Outdoor Swim Review – Carron Valley Reservoir 2020 (Andrew)

If you want to know the current state of lockdown in Scotland then you really need to know the story of Cinderella because the current Coronavirus laws have been relaxed so that:

  • Cinderella can finally leave the home she share with her evil step-sisters
  • She can leave for “recreation” and not just for “exercise”
  • She can meet one other household – her Prince
  • She doesn’t need to socially distance and keep two metres away from him
  • She can have a dance – recreation, not exercise!
  • And she can stay out as long as she wants as long as she’s back by Midnight as that’s not popping out, that’s a bunk up!

I’m paraphrasing but that’s really where the we are. There’s a whole host of non-binding guidance and talk of being out for one hour or only travelling five miles but none of that is covered by the law. Guidance is not law. (Though it’s still very sensible to listen to it).

So I must admit that I broke the guidance and travelled more than five miles to go for a swim on Saturday but I did stick to the law and I only travelled for “recreation” and I only met one other household – Iain TwinBikeRun (not a Prince) and Bonnie TwinBikeRun (a dog).

We chose Carron Valley as it’s a favourite swim stop and one that would have a reasonable amount of water despite the long dry spell. We were right. Conditions were perfect and, in fact, the water was too hot for a wetsuit. It was nearly 20 degrees!

Which was still cold for the first few minutes but after swimming in a wetsuit for 20 minutes I stripped it off to swim in trunks instead.

Iain’s previously covered where to park and where to swim here so I’ll only add that if you’re going to go swimming in the next few weeks after weeks of observing lockdown then be sure to follow the following tips:

  • Stick close to shore until you get your ‘swim arms’ back. I was swimming a few thousand metres a week before lockdown. I could barely swim 100m on Saturday. Stick close to shore so that you don’t get into trouble.
  • Remember to bring a tow float so that everyone can see you. The end of lockdown for swimmers is also the end of lockdown for fishermen and you want to be seen if someone is out on their boat. Thankfully there were no boats out on Saturday as I’d forgotten my tow float.
  • Swim with someone so that you have someone else look out for you.
  • Make sure that someone is a person and not a dog. Bonnie TwinBikeRun was enthusiastic but I’m not sure she’s a Lassie The Wonder Dog able to warn others that I’d fallen down a well while out swimming.
  • Remember water temperature is like a fireman’s pole – easier to go down than up. So while temperatures were good on Saturday always assume it will be colder than you think. It’s easy for a colder current to take you by surprise.
  • Enjoy – and be back home by midnight!

9 thoughts on “Outdoor Swim Review – Carron Valley Reservoir 2020 (Andrew)”

  1. Hi guys,

    I’m an open water swimming novice. Carron Valley is very close to me. Is it safe to swim in the reservoir? I’ve read elsewhere that you shouldn’t swim in them due to the undercurrent. Is this true or should I stay as close to fintry as possible?



    1. I often swim there and I’ve never experienced any issues. I always swim about half way along the loch so that I’m not close to the Scottish Water works or anglers. The water can be a bit choppy on a windy day so if you’re a novice you might want to try Abies loch in Milngavie first as its calm and there’s normally other folks there. But other than that it’s a great spot. Enjoy 🙂


      1. Loch Ard is great spot for beginners. It’s very calm and normally warmer than other lochs. Park at the village hall in kinlochard. You can swim right next to it. It’s also popular so you’ll see plenty of other swimmers there


  2. Any ideas why Carron Valley reservoir left my skin running with brown streaks and felt kind of slimy? 6th July 2021. Tannins in the water? Algae?


    1. could be peat? White Loch, south of Glasgow, is very peaty and I always feel slimy afterwards. I swam in carron valley last week and it was ok. Maybe all the recent rain has affected it.


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