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Guest Blog: Paddling on Glass -My First Impressions of Loch Lomond

In this guest blog, Apprentice Outdoor Leader Thomas Peddie of outdoor adventure operator Wild By Nature describes his first impressions of Loch Lomond, by canoe safari.

Loch Lomond is a beautiful and interesting place to visit and one of the best ways to explore the loch is by canoe. Being an almost completely silent method of travel, it allows you to hear any birds or wildlife which inhabit the Loch, also allowing the paddler to get closer to this wildlife. This offers some great photo opportunities.

In Autumn 2010 I was fortunate enough to be able to undertake my first ever visit to the Islands of Loch Lomond as part of my Outdoor leader apprentice course: here are my first impressions.

A co-worker and I put our large (Canadian) open canoes in at Aldochlay Bay, near to some delightful miners’ cottages - a popular point for lots of Loch paddle trips. I understand that the cottage is actually one of the most photographed cottages in Scotland, due to its typical cottage garden and I imagine, its location. The nearby small island is an ancient Crannog which is an old Pict dwelling with a hidden causeway.

The calm, clear and sunny weather allowed us to gain the shore of Inchtavanach, known as the Monk’s Island. This island was inhabited by St Kessog in the sixth century. Hugging the intimate wooded shoreline we were able to then cross over to Inchconnachan. This magnificent island has an isolated family group of fallow deer and some roe deer; the fallow deer originate from when the Normans hunted on the Islands. I was fortunate enough to see two deer, close to the shore, only possible by the use of a quite hunting or Indian stroke. Inchconnachan also has an old derelict house built by the Colquhouns of Luss.

Inchlonaig was our next island, which is also known as "Yew tree Island", quite an intimate place with beautiful trees. Exploring the interior, we suddenly heard a large fallow stag calling and I found out why it is called roaring - as it was pretty loud! Inchconnachan has Yew trees, which apparently were introduced by Robert the Bruce to provide his archers with long bows. As we reached the highest point we caught sight of the stag on top of the hill just in front of us. I thought, “What a beautiful island”, which made me realise just how lucky I am to live in Scotland.

As we paddled across a wider deeper part of the loch, moving away from Inchlonaig, we enjoyed great views. A small craft gives uninterrupted views of across the flat calm loch. The light seemed to define the clear crisp autumn colours of trees and vast mountain landscape, and it is a sight that I will never forget. On the way we spotted five cormorants drying their wings, which are thought to be a bad omen to sailors, although this can be countered with some white heather attached to the bow.

So there you have a brief description and a photo, but this honestly doesn’t do the experience justice, and is a poor substitute to actually getting on to the Loch and experiencing it for yourself.

I don’t have the words to explain how beautiful Loch Lomond is on a calm clear autumn day and the experience will live with me for ever.

To find out more about Loch Lomond Canoe safaris and other trips from Wild By Nature, go to www.wildbynature.eu

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