Last night Geoff and I found ourselves a bivvy spot beside the tee for the 5th at Port Arthur golf club near Montreith. It was a perfect spot to launch our crossing to the Mull of Galloway. Only challenge is that it is best to go with the ebb tide (after high water) and the next day that wasn’t due until 12.30 lunch time. Around the time that the Met Office was forecasting strong variable winds.
However the advantage of it being summer and so far north is that it is light much earlier and so, (can’t quite believe we did this voluntarily) we were up at 2am, packed up and were on the water at 3am to catch the last three hours of the ebb tide. Aside from a few clouds, it was a perfect moonlit night.
The strong streams that flow through the Solway Firth carried us west at around 5kn. Around 20% faster than without stream. That’s the kind of efficient paddling we like. Although there was a head wind, it wasn’t as strong as it might have been.
By 6.15am we landed in Drunmore, made a cuppa and tried to catch up on some sleep whilst we waited for high water and the next ebbing stream.
We were back in the boats just before high water and used the eddy streams to make our way down towards the Mull of Galloway. Just about everyone we talked to over the last few days about this stage of our journey took a sharp intake of breath and then questioned our sanity. We’ve gotten used to some of these reactions at other stages like Lizard Point, Cape Cornwall, Ramsey Sound and the Menai Straits – all of which were more fun than scary. The thing is that kayaks are better suited to rough confused water that a deep keeled yacht. But for some reason we were a little apprehensive about this one. As it turned out we were right to be so.
As we rounded the headland, we were keeping close into the rocks which had been the consistent advice, what appeared to be a small race turned violent and strong rapidly and shot off towards the Isle of Man. We fought to keep our boats upright as waves seemed to hit is from all angles.
But as fast as it began we found ourselves in the eddy and making out way north again. For the next 6 hours we enjoyed the boost that the ebb stream afforded us. The strong winds forecast didn’t arrive, so to make the most of it we stopped in a cave for lunch and got back in the stream. Eventually it brought us to the tranquil harbour of Portpatrick. 40 miles in all today which helps to make up for the day off in Kirkcudbright because of the strong winds.
We carry on north tomorrow and hope to make the crossing to Aran the day after.
Need some sleep but we have the chance to wash clothes tonight so we’re doing that first!