RowAround Scotland (RAS) was born here, at Parkdean, after the AGM in 2018, as the result of
well-lubricated brain-storming session by Ali, Andy and Hana, as a way to celebrate the tenth
anniversary of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.
Event Scotland then declared that 2020 was to be The Year of Coasts and Waters so it was a no-
brainer. In the summer of 2019, SCRA applied for funding, which was very over-subscribed, so we
were gobsmacked to receive £11k.
Robbie, Topher and Stuart divvied up the coast into sections and made the decision to start on
the west and work clockwise. Local pilots were ‘volunteered’ for the 12 sections; thanks to them
all for providing the liaison with their local clubs. Robbie and Sue co-coordinated plans for 2020;
then Andy, RAS safety officer, relieved Robbie for 2021. Andy became the bottle delivery service
and I am indebted to him for countless ‘silly thoughts.’
The launch of RowAround was planned for Gretna in March 2020, with schoolchildren singing,
storytelling, government ministers and a wedding. Then came covid. Pandemic planning
protocols had then to be included in our passage planning.
RowAround went Virtual, and we hoped to be able to pick it up for real later in the year. However,
with rowing allowed only in some regions on 24 August, and the last section due to start on the
28th August, plans for RAS were rolled over to 2021. Once again we were thwarted and as rowing
was permitted again only on 17 May, the first four sections were effectively wiped out, and plans
for section 5, from Ardnamurchan, were delayed by the late opening-up of campsites and the
need to get some sea-time for the crews beforehand.
One baton left the Isle of Seil in Argyll on 2 June and headed north on its proscribed route. Luckily
we had two batons and trawls, so RAS started concurrently in the South West; the trawls had
been made for us at Millport at the Field Studies Centre so Cumbrae was the first club to take the
baton and trawl on the water in May.
There are so many highlights from the summer, but I’ll mention a few:
* A composite crew rounded Ardnamurchan Lighthouse in rather lumpy seas – more people have
been in space than have rowed in open boats around this notorious point.
* The Eskmuthe crews not only rowed the whole of their section 12, from the bridges to North
Berwick, they also rowed most of the next section too, to Paxton, just foiled on one leg by the
* The pilot of section 4 rowed every single mile, 120 miles of them, of her own section
* Many clubs took to their bikes and kayaks if they were not able to row. A special mention for
Wigtown Bay who used alternative means to involve over 20 members to take the baton on a
dry run to Stranraer in April, some three months before the very first launch of their skiff.
Overall, 1,282 folk from 64 Scottish clubs (and some English ones) have rowed/trawled/towed as
part of RowAround, and about 750 miles have been covered – rather less than had been hoped,
but weather and covid both played their part. Many regattas and events built round RAS were
cancelled, but six associated try-a-rows took place, involving over 70 potential new rowers. 54
clubs have undertaken a microplastics trawl, and the water samples from this innovative citizen
science project are being analysed at the Scottish Association for Marine Science. The trawls
belong to SCRA, so if any club would like borrow one in order to add to the results, please let us
All these achievements are detailed on the website, www.rowaround.scot – do look at the Virtual
RAS, the Trawl of Fame, and the route. If you havn’t already discovered this, you can click on the
blue line and see the date and clubs involved in that particular leg.
I must record my heartfelt thanks to our webmaster, Stuart, not only for his expertise but for
tirelessly fielding my daily emails for almost two years.
The RAS kit is now available on sale at bargain prices, as are the neoprene glasses retainers!
Wendy has detailed the RAS accounts and we have just about broken even, despite buying
medals which were not included on the original manifest but much needed for morale-boosting; I
have some spare medals here if anyone has missed out.
The bespoke RAS logbook, which I hope has turned up here, should contain a record of all the
names of people who have taken part in RAS; together with the baton/s, it will be at the Scottish
Fisheries Museum in Anstruther. If your club hasn’t been able to autograph it, please put the
names of people involved on each leg or trawl on a sheet of A5 and we’ll splice them in
I’m not going to lie – extracting information out of you skiffies has been frustratingly difficult.
Apparently, it is much easier to command one hundred sailors on a nuclear submarine than
organise a group of coastal rowers – its like nailing jelly to the wall. A heartfelt plea – everything
would be so much easier if clubs answered their emails and/or kept their club contacts up
Thanks to Robbie, and to all those who had the initial vision to plan this amazing adventure three
years ago, to all the harbour masters, lock keepers, shore crews, and to all of you for joining in
and celebrating the eleventh anniversary of SCRA.
Co-coordinator, RowAround Scotland 2020/2021