Conditions on the North Sea, off Arbroath, are looking good for the next day or so but it was another fresh water paddle this week on a favourite loch.
Loch Tay is delightfully moody. It's dark, peaty waters, surrounding Munros, and lightly treed banks are given to changes in character and emotional tone. One moment, the highland loch is calm and peaceful. The next, dark clouds can suddenly appear, the waters darken, and the increasingly "textured" surface reflects a gloominess, even a glowering. When the wind comes up, it's time for vigilance. Loch Tay can exhibit a rather bad temper...producing some impressive swell.
One such wind storm came up and the giant waves and massive gusts literally picked this ship up and tossed it high up on the shore!
Well, that's not really true, but it would make a great story!
The loch is the sixth largest in the country, stretching 15 miles in length and a mile in width. The bottom of the loch, deeply carved by glacial ice, is almost 500 feet in places - 15 atmospheres.
Is there a "monster" that inhabits these impenetrable depths? Yes, I'm convinced of it.
In the shadow of its much more famous relative in Loch Ness, the Loch Tay Monster is rarely spoken of...but there are "hints" of its existence. Perhaps after a couple of pints in the local inn, a local will let slip a story, a feeling, a theory...an observation kept secret for many years.
The waters are mysterious.
Were the very old wooden pilings, for example, placed there for strategic reasons? Did they, in fact, create a defensive position?
I imagined they would, once-upon-a-time, have been set in place to slow any egress from the water onto the land by the giant creature. Had they now become a trap for the unwary? Paddling amidst the pilings, and buffeted against them by the increasing wind, I wondered if I had innocently penetrated its nearby lair. Was it about to turn the tables on the brave construction efforts of an ancient highlander?
Briefly entangled, I fought to release myself and my narrow craft from their grip.
Free again, I set out, ever vigilant, eyes peeled for anything unusual: a sign of "mysterious waves"; movement beneath my narrow craft; or strange and amphibious protrusions above the surface waters.
There would be no apparent evidence of the Loch Tay Monster on this day.
The only other species to be encountered were a trio of mallards, with gleaming green heads. Interestingly, they were each wearing a clerical collar, similar to mine! There were far too busy to chat.
Ah yes, and then there was this lovely forest maiden - preparing to re-enter and launch her yellow Scorpio. :)
After a good day's paddle, it's always nice to return home to the family castle for some refreshments, a nourishing supper, and some story-telling around the old stone fireplace.
Paddling the moody (peaty) blues of Loch Tay always sets the imagination afire. ;)