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  • Phil Keetley

Isles of the Clyde - not what you might think....

Crystal clear waters of the Clyde!

What do you think of when you think of The Clyde? I am guessing ship building, steel works, pollution, industry? All perfectly reasonable, but actually, not remotely accurate.

Arran in the distance - gorgeous south facing beach

Here at Sea Kayak Argyll & Bute, we are privileged to live on the mighty Clyde. It is not just a river of course, but a huge Forth, an enormous body of water that includes the longest sea loch (Loch Fyne) within its boundaries. There is some industry further up the river, but once you turn the corner from Gourock, the Clyde estuary opens up - facing straight south and delivers a stunning view of the Cowal hills to the west, open sea directly south with the added interest of the Cumbraes in the east and the Isle of Bute in the west, always framed by the stunning mountain ridge on Arran.

Heading for Inchmarnock from Isle of Bute

The Clyde is a fascinating body of water, it has one of the largest colonies of Northern Diving Gannets in the UK, thus you are highly likely to see them in season. There are numerous Atlantic Grey and Common Seal resident colonies; and the Clyde is full of porpoises! We also get the odd visiting whale, and in Autumn there are numerous sightings of Basking Sharks. There are some sail boats of course, a small inshore fishing fleet and the odd warship or submarine which always provide interest.

Wild campsite with a view

There are some fabulous wild camping locations on the Clyde, often west facing to watch the sunset over the Kintyre Peninsula on raised beaches dating from the last ice age, 12,000 years ago. In fact, the entire Clyde basin was once under about a kilometre of ice, hence the deep, deep waters in the main channels where the ice flowed and carved its inevitable southward journey. This is an ancient land, and there are often medieval castles or iron age forts to visit from the campsite.

Peaceful waters of The Clyde

The Clyde is an estuary and fairly protected, and due to the reduced fetch, it rarely gets too rough. Having said that, there are a couple of play spots for those in the know when the conditions are right! Generally though, it is an ideal playground for paddlers up to the intermediate level. And, as it is not so well known, there are very few paddlers around and plenty of driftwood at the camp spots.

White sand beaches

Another little know fact is that there are some stunning beaches on the Clyde. Gorgeous white sand, shallow clear waters and rarely other people to spoil it. These are perfect spots for a bit of rolling or rescue practise at high tide when the sun has warmed the shallow waters. Why does clear water with a sandy bottom seem so much warmer?

Perfect wild camping spot

Sea Kayak Argyll & Bute are quite passionate about this area and regularly carry out beach cleans in some of wild camping areas. We regularly run trips around the Isles of Clyde, check out our events page here to see dates, or email us with your proposed dates.

We promise - all of the shots below were taken in the Clyde!

Let us know if you have any favourite spots on the Clyde.

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