Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley – Aug 2021 (Iain)

I’ve previously written about swimming in Carron Valley Reservoir in winter https://twinbikerun.com/2020/12/05/outdoor-swim-review-carron-valley-winter-iain/

Carron valley is very close to my house which means I can finish work and be in the water 30 minutes later. At present (Aug 2021) the water temperature is perfect for swimming without a wet suit. It must be 18-20C.

Usually I’d see noone else here but this year has been much busier. There’s occasionaly another swimmer group present or a bunch of Paddle Boarders. What is the collective noun for Paddle Boarders? I’d suggest, due to the pumps they need, that they should be called a blowup of boarders.

The only downside to summer swimming it that the water is currently a little bit peaty. This leaves a slight residue on my skin. Which makes me feel very slimy. I normally throw water over myself, at the end of the swim, to wash it off.

It’s not as bad as the White Loch. After swimming there I come out feeling like Swamp Monster.

So, You're Dating a Swamp Monster – Five Tips for Survival – Eritas Daily
A picture of me at White Loch.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: https://goo.gl/maps/vkcjfRm5cx6dYWt7A Park at the gate next to the loch. Its 10m to the waterside. 

Water quality: The water level is low at the moment which means there is a rocky “beach” to walk across before you get to the water.

Swim Quality: Perfect. Nice flat calm water

Other People: Not a soul.

Would I go back: Yes. It’s my default swim location. 

Rugged Run – Luskentyre Beach (Iain)

When I was young my next door neighbor stood in a general election as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the western isles.

Unfortunately the western isles wasn’t interested in the party of Paddy Pantsdown. My neighbor struggled to get any support. Eventually he became so frustrated at his lack of coverage at hustings and in the press that he started inventing wilder and wilder election pledges.

His wildest was a promise that if he was elected he’d build pyramids in the moors of the Isle Of Lewis. His reasoning was logical – building pyramids would create jobs and once they were built they’d increase tourism thus creating even more jobs.

Unfortunately his radical idea failed to win any votes! The island was not yet ready to build a Gaelic Tutankhamen tomb.

He probably thought his idea was original but Scotland already has a homemade pyramid. It is hidden away on a hillside on Balmoral estate on a path known only to instagrammers and people who google “how to find balmoral pyramid?”

When I die I’d be happy with just some flowers and some cards. I don’t like to make a fuss.

To access the cairn you can either pay money to enter the estate or you can walk a bit further and start at Easter Balmoral estate. From here there is free access to the estate. At least I hope it’s free. Maybe the queen sets the SAS on you if she spots you sneaking in. If you get shot don’t blame me.

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2855457181965568636

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A nice forest walk but a bit samey after a while.

Parking

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There is a big car park next to the estate.

Facilities

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Toilets

Nearest cafe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

THere are a couple of cafes next to the car park.

Run Surface

90% trail, 10% concrete

Dog Friendly

Yes but I think there was a note asking they be kept on a lead.

Elevation

300m

Outdoor Swim Review: Bayble Beach, Isle of Lewis 2021(Iain)

I wrote about Bayble beach last year. https://twinbikerun.com/2020/06/29/outdoor-swim-review-bayble-beach-iain/

Nothing has changed since then 🙂

Although it has got a little bit busier. Previously, I did not see anyone swimming here but on my last couple of visits there has been at least one other group swimming.

Its a great sport for a quick dip within easy access of Stornoway.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There is a car park next to the beach (by the pier)

Water quality: The water was clear and I could see a good distance under the water.

Swim Quality: 12C in August. You can swim from one beach to another just a few hundred meters away along the coast. The Pier blocks the worst of the waves. It was flat calm during my visit.

Other People: There was another couple of swimmers splashing about.

Would I go back: Yes. Nice spot for a swim and easy to access.

Rugged Run – Lochnagar (Iain)

Lochnagar is the second highest mountain in Scotland….I thought.

It isn’t.

But whilst I was hiking it I was convinced it was. I’d miss read an article and it was only afterwards when my wife checked my “fact” that we discovered the truth.

Lochnagar is only number 7 on the list of highest Scottish hills. This explains why, when I reached the top, I thought to myself “that was surprisingly easy for the 2nd highest mountain!”

Lochnagar is not a technical hike. In good weather it’s a long slog on good paths. We did the route in the classic anti-clockwise direction. I think the views are better this way. Although it ends with a long walk along the loch.

It was one of the hottest days of the year when we did it but it was hard to notice the heat due to the wind. It was so windy that later in the day some poor soul was blown over and broke a leg!

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2855456124183016700

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A nice plod with nice parts but there are some long boring sections with not much to see.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is a car park next to the start but it can fill up quickly especially at weekends. It was full by 0830 on the day we visited. The car park has a charge.

Facilities

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There are toilets and a stall selling cakes, cofee’s and ice creams.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is one at the car park.

Run Surface

100% trail

Dog Friendly

Yes but there is not much water stops until the second half of the route.

Elevation

937m

The Hebrides Triathlon 2021 (Iain)

When you turn up at a race and accidentally pose for a picture dressed as a traffic light!

Someways, I do a race and think “wow, that was great. It felt really easy. I could have carried on all day”

Other days I think “Please God make this stop. I hate every second of this”

The Hebrides triathlon was a “make this stop” day. It was entirely my own fault that I felt like this!

Swim (36min 46 sec)

The swim is usually in a Loch but due to the presence of Blue-Green algae the organisers wisely moved it to the sea instead.

Normally I love swimming in the sea. The clear water is much more enjoyable than a peaty dark loch. Unfortunately. I made a mistake when choosing my swim googles. I wore tinted lenses. It was an overcast day and the tinted lenses made it seem even more overcast. I could barely see my nose let alone the course markers.

My sighting was so poor I swam 1800m instad of 1500m!

Even worse than that – Andrew beat me.

I should have brought the correct googles.

Bike (1hr 22 min)

The bike course is an out and back route to the Callanish Stones. It was an undulating route with a strong head wind on parts of it.

Andrew is a better cyclist than me so I knew I wouldn’t catch him on this section. I hadn’t ridden my TT bike in a year. I struggled to get comfortable on the bars. It wasn’t an enjoyable ride.

I should have done some test rides before the race.

Run (1hr 03min 02 sec)

I injured my foot a couple of weeks before the race. I debated whether to start the run or not. I wasn’t sure my foot could handle the race.

I decided that I didn’t want a DNF against my name so I decided to start but walk whenever my foot felt like it might be sore. I quickly realized it was ok on flat sections of the course but sore on up or downhill parts.

There wasn’t many flat sections!

I should have walked all of it so that my foot wasn’t sore

Overall. (3hr 10min 12s)

I was happy to finish!

It is a great, friendly race with a great selection of food available at the end. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to combine a trip to the Hebrides with a scenic challenging race.

Rugged Run – Buachaille Etive Mòr (Iain)

Buachaille Etive Mòr is one of Scotland’s most photographed mountains as one of Scotland’s busiest tourist routes passes right by it. The A82 – the main road connecting Glasgow and the Highlands via Fort William.

I hate the A82. I know it’s supposed to be one of Scotland’s most scenic drives but it is horrifically slow to drive with limited places to overtake. Every tourist who slows down to check out the photographic face of Buachaille Etive Mòr causes a tailback that stretches all the way back to Glasgow.

I jest but I did once spend two hours on the A82, due to tailbacks caused by cars trying to go to Glencoe’s ski resort, butI only travelled 2 miles. I was heading to climb Buachaille Etive Mòr but I gave in and returned home. Unfortunately I felt unwell. I spent a miserable 3 hours driving home whilst stopping every 30 minutes to throw up.

I try to drive the A82 as little as possible. But due to a combination of amazing weather and a vacation day I decided to face the beast road and climb Buachaille Etive Mòr.

I was surprised at how few people were on the hill. Even in bad weather I’ve never been up without at least half a dozen other groups present. I think the hot weather had put people off.

I spoke to one man who was doing it too and he that he was on holiday in Glencoe and he thought he’d be out every day but due to the heat he was only managing to get out every second day. On his days off he was sitting a garden drinking beer.

That sounds like a good holiday!

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2855454549173274876

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amazing weather and views.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is a car park next to the start but it can fill up quickly especially at weekends.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None

Nearest cafe

Rating: 2 out of 5.

There are cafe’s in Tyndrum or Fort William

Run Surface

100% trail

Dog Friendly

Yes but its very steep in places.

Elevation

0m

Rugged Run – Luskentyre Beach (Iain)

What a difference a day makes. If you look at the image from this video you wouldn’t guess that just 24 hours earlier it was cold, wet and there was zero visibility!

The most annoying thing about that was that the weather forecast for the bad day was for glorious sunshine.

The only thing you can rely on about Scottish Weather is to expect the unexpected. Never leave the house without a precautionary jacket.

Luskentyre beach is the most famous beach in Outer Hebrides and it is commonly mentioned as one of the best in the world. Although I wouldn’t even rate it amongst the top 5 beaches in the Hebrides!

Its nice but there are more spectacular ones on the island. Check out Uig or Tolsta to see much better ones.

The video shows just how much difference a day makes. It was filmed over two days. I think you might be able to tell which day was which.

MAPS

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A beautiful beach

Parking

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There is a car park next to the beach but it can fill up with camper vans in summer.

Facilities

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Toilets

Nearest cafe

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Nothing nearby but there is a small shop in Tarbert.

Run Surface

100% beach

Dog Friendly

Yes

Elevation

0m