Tag Archives: swimming

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.

REVIEW

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?

Outdoor Swim Review – Loch Ard – Aug 2022 (Iain)

There are certain places that are perfect for doing swim/bike/run events that have just one major problem – no parking!

Loch Ard is on of those places. It would be amazing to have a triathlon here but there is so little parking available it would be impossible to have more than a handful of people attend it.

Instead of a proper race I decided to do my own triathlon here. I call it Myathlon.

Myathlon is virtual sprint triathlon where you choose your own course. It comprise a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5 km run. You can do it anywhere you like.

I choose to do it at Loch Ard.

Even though I was here for 0900 there wasn’t much parking available at Kinlochard. People were already out swimming or using stand up paddle boards. Its a popular spot!

There are orange buoys in the water. i thought if i aimed for one and then another one that was slightly further our then that would be about 400m. I could then return the same way which would give me the swim distance.

The water was calm, the tempreture was about 15C and the swim was very enjoyable. Spotting the buoys was easy and it was a straightforward swim in nice conditions.

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

It can be very busy at the weekend so get there early or park further away and then walk/bike to the start.

Water quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The water is pretty clear for a loch. The west end is pretty sheltered so there aren’t many waves even on a windy day

Swim Quality:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A good place to swim but it can be very busy so don’t expect to have it to yourself.

Other People:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

It can be very busy.

Would I go back: 

It is good for beginners and it is a great starting point for people who want to try outdoor swimming

Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley Revisted – August 2022 (Iain)

Previous reviews here and here

Last month I wrote “It doesn’t feel like summer has really got started properly. May and June have been a lot less sunnier than recent years.”

I could start off this review the same way. it still doesn’t feel like summer has started.

I’ve been swimming consistently in Carron valley one or two times a week and its not been the best summer for swimming here. A near constant easterly wind has whipped up the waves in the reservoirs and there’s barely been a swim when I’ve not had to battle waves.

Last year I barely saw a wave all summer!

The water is constistently 15C-ish at present and its not very peaty but if you don’t like waves then you might not enjoy swimming here.

Hopefully next month I’ll report that summer has arrived at last.

Check out the video to see what a swim in Carron Valley Reservoir is like.

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

Water quality: Warm and shallow at the edge of the loch but it can noticeably drop in temperature the further out you get. 

Swim Quality: Excellent. Lots of things to sight against. Water is choppy but that makes it more fun!

Other People: A couple of folk out walking and the odd car/cyclist going by. 

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

Outdoor Swim Review: Loch Maree – June 2022 (Iain)

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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.

REVIEW

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.

You can see Loch Maree in this video

Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley Revisted – July 2022 (Iain)

Previous reviews here and here

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.

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

Water quality: Warm and shallow at the edge of the loch but it can noticeably drop in temperature the further out you get. 

Swim Quality: Excellent. Lots of things to sight against. Water is choppy but that makes it more fun!

Other People: A couple of folk out walking and the odd car/cyclist going by. 

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

Outdoor Swim Review – Loch Ard Alternative Location (Andrew)

We’ve looked at the western side of Loch Ard before. You can find swim reviews for taking entry both inside and outside Kinlochard village. This time I had a day off work and tried the eastern side, closest to Aberfolye.

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

There’s only space for three cars at this spot – or two motorhomes! I was here during the week but at weekends, you’ll probably have better odds playing the lottery than finding a space. But, if you do…

Water quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fantastic. You’re in a sheltered area so there’s less chance of waves and you may even find it calm even with a slight breeze.

Swim Quality:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There’s a small ‘beach’ and the shallows stretch a good 20 metres out from shower. Most of the shallows is compacted sand and earth so very easy to walk on and get access to the water. If you look at the map above I’ve marked a circular route of just over 1km. At point 4 there is a prominent boat house to make sighting very easy as you return across the loch.

Other People:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

It can be very busy.

Would I go back: 

It is good for beginners, if you don’t fancy venturing out to deeper waters. And it is a great starting point for people who want to try outdoor swimming. However, there’s not a lot of parking so aim for an early visit or midweek if you want to guarantee the best chance of getting a spot. Of course, you can carry on to the western side of the loch if you don’t find a spot here.

Outdoor Swim Review: North Third Reservoir – May 2022 (Iain)

I previosuly wrote about North third here https://twinbikerun.com/2019/07/19/outdoor-swim-review-north-third-reservoir-iain/ and here https://twinbikerun.com/2021/05/18/rugged-run-north-third-reservoir/

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.

Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley – May 2022 (Iain)

I had my fist visit to Carron Valley since the Autumn. The water temperature was 12C which meant it was chilly but not too cold for a swim.

I was hoping the Osprey’s that nest in Carron Valley might be there but there was no sign of them yet. Maybe next time…

Check out the video to see what a swim in Carron Valley Reservoir is like.

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

Water quality: Warm and shallow at the edge of the loch but it can noticeably drop in temperature the further out you get. 

Swim Quality: Excellent. Lots of things to sight against. Water is choppy but that makes it more fun!

Other People: A couple of folk out walking and the odd car/cyclist going by. 

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

Outdoor Swim Review: Elie Beach – Winter 2022 (Iain)

Elie is a popular destination on the East Neuk of Fife. Its the sort of place men wear red trousers and think they look cool. Check out https://www.thegentlemansjournal.com/the-problem-with-men-in-red-trousers/ and http://lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.com/ to learn more about this fashion faux pas.

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.

If you plan to swim here check the tide table https://tides.willyweather.co.uk/ta/fife/elie.html its a much nicer swim when the tide is high than low.

Ease of Access: The beach is easily accesible from anywhere in Elie. But be warned. The town (and parking) can be very busy on a nice day.

Water quality: I prefer it when its a high tide.

Swim Quality: Good. Swim from the pier to the beach if you fancy an interesting challenge.

Other People: It can be very, very busy.  

Would I go back: Yes. I go there on holiday allot so I’ll be back later in the year.

Outdoor Swim Review: Troon Beach – Dec 2021 (Iain)

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It looks warm but looks can be deceiving.

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.

REVIEW

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.