An impromptu ‘WhatsApp’ trip planned at short notice, the original idea was to paddle from Portencross to Kilchattan Bay on Bute and back via Little Cumbrae. Getting up nice and early on a crisp January morning we were greeted by a wonderful sunrise over the snowy hills en route to the start point, the full moon low in a litmus pink dawn sky.

On arrival at Portencross the sea state was a little too choppy to launch from the rocky shore and no one wanted to incur the wrath of the grumpy castle keeper by using the slipway there, so we decided to pop up to Largs Marina and launch from there instead. By then the wind had dropped a bit and the five of us (Tony, Grant, Dennis, Pat and Alan) set off across to the North end of Little Cumbrae.

Unfortunately, time was now against continuing over to Kilchattan Bay (sunset was at 4pm) so we decided to go to the Lighthouse on Little Cumbrae instead and have lunch there. The Lighthouse is well worth a visit. Decommissioned in 1997 it is easy to gain access to the lighthouse from the small harbour below by climbing a steep staircase up the face of the cliff.

There are a number of buildings associated with the lighthouse including one with seats from an old air liner and another with two massive Rolls Royce powered generators. The lighthouse structure itself affords fantastic views over to Arran, Kintyre and Argyll. After lunch we continued the circumnavigation of Little Cumbrae, around Gull Point at the South end of the island and then up the East shore past the old keep. By now the wind had dropped completely and we were bathed in beautiful winter sunshine.

 Heading back up towards Largs, Tony noticed something moving around the large green Buoy which marks the shipping channel at Hunterston. Closer inspection revealed the moving things to be dolphins and we spent a thoroughly enchanting 20 minutes or so watching as they swam around our kayaks. It would have been wonderful to have spent longer with them but the daylight was fading so we reluctantly had to say goodbye and head back to Largs.

All in all a magical day out on the water and proof positive that there is fantastic paddling to be had on our doorstep.

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Alan Rollo