Outdoor Swim Review – Loch an Eilein, near Aviemore (Andrew)

San Francisco has Alcatraz island. Aviemore has Loch an Eilan castle. While Alcatraz may have the world famous prison and is infamous for the murderers, gangsters and scoundrels who have stayed there, Loch an Eilein, was once voted Britain’s Favourite Picnic Spot in a poll organised by Warburtons to commemorate National Bread Week. So, while both places might have islands with buildings on them, there’s only one place you want to have a flask of tea and a sandwich.

And I have to agree with Warburton’s. This is a cracking spot for a picnic. It’s also a cracking spot for a swim.

There’s a large car park (which you need to pay for, when manned), a short walk to a small ‘beach’ a the top of the loch, and then a gentle slope into the loch with just smooth stones underneath. For that alone, it’s a great spot for a swim. But what makes it a swim spot you won’t want to miss is the ruined castle on an island in the middle of the loch. It’s around 500m from shore but you can follow the shoreline until you get closer to the island to avoid swimming in the colder, deeper parts of the loch. You can then swim across and around the island to see the ruins.

You might be tempted to go ashore to explore the castle when you first cross but I would recommend swimming to the eastern side of the island where it’s easier to walk ashore. You can then have a picnic, if you haven’t drowned your sandwiches on the way.


Ease of Access:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It can be busy as it’s a popular spot but I was there on a Sunday evening at 6pm and there were only half a dozen car in the car park.

Water quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Very clear.

Swim Quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Very shallow around the foreshore so plenty of good places to swim if you don’t want to venture too far from shore. For those that do, it’s got a castle! A castle!!!.

Other People:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

It can be busy.

Would I go back: 

Absolutely. You’re surrounded by the Cairngorms. It’s nice and sheltered. And did I mention the castle?

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