Our ten lochs challenge continued to Loch Venachar. This was only a short drive from Loch Lubnaig, and the conditions were excellent for swimming. There was hardly a breath of wind whispering over the calm surface as we invaded the loch from the car-park. Most times I have swum here I have witnessed the wind swirling around from multiple directions, so it was a welcome change to have calm conditions.
According to several sources, this loch sits at 82 metres above sea level and empties via Eas Gobhain into the River Teith, which is the source of water for Deanston Distillery. In turn, the River Teith flows into the River Firth which flows past Edinburgh out to the North Sea.
But enough geography. This swim was so pleasurable, with it being so still that the bubbles caused by the swimmers moving through the water staying visible on the surface. I had to stop several times just to watch the wake from some of my fellow adventurers. The water felt very warm at 15.8c (60.4F), and the air was warming up nicely to 12c as the morning grew longer. I did an easy 1km to keep myself on target.
Our next loch was Loch Drunkie, another of the lochs that I had yet to swim in and I had been looking forward to getting in after our reconnaissance. A few of our group had been here during the week working on a film, and enjoyed it. The loch sits in a shallow basin just above and drains into Loch Venachar, just below Duke’s Pass. I am not sure of why the loch has that name, but there must be a good story behind it.
It was a twenty minute drive from Loch Venachar, down dusty forest tracks to get to the water’s edge. There were lots of tents pitched by the side of the loch as we went in. The water was not as clear as some of the others, but it was a warm 16.1c (61F) according to our official shaky statistician (though it did not feel that warm). I did an easy 900m, stopping to look at the forest surrounding the loch on all sides. This would be a beautiful spot in the autumn to see the trees show off their colours before going into hibernation for the cold winter. This was loch number five, and we were half-way to our goal.
The process of drying off, and getting into the dryrobe and maybe getting a small drink, and driving to the next loch was now getting into a routine. Our next stop was Loch Achray, which we had actually already driven past on our drive between Loch Venachar and Loch Drunkie. We had decided to swap entry points to the forest side of the loch after our inspection the previous weekend as it was less muddy than the normal place we used.
Loch Achray is a shallow loch, that also drains into Loch Venachar. Our entry point was adjacent to a campsite, and the campers were fascinated by a pod of thirty swimmers laughing and smiling as they entered the refreshing 15.9c water. A group of us swam across the loch to a small chapel that is used as an idyllic wedding venue. I was starting to notice the chill, and only did 820m on this swim. Six lochs now finished, only four to go.
There were lots of photos taken by other swimmers, and I have put some of this in the blog. One of the interesting observations about the day was that each and every swimmers had a different experience of each swim, but they all were enjoying the day.
After Achray, we had the longest drive of the day, up and over Duke’s Pass and down into Aberfoyle, and then to Kinlochard. Here we had booked the hall to have our lunch break, after we of course had swum in Loch Ard. This small loch is one of the sources of the River Forth, and it is one of our favourite places for a swim. Today, the fog of earlier had cleared and it was starting to warm up, with the air at 17.5c (63.5F), and the water a tropical 16.5c (61.7F).
We had a couple of fox terriers greeting us as we entered the water, running up and down the stone jetty looking confused about these people going for a swim. The wind was still light, and even though there were some dinghies sailing, we were moving through the water quicker than they could. I swam just under 1100m to get me back on track. It was great to see everyone still eager to get in and swim.
Into the hall we went for a well earned hot soup and cakes (after all what is an outdoor swim without cake) and hot drinks. I managed to talk to a lot of people I only get to see a few times a year, and the smiles on their faces and the joy in their eyes were wonderful. We even had a few hardy souls who decided to embark on their wild swimming adventures today. Not for them a leisurely swim in one loch: no ten swims in ten lochs for them.
Too soon it was time to drag the now partly refreshed bodies back into the cars to head for loch eight at Loch Chon.