The West coast – Dunagoil to Kilmichael

Beautiful sandy beaches, interspersed with peaceful rocky shores

Scalpsie, 2 July 2021 (c) Janet Clapton
Map of West coast, from Fetcheveryone route planner

Wow, what a mixture of swims! The shallow, sandy bays of Ettrick, Scalpsie and St Ninian’s are popular with Summer visitors and swimmable all year round. Whereas the rocky beaches – notably Scarrel – are best for high tide dips in the warmest parts of the year. In between, some of the beaches are less easy to reach, and are more likely to feature when passing by on a longer swim. Dunagoil and Stravanan both need a bit of a walk, but can be atmospheric, and are popular camping spots.

St Ninian’s Bay to St Ninian’s Point (high tide), Saturday 15 May 2021

Landscape features are always further away at sea than you think… The Point looks quite close, but it’s a 2km return trip (at high tide). Water still very clear for seaweed spotting. One way distance: 1.1km

St Ninian’s Bay to St Ninian’s red buoy, Friday 21 May 2021

Friday night thrash! Attempted to race Speedboat Jenny to the red buoy with direct power backstroke, compared with her zigzag front crawl. Conditions rather choppy.
One way distance: 0.7km

Scarrel shore to yellow buoy Glecknabae, Thursday 27 May 2021

One of the first warm days – unfortunately, jellyfish felt that too and had multiplied accordingly. I didn’t leave enough time to get home and so ended up conducting a teleconference in my wetsuit. One way distance: 0.5km

Ettrick Bay Tearoom to Ettrick Bay Point, Tuesday 1 June 2021

Lovely early morning swim. Avoided the minesweeper, which was probably out for yet another WWII bomb. One way distance: 1.75km

Scalpsie Bay to Scalpsie South point, Wednesday 2 June 2021

Ellen and I, living on the East side, got the West side weather wrong this evening. The wind was offshore, but quite fiercely so. And the jellyfish were all hanging out on the (slightly) sheltered South side. One way distance: 1km

St Ninian’s Bay to St Ninian’s far side of point (low tide), Friday 25 June 2021

A short exploration to the Far Side, with Jenny. Ended in a lot of seaweed. This trip did give valuable knowhow for the end of the later long swim from Ettrick Bay.
One way distance: 1km

Glecknabae to Scarrel shore, Monday 28 June 2021

A week of connected swims on the upper part of the West coast. The weather was beautiful with just a bit of breeze. Did whack a few jellyfish while doing backstroke.
One way distance: 2km

Kilmichael to Glecknabae, Tuesday 29 June 2021

Kilmichael is best reached by bike or on foot, as the track is very bumpy after the end of the tarmac at Glecknabae. Lovely conditions. One way distance: 2.3km

Scarrel shore to Ettrick Bay point, Wednesday 30 June 2021

A short evening swim with Ellen, which filled in a small gap in my coast coverage.
One way distance: 0.5km

Scalpsie Bay to Ardscalpsie Point, Friday 2 July 2021

A nice early morning swim which helped reduce the length of the next long section.
One way distance: 1.5km

Island McNeil to far side of St Ninian’s Point, Saturday 3 July 2021

A long but leisurely backstroke swim for a Saturday morning. I made a mistake in not taking a drink. I’d left the bike at St Ninian’s and set out to walk to Ettrick Bay along the road, in my wetsuit. Which left me feeling hot and dehydrated before the start.

The coast is relatively flat along here (with the 40′ cliff set back from the shore). Eventually I navigated to a point where I thought it was worth trying to get out. But two visitors had the sight of me floundering in the seaweed for a very long time. They were reliving childhood holidays in the sixties, at a time when our most ambitious family holidays were to my aunt’s house in Fareham.
One way distance: 4.3km

Ettrick Bay Tearoom to Island McNeil, Sunday 4 July 2021

A drizzly fill-in trip across the bay, with Jenny. Fortunately, the weather improved.
One way distance: 1.5km

Ardscalpsie Point to St Ninian’s houses East shore, Friday 9 July 2021

A long evening swim, made possible by earlier walking reconnaissance and cut-down swims to take distance off the ends. Given Inchmarnock’s influence on currents, I chose the conditions and tide carefully, which paid off in a lovely helpful push towards St Ninian’s. Louisa was shorewalker, and she met me at the houses on the East shore. Fantastic sunset. One way distance: 4km

Scalpsie Bay South side to Stravanan, Monday 19 July 2021

A slightly choppy swim – marginally easier than walking on the rocky shore. Vicky was shorewalker after I’d scouted it previously. One way distance: 3km

Dunagoil to Stravanan, Wednesday 21 July 2021

Wow, such a hot day! Very glad to hitch a lift to the start. On the swim, previous route reconnaissance helped with back up plans, but none were needed. A beautiful calm evening, with happy families enjoying the lovely surroundings.
One way distance: 2.75km

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