It’s been a bit of a record month in April for Big Things – see our articles below.

And, although it’s Spring (according to the calendar) April has been the frostiest April for over 60 years, with an air frost being recorded somewhere in Britain every single night of the month! Farmers and gardeners will clearly be well aware of this, but it’s not exactly an encouragement to think about getting out on the water too early this year!

Worlds’ third largest Sea Creatures in the Forth

On or around Sunday 11th April a SEI Whale was spotted by a number of people doing its government approved one piece of exercise a day in the Firth of Forth. It chose a location for this close to Longcraig, indeed it was thought the whale might have been sent out to do an inspection of our 8 boat moorings which nestle in the bay in front of the Centre. The whale was busily checking our moorings – you can watch its progress at the following link:

Sei Whale at South Queensferry (SJM#2) – YouTube

A spokesman from the Forth Mammals Marine group said that the Sei Whale has got a very upright dorsal fin in comparison to most other whales we see, and that’s what helped identify it.

There have only been around nine previous sightings of this type of whale in Scotland in the last 50-years, so it’s relatively rare.

The Sei Whale is the third-largest of the species, behind the Blue Whale and the Fin Whale, and can grow to as large as 19.5m. Hope it doesn’t come up alongside my 3.5 m kayak or paddleboard!

World’s largest ships in the Firth of Forth

During April, the world’s largest construction ship – The Pioneering Spirit – anchored in the outer Forth and transferred a chunk of oil platform equipment onto a barge – the Iron Lady – which was then conveyed up to Rosyth in preparation for dismantling later.

The Pioneering Spirit is even longer than the giant 280m HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. It can lift load of up to 48,000 tons in one go! It’s described as the largest vessel of its kind – on the planet!

The barge was then towed into Rosyth port by three of the large tugs which operate in the Forth.

The Pioneering Spirit, which is also 124m wide, dwarfed the tugs as it dominated the Firth of Forth estuary.

,,The Iron Lady carrying the topside drilling platform under the Forth Bridge

Photo credit – Peter Devlin

Facilities upgrade – Update

Whilst the planned facilities upgrade at Longcraig is not going to happen until the autumn – so as not to disrupt any options for water activities taking place this year – we are taking the opportunity, with support from the Regional Executive, to make improvements outside and around the buildings. Some of this is in preparation for the planned building work to take place, and some of it is to provide a better level of security for our various boats and equipment which is of necessity stored outside. An upgrade for the security alarm system within the building is also planned over this period. These are all indications of our commitment to getting Longcraig up and running at full strength again as soon as we can, and also the commitment from South East Region to support improvements and developments in our facilities by the sea.

We’ll continue to keep you updated over the coming months on our progress!


Our recruitment programme earlier in the year has successfully generated a lot of good interest from people willing to give some of their time as volunteers to help run Longcraig Centre. Over the winter months, we’ve met with everyone (online) and moved on to the next steps. Shortly, we will be able to introduce all the new volunteers to the Centre itself now that we can have small groups of people meeting up – it’s important that everyone gets to see the facility (even in its winter setting) as soon as possible, so we can then start to integrate these folks into the ASU team. We are very grateful to everyone for stepping up to volunteer, and we look forward to working with them over the coming months as we take steps back toward the normality we will settle down with.

But it’s not too late, if you missed any of the events earlier – to come and see yourself what might be involved. It doesn’t even have to involve being in or on the water – we have loads of opportunities for people who don’t like the water, to help with the running of both land activities and the running of a busy, bustling activity centre.

Please get in touch if you would like a quick chat through what’s available – send an e-mail to to get started.

RE-OPENING in 2021 – Latest update

The relaxation of some of the lockdown rules during April have been welcomed and start to give us some clarity and a brighter light coming on at the end of the tunnel.

We have identified a number of key activities that need to be resourced, planned and staffed as we move through the coming months. For the time being, we are not yet allowed to open up for activities on the water, but we do have plans covering the preparation of the Centre to put everything back into place and ready for use. We also have plans developed to get our ASU members – our instructors and activity leaders – back into action – remembering that most of them have also not been in or on a boat for well over 18 months now too!

It is likely at this stage that much of our activity will focus on training courses, permit assessments, and such like – these can be done with smaller numbers but help us prepare better by having more trained and qualified people, which in turn means that when the time comes, we can offer our range of activities to a wider audience.

But not all of Water Activities have to take place at Longcraig, and although there are rules, we need to follow as regards the full re-opening of the Centre, there are numerous possibilities where we may be able to help scouts take part in water activities. These could be at your camps or events – if you are planning to have one of those – or it could be a simply evening or day activity somewhere. We can bring boats and equipment and the expertise; you can help us find suitable locations to do these things.

Alternatively, for those who have the necessary experience and appropriate skills, we can hire out most of our equipment for your own use either as smaller groups of scouts or even for family use, which can still enable some young people to experience the fun and adventure out on the water.

If this is something you are interested in, please use our contact e-mail at to make enquiries.

Water Classifications update

All waters used for boating purposes throughout the UK are listed in an online document known as the National Directory of Waters. This is to give guidance to Scouts across the land to help plan activities and to determine what qualifications and permits are needed for particular pieces of water.

The entries pertinent to the waters around South East Region have recently been updated, and these, along with all the rest of the Directory, can be found at the following link:

Waterways | Scouts

All scouting activities on the water should make reference to this directory before firming up plans to participate.

Ian Harrower
Longcraig Active Support Unit