Friday, 20 November 2015

Solway sojourn - a stone symbol and a smashing session

 We made good progress out of the River Dee and back out to Kircudbright Bay with the ebb tide behind us.  The morning's wind had died away and it was pleasantly warm on the water - especially so for mid-October.  Ahead lay Little Ross Island where we'd camped above the shore in line with the lighthouse the previous night.

 We called the Dundrennan Range safety boat, the "Gallovidian", to report our intentions on VHF and again got a very positive and pleasant response. Douglas had obtained the range schedule a couple of days prior to our trip and we knew that the range was active with military vehicles firing out to sea to the east of Little Ross.  During the morning and again in the afternoon we heard a variety of light and medium gunfire and what sounded to be a particularly impressive automatic heavy calibre weapon.

A pebble beach on the mainland side of The Sound gave us an opportunity to stop and stretch our legs as the the next section of our journey would be a couple of hours straight paddling.  It was now well into the afternoon and by no means certain that we'd reach our intended camp site before sunset.

We passed back along the outstanding line of cliff scenery between  Slack Heugh and Brighouse Bay with a gentle push from the wind.  To our disappointment we couldn't spend as long as we'd have liked on this section due to the time and the ebbing tide, of which we were acutely conscious - low water on the Solway can result in some very lengthy distances from the water to the top of the beach.

We certainly didn't rush along though - that's not our style unless absolutely necessary.  Keeping close inshore we enjoyed both the scenery and the very warm conditions, we paddled in short sleeved shirts and salopettes and even in this light kit we felt somewhat hot.

There were new angles that we'd not noticed on our outward journey too.....

...this mimetolith bears more than a passing resemblance to the Lion Rampant, heraldic symbol of Scotland - even the yellow background is present!

The noise of artillery fire from Dundrennan Range had faded away as we turned out of The Sound and into the shelter of the cliffs but as we cleared Brighouse Bay we looked over our shoulders......

 ...and wondered just what exactly they were firing back there!

 We indulged in a little more exploration of the caves and clefts on our way to Kirkandrews Bay, were we'd stopped at Castle Haven Dun on our outward journey.  We had noticed a good selection of dry driftwood and a broken pallet washed up above the tide line and set these aside to collect on the way back. 

We landed on soft sand in a narrow inlet, recovered our stash of wood and made use of a "Driftwood Reduction Kit" consisting of:

                                                  Area of flat rock x 1
                                                  Large boulder x 1
                                                  Folding pruning saw with good quality blade x 1 

The technique is relatively unsophisticated but quite effective.  Place the pallet on the flat rock and apply the boulder repeatedly from a working height.  Take the other driftwood pieces and reduce in like manner or by cutting into manageable pieces with the saw.  Place the resulting firewood into a couple of Indespensible Kayak Expedition Accessory bags and stow inside or secure on top of the boats.  Job done!

We were only ashore about 15 minutes, but even in that short time the tide had receded quite a distance.  It was time to head for our campsite by the quickest route......

........back out through the skerries into what was turning out to be a truly beautiful evening.


  1. Ian, your special images sooth and sort a distant paddler's sagging spirit and satisfy (at least temporarily) his soulful longings for similar Scottish sights and sounds. Smashing, indeed. ;) Salutations and warm wishes.

  2. Haha, Thanks Duncan!

    sagging spirit? Surely not...