After collecting kit, boats and people at the Miller Street store, we all met up at Milarrochy Bay. There were 14 of us, and with nearly as many different weather forecasts – none of them very good, with many including thunder and lightning šŸ˜±ā›ˆāš”ļø

The day started bright enough as we launched our boats, some a with little trepidation. Would we be up to a full day out? Would we be able to keep up? What if the wind picks up? What happens if there is thunderstorm? Any misgivings were soon eased by the reassurance and support from Bev, Hannah and Janice.

We started paddling gently north towards Strathcashell Point, then west to skirt around the north shore of Inchlonaig, before heading south through the beautiful channel between Inchtavannach and Inchconnachan. I had previously paddled through here in April and was amazed at what a difference a few months makes to the water temperature, flora and fauna. The water was warm, at the surface at least, the ospreys had just returned in April and were checking out their nest sites, now they have raised their young and the nest was empty. The area around the nest is clearly marked as an exclusion zone to help protect the breeding site. As for the flora, Iā€™d never have thought there would be such an oriental-looking patch of white water lilies in all their glory close to where we had lunch.

No wallabies in sight, but the lunch stop was enhanced by watching and cheering a stream of swim-run competitors passing by on an adventure race involving 11 runs and 10 swims and covering a total of 21km. Their day out could well have been longer than ours, as the estimated completion time was an exhausting 3-6 hours. Our 15.5km journey was a pleasurable 5 hours.

Food finished, we headed past the water lilies to paddle along the south side of Inchmoan, weaving round the islands to pass on the north side of Inchruin and the south side of Inchfad, and passing yet more swimmers and their cover crews. The final stretch to Arrochymore Point, and the last few hundred metres back to the launch site, saw a few tired legs and bodies, but everyone had a smile on their faces. The torrential rain started on our journey home, but generally held off all the time we were unloading and storing the kit back at Miller Street.

We may not have been on the sea and we may not have all been beginners, but it was certainly a good day out and reminds me of how lucky we are to access such a beautiful and diverse area for so many activities and with no need to wash the kit afterwards šŸ˜‚. Many thanks to Bev for organising the trip (and of course the weather too) and Hannah and Janice for their support and guidance and everyone else for their excellent company.

Trip Report by Amanda Grant

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