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Old 01 November 2014, 08:32   #1
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The Gurnard does Loch Etive and meets the Bushwackers

Copied here to remove the general interspersed discussion from the original thread.

When a newbie arrives on the forum and asks “Which Boat to buy” , most folks will say the brand they own is best. It is understandable ..and the owner strongly believes it is too.. that is why they bought their’s in the first place.


In the same way.. if a newbie asks ..where is it best to use the boat, I guess most folks will say their local water is best..and that is why they go there. It is best for them.


Perhaps I am unlucky because I don’t live near any local water.. so I have to travel for my adventures. But on the other hand.. I live right in the centre of the country and many great boating areas are within easy reach. The west coast is only a couple of hours away.. as is the east coast ..and even the far north of Scotland is not much further..so I have a great choice. Ask me which is the best place to boat, and I couldn’t say, as I think they are all great but unique places. Only my mood at the moment could say “such and such” a place is best.

Today I think Loch Etive is the best as I frequent it very regularly. I therefore decided to post one of my adventures on the loch .. perhaps it can help SIBers with the choice of where to have a Scottish meeting.

As an introduction...

Loch Etive is a sea loch not far from Oban. It is remote, there are no roads around the north eastern shores and it is very deep..often reaching depths of 400ft. It is surrounded by some of the most magnificent mountains in the UK.

Victorian gentry used to travel to Oban and catch a steamer which took them up the loch, where a coach met them at the loch end, then took them sightseeing onto Glencoe. The beautiful scenery attracted many famous painters and poets, like William Wordsworth who penned the following verse about Glen Etive

This land of rainbows spanning glens whose walls
Rock-built, are hung with rainbow-colored mists,
Of far-stretched meres whose salt flood never rests
Of tuneful caves and playful waterfalls
Of mountains varying momently their crests
Proud be this land! whose poorest huts are halls

I have attached a small map of the Loch so you can see the places I mention in my Adventure





And an “aerial view” from the top of Ben Starav at the far north eastern end of the loch which shows how remote it is in this area






Introduction over.. I will add my adventure soon..... so do come back later if you want to find out about the bushwhackers.. and see the loch in detail....
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Old 01 November 2014, 10:52   #2
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Hi again all ..nice to see the interest in this adventure

..as mentioned..there are no licences required or restrictions in Loch Etive.. for either boating.. launching .. fishing ..or wild camping. There is even a bothy on the side of the loch.

A bothy is a cottage that anyone can use and sleep in. I tend to keep away from it though as they can be busy ..and there are mice in it. Common sense and courtesy to others is important though. Local people work and live around the loch..so don’t upset them. Also ..take only photographs and leave only foot prints..respect the countryside ..its not hard to do

This journey started on a lovely mid week day in July. I had notice the forecast predicting a good spell of weather settling over the west coast. I don’t need any other excuse to throw the Tesco Value tent into my SIB.. attach trailer to car..and head for the wilderness and another Gurnard adventure.

Initially I was going to head for Arisaig..but traffic was slow going up the A82. The caravans on the road were now limiting speeds to 40 m.p.h. By the time I got to Crianlarich I was getting impatient to be on the water so at the last moment decided to head to Loch Etive..as it was now only half an hour away..and the convoy I was stuck behind was going the other way towards Fort Bill.

It didn’t take long to turn off at Taynuilt.. drive through the sleep village to Kelly’s Pier and the beach launch site.





The shore is hard compact pebbles and even large hard shell Warriors and Shetland boats are beach launched here..often with normal cars. Its a doddle with a four wheel drive. However it is a bit more awkward at low tide as the water is shallow for a long way then. Its best to recover at high tide..or use a rope to pull the trailer at low tide.





It only takes me minutes to single handed launch my SIB.. and ten minuits later I was motoring through the Bonawe narrows, heading for my favourite wild camp site. The tide was going in and it flows like a river through the narrows. A slight wind was causing the short steep waves. I knew the water would be calm once through the narrows. Be aware ..it does get very rough in the narrows in a wind.





Once passed the narrows, I turned into the sheltered bay at Bonawe quarry. The quarry produces stone chips for the road surfaces in the area. I stopped the outboard and let the SIB drift. It felt great to be on the water again..and I was looking forward to a few days in the wilderness.. trying to survive by my natural instinct.





The more observant of you may have noticed.. Im a very DIY guy. I even tie up my own design fishing lures. I get a lot of satisfaction catching my dinner with a lure that I both design and make myself. Far better than using shop bought lures that catches more anglers than fish. Before my drift across the bay had finished.. I had dinner in the boat. A nice tender ling.. a member of the cod family.. but tastier.. and what is more..this one had never seen the inside of a freezer in its life.





My mouth started to water at the thought of a fresh ling slow cooked on an open fire, so I fired up the outboard and continued on my way to the camp site.

To be continued....
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Old 01 November 2014, 12:18   #3
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I soon left the quarry behind by putting the SIB on the plain.I guess the Ling left its family behind too.. but my hunger has little sentimentality. However I do only keep what I intend to eat. All others are returned to fight another day.





The slight wind was dropping and the water flattening. I was as happy as a sand boy as I passed Cadderlie Bothy. It sits below the hill of Beinn Mheadhonach which has native species of trees growing on its flanks. Oak, rowan and birch, rather than the foresty commission lumber trees.





I went in closer to see if anyone was around. Yup.. there was.. it is popular in good weather..not surprising .. as it is a free holiday home for anyone to use. However you don’t book ..you just arrive and it may be full..and sometimes full of drunks too. Give me my peace and quiet in my Tesco value tent any day.





I stopped for another shot at searching the bottom of the loch for some more fishy life. It didn’t take too long to bring this chap to the surface. Its a spur dog around 5lb mark. Spur dogs are so called because they have a deadly sharp spine in their dorsal fin ...and they know how to use it to defend themselves. They look like small sharks ..with gill slots ..a shark like tail.. and a mouth full of teeth. This one was lightly hooked in the corner of its mouth..so I managed to unhook it in the water. They are a protected species now.. and they taste terrible. It lived to tell another tale.





It is around 5 miles from Taynuilt to the place I intended camping.. I had now travelled 2.5 miles and had two fish.. not a bad start to my adventure.. time to head for the camp spot


To be continued...
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Old 02 November 2014, 04:11   #4
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You can wild camp anywhere around Loch Etive..as long as you are not setting up in someone’s garden or too near a house. Not that there are many gardens of houses at this end of the loch.

I generally pitch my tent on a sheltered peninsula at Barr. There is a flat grassy piece of wild land above a coarse sand beach which shelves gently into the loch. It is ideal.. but because of this.. there are sometimes others with similar ideas. It is considered the best wild camp spot on the loch..by those in the know.

The scenery is magnificent and it is easy to see why it attracted the Victorian artists and poets..and now wild campers. The campers are mostly kayakers or small boaters as the nearest road for car access is five miles away.

Although Glen Etive is now as bad with youngsters car camping and having wild parties as Loch Lomond was..before the ban.. they wont walk the length of themselves..never mind the five miles over boggy ground to get to this site... so its normally very peaceful and quiet.

This photo is from an earlier trip.. but it shows the headland where I camp in ideal conditions. The camp area is near the end of the trees on the foreground peninsula..jutting out into the loch...just to the right of my SIB’s bow.



Its not always flat calm..so I park my boat up in the river beside the camp area. It remains afloat there at all stages of the tide too.



I pitched my Tesco Value tent in the shelter of some whin bushes. This photo from the shore gives an idea of the camp location.



The view from the front room is looking over to Ben Cruachan. This year was a funny year.. there was still some snow on the tops.. even though this was now July.





I collected some firewood.. cooked the ling in some silver foil with a blob of butter.. then settled down for a quite relaxing night cap .. admiring the scenery .. while waiting the sun to set.



That is when my peace was disturbed.

I heard two sets of footsteps clumping down the field behind me.. then a cheeky young voice said..

“Hi mister ..nice fire you have there.. and your beer looks good.. been here long ? “

I turned and saw too two guys looking at me. I replied

“Yup..around 60 years” “What about you guys.. you been here long ?”

They were just as cheeky and replied

“Not long..we are staying back in them trees.. we are bushwhackers”

To be continued...
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Old 02 November 2014, 08:35   #5
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Continuing with the adventure...

The two bushwhackers and I continued with our probing conversation.. I guessed we were trying to sus each other out. I’m a fit and quite large 60 year old.. they were half my age and there were two of them so I thought that if our word exchange came to a fist exchange.. they may have the upper hand.

An mentioned earlier..I live by my natural instincts ..but fight or flight didn’t seen natural in this occasion. The bushwhackers turned the conversation to fishing. I decided it was best to fish.. so I laid the bait.

I said “ Hey guys.. I don’t have much beer..but you are welcome to share my last tin of Guinness between you. (I knew I was lying..I had a stash in the tent.. but now wasn’t the time to admit that)

BW(bushwhacker) “Hey that is decent of you mate..we don’t mind sharing it”

I handed over the tin

TG(Gurnard) “That’s a nice looking knife in your sheath..have not seen one like that since my mate Bowie died.”

BW “Yup..its a beaut.. six inch blade..its hard getting knives like that now.”

BW “Nice boat you got in the river.. would love a boat like that”


I quickly summed up the situation. Im in the middle of nowhere.. an old guy sleeping alone ..and my new neighbours are bushwhackers !?

Best bet for survival is reel them in now..or they may come back later when Im sleeping and help themselves to the boat or worse .. the stashed beer. I thought of the movie “Deliverance” and realised they could even try to help themselves to more... they looked the type ?

Yup.. its a good boat.. and Im thinking of having a last hours fishing before turning in for the night.. wanna come ? I have a spare fishing rod.


BW “ Wow.. you would do that for us mister ? ..that would be great”


I now felt any tense situation had gone.. they had swallowed my bait..hook line and sinker. Best to be friendly with the bushwhackers than risk them mugging me in the dark.

I took them for an hours fishing. I didn’t have any spare life jackets..but made it clear..I was not responsible for any drowning that may occur. I asked if they could both swim. One said yes..the other said he could not . ..so I gave him mine to wear. So please don’t post that there are no life jackets in this photo. I know there is not. I ticked all risk assessment boxes and decided there was no risk to them.. but there could be risk to me or my possessions if I didn’t take them fishing within easy reach of the shore.. in a flat calm ..and travelling at displacement speed. Besides if someone was to drown.. I would rather it was a bushwhacker with a six inch knife than innocent old me.


The two guys were delighted when they caught a nice coddling for their supper.





We babbled until the sun started to set.. then landed again.





I bid them a good night and retired to my tent..to drink some more of my stash on my own. They disappeared into the trees.

I slept in peace and in the morning.. was delighted to see the SIB was still there.. and I had no pain in my piles.



But somehow..I didn’t think I had seen the last of the bushwhackers.

To be continued......
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Old 02 November 2014, 11:31   #6
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Im sure you would have no problem talking to bushwhackers either Poly.

To finish this adventure..

Sure enough.. the two guys came back in the morning.

This time it wasn’t a “ Hey mister ..what ya doing greeting” it was a pleasant.. “Hi Gurnard ..lovely morning ..wanna come and see our camp” kind of greeting. So I said .. “Ok.. lets see where you are at guys”

I followed them into the trees and was welcomed into their camp site. They showed me some of the things they had made..and said it was their “craft”.
I asked..”What craft ?”
“Bush Craft Gurnard..we told you last night.. we are Bush Crafters”



It was then that I realised my mistake..
My night cap can sometimes give me cloth ears if I partake in a little too much.

I spent another couple of days camping near my new neighbours.. and during that time I took them a sight see tour of the Loch.. just like Im doing for you guys just now.


















Of course..this tour is just touching the tip of the iceberg. There is far more to see. Launching at Taynuilt..going to the far north east end.. back down through the narrows ..across Airds bay and down to the Falls of Lora then back to Taynuilt is a total of 33 miles. If you land and explore ..stop for picnics..wild camp..fish..you can easly spend a week there without getting bored. I know..because I do it often :-D

Thanks for reading..and I hope you found this adventure of interest.
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