in the views from the surrounding hills.

Overlooking Inveraray, its castle and Loch Fyne beyond
Nice symmetrical proportions, if you like that sort of thing
This dining room featured in an episode of Downton Abbey, when the family headed to Scotland for Christmas
The Duke of Argyll’s armoury
The gardens are pretty impressive too

We then tried to anchor at the head of the loch, but finding the depths and holding uncertain, went back to one of the buoys off Inveraray for the night.

Having had northerly winds up to now, our passage back south meant we could deploy the cruising chute, and while the speeds weren’t great, the weather was fine and we enjoyed a gentle sail down the loch to East Loch Tarbert.

Cruising Chute deployed
The crew taking it easy. The upturned dinghy makes a most comfortable mattress, and the black retains the warmth

East Loch Tarbert is a beautiful sheltered port, where a new marina jostles alongside the fishing port, shops and restaurants surround, and hills and islands provide the required shelter.

East Loch Tarbert, viewed from Tarbert castle above
I have always enjoyed places where yachts and fishing boats live alongside each other. The seafood is usually very good too – the place to go here is called ‘Starfish’, although it was sadly shut the day we were there

The crew enjoyed the facilities and we filled up our water tanks before heading out and down the loch and around to Brodick, where we picked up a buoy and went for a long walk down to the point at which Lamlash and Holy Isle were visible.

Looking across to Holy Isle
Looking back over towards Goat Fell. It is the time of year where Rosebay Willowherb abounds
Beach flora

That evening we were taken out by Johnny and Lucy to the Brodick Brasserie, which was excellent. Thank you both!

I had been to Holy Isle a fortnight ago with Crispin, but hadn’t had time to climb up to the top. We took the opportunity the next day, in fine weather, and having anchored by the shore much enjoyed the climb and consequent views.

Prayer flags at the foot of the Isle…
…and at the summit
Those heading to the retreat gain inspiration by walking by several of these figures

Our final evening was back at Brodick, in calm conditions and warm sunshine. It’s a delightful spot, dominated by Goat Fell above.

Apéro time

Our final sail back to Ardrossan saw the wind climb to a heady 14 knots, and we enjoyed a good sail back. It was a great week of exploring, and we were blessed with the weather. We sailed each day, despite the calm conditions. We could have spent all summer there though, as there are may places to explore. I’ll be back. Thank you Johnny and Lucy for being such great crew!

The passage south begins in a few days, and I hope to be back on the south coast by the end of August. Crew who have sailed with me recently will be pleased to hear that Spellbinder now has a new autopilot and wind instrumentation, and all is working fine!

2 thoughts on “Calm in the Clyde

  1. Julian Hickman

    What a wonderful insight into a beautiful area of Scotland – thank you. We have always overlooked it, inevitably heading further north instead for the Highlands or Western Isles. Next time we will have to pause, turn left and explore.

    Liked by 1 person

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