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
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.
Filed under: loch lomond, Photos | Tagged: canoe, inchconnachan, inchgalbraith, inchmoan, inchtavannach, loch lomond | Leave a comment »