Have you ever sat at work and thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice to get away and go somewhere you’ve never heard of? I suppose it doesn’t sound too difficult (remote beach in the Caribbean perhaps?) but with a tiny budget and only 2 days off, my options where slightly more restricted. So out came my maps and touring books as I set myself the challenge. It wasn’t easy, there where plenty of places I’d never been to but very few I’d never heard of. That was until I came across a little blue mark on the map in the lower south west corner of Scotland. The Lake was called Loch Eck and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find it mentioned in a single one of my canoeing books.
So Saturday afternoon hubby and I loaded the boat on the car and headed off into the unknown.
Situated in the heart of the Loch Lomand and Trossachs National park Lock Eck is about 8 miles from Dunoon, in Argyle & Bute. It was pitch black when we arrived so we booked into a local B&B which I just have to mention. It was only a 3* (going to be de-ranked to 2* as it didn’t have a sink in the bedroom) but it was the best place I’ve stayed in, in my entire life. OK the décor was nice, the beds where really comfy but what made this place special was a fridge outside the bedroom door full of chocolate! You could just help yourself to it at any time and we never got charged a penny extra for doing so. Absolute heaven it was.
Ok back to the paddling. We woke following morning, had a fantastic breakfast and drove the mile or so down the road the Loch. My first view of it totally took my breath away. The scenery was so perfect I made hubby stop 3 times in that mile so I could take photos just in case the light changed before we finally parked the car. There are plenty of lay-bys to park but I have to be honest, the one we pulled off at looked like the local ‘lover’s lane’ and not somewhere you would want to eat. But ignore that because the lake itself is stunning. Fringed by oak woods sprinkled with rowan and birch tree’s and the snow covered top of BenMore towering above you it’s hard to understand why this place isn’t teaming with tourists. Not that I’m complaining, as the peace and tranquillity was superb. The loch is only 7 miles long so we paddled close to the shore to get the most miles in. For wildlife lovers this place is fantastic for seeing the beautiful Red Squirrel in its natural habitat. The whole area is steeped in folklore, from hump back whales to nymphs and high on the slopes of Clach Bheinn, there’s the ‘Paper cave’ where the Cambells of Argyll hid papers in times of trouble. There’s even a hotel nearby called the Coylet Inn which is apparently a Ghost hunters paradise with well documented paranormal incidents happening quite frequently!
As the day wore on and we paddled along the far shore we saw plenty of places to set up camp for the evening. Little sandy beaches, tiny streams and grassy mounds beneath the tree’s and even though the area is SSSI, camping is allowed, in small numbers and only for 1 or 2 nights but no open fires. By late afternoon the weather took a turn for the worse and the beautiful vistas of the morning turned into thick grey cloud and boy did it rain. Luckily we were only a mile or so away from the car so we were soon dry and warm again and making our way back home. If you’re lucky enough to be up this way on the first Friday of the month I’ve heard there’s a great folk session at the Whistlefield Pub literally a minutes walk from the lake.
St Munn’s Old Manse B&B (the one with the chocolate)
Tel: 01369 840311 http://www.stmunnsoldmanse.com/
If you google ‘Loch Eck Leaflet’ there’s a great little map available with details about canoeing, fishing and camping in the area.
How to get there: By road from Glasgow follow the A82 along Loch Lomondside. Then follow the A83 over the Rest & Be Thankful,towards Oban, Inveraray & Dunoon. Turn onto the A815 towards Dunoon. After passing through Strachur & Glenbranter, you will reach the Loch Eck.
OS Grid Reference NS10876