An intrepid canoe journey and bushcraft day for 4 people and one sausage dog. We began with some tandem paddling skills practice and journeyed south on Loch Lomond past the historic village of Luss. As there was a strong south westerly wind racing up the loch today, we rafted our canoes together so that we could more easily make the crossing to the islands. As we made the journey, we talked about Ben Lomond (Scotland’s most southerly munro), Conic Hill and the highland boundary and the various ways to ward off midgies, including the midge-repelling qualities of the plant Bog Myrtle.
We chose a beach on Inchconnachan and were pleased to see a plentiful supply of driftwood washed ashore. After finding a safe and clear space and collecting a range of tinder and kindling, the group showed great perseverance, getting some of the best parks I’ve ever seen from a flint and striker, until the fire was alight. We made ourselves long skewers and cooked sausages over the fire, roasting sweet potatoes in the embers. We talked about the various methods of filtering and purifying water and also found some sphagnum moss and chatted about its anti-bacterial qualities. We came across blaeberries growing behind the beach and also some Bog Myrtle.
Once we had made sure we were leaving the beach as we found it, we returned to Luss in our raft and I think only Pippa the sausage dog was really glad to be back again.
Fantastic day for a long exploratory paddle among the islands of Loch Lomond. With only 3 of us on the trip, and a predominantly (and unusual) flat-calm day on the loch, we were able to focus on paddling skills enough to manage an impressive 10km paddle around the central cluster of islands on Loch Lomond, stopping on 3 of them to admire the views and enjoy the relatively unspoilt locations. We even managed to find time to brew some hot chocolate, forage for blaeberries and try out some solo paddling skills! As we journeyed, we chatted about the origins of Luss village, the Highland fault line and Conic Hill, the Colquhoun family and the Munros of Scotland. We saw Oyster Catchers, ducklings and Blackback gulls but unfortunately no wallabies. We were tested by a little headwind at times, especially when solo paddling, but my two companions were natural paddlers and picked up the subtleties of open boating very quickly. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we stayed out on the water for 5 hours in total, covering 10km in distance. We had glassy-still water for most of our trip and did not see one midge all day!
Thursday 4th August 2016
Two families comprising 3 adults, 4 young people and Dylan the dog joined Hidden Adventures today for a canoe trip on Loch Lomond. Dylan was very interested in our preparations and had a shot in one of the boats on dry land, but he decided in the end that it wasn't for him and went for a sleep while we went for a paddle.
We set off from the Luss Hotel in doubles canoes and after paddling down the West shore of Loch Lomond we stopped to brew some tea and hot chocolate. As the wind was picking up, we built 2 rafts from our canoes and worked as 2 teams to paddle our craft across to Inch Tavannach. On the island we found a few edible plants and tried Wood Sorrel and Blaeberries. At different points on the island and on the journey back, there were conversations about the Highland fault line running down from Conic Hill over the islands, Ben Lomond the most southerly Scottish Munro and how the hill got its name, the origins of Luss village and the recent history of Inch Connachan and the Colquhoun family.
We paddled back to Luss in our rafted canoes, in a strong headwind but with the sun warm on our faces and the sound of bagpipes drifting over the water to welcome us back as a wedding took place on the Luss waterfront.
Friday 8th July was a great day out with a local group (Glasgow) from Luss to two of Loch Lomond’s many islands. On the first we found out about the uses of Sphangnum Moss, Horse’s Hoof Fungi and some of nature’s own medicines as well as collecting and tasting Blaeberries, Wood Sorrel and Pine needles (not so pleasant). On the second we searched in vain for sight of the island’s few remaining wallabies, and discovered some of the history of the island and it’s inhabitants. A strong headwind on the way home meant that all the paddling skills developed in the morning were put to good use and we were even treated to some warm and sunny spells on our return journey too.
Could a family of 18 French people, here in Scotland to celebrate a 50th birthday, enjoy themselves in the pouring rain driven by gale force winds? Of course they could!!
That’s just what happened on the 12th of September! The hope had been to climb Connich Hill at Balmaha in the morning and then canoe to Inchcailloch for lunch. But the weather was too rough for canoeing and plans had to change.
It was decided to visit Inchcailloch by Macfarlane’s ferry first and the party duly set off.
The first location visited was the ancient graveyard where many of the area’s clan chiefs were interned. We then took the northern path to Port Bawn where, regardless of the rain, the group posed for pictures (see below). Some also went to the Ranger’s hut, to listen for bats which nestle in amongst the wooden panels on the outer walls.
Learning about flora and fauna as they progressed, the group climbed to the top of the island to see the view over the Loch and along the Highland Boundary Fault line.
Once back on the mainland and after a short break, the group ascended Connich Hill to the ridge. A strong blast accompanied the rain but the group were undaunted and appreciated the views of twisted mist patterns flowing over the islands. As they descended by the West route, there was a temporary clearance and ‘almost’ a glimpse of sun shine. A cheer went up which showed that spirits had remained high.
It was a great privilege to have shared this time with everyone and I hope that on their next visit the sun will be shining brightly.
Enjoying the Beach at Port Bawn