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

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After we had pitched our tents an affable English hiker (together with his very lean-looking Boxer) arrived and also chose to camp for the night in the area. The clear conditions and lack of wind over the weekend were not ideal for sailing but they certainly made for pleasant camping. That night Graham tried starting a bonfire using traditional methods. He had bought along a bag of wood and tried to start a fire first by rubbing a piece of wood in a groove cut into a wooden plank. This is known as a fire plough (plow). This very nearly succeeded and I was impressed to see smoke billowing up from where he was working, but he lacked suitable tinder material to ignite with the heat generated. He then tried using a bow drill, fabricated with a piece of string he'd found on the beach! This was less successful. Eventually, much to his chagrin, he had to accept the offer of a firelighter from our hiker friend. Unfortunately I was busy cooking my supper during it all so have no photos of his various trials.

Ardlui

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Ardlui2

Ardlui3

RiverFalloch

RiverFalloch1

Not needing to pack up our tents meant we were able to be on the water on Saturday before 9 a.m., a record early start for me I think. The wind had shifted back to the more typical northerly so we had an enjoyable beat up the loch to Ardlui, where we arrived at 11:15 a.m. This was the best spell of sailing we had all weekend and I also achieved my maximum speed for the three days while beating north (9.0 knots). After taking photos of the famous foundations of the bridge-that-never-was across the Falloch, we beached by Geal Loch and ate our lunch. I had two goals in mind while at the northern end of the loch: to explore the Inverarnan Canal and to see how far it was possible to navigate up the River Falloch. With this in mind we rigged down our masts before setting off (paddling/rowing) upriver, shortly after midday.

There is no discernible current from the river for the last mile of so before it enters the loch as the last section of the river is more like an extension of the loch. The water level in the loch/river appeared to be about a foot higher than in August 2010, so there was not such a drop-off from the river banks to the water, which made beaching easier. The other major difference from my last visit was the absence of leaves on the trees. This allowed me to easily spot the entrance to the Inverarnan Canal this time. Trees over-hang the canal all the way along its short (~450 metre) length and when the branches are covered in luxuriant summer growth of leaves the canal is almost impossible to spot, unless you know where to look for it.

InverarnanCanal1

InverarnanCanal2

InverarnanCanal3

InverarnanCanal4

AlltArnan1

InverarnanCanal5

We managed to paddle/row all the way up to the steamers' turning basin at the northern end of the canal, slaloming around various obstacles on the way, but finally a felled tree prevented further progress (by water). After beaching our boats we explored the area and took some photos. The river (burn) Allt Arnan appears to divide into two streams shortly before the turning circle. One stream passes to the west of the canal, runs parallel to it until near the River Falloch, where it divides again, with the larger stream meandering in a large loop to the west while the smaller stream continues straight until both join the Falloch 100 m downriver from the entrance of the canal. The second stream runs into the turning circle, itself splitting into two shortly beforehand, although the western rock-strewn course was dry when we visited.

Having satisfied my curiosity about the canal, we headed back down it and turned left (east) to continue up the Falloch. A wire and cable are strung across the river between two trees just beyond the canal entrance but with our masts rigged down we were able to pass underneath. After rounding the next loop of the Falloch, we spotted a water pipeline crossing the river shortly after some high-tension electrical lines also cross. Pylons keep the electrical lines more than 30 m (100 ft) above the river, so I don't imagine the wire/cable blockade across the river was placed there to

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