• April 2014
    M T W T F S S
    « Mar    
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 258 other followers

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Reviewers’ Comments

    "Great read every day. Makes me smile as Rab muses about music and his irreverent views on the EU. Tune in, you won't be disappointed."

    "Excellent 'Blog' which can be controversial at times, while maintaining it's humour. Keep it up Big Rab!"

    "Updated every day with doses of good humour, political satire, a running commentary on the progress of author's home football team and his life."

    "Pure brilliant, so it is - I never miss it, though God knows, I've tried."

    "An inspiration to start my own blog"

    "For dipping into it's better than pakora sauce"

    "Anyone who doesn't like the EU and has a soft spot for Albion Rovers can't be all bad"

    "Facile and False"

    "Populist,puerile and prosaic"

    "Utter pish! Keep it up, I love it!"

    "People may also find the Ben Lomond Free Press blog illuminating, interesting and/or amusing. It’s not mentalist as such but familiar themes emerge. I particularly like accounts of encounters with strange elementals (of course! ELEmentals!) from elfin safety. And the fact that the blog is run by someone who plays in a blues band called Harmonica Lewinsky."

  • Hit Me!

    • 1,197,290 hits since January 2008
  • Top Rated

Strange Boat

I bought a wee day boat a couple of weeks ago and it had its maiden voyage last night on Loch Lomond. It was meant to be yesterday morning but the initial planned launch had me calling the outboard all sorts of names as I couldn’t get the thing started.

Therefore the boat was in the loch, out of the loch and then back in the loch and out again. I still had the number of the guy who sold me the boat, and how about this? He travelled from his home, over 30 miles away to help!

He being a maritime and outboard expert he had it running in about ten minutes. It turned out there had been an air lock in the fuel line and there wasn’t enough fuel getting to the carburettor. Such gestures restore your faith in human nature.

So eventually my two daughters and I took to the loch at Balloch slipway around 6pm last night and went a wee cruise amongst some of the islands. I have a chart of the loch and was very wary, with this being my first time out in charge of a motor vessel, to avoid anywhere with a depth of less than two fathoms (as we sailors call twelve feet). The level of the loch is fairly low at the moment and therefore I had no wish for the outboard to suffer a rather more traumatic and permanent problem than earlier.

It wasn’t a great night for photos because Scotland basked in tropical temperatures yesterday and there was still a heat haze last night.

However I got this photo of the island of Creinch:

Creinch (pronounced kree inch) is one of the islands which form a part of the highland fault line. The Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland are not just fairly separate cultural and linguistic entities but are defined by geology.

The fault line from Conic Hill at Balmaha. Inchmurrin,Creinch, Torrinch, Clairinsh and Inchcailloch are the islands. Photo: Ellen Arniston

Thus the area to the left of the islands is in the Lowlands of Scotland and that to the right is in the Highlands.

Just off Creinch there is a hazard known as Prince of Wales Rock. I pointed it out to the girls last night as we passed. I had often wondered why the rock was named so and got the answer when the local paper in 2010 printed a story in its 150 years ago column:

The Prince of Wales paddle steamer found a rock between Inchmurrin and Creinch in dense fog. No one was seriously injured, but she was beached (presumably on Creinch) and the passengers rescued by another steamer, the Queen Victoria. She was subsequently towed down the Leven and up to Bowling for repairs to be made.

The Prince of Wales continued carrying passengers on the loch, despite the earlier mishap, until 1900

I’m pleased to report that we enjoyed our two hour cruise free from any such trouble and I got the boat back on to the trailer without much difficulty (although this manoeuvre does include reversing ones vehicle into the water).

However, somehow the boat, although tethered securely (I thought) on the trailer, managed to move off the rollers on the way home (fortunately I noticed in the rear view mirror that the boat was slightly skew-whiff. I somehow found the strength to lift it back on and secure the webbing even tighter. Between that exertion and the work out I had in trying to start the outboard in the morning, I am pretty sore and tired today.

It was worth the effort though.

My elder daughter has named our craft The Strange Boat in honour of the Waterboys song.

The Moon ain’t romantic…..

……It’s as intimidating as hell! (Tom Waits)

I took these photos on a cruise/jam session on Loch Lomond last night:

Now you see it…..

I was looking through my photos and found these contrasting ones of the island of Inchmurrin, Loch Lomond.

Inchmurrin with Ben Lomond in the background

Inchmurrin with Ben Lomond in the background (certain amount of imagination required)

For the record, the top one was taken in September 2010 and the bottom one in May 2010.

The Ben This Evening

Nice to be able to pull in on the way home from work and appreciate a view like this for a few moments…..

Ben Lomond 6:30pm 23/06/11


Out and About

Took a wee walk on a section of the West Highland Way between Drymen and Balmaha this morning. I had bought a digicam from my friend Iain this week (my previous one hasn’t been holding a charge and my dog has eaten the xd card) £59.95 for a 14 megapixel digital camera and a free Nokia phone with it!

The photos weren’t bad

'Into the trees'

Loch Lomond from the east side, including Inchcailloch, Torrinch,Creinch and Inchmurrin

Sally the dug, aka the memory card muncher.

Bad Memory

Out for a walk this morning on the bonnie banks near Ross Priory by Gartocharn. My all singing all dancing camera displayed the message “Memory card locked” and when I looked, sure enough there was the wee plastic tab by which you open and lock the card, falling out of the camera. Not to worry I had my faithful wee snapshot camera which I take out on the canoe (different card format).

I got these on the walk and they turned out ok.

The Bens, Loch and Islands. (Scotch mist also pictured)


Now how would that view look with the tree in the foreground?


Another view from the shore. Cracking sky.



Inchmurrin Again

When Richie and I paddled out to the far end of Inchmurrin on Loch Lomond on 26th Sept (see post below) we noticed a hazard marked by buoys just off the island of Creinch

Creinch from Inchmurrin

We checked on the map and found that the hazard was known as the Prince of Wales Rock. We speculated as to why this part of Loch Lomond in general and the rock in particular would have any connection to the Prince of Wales. Had a Prince of Wales (maybe Edward VII) visited? Was it something to do with the shape of the rock maybe?
As a remarkable coincidence, I got a message from Richie the other day to check the Lennox Herald from last week in the 150 years ago section of local news.

Here I found a brief reference to the story of how in September 1860, the Prince of Wales paddle steamer found a rock between Inchmurrin and Creinch in dense fog. No one was seriously injured, but she was beached (presumably on Creinch) and the passengers rescued by another steamer, most probably the Queen Victoria. She was subsequently towed down the Leven and up to Bowling for repairs to be made.

The mystery was solved.

The steamer which through ill fortune gave its name to the rock went on to ply its trade on the loch for a further forty years.

The Prince of Wales steamer.

The probable rescue vessel the Queen Victoria, seen here in her later incarnation as the Swallow

Thanks to the wonderful vale of leven.org for the information and photos.

The Highland Boundary Fault

I had meant to mention that Richie’s and my canoe trip on Sunday started off in the lowlands of Scotland, then progressed to the highlands before we returned to the lowlands once again.

The Highland Boundary Fault is a geological fault that traverses Scotland from Arran and Helensburgh on the west coast to Stonehaven in the east. It separates two distinctly different physiographic regions: the Highlands from the Lowlands, but in most places it is only recognisable as a change in topography. Aligned southwest to northeast, from Lochranza on Arran it bisects the Isle of Bute, and crosses the south eastern parts of the Cowal and Rosneath Peninsulas as it passes up the Firth of Clyde. It comes ashore near Helensburgh then continues through Loch Lomond. The loch islands of Inchmurrin, Creinch, Torrinch, and Inchcailloch all form part of the Highland Boundary Fault.

Conic Hill, Inchcailoch,Torinch,Creinch and Inchmurrin. Part of the Highland Boundary Fault

Geological map of central Scotland. The fault divides the Old Red Sandstone and Devonian deposits (brownish, no. 23, at centre) from the Metamorphic and Archaean deposits (pinkish, no. 27, above the brownish).

Topological map of central Scotland. Lower elevations (greenish) are separated from higher elevations (brownish) by the fault line.

From Loch Lomond it continues to Aberfoyle, then Callander, Comrie and Crieff. It then forms the northern boundary of Strathmore and reaches the North Sea immediately north of Stonehaven near the ruined Chapel of St. Mary and St. Nathalan.To the north and west lie hard Precambrian and Cambrian metamorphic rocks: marine deposits metamorphosed to schists, phyllites and slates. To the south and east are Old Red Sandstone conglomerates and sandstones: softer, sedimentary rocks of the Devonian and Carboniferous periods.

The Highland Boundary Fault was active during the Caledonian Orogeny,a plate tectonic collision which took place from Mid Ordovician to Mid Devonian periods (520 to 400 million years ago), during the closure of the Iapetus Ocean. The fault allowed the Midland Valley to descend as a major rift by up to 4000 metres and there was subsequently vertical movement. This earlier vertical movement was later replaced by a horizontal shear. A complementary fault, the Southern Uplands Fault, forms the southern boundary for the Central Lowlands.


Yesterday Richie and I took to the waters of Loch Lomond in the two man canoe once again. Having scraped the ice off my pick up truck, we decided to go to a different put in point than our normal one at Aldochlay near Luss. And so it was we set off from Duck Bay to Inchmurrin, the largest island of any inland waterway in Britain, and the loch’s most famous island.

Inchmurrin Island from the loch

Inchmurrin means island of Mirren and is named after the Irish monk St Mirren (565 -620) who established the Abbey at Paisley and became the patron saint of the town as well as giving his name to the town’s football club. It’s one of three permanently occupied islands on the loch and boasts not only a farm, a hotel and several holiday cottages and chalets but also a nudist colony. We tried to get some photos but the nudists were a wee bit shy. When we passed, the temperature would have been a disincentive for frolicking in the woods anyway.

The Hotel at Inchmurrin

By the time we’d paddled to the far end (east side) of the island the temperature had risen enough to jettison a couple of layers. This was the scene at our “breakfast cafe”

Scotland in autumn? or tropical beach?

After breakfast we paddled down the north side of the island to complete the circumnavigation. I spotted these ruins above one of the holiday homes.

Church ruins on Inchmurrin (centre)

At certain parts, although quite far from land the loch is only a few feet deep on the north side of the island.

Here is what loch lomond islands.com says about Inchmurrin;

BY FAR the largest of Loch Lomond’s islands, Inchmurrin is truly an enchanting place of woodlands and meadows, high ridge and gentle vale, and always with the water sparkling on all sides. An ideal way to explore it is to sail in to one of the golden gravel bays on the isthmus of the tiny north-east peninsula and from there climb steeply through giant oaks and birches to the open grassy ridge. Leaving plenty of time to linger and enjoy the views from the ridge, descend gradually through vast rhododendron thickets and across rolling meadows to the welcome of the little hotel on the south-east shore. On a bright May morning this little expedition must be among the greatest of pleasures that life can offer.
Set on a headland on the south-westerly extremity of Inchmurrin stand the ruined walls of an ancient castle. It was to this place that the Earl of Lennox with his family and retainers fled in the fourteenth century from his stronghold at Balioch Castle on the mainland, to try to escape from the plague ravaging the neighbourhood. Here also it is believed came Robert the Bruce, later to become victorious King of Scotland, given refuge by the fifth Earl of Lennox after his defeat by the men of Lorne. Inch murrin Castle too became an exile for the tragic Isabella, Countess of Albany, and daughter of the eighth Earl of Lennox. She had had the nightmare experience of losing her husband, father and two sons, all executed at Stirling on the same day in 1425 at the command of King James I. This terrible toll the King exacted in revenge for his eighteen years of imprisonment in England, an ordeal for which he held the House of Albany responsible. At first imprisoned in Tantalion Castle, she was later allowed to move to what must have been a place of her childhood memories at Inchmurrin, passing her days in religious works until her death in 1460.
Other fragments of Inchmurrin’s story have found their way down through the dark mists of time. Sir John Colquhoun of Luss was slain there by the islanders in 1440, but what tale lies behind this dark deed has not been revealed. King James VI of Scotland (and I of England) frequently found his way to the island to enjoy the exhilaration of the deer hunt, and it is said that the notes of the bugle horn often echoed through its woods.
Long, long before all these events, Inchmurrin knew echoes of a gentler kind, as the soft chanting of early Christian monks rose upwards from the chapel they had constructed somewhere towards its southern end. This chapel was dedicated to St Mirrin, and it is likely that he must have visited or even lived here, but in my case his name was given to this peaceful
island. There are places where one can imagine the chapel and its monastic dwellings may have stood, but there is no certain evidence as to its location.
When Inchmurrin Castle fell into disuse and ruin is not known, but along with the other lands of Lennox, Inchmurrin was purchased by the Marquis of Montrose in the seventeenth century, and by 1792 we find the island being described as being well wooded and abounding in pasture and supporting two hundred deer under the care of a gamekeeper and his family working for the Duke of Montrose. About the same time it was written that the people of Inchmurrin belonged to no parish, and it was recommended as a place for ladies who had occasion for temporary retirement.’
By the 1830s a neat modern cottage for the accommodation of parties of pleasure from the annual residence’ had been erected, and fifty years later Inchmurrin was still the Duke of Montrose’s private deer park, inhabited by another in a long succession of gamekeeping families.
Still another fifty years on in 1930, when Inchmurrin was sold by the Montrose Estate to Mr A M Melville, the only habitation was the keeper’ lodge, set in a little bay on the short southern shore, where it remains in use today. The new owner had some bungalows built, but soon afterwards the island was sold to the Scott family, who still own it.
The present generation of Scotts, Mr Tom Scott, his wife and Sons have worked hard to make Inchmurrin an economic success, and this they have done without spoiling it natural beauty. They run a herd of eighty beef cattle, for which they grow feed of grass and kale. They also own the hotel, opened as a guest house in 1956, and now fully licensed and open from March to October, and for visitors and inhabitants they run a ferry service to the mainland near Arden. There are now fifteen houses on Inchmurrin, three of which are inhabited permanently, and a cluster of some ten wooden cabins belonging to a naturist club. Much frequented by anglers, watersports people and trippers on the mail boat from Balmaha, Inchmurrin hotel also gets some more exotic visitors, who drop in for dinner by helicopter. If they had the time and patience, they might find the opportunity to get there free and on foot, for very occasionally the southern end of the Loch freezes enough to allow people to walk to and from the mainland. During the great frost of 1895, twenty six thousand people are said to have walked on the Loch on one day, and men of the Montrose Estate transported food and other supplies by horse and cart across the ice to the gamekeeper in the lodge on Inchmurrin.
A great shinty match was played in the vicinity:of the island on a fine sheet of ice, and at the same time skating races and a curling match between married men and single men were taking place further south on the Loch. Many years later, in 1934, another sport brought tragedy when a boat belonging to Loch Lomond Rowing Club was swamped off Inchmurrin
and five of the crew were drowned.
In March 1990, when heavy rain and the release of water from hydroelectric dams caused Loch Lomond to rise to the highest levels ever recorded, a house near the southern shore of Inchmurrin had to be temporarily evacuated.

Out and About

Some of this weeks photos

An unusual view of Inchmurrin with Ben Lomond completely hidden by cloud.

How old must this sign be?

One from yesterday's game taken with the phone

Duchess Woods Helensburgh

Balloch Castle Country Park

Horses at Ardmore

Helensburgh and the Firth of Clyde (via phone from Helensburgh Upland Walk)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 258 other followers