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

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: 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. 

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.

Outdoor Swim Review – Loch Ard (Iain)

Whenever something bad happens in my town I joke with my wife “I bet whoever did it wasn’t a local!”

I say that because that’s all I ever see when I look at the Facebook page for my town. Load of posts about visitors up to no good. As if we haven’t got any bad ‘uns in our own town..!

Kinlochard is a beautiful wee hamlet but it had been overrun by visitors in the last year. I’ve heard the locals aren’t as welcoming as they once were. I don’t have that much sympathy. If I moved somewhere beautiful and easily accessible by others I’d expect people to turn up all the time. I don’t understand why people move somewhere beautiful and then complain that about other people who also want to come to their beautiful place.

But I do think everyone should respect each other which means Loch Ard is a difficult place to review. Its a beautiful spot for a swim but by going there I’m also contributing to ruining the place for the locals who live there.

My conclusion is to only go when its quieter. Either first thing in the morning or during the week. In the hope that won’t bother others too much.

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

It used to be easy to park in Kinlochard but a combination of too many visitors, covid restrictions and the closure of the village hall means there is much less tolerance and space for visitors. 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: 3 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 – Lochore Meadow (Iain)

I once worked with a man who lived in Lochore. He was a member of a brass band. He was in charge of making sure members of the band came to rehersals. Many a time I would overhear him shouting into his phone “Why can’t you cone to rehersal? If you don’t come tonight, I will make sure that you never play trumpet in Fife ever again!”

It’s fair to say he took the role very seriously.

Lochore meadow is a managed water sports facility which has sessions for swimming, sailing and paddle sports. You can find full details here https://active.fife.scot/locations/lochore-meadows/activity-listing/watersports

I’d recommend it for family’s or people who are starting out wild swimming as its a safe venue that is easy to access. Just watch out for brass bands. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of them or you will never swim in Fife again!

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Their is plenty of parking

Water quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The water is checked and monitored.

Swim Quality:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A good managed option if you don’t wan’t to swim in wilder location.

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 move from the pool to outdoor swimming.

Outdoor Swim Review – Pinkston Water Sports 2021 update (Iain)

“Pinkston is home to Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, a flat water basin with bathing quality water, meeting rooms and storage facilities for clubs and groups, Pinkston Watersports is an official Glasgow 2014 Legacy project and is operated by Glasgow Watersports Ltd, a registered Scottish charity run by a volunteer board of trustees.”

https://pinkston.co.uk/facilities/what-is-pinkston-watersports

Threre is much debate about where the name Pinkston originates from.  Supposedly the Scottish version of the name originated in the old barony of Pinkerton near Dunbar. The barony had the motto “Post nubila sol” which translates to “After clouds sunshine,” which is a fittingly apt motto for an outdoor pool because anyone who uses an outdoor pool needs a positive attitude – it might be cloudy today but the next time I swim it will be sunny!

I’ve used the facility for the last few years. It’s a great place to get an outdoor swim in a safe environment.

Last year (2020) during lockdown, Pinkston offered a pay and swim session. Pinkston was the only swimming pool open as it could operate in a COVID safe manner due to it being outdoors.

This has resumed as of April 2021.

They offer a number of different times (https://pinkston.co.uk/activities/swimming/) I like the 1700 Monday slot as I can get a swim in after work but before I have my dinner.

I was back this week for my firs swim of the year there. It wasn’t very busy – there was 4/5 others swimming. The full length of the basin was open which meant I could get a nice 400m loop in. The water temperature was surprisingly in double figures (10C) I’d worn my full winter swimming kit but I could have word less and still been ok.

I appreciate everyone’s view of temperature is different but double figures is ok for me. I can swim until 5C but below that is too cold for me.

The only downside to the swim is that Pinkston can’t open the changing rooms to users. Everyone has to get changed outside. Which could be considered a positive thing – getting changed outdoors is a skill all outdoor swimmers have to learn. You might as well start at Pinkston.

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The area around Pinkston is getting regenerated. Local roads and access points are sometime closed so always check google maps first to find the best way there.

Water quality:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The water is murky. Don’t expect to see the bottom of the basin. The pool is not that deep. I can stand up at any point in it (I’m 6ft tall)

Swim Quality:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Their is a 400m-ish loop when the basin is fully open. The site is open to the east and west which means it can be tricky swimming at sunrise/sunset as the Sun shines directly into your face.

Other People:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Due to Covid regulations only a small number of people can swim at a time. It never feels busy and there is plenty of room to swim in.

Would I go back: 

Yes – it is convenient to have somewhere in the city. It is good for beginners and it is a great starting point for people who want to move from the pool to outdoor swimming.

Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley – Winter (Iain)

Worst Hitchhiker Ever

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:

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.

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 was very high. Normally there is a rocky “beach” but it was completely covered by water. The tree were I normally leave my stuff was half submerged by water.

Swim Quality: Hard work. The waves and a low sun made it very tricky to sight to swim in a straight line.

Other People: Not a soul.

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

Outdoor Swim Review – Pinkston Water Sports (Iain)

“Pinkston is home to Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, a flat water basin with bathing quality water, meeting rooms and storage facilities for clubs and groups, Pinkston Watersports is an official Glasgow 2014 Legacy project and is operated by Glasgow Watersports Ltd, a registered Scottish charity run by a volunteer board of trustees.”

https://pinkston.co.uk/facilities/what-is-pinkston-watersports

Threre is much debate about where the name Pinkston originates from.  Supposedly the Scottish version of the name originated in the old barony of Pinkerton near Dunbar. The barony had the motto “Post nubila sol” which translates to “After clouds sunshine,” which is a fittingly apt motto for an outdoor pool because anyone who uses an outdoor pool needs a positive attitude – it might be cloudy today but the next time I swim it will be sunny!

I’ve used the facility for the last few years. It’s a great place to get an outdoor swim in a safe environment.

This year they have been running pay and swim session which has been hugely popular. During lockdown Pinkston was the only swimming pool that could open as it could operate in a COVID safe manner due to it being outdoors.

The only downside is that Pinkston can’t open the changing rooms to users. Everyone has to get changed outside. Which I think is a positive move as getting changed outdoors is a skill all outdoor swimmers have to learn.

I’ve been swimming regularly at 1700 on a Monday. Up unti this week (late Oct) the swim was in daylight. But this week the clocks went backwards. My 1700 swim became a night swim.

I didn’t realize just how dark the swim would be. I brought the wrong swim googles. I brought my shaded ones. I couldn’t see a thing. I was blinder than Stevie Wonder in a dark room with his eyes shut. I’m glad I did not record the swim on my GPS. It would have shown me swimming all over the place and, at one point, I’m sure I was swimming in a circle.

Lesson learned. I’ll bring a torch next time… and clear googles.

Link to booking: https://pinkston.co.uk

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The area around Pinkston is getting regenerated. Local roads and access points are sometime closed so always check google maps first to find the best way there.

Water quality:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The water is murky. Don’t expect to see the bottom of the basin. The pool is not that deep. I can stand up at any point in it (I’m 6ft tall)

Swim Quality:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Their is a 400m-ish loop when the basin is fully open. The site is open to the east and west which means it can be tricky swimming at sunrise/sunset as the Sun shines directly into your face.

Other People:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Due to Covid regulations only a small number of people can swim at a time. It never feels busy and there is plenty of room to swim in.

Would I go back: 

Yes – it is convenient to have somewhere in the city. It is good for beginners and it is a great starting point for people who want to move from the pool to outdoor swimming.

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

A few years ago a local man met aged rock god and ex-Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant in a bar in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris and asked him what he was doing there.

Robert Plant said he was there to look at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle. It was for sale and he was interested. The local looked at him and said “What do you do to be able to afford a place like that?” The world famous rock start said, “I play music and I was in a band when I was younger”

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle - Wikipedia
AMHUINNSUIDHE CASTLE

The local replied, “did you play the sea angling club? I thought I recognised you!”

Robert Plant didn’t buy the castle. I suspect the main road that passes the front door of the castle put him off. The castle is a dramatic backdrop on the way to Huisnis beach who can only dream of living the downton abbey lifestyle!

What the picture doesn’t show is that there are some normal houses just out of shot. So I might not be able to afford a castle but one day I might be able to buy the smaller place and get the same view.

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

There is a car park next to the beach. There are toilets and other facilities which are normally open but at the time I visited (July 2020) they were closed due to Covid.

The road to the beach is single track, very hilly and lots of bends. It will take much longer than you think to drive it as its difficult to see any oncoming traffic. On the bright side – the scenery is stunning.

Water quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The water was crystal clear.

Swim Temperature: 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

12C in July.

Other People:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had the whole beach to myself.

Would I go back: Yes. It is a beautiful spot.

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

I watched the Gaelic news and discovered there is a Gaelic pronunciation of “coronavirus” – it is “coróinvíreas.” But they haven’t changed “self-isolate” they pronounce it as “self-isolate.” it is surprising nobody has invented that Gaelic term as there is nothing more self isolating than a wet and windy day in Lewis.

My first school in Lewis was Point Primary. I don’t remember much about it as I was only there for a year before moving to the larger Primary in Stornoway.

Babyle beach is just along the road from my first School.

The School had been knocked down and replaced by a new building so I wasn’t able to see anything that would jog my memory about my time there.

It was whilst living down here that Andrew and I got two sheep as pets. They were called Donald and Shona.

A sheep is not a particularly good pet. It does not respond to commands. Donald would not fetch, sit or wait. He would only eat grass and baa’d occasionally. Shona was no better. She never once responded to her name and showed complete indifference to us as owners.

One day we came home and the sheep were gone. Mum said they ‘d gone to a better place where they’d be happier. In later life she admitted the better place was my uncles’ belly! He chopped them up to eat them.

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: 12.3C in June. 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 one couple sitting on the beach having their breakfast. Which was impressive as it wasn’t that warm a day and there was light rain.

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