Friday, 13 April 2012

Day 5 - Trans Scotland canoe challenge

Yesterday, after a frightening encounter with the monster which is Loch Ness - I was left exhausted and down hearted. We'd failed for the first time to reach out target destination, aiming for 26.5Km but finally giving up defeated at around 20Km.

Unless you've ever visited Loch Ness, you can't appreciate just how big it is - holding more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined. It's a complete rules changer - at 23miles it's the same length as the channel, and that's how you have to treat it - like the sea. Unusually this week the wind has been from the North East instead of the South West, which just made paddling too dangerous and near impossible.

However, MancGirls don't give up easily, so today, we tried to take advantage of the wind and drove to start at what should have been today's finishing point, to try and paddle it in the opposite direction.

It was a cunning plan - unfortunately we must have damaged the canoe yesterday as one side deflated just as we were coming into the north end of the loch. It was the second time that morning we'd had problems with that side, and something in my head finally clicked. The only thing that made me attempt yesterdays 'high seas' was having confidence in the canoe. That was now shot to jiggery, and having had to make a swift exit up onto a rotting jetty from a boat which was so squashy on one side, it was near impossible to steer - I got into a bit of a panic.

That was that - there was no way I was venturing out onto a body of water so big and dangerous that it has it's own lifeboat, in canoe I'd lost faith in!

With another storm headed down the valley and with our boat broken, reluctantly we phoned my in-laws in the support vehicle and to come and collected us.

However, there is more than one way to skin a cat - and I like to think of myself as fairly resourceful. Loch Ness wasn't going to beat us entirely - so we spent the afternoon crossing the waters in a slightly bigger boat. We may not have got across Scotland all the way under our own steam, but we will have completed the journey by water.

That is, if our repairs hold tomorrow. We are going to give it one last go and try and paddle the calmer waters from the top end of Loch Ness through the final stretch of the Caledonian Canal to Inverness. Wish us luck!

Here are just a few pics from today (including a couple of rare sightings!) .....

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