Loch Mareee is famous for its islands. It has more than forty and they contain the nearest thing to natural woodland left in Britain – fragments of the original Caledonian Pine Forest.
Because of the islands its a popular spot for kayak-ers and canoeists. I was staying nearby in Kinlochwee and I fancied a swim before my breakfast so I thought I would give the Loch a try.
I found this game in the hotel. think it is true for all wild swimmers.
Ease of Access: I parked at the Bein Eighe car park beside the Loch. There are toilets and you can get down to the shore easily.
Water quality: Cold! Even in June it was only 13.8C. It was a tricky Loch to get into from the shore as its very shallow and rocky. The rocks were very slippy. Its OK if you have swim shoes/socks on or if you just drop to your back and float out to where its deeper.
Swim Quality: Excellent – there’s beautiful mountain views all around.
Other People: The car park can be busy. I went early in the morning but there was a number of camper vans parked there.
Would I go back: Yes. Its such a beautiful spot to swim in.
It doesn’t feel like summer has really got started properly. May and June have been a lot less sunnier than recent years. What happened to Global Warming? The weather has been poor every since the climate convention in Glasgow. I blame Greta Thunberg 🙂
Thankfully the water has been warming up and it is now nice enough to swim without a wetsuit. The water isn’t peaty like last year which meant I didn’t come out looking like the creature from the black lagoon.
Check out the video to see what a swim in Carron Valley Reservoir is like.
In recent years there hasn’t been as much water in North Third as there was when I wrote my intial review. I decided to pop by (May 2022) to see what the water level was like this year but it was still very low.
Which is disappointing as my usual swim would actually be mostly walking. The water was that low.
I suspect it will be like that for the rest of the summer. Ill keep an eye on it and hope it improves but I don’t think I’ll get any swimming here.
REVIEW (when the water was full)
Ease of Access: There’s a small car park beside a gate next to the path that leads down to the reservoir. If the spaces there are taken then there’s spots nearby to park.
Water quality: A bit murky and a little bit shallow in places. There was much less water in the reservoir than when I was last here in March. The water temperature was 18.5C.
Swim Quality: Excellent – There’s a nice loop around the islands. The water was calm.
Other People: There’s usually folk fishing at the side of the loch and I’ve occasionally bumped into other folk either heading in or leaving after swimming themselves.
Would I go back: Yes. Its one of my favorite places to swim.
I swim at Elie beach whenever i visit. The sea can be a little bit choppy if the wind is strong. But Earlsferry beach and Shell bay beach are very close by. When one beach is choppy, one of the others will be calm. Just pick and choose the one that matches the sea conditions you are comfortable with.
It was a beautiful day when I visited. The sea was cold (5C) so I didn’t go in for long but it was nice to have quick dip.
On a cold wet day in Troon I popped into a cafe. I was desperate for some soup. It was a soup sort of day. I asked the waitress what the soup of the day was. She replied “French Onion.”
“Do you have anything else?” I asked. “No” she replied. “We only have French onion soup.”
Surely if you are a cafe who only have one soup then you go make lentil or a tomato offering. Nobody’s favorite soup is “french onion” unless you are french.
I ordered it as I was desperate but I then watched as every other punter who came into the cafe asked what was the soup. And they too, all said when hearing of the choice. “Oh – do you have anything else?”
Thankfully the weather was better the next day. My wife and I popped down to Troon beach for a sunrise swim. The water was absolutely Baltic. My body felt sore when the cold water hit my hands and feet.
It was very shallow but I managed 10 minutes of near freezing conditions.
Don’t be fooled by this video. It was not as warm as it looks.
Ease of Access: https://goo.gl/maps/HKVy3g3ZW4ULQnmG7 we were staying at Loch Green Hotel. It was a 15 minute walk from the hotel to the beach. There is a path called The Smugglers Trail.
Water quality: I didn’t put my head under the water so it was hard to tell how good the water was.
Swim Quality: Perfect. Nice flat calm water
Other People: Not a soul.
Would I go back: I wouldn’t go out of my way to swim here but if I was near Troon then I would stop for a dip.
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.
I was recently asked what my secret is for swimming in Winter. I don’t think their is any secret to it – I try to be consistent, I make sure I have the correct clothes and I accept the fact it’s going to be cold!
I’ve got better at handling the cold by being consistent with my swimming. Over a number of years I pushed cold boundary. When I started I only swam outdoors May to September. The next year I tried starting in April and finishing in October. Now I swim all year round.
I enjoy swimming skins. I’d like to swim skins in winter but I’ve tried it and I struggle with the after effects of the cold. I could keep at it but I’d rather enjoy a swim than endure it. Don’t let you ego determine your clothing! Use common sense and wear as much as you need to feel warm.
My winter kit (to wear with a wetsuit) is:
Vest – If I protect my chest from the cold then I cam cope with cold water. If you suffer from cold hands or feet I’d definitely recommend looking at vests before gloves or socks. A warm core will keep your extremities warm. I use a lomo vest https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lomo-3mm-Neoprene-Suit-Vest
I was wearing all this kit when I recently visited Carron Valley Reservoir. My aim in winter is to try to do at least 10 minutes. It was hard to stay in for that long due to a strong wind the water was very choppy and difficult to swim in.
I tried my best to get some swimming in but I was happy to stop when my stop watch said my time was up.