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Aye Conic (2)

Conic Hill, Inchhfad and Eiean Darroch ( and Inchmoan and Inchcailloch)

I bought another inflatable canoe on Monday. It arrived yesterday, and having a day off today I gave it its maiden voyage.

It’s a single seater, a Sevylor Rio and if you speak Czech, here’s the info!

The light wasn’t great for photos and many of the hills were covered in cloud. I got some snaps though:

Swan at Inchtavannach

Pine Tree (not the lonesome pine!) Inchconnachan

It's safe to say that water levels are high

Inchmoan

Inchmurrin from the shore at Inchmoan

Luss – Village of Light

History, almost everywhere, is bound up with religion. This is particularly true of the village of Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond which is associated particularly with Saint Kessog for whom there have been claims to be Patron Saint of Scotland. He was a martyr having been executed at Luss sometime between 520 and 530 at Bandray Bay just south of Aldochlay which in turn is just south of Luss.

Regular readers will know my views on religion in general so no need to go back into all that (apart from a few references below!).

I am fascinated by the history surrounding it though and having parked my vehicle in Glen Luss this morning I took a walk down to the village beside the River Luss via an old slate quarry. I have lived within a few miles of this location for most of my life but today was my first time in this particular area.

As I approached the village, I saw signs for the Glebe and the St Kessog’s Trail, which I followed. it led me into a field where there were several (many) little plates with vignettes of the history of St Kessog. I didn’t have my camera, so phone shots will have to suffice:

It was doing really well until the last bit!

If you’ve read the above link to St Kessog, then you’ll have read the story of him swimming in Ireland with some fellow Princes who drowned but the power of prayer brought them back to life. All complete fairytale of course, folklore but there are seemingly sane, intelligent people that believe this stuff.

Strange isn’t it that these miracles are all unverifiable? All taking place in a time when word of mouth by holy men was……er gospel!

Anyhoo, at the Glebe there is a rather impressive Celtic style wooden and glass cross, erected last year to commemorate St Kessog and celebrate 15 centuries of Christianity on Loch Lomond

Once a tree......

St Kessog’s church was on the island of Inchtavannach which I’ve written about several times.

After the Glebe I wandered down by Luss Parish Church

And then to the shore and pier.

 

A fantastic walk and only about an hour and a half in total. You can access it from Glen Luss and follow signs for the quarry or from the village itself and go the other way round.

As for the name of Luss, one theory is that as the Christians settled, displacing the Druid population, they saw themselves as bringing the village “into the light” and thus named the village Lux which is the Latin word for light. It later became Luss.

And talking of light, I was quite pleased with the photographic results, courtesy of Nokia!

 

Bouncin’

I first wrote about Inchconnachan here. It’s the island on Loch Lomond with the wild wallaby colony on it.

I haven’t been out on the canoe much this year due to the weather, but I’m on a few days off and the weather was good this morning so off I set with my younger daughter. We’ve only ever done short trips together but I decided that we’d do a proper one today.

We met a family at our launch point, Aldochlay who had been camping on Inchconnachan overnight and had just returned. They hadn’t seen any wallabies – to their disappointment.

It took us just over half an hour to get to the island and Eve was keen to try and get a photo of the unusual wildlife. We set off for part of the island where I’ve always been lucky at seeing them.

Sure enough it wasn’t long before we met this female. (spot the pouch?)

and then this guy:

and this one:

We saw seven, possibly eight (not sure if the last one was a repeat of an earlier one) wallabies and actually were watching three together at one stage. Going by the latest estimates, if we did see eight then I reckon that’s about a quarter of the total population just now.

After a lunch of mushroom omelette cooked up on the camping stove and some crisps and tea, we boarded the canoe again to complete the circumnavigation of Inchtavanach.

The picture below is of a patch of water lilies. The ‘narrows between Inchconnachan and Inchtavanach used to be carpeted by lilies but increased use of the loch, especially by power boats has meant that only this patch, and a small one on the opposite side survive.

Just after this point we were treated to an aerobatic display by an osprey. It was close enough to identify but not close enough for a decent photo (I only take a compact digital in the canoe)

The wind got up as we negotiated the south end of Inchtavanach but nothing our vessel couldn’t handle. And how about this for a view to end our wee trip?

Calm

After Sunday’s exertions, Loch Lomond was like this, this evening.

The Ben

Glen Luss

Aldochlay - Calm

The Narrows

The Other side of the Loch

I’ve been chronicling my canoe trips on Loch Lomond and elsewhere for over two years now. Generally the trips have been to the islands and have been, if not in flat calm conditions, then in a light breeze.

Today Richie and I decided to go to the south side of Inchcruin to see if we could see any capercaillie.

So, armed with binoculars and camera we took off from Aldochlay in the inflatable and got to our destination in about an hour and a half of leisurely paddling round Inchtavannach and Inchmoan.
We stopped at Inchtavannach to get a photo of some fallow deer but they were a bit shy. The fence was for a couple of horses. The deer demonstrated how they could jump it nae bother.

Bucinch from the shore at Inchcruin

We had a look around Inchcruin, didn’t see any capercaillie, had our breakfast and at 10:30 jumped back into the boat. “We’ll be back at base for 12:00 midday” said I somewhat optimistically.

So remember I was saying about it being calm or a light wind? When we re-took to the loch a considerable wind was blowing. We had a look at our intended route round the north of Inchmoan – no chance! it was blowing a hoolie and the waves were ten feet tall. (ok I’m exaggerating but there were waves!)

We therefore elected to take the route south of the island figuring that it would give us shelter from the north westerly wind.

We were wrong!

Once we had got to the far end of Inchmoan (By this time it was 1:30!) things did seem a bit calmer.

Your humble blogger on the shore at Inchmoan with Inchgalbraith and Loch Lomond Golf Club in the background.

After a much needed rest, we decided that the “narrows” the stretch of water between Inchtavannach and Inchconnachan would be our best bet.

Wrong again!

The wind was just the right direction to blow right down the narrows, turning this normally tranquil stretch into a hybrid between the Crazy River, The Severn Boar and Cape Horn!

We decided it was futile as at one point when we stopped paddling we were swept back about 200 yards in a few seconds.

Powerboat owners were sniggering knowingly as they observed.

One guy on Inchconnachan, also in a canoe had phoned the Ranger service about a possible rescue. We decided however that he was a bit of a woos.

Back round the south end of Inchtavannach then and despite another rather windy bit just before Aldochlay we arrived back a full two and a half hours (spent mainly paddling into wind and waves) after our estimate.

I’m knackered!

Richie, at least 15 years my junior and in a somewhat superior status of physical fitness, was shattered too.

A choppy loch, Inchmoan and the Ben

You know what though?

We enjoyed it.

CRazy!

It’s That Loch Groove Thang Again!

Can’t stay away from the place. I had a day off today so took to the loch in the canoe for the morning.

Paddled through the narrows, round Inchmoan and back.

Because it was a weekday there was hardly a soul about.

My! it was great!

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Inchtavannach

It’s been about six weeks since I’ve been out on the canoe on Loch Lomond but we put that right today. Richie and I set paddle for Inchtavannach at early o’clock. It is one of the most accessible islands on the loch and it is steeped in history. Having got to a bay on the north of the island, we set off up Tom na Clag, or Hill of the Bell (Mediaeval monks constructed a bell on the hill to call locals to worship). The summit is just over 80 metres giving a good vantage point. The weather was a bit dull but I still got these two photos

Camstradden House

A grey day on the loch from Tom na Clag summit

Camstradden House is now the seat of the Colquhoun clan who own Luss Estates. Their previous home Rossdhu House is now the clubhouse at Loch Lomond Golf Club where fees are a modest five figure sum per year.

Camstradden has a place in local folklore as it is reputed to be the location of a lost village now submerged under the loch. I can’t find any evidence to substantiate the legend but it survives nonetheless.

Richie and I then came back down to the bay and had traditional Scottish breakfast of square slice on a roll and a big mug of tea.

Poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge visited Inchtavannach in the early 19th century. I’m sure we had a better breakfast than they did.

Osprey. Photo at lochlomondangling.com

We had already seen two peregrine falcons at the summit but as we sat and ate breakfast we observed three ospreys above Fraoch (Heather) Island. We got a cracking view thanks to Richie’s binoculars which have lenses mounted on gyroscopes which compensate for slight movement (shaky hands etc.)

Although Richie is a zooologist, he was stumped by this flourecent bug.

Mystery bug

We paddled round between Inchtavannach and Inchconnachan and round the rest of Inchtavannach before returning to Aldochlay where I took this photo.

The canoe at Aldochlay

Inch by Inch

The weather forecast predicted a deluge in West Central Scotland lasting most of the day. It was therefore with one eye on the sky I set out just after six this morning for Loch Lomond with the inflatable canoe.

Having got everything ready at Aldochlay I was on the water by about 6:40.

First port of call was the island of Inchgalbraith. This comes from the excellent lochlomond-islands.com

THIS TINY islet lying not far south-west of Inchmoan is thought to be a crannog or artificial island , built by Iron Age people as a dwelling place safe from human and animal predators.

Usually crannogs could be reached by foot by means of submerged causeways, which followed a circuitous course in order to confuse attackers. Presumably a crannog like Inchgalbraith where the nearest land was an island was doubly secure.
Whatever its primitive man-made origins, the island was found or made strong enough to support the medieval castle of the Galbraiths, the tree camouflaged ruins of which take up most of the island. At one time the Galbraiths owned Bannachra in Glen Fruin, and the erstwhile crannog formed part of this estate. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, and possibly earlier, the castle was already a ruin, and on its topmost point was the eyrie of ospreys, birds which later became extinct throughout the British Isles, but which are now to be seen over Loch Lomond once more. In the last century it was reported that the ospreys on Inchgalbraith had been destroyed by Mr John Colquhoun, author of The Moor and the Loch, an act which he was said to have later regretted.
Today, veiled in trees and bushes, the old castle walls still stand high although buffeted by centuries of winter storms, a testimony to the skill of those who built them and to the much earlier men who created the land from which they rise.

I took these photos:

Inchgalbraith Island and Castle

Galbraiths Castle

It seemed like a good place to boil up a cuppa and have breakfast. There was much evidence of deer but none on the island. The fallow deer on the loch swim between the islands and the mainland.

Inchgalbraith is only about 25 metres at longest and widest.

After breakfast it was on to Inchmoan.

Inchmoan is Loch Lomond’s Pacific island. There are no shading palms, no coral reefs, but on a summer’s day Inchmoan’s long, curving sandy beaches become the nearest thing to a tropical paradise that Scotland has to offer. All the activity is on the fringes of the long, flat island for the interior is a jungle of rhododendron, birch, alder, gorse, bog myrtle and blaeberry, the peaceful sanctuary of visiting fallow deer. Only on the western peninsula and at the other extremity of the island, near to Inchcruin, is there a different world of high Scots pines.

The Loch Lomond tropics on a dull day this morning.

Along with Inchlonaig, Inchmoan was granted to the Colquhoun clan by Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, in the reign of Alexander II. Sir Robert Kilpatrick, of Colquhoun, married the daughter of the Laird of Luss, and their descendants became known as the Colquhouns of Luss. Inchmoan has remained the property of the Luss Estate since these
far away times. Despite the fact that there are ruins of a substantial building, with wall still standing two storeys high, among the pines on the western peninsula, there is no record of anyone having lived on Inchmoan within historical times. It is said that the ruined building was started by a man from the Vale of Leven early in the nineteenth century, but running out of money he was unable to complete it. Standing gaunt and empty among the pines it conceals its secrets well.

The Inchmoan building. An unfinished project?

For centuries the mainland inhabitants of Luss used Inchmoan as their source of peat fuel, and in early summer it must have been a hive of industry with boats being rowed out, men cutting deep into the peat banks, and women and children stacking the peats to dry in the summer sun, 1ater to be carried to the boats and brought home in autumn. The narrow shallow strait .between Inchmoan and Inchcruin is called the Geggles’..

One Incmoan Beach (Palm trees and sunshine not pictured)

There were plenty campers and boats in the area this morning. This was my first visit to Inchmoan and I can vouch for the fact that it is peaty. Each step finds you sinking gently into the terra not so firma. Most of it is fairly dry (probably due to recent weather) but very spongy.

From Inchmoan I paddled around the ‘far side’ of Inchconnachan (see BLFP passim) where there are several warning markers like this:

These buoys mark the osprey nesting sites on Inchconnachan.

Despite evidence of some pretty bad and nonsensical behaviour from visitors, it was good to see that this warning was being respected by the boaters. I continued round the north end of the island and as the canoe had taken in a wee bit of water I pulled in at Inchtavannach to empty it and boil up another cuppa. I took these photos from the shore.

Fraoch Eilean (Heather Island) used as a prison in the 18th century

Inchlonaig from Inchtavannach

On the way back and just pulling into Aldochlay Bay, this old timer waved and shouted a cheery “Good Morning!” from his boat.

Boat and owner have been together 65 years!

He explained that he had bought this boat from Glasgow Corporation 65 years ago for fifty shillings when he was a teenager! At that stage they had gone on to fibre glass lifeboats and had sold all their cedar lifeboats for £2 and the mahogany ones for 50/-.

Considering their respective ages, both boat and man looked in exceedingly fine nick!

The weather forecast was thankfully wrong and other than a light shower, I completed the journey (on loch and land about six hours in total) in fairly decent weather (despite the clouds in the photos).

My paddling partner Richie couldn’t make it today but on our next trip we’ll probably reprise this one and take in Inchcruin as well.

The photos today were on the wee digital as I don’t usually risk the big camera on the canoe.

View From Canoe

I took the canoe for its first voyage of the year today. I got some ok shots but I only took the wee camera today due to the “fall in the loch” risk.

Loch Lomond

The Loch from Inchconnachan

I wrote about Inchconnachan last year. This is the island where ospreys nest and which has its own colony of wallabies! Although I landed there for a wee while I didn’t see any of them today. However I did see some deer on the shore at another island, Inchtavannach, as I passed by.

Deer,deer,deer!

Deer,deer,deer!

"Wee Peter"

This is “Wee Peter” who is situated at Bandray Bay just south of the hamlet of Aldochlay. Since I was a kid I have been under the impression that Peter marked the spot of a tragic drowning of a child at the spot. My parents told me that the drowned boy had been a member of the Colquhoun family who are the landowners in the area and still operate Luss Estates.

The truth however is that Wee Peter was spotted in a London yard by a local stonemason, brought north and erected at the Loch in 1890. I sailed close enough to the statue today to read a few of the words inscribed on it. All I could make out with any clarity were the name “Kerr” and the date 1890

Swan with Aldochlay in the background

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