I got a last minute pass out from Carol this weekend so a few messages to the usual culprits and a plan had been hatched. The forecast wasn't great so it was to be a local jaunt, well for them anyway, it's still a 500 mile round trip for me. I don't mind the drive northwards anymore though, I seem to have one eye on the canoe on the roof (especially in strong winds) and one eye on the scenery as I make my way through North Yorkshire, The Pennines, Cumbria, The Borders and then finally Glasgow. Once I reach Glasgow I know it's only a matter of minutes rather than hours until I'm on the water.
About five hours after I left Leeds I was parking up at Aldochlay and meeting Stephen who'd just arrived himself from Alloa. We had a wee blether and then set about unloading and loading the gear from the cars to the boats, we giggled as Stephen was finding it hard fitting all his usual gear into the small hatches on his new kayak. Shortly after Stu and Ciara arrived, gear loaded and doggy aboard fives minutes later and we were paddling off under heavy grey skies and persistent rain.
Entering the narrows
Stephen in his new toy
We arrived at a favourite beach and set about getting the chute up and sorted our digs for the weekend
Stephen and myself were under the Superfly's
Stu and Ciara's tent, I really do like the look of that Vaude
We spent the rest of Friday evening under the chute and shared a couple of beers round the fire. We were all pretty bushed so retired early around nine o'clock. Ten hours later I woke up, I'm really getting some good nights sleep in the hammock these days, I'm not sure why I'm suddenly able to sleep right through compared to waking up every couple of hours like I did six months ago. Maybe it's the short days and long dark nights, maybe it's the early morning light that's bothering me in the warmer months ?
Saturday morning was clear and bright, although there were still the odd light shower now and then it was a beautiful winters day. I did my creeping around camp like a mouse routine again as I was first up as usual, surprisingly though Stephen was up not long after. We had a lazy morning round camp enjoying copious amounts of coffee followed by a fry up and then getting warmed up by the fire. It was a lovely still day and the sun was nice and bright so we decided to take a paddle round one of the large adjacent islands. I forgot to pick up my camera though so you'll have to imagine the scene as we circled round a ruined building on a peninsula and carved our way through the flooded trees and beaches.
When we got back to camp, between the showers we got a good pile of firewood sorted and generally relaxed around camp.
Stephen and I went for a walk later on and made our way through the forest to the old house and then all the way round the eastern flank before making it back to camp again. It's funny as no matter how many times I go for an explore on that island I always find something new to look at.
Later back at camp we'd decided to make a start on the stew a bit earlier this time so Stephen prep'd all the veg and got it on the fire nice and early.
Stu was catching up with lost sleep and didn't surface until nearly four o'clock.
The other lady in my life, Ciara
Saturday afternoon was stunning and we were treated to some great views from the chute
That evening we sat around the fire and tended to Stephen's stew until the three hours were up, best one yet I have to say.
Sunday was another lazy morning around camp which had us eating left over stew for early lunch and a slow pack up for the inevitable journey home. This will probably be our last visit to Lomond now until the Ned season is over around September time, the next six months or so will hopefully involve lots more west coast trips and a few ventures further north into the Highlands and Wester Ross lochs.
Watch this space