Outdoor Swim Review – Harelaw and the Black Loch (Andrew)

Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. I can, if I want, pour myself a nice bath of baked beans and spend the day soaking in Heinz’s finest. It wouldn’t be against the law to marinade myself in toot juice. It might be unusual, but, provided I did it in my own home, then no one will ever know I did it. Yet… yet… just because I can do it doesn’t mean I will ever pop into the supermarket and buy enough beans to fill a tub. 

Equally, I can walk or swim pretty much anywhere in Scotland. Right to roam laws grant everyone very wide rights to access hills and paths, lochs and rivers, regardless of who owns them. 

There are exceptions. You can walk on a golf course, but you can’t walk on a green. But, in general, unless you’re trying to walk through someone’s garden then you can go where you like. 

But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. You may have a right to swim in a loch, but an angler too has a right to fish in it, a sailing club has a right to sail in it, and land owners do and should expect that people won’t damage their land or invade their privacy. 

There is one farmer who owns a field near a loch north of Glasgow. He’s a nice man, I’ve spoken with him a couple of times but, the only reason I’ve spoken with him, is that he comes out in his tractor to watch parking spaces to make sure no one cuts through his field to get to the loch. 

He shouldn’t have to ‘guard’ his field and protect his cattle who graze in it. He should expect that people will walk round and avoid the field. 

So, this is less a review and more a plea for tolerance. You might be able to swim in a loch but that doesn’t mean you should. And the Brother Loch and Harelaw Dam have large and active angling clubs. There are plenty of lochs in Scotland, almost as many as beans in a full bathtub, so I don’t swim at either lochs. And I would suggest that you don’t either. 

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