Naked Munros
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River Lochay

(Written by Karla)

Taking the road north out of Killin, we turned off left down Glen Lochay. The road followed River Lochay for several miles. Carrying on past the starting point for the south ascent of Meall Ghaordaidh we stopped at a small parking space on the left hand side of the road.

There weren't any mountain views but as rock pools go this is a good one. It's deep and wide enough to have a proper swim. Water gushes into a plunge pool and provides a strong flow to swim against. And it is secluded. There are only enough parking spaces for two cars and being a short distance from the road you can hear whether a car passes by or pulls up.

When we got there the weather was disappointingly grey and overcast. The midges were biting too. It felt quite mild though ... but then it started to rain. I considered going in anyway but it did not look too appetising. In hindsight I would have been fine and it could have made for some really interesting photos. Maybe next time! Then as quickly as it started the rain stopped. I stripped off and eased myself slowly into the water. There is a technique for doing this. It involves rubbing water over your body repeatedly until it starts to feel uncomfortably cold staying above the surface because the water is evaporating from your skin. As you do this you slowly move in deeper and deeper before swimming off.

The weather improved and the ambient temperature increased. It felt wonderful to finally be swimming in a good rock pool again. Stuart was spending every moment using this chance to try out many of the the different photographic ideas that we had previously discussed. Staying in one spot with a tripod meant that the midges were feasting on him. I was all right though. After swimming around for a while I decided to bask on the rock for a little bit.

The water in River Lochay is very dark and peaty and you can often feel twigs and leaves brushing against your skin. We tried some underwater nudes but we really needed the batteries for the external flashes to be properly charged. At one point we dropped a face mask down the deepest part of the plunge pool, deep enough to have real difficulty finding it. I had to dive down about three metres to retrieve it. The water was significantly colder down there and I could feel the rock pool equivalent of an ice cream headache. I really enjoy swimming underwater but I was quite surprised to find a rusting shovel at the bottom! I wasn't sure whether to leave it there or to fish it out.

The river was flowing reasonably fast but not too difficult for a strong swimmer. Beyond the rock pool the river grew quite wide. I decided to explore the area a bit more so I swam across to the other side to get a closer look at the patterns on the water.

I am not sure how long I swam for, an hour, could easily have been more. I remember when we swam at Dalrigh that I stayed in long enough to start shivering when we got out. I wanted to make sure that I had pictures of Stuart, who was by this time getting thoroughly fed up with the midges. So I pestered him to strip off and enjoy himself. He later thanked me as it improved his mood tremendously. Besides which, I wanted a turn with the cameras as well! I'm glad I did because the light was improving all the time. Although the day started off grey, cold and wet, it ended with a nice summery feel.

Photographic details