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Old 19 April 2015, 05:32   #1
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Leaving for Loch Leven

For those not familiar with Loch Leven.. it is a narrow sea loch some 8 miles in length and less than a mile across at its widest point ..and only a hundred meters at its narrowest point. It is set among some of the most scenic mountains and moors of Scotland. Steeped in the history of clan warfare ..the small village of Glencoe nestles on its southern shore line.

I had some business to do in the area.. so packed my small Seago inflatable in the boot of my car.. and also loaded my bed and car camping gear..then headed for the wilderness once again.



The majestic mountain of Buachaille Etive Mor stands guard on the southern approach to Glencoe... and on my way to the sea loch




This must be the most photographed mountain in the whole of Scotland..especially from the River Coupall...



But it is only one of many that you pass on the southern approach to Loch Leven ... Creise stands proudly..over 3000ft above the lonely Kings House Hotel



Glencoe is named after the valley formed by the Three Sisters of Glencoe ..the mountains on the south.. and the Aonach Eagach mountain ridge to the north. These are some of the most challenging mountains to climb in the UK.



It was in this dark glen that the Clan MacDonald were slaughtered by their neighbours the Campbell clan ..in 1692. The MacDonalds who lived in the glen .. were hosts to the Campbells..offering them food and shelter when the dark deed was done... which made it all the more sinister.

Passing through Glencoe you finally reach Loch Leven..where I intended to have my first SIB outing of the year.




But before putting SIB to water .... I had a couple of hurdles to cross... to be continued.
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Old 19 April 2015, 05:52   #2
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Nice!
Look forward to the next instalment!
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Old 19 April 2015, 05:59   #3
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Quality as usual I've walked the ridge from aonach mor over the Chancellor & the crazy pinnacles, stunning. We've also walked up the aqueduct from Kinlochleven to the reservoir at the top, very very special. Keep it coming.


.....sh1t happens.......
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Old 19 April 2015, 06:58   #4
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Thanks for looking in guys..hey you did well doing the Aonach Eagach ridge Dave..its the hardest of our ridge scrambles.. apart from the Cuillin ridge. Very enjoyable if you have a good head for heights


Now that I am in the promised land and retired.. I like to think my life is one long adventure. Even in winter I still head for the wilderness when the weather allows..only its not for SIBbing..its for Clambering. I enjoy the hurdles of Scotlandís Mountains. They are there so why waste them by ignoring them ? Hopefully you guys can be patient and tag along for this update..I will get to the SIBbing shortly. Its all part of this adventure.

There is a lot of snow left on the eastern slopes of Scotlands hills..and its still very cold at night..so my boating adventures are kept short..while I clamber the hills to keep warm. I had the mountain of Creise in my diary for a while..so arrived at the Glencoe Ski resort at lunch time on Thursday ..and got my boots out.

To get to Creise..I had to first clamber up Meall a Bhuirdh..another 3000ft high mountain. Its the one the Glencoe Ski centre is on. I didnít take the chairlift..as Im a purist and walk to the tops of my hills.





There is still lots of snow and skiers around..even is mid April..so its been a good year for them.




I kept well off the ski slopes by rounding the mountain to the north where its too steep to ski. Finally I got to the top and enjoyed a view looking over Glencoe towards Ben Nevis..the UKís highest mountain at over 4000 feet



I didnít enjoy the view to the west quite so much. I saw I had to descent 700ft then clamber up an intimidating steep snow clad ridge to get over to Creise.



The snow was solid so time for crampons. In true Gurnard fashion .. when life gets tough..I donít look at the big picture..I just focus on the first few feet in front..and in no time at all I was on the top of Creise.





And surrounded by a sea of mountains ...





Who needs to go to the Alps..when all this is at my feet.. an hour or so drive from my house.





I got back to my car around 8pm..just in time to make some supper..then fall asleep in the car. I was sound within minutes..dreaming of SIBbing on Loch Leven in the morning. I was happy as I had crossed my two hurdles.

To be continued with the SIB next...
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Old 19 April 2015, 08:47   #5
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Old 19 April 2015, 09:11   #6
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Thanks for looking in Ian..its appreciated.



I awoke at 7am to the forecasted blue sky. It was still below freezing as I ate breakfast sitting on the tailgate of the car. Condensation had frozen solid on the car windows. Its the reason there is still so much snow around and why I have been in no hurry to get the SIBs going this year.

Once the windows cleared.. I drove the last few miles down Glencoe village and Loch Leven. The water reflected like a mirror on the crisp windless morning.





It was still too cold to think of SIBbing but I knew in a couple of hours ..things would start warming under the morning sun..so I took a look around... before going for a coffee in the village.





From the cafe ... I looked across the water to the little island of Eilean Munde. Its memory from past visits motivated to get the SIB on the water





So I drove round to a layby where I normally launch the seago SIB. It is in the middle of no where so Im not bothering anyone..and no one is bothering me.





Moments later the SIB was inflated and in the water ... I was now getting quite excited at the prospect of the first boat journey of the year..so everything was just throw into the boat.





A couple of tugs on the outboard and ... nothing happened ?
Thats when I remembered I had to switch on the petrol. Yup..my old memory can be a bit forgetful at times. Fuel tap on ..another couple of tugs ... and I was off.. heading for Eilean Munde.




In my haste to get underway ..I didnít attach my home made spray dodger. Half way across and a couple of the larger waves splashed over the small diameter tubes..soaking my trousers and left around a litre of water in the boat. I knew I should have fixed the spray dodger before going..but I can be a little impatient at times.





I landed on Eilean Munde and promised myself to attach the dodger...but first.. I was going to visit my ancestors.



To be continued....
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Old 19 April 2015, 10:41   #7
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Before I take you to visit my ancestors.. its worth expanding on the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692.



It was in a bitter winters morning on 13th February that the Campbells awoke in the hamlets of their hosts ..the MacDonalds..and put them to the sword. Those that escaped..headed for the high hills. The survivors huddled in the bitter temperatures of the Lost Valley..hidden deep in the Three Sisters range of Mountains.

It was minus 16 degrees C when I was last there and took this photo..so have some understanding of their plight. But the weather was far worse..some tried to scale the walls of the valley..to escape into Glen Etive.. but few survived the journey. Those that waited in the valley ..were turned to ice.






Even today..many MacDonalds have difficult relationships when they meet Campbells. This sign.. although in jest .. as the owner is no MacDonald.. shows there is still feelings. Its on the front door of the Clachaig Hotel in Glencoe.



Rather than letting me witter on about the massacre...best let the Corries tell the story in ď Cruel is the Snow that Sweeps Glencoe"




To be continued...
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Old 19 April 2015, 11:51   #8
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The little island off Glencoe Village is no ordinary island. In the 7th Century .. St Fintan Mundus who travelled from Iona ... built a little chapel on the Island. The last service was held in July 1653. Many of the bodies of the Murdered Macdonalds are believed to be buried on the island..including MacIain of Glencoe.. the Chief of the clan.


I try to make an annual pilgrimage to the little island.. not because I am a MacDonald..or even a Campbell..but because I enjoy visiting. I love our history as much as I love our landscape and seas. I feel involved in the past when I explore these places.



For me..our history lives on ... like the mountains that surround the loch..



There is no public boat to take visitors to the island..you must have your own boat..or be a dead MacDonald or other dead Local Clan member ..if you want taken there. Local people are still laid to rest on the island. Its a place for reflection and honouring past lives.





I couldnít help but notice some MacDonandís crypts were open..perhaps the inhabitants were still out on the snow covered hills..looking for their murderers. With that thought ..I felt it was time to leave.




I went back to my boat and fixed the spray dodger to the SIB..


Then did a tour of remembrance round the island ..before heading off to explore more of Loch Leven. Although I had a tear in my eye..the dodger kept my trousers dry.



To be continued...
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Old 19 April 2015, 12:11   #9
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Another great read gurnard your love for the land you live in is reflected in your words and photos I look forward to your stories keep um coming mate.

Cheers
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Old 19 April 2015, 12:35   #10
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A great read Gurnard.

Many thanks for sharing with us.

I understand your feelings for the land, history and sea - reflects my own thoughts for our own wee island across the sea.

Keep them coming ...
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Old 19 April 2015, 13:30   #11
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Thanks for the compliments guys..it is appreciated and Im happy you find this post interesting


Its important to remember our past.. we can learn from it and hopefully not make similar mistakes in the future.

Of course..there is always two sides to every story..and without going off topic of this thread for too long.. I will mention that last week I disappeared into Glen Lyon for a few days. It is another beautiful part of Scotland..not too far from Glencoe.

As I cycled round the isolation of Loch Lyon .. I thought of the Campbellís villages..deep below the loch. They were flooded when the Hydro dam was built.




The scenery is just as spectacular...as Glencoe..but there are few visitors.. and few stories of mass murder. There are lochs that have probably never seen a SIB. I also clambered a few of the hills around the area to reflect on this part of our history and country.




It is long lost in the mists of time.. that for years..the MacDonalds marched to Glen Lyon to steal Campbell cattle..which they hide high in the Lost Valley of Glencoe. We tend not to sing about that part of our past..but the truth was.. all the Clans stole and murdered one another in those days. MacDonalds were no better or worse than their neighbour.





Tomorrow I will continue with Loch Leven.. because soon .. I will be leaving again ..for another adventure in the wilderness .

It is my lifestyle and will be my history soon enough..so Im making the most of every breath I take...before I too ... end up in some ancient tomb.
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Old 19 April 2015, 17:03   #12
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Superb. One of the best threads I have come across on RiBNet . Many thanks for sharing your adventures on the forum. I know more is to come but had to say it.
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Old 19 April 2015, 17:40   #13
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Fascinating thread - excellent photos. The reputation of the "crooked mouthed" Campbells reaches as far as here. As one of the "crooked nosed" clan, my family recall the Campbell's double dealing...
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Old 19 April 2015, 18:36   #14
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Leaving for Loch Leven

There are still Macdonalds around these parts that won't associate with Campbell's.

"Never trust a Campbell" has been muttered a few times after a beer or two.

Cracking thread as usual Gurnard.
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Old 20 April 2015, 02:34   #15
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Thanks again for looking in guys..much appreciated.

I confess that although Im an old git and tend to keep neutral in politics.. I do recall another dark winters night in November 1975. I was enjoying one or three pints of the ďBlack GravyĒ with some local worthies in the George Hotel, Inverary. The craic was good and everyone was enjoying themselves.

Suddenly the bar door burst open..and someone on the street shouted in... ďCome quick.. the castles on fire !!Ē

Just as quickly ..the population of the bar muttered ďLet it BurnĒ.

I enjoyed another few pints that night. Even the bar scrounger seemed keen to buy a round.. to keep folks talking.


For those who may not be so familiar with Scotland and its clans.... Inverary Castle is the home of the Duke of Argyle.. Clan Chief of the Campbells.



SIBbing will be continued soon...
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Old 20 April 2015, 03:36   #16
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After my tour of Eilean Munde ..I started on my eastward journey .. following the full length of Loch Leven. My outboard engine is a 3.3HP Mariner 2 stroke and is as ideal size for the slat floor Seago. I just keep it on one third throttle and the boat bobs along happily at a displacement speed of around four knots.





Soon I was passing the campsite on the edge of Glencoe village. I have stayed there in the past and it is a lovely campsite..with its own slipway to the Loch. The mountain in the backdrop is Bidean Nam Bain.. the highest mountain in Argyle. I have clambered over all these mountains many times..many years ago. Some folks are reborn bikers in their second childhood..Im a reborn mountaineer.





Loch leven is surrounded by stunning mountainous scenery. Although it looks idyllic..and it was on Friday.. I still knew the weather forecast was for light winds of 4-5mph gusting to 8-10mph.


If you are new to small boats.. dont be fooled into thinking the sea lochs of Scotland are safer than the open sea. The waves form short steep slopes and gusts can come whistling off the mountaintops and funnel through the glens very quickly. Friday..all was calm..and my home made spray dodger kept my trousers dry in the short sharp 6 inch wavelets





For those who enjoy stopping for lunch..there is a very good Seafood Cafe ..with moorings for customers..on the northern side of the Loch. Im on a diet..plus too stingy to spend that kind of money..unless its my birthday.. so I only took a photograph of it for lunch.





I was now approaching the narrows of Caolas Nan Con which are approximately half way along the loch. The tide was on its last hour of ebb so the water was flowing towards me like a fast river of around 5 or 6 knots. It was also assisted by a good deal of fresh water snow melt running off the hills.





The SIB slowed down in the fast current..so I opened the engine to 2/3rd throttle. I created lots of froth at the back of the boat..for little extra speed..but I got through the narrows nae problem. If wind is against the tide on the narrows..it can be a far different story at this point ..and my small SIB can struggle to get through on spring tides.. oh... and the spray dodger is not enough to keep my trousers dry.




To be continued...
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Old 20 April 2015, 04:10   #17
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Brilliant photographs and fascinating commentary, when is the tour guide coming out
More please
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Old 20 April 2015, 05:24   #18
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Thank you for taking the time to write this! Always a brilliant read!
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Old 20 April 2015, 06:59   #19
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Thanks again guys..and I enjoy writing about my adventures.. no one listens to me at home.

Normally.. I post one update per day..but as I intend heading off again tomorrow.. I wanted to finish this tale today.


Once through the narrows.. there is another campsite. Its mostly for tents and the shore access for boats is not a slipway.. but I do see small ones getting launched there at times. I have never stayed at this campsite..but I normally see lots of folks there.


Fishing in the narrows can be good..for them small silver and very tasty fish ... that I wont mention.



The loch then open into the upper basin. The reason there is a fast flow in the narrows is all the water in this part is trying to rush though the small gap




Looking back..gives some idea of the distance travelled. My journey started at that distant mountain .. way beyond the gap.




It clouded over as I approached Kinlochleven..which is the end of the loch. A river then continues into the village..but it is shallow and full of snags.. so not a place for a SIB. The mighty Mamore mountains look magnificent as they surround Kinlochleven.




Kinlochleven was once a very busy industrial town due to its aluminium smelter which employed around 700 people who lived in the town. It closed in 1996 and now Kinlochleven is a sleepy wee tourist town now. The old pier where the ships came to load and unload the ore and aluminium stands silent. Im certain large congers live in the deep depths beside the pier..but Im too scared to target them..last thing I want is a 3m conger flapping around in my 2.7m boat. I get a lot of mackerel here in the season..oh..and some more silvery things I canít tell about.





I was feeling a little cold after sitting in the SIB all morning and early afternoon ..so I landed..had a bite to eat..then lay down on a huge granite slab. The sun had warmed it slightly..so it felt like a warm night storage heater. Any tourists that may have observed me..would think I was some strange reptile..heating myself in the sun.





Feeling warmer again..I headed back to the start of my journey and played with my fishing rod. I never caught a thing..but I wasnít too interested either...it was now 4pm and I wanted to go see another famous MacDonald.





I landed and packed the boat into the car and headed for Fort William. I stopped at MacDonaldís and had a burger while I plugged the IPAD into their free wifi. I wanted to check the weather for the next day. The forecast was for wall to wall sunshine and light winds.



I parked up the car and had a good nights kip .. dreaming of a special end to this adventure.


I will tell about that in the final post to this tale ..coming soon.
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Old 20 April 2015, 08:21   #20
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I guess some of you may think Im mad..
Saturday was a perfect day for SIBbing..wall to wall sunshine ..warm.. light winds ... and I chose not to go out in my boat.

Instead I opted to finish the weekís adventure by clambering up a steep stone staircase





It went up... and up ...





And up..but the views kept getting better and better... I could see for miles....





Then the staircase disappeared beneath the snow..but it didnít stop me ..I just kept going up...



And up....





A small white man indicated that I was almost there ...





Looking back..Fort William was like a toy town.. over 4000ft below me ...




Although it was a frozen waste land I was walking on... I felt on top of the world ...





I had just clambered up the highest mountain in the UK.. Ben Nevis.





I have stood beside the cairn and observatory a dozen times in my life.. but I have never seen the view from the top before..its always been clouded over.

I hope now you can understand why I chose clambering ..rather than SIBbing on such a beautiful day.


Not bad for a 60 years old guy.. three mountains over 3000ft and a sea loch SIB ..all in three days work. That is a good adventure in my books.. any day !


Of course.. there is always someone who does it the hard way ..but I didnít envy them.. I did it that way over thirty years ago..and lived to tell the tale too.



Thanks to all who read my wittering words..and especially to those who commented. I sincerely hope you all have good adventures this coming weekend.. whether it be SIbbing ..Ribbing..clambering or whatever you enjoy doing.. stay safe.

And although Im leaving Loch Leven alone for now.. I will return with more tales of The Gurnard..soon enough.
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