Raptor UK canoe sailing

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August 2010

Page 8

tension lines cross the Falloch 250 m further upriver. This seems unlikely though as any sailing vessels that venture that far upriver are likely to be shallow-draft boats with low mast heights. The second part of Walter's trip report mentions the canal being "on the east of the [Ardlui] camp-site", that he "sailed up the canal for about a quarter of a mile" and that it was "wide and in good order". All the above leads me to believe that he mistook the River Falloch for the canal. The entrance to the canal is about 1.8 km (over 1 mile) north of the point that the River Falloch enters Loch Lomond and it is not (now) wide nor in good order.

While my journey north had been against a fairly constant headwind (or no wind at all), I was hopeful that I would have an easy run south to Cashel. I therefore planned to do all my sightseeing

on the return journey. My first stop was by Geal Loch, which lies 200 m north of Ardlui and is separated from River Falloch by a narrow ribbon of land, at places only 12 m wide. After a short paddle downriver I stopped again adjacent to Ardlui to take more photos, passing the foundations

of a bridge, which was apparently never completed (see "A Curious Sequel"). It seems a strange location for a bridge as there are few habitations on the

north-eastern bank of Loch Lomond, but it was possibly wanted by the aristocracy to allow them to reach their hunting and fishing grounds more easily, without having to resort to boats. No doubt the trustees of the late Sir James Colquhoun of Luss were mindful of the dangers of boating on the loch, since Sir James had drowned only two years previously, while returning from shooting on Inchlonaig. The view south down the loch was spectacular, with steep mountains to each side and bands of rain crossing the valley. The topography of northern Loch Lomond is distinctly different from the south, being much more rugged.

I set off from Ardlui by 11:30 a.m. and reached my next stop, Island I Vow, less than hour later. This same leg of the journey had taken me twice as long the previous day. Seen from a distance the island appeared very forbidding in the overcast conditions but, as I approached, the sun broke through and transformed the island into an enchanting spot to stop. No sooner had I landed on the

island than a motor boat drew near and the two man crew clearly planned to land also but were struggling with unwieldy oars against the fresh breeze, so I waded out and pulled them in to the beach. They were pleasant company to chat with as I ate my lunch and their advice on where to beach my boat for the next stop, to visit Rob Roy's Cave, proved valuable. When I

told them I planned to visit the cave they advised me to look out for the sign painted on some rocks as I passed them on the way south and to beach my boat by the Inversnaid boathouse. After lunch I explored the island and castle, the latter being well disguised, with ivy-covered walls. Not having my flashlight handy I didn't follow Walter's example and explore the dungeon.

Due to my sociable lunch-break, I didn't leave the island until 1:15 p.m. but the wind was still in my favour so I had an easy 25-minute run down to the boathouse. I reached my maximum speed for the day, and for the entire meet (10.7 knots), ten minutes after leaving Island I Vow. You can see in the video from this leg a passing visitor: a bumblebee. These insects seem to be attracted to my Raptor's blue sail and my orange drysuit, as other OCSG members, with white sails, don't report the same visitors. My blue and yellow drybags provided additional splashes of colour to attract nectar-seekers during the expedition. I spotted the painted 'CAVE' sign on the rocks and shortly thereafter the wind started to increase in strength markedly, so that I was almost blown into some rocks as I investigated a spot to land closer to the cave. The boathouse beach does indeed seem to

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