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Scottish Local Meet
Loch Lomond, Stirling
14-17 April 2011

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Big Ross provided an attractive location for our lunch break, with a view across to the western shore of the loch, but we soon realised that spring is not the best season to visit the islands, due to the presence of nesting Canada geese. The islands provide a predator-free location for the birds to lay their eggs and all four islands we visited during the expedition were in use for this purpose. Although they are regarded as pests in some parts of the world, I find them quite attractive birds, but they certainly make finding a clear bit of grass to sit on a challenge, due to their abundant droppings.



Following a 40-minute lunch break, we resumed our journey. After rounding Ross Point we were able to steer almost due north (NNW) and received a welcome boost for a short period from a southerly wind, making it worthwhile to set our sails. Soon, however, we had to resort to paddling/rowing again and it was largely under paddle/oar power that we arrived at our next stop, the beach at Rubha Curraichd. This is one of my favourite spots on the loch, which provides one of the few locations to beach a boat on the eastern shore in the middle section of the loch. We arrived shortly before 2 p.m. so the journey from Big Ross had taken us over 1 hours.







Leaving Rubha Curraichd at 2:45 p.m., we again had occasional assistance from a southerly breeze as we headed for Tarbet Isle, allowing me to reach my maximum speed for the day (7.8 knots). Tarbet Isle is almost impossible to detect when approaching from the south as it blends in perfectly with the wooded mainland shore behind, which is why I had not noticed it during my trip to the northern end of Loch Lomond in August 2010. WalterG's gruesome description of it as a gull 'charnel house' made me expect the worst but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it appears to have changed drastically (for the better) in the twelve years since he visited it. It is now an attractive little grassy and tree-lined island with not a gull (dead or alive) to be seen. The island's new tenants (nesting Canada geese) had possibly chased them away. We didn't want to disturb the birds so didn't linger, leaving 10 minutes after tying up on the northern shore of the island, which has no beach.





The final leg of the day's journey, to our planned camping spot near the Inversnaid boathouse, took under an hour, aided by a continuing (if fitful) southerly breeze. We arrived at our destination shortly after 4:30 p.m., so the day's journey of 21.8 km (11.8 nm) had taken just over 6 hours, with a passage time of under 4 hours.

After unloading our boats we each scouted for somewhere to pitch our tents. There is a large signposted area set aside for wild camping by the boathouse. This was most likely set up with hikers in mind, since it is beside the West Highland Way, but I saw no reason for itinerant canoe sailors not to use it too. We planned to camp there for two nights, thus avoiding the need to pack up on Saturday morning and look for another campsite that night. The designated area is reasonably flat and reasonably grass/moss-covered. Unfortunately the two flattest areas are devoid of grass or moss and, as Graham rightly pointed out to me, although tempting due to their flatness, the stony ground at both would have been uncomfortable and might have punctured groundsheets. I take along a small section of non-slip matting to lay on top of my airbed and to prevent me slipping off during the night, when I'm camped on sloping ground.

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