A Scottish Microadventure

This is our definition of an adventure.

Fun, free and a real adventure. What more can you ask for? We cycled, swam and kayaked over two incredible days.

See the adventure here.

The adventure begun with a 3.5 mile cycle through the incredible scenery of the Scottish countryside. We transported all our equipment with us for one night on a remote Scotland island. Ironically, we had to take shelter on the way from the changeable weather that a Scottish summer promises despite swimming and inevitably getting wet soon after. We didn’t know what to expect when we got to the water’s edge, except that we were going to get wet and a little cold. Our first sight of the island was through the thick forest that surrounded a posh hotel. The cycle became an off-road adventure in itself, then… we saw it.

Over 350m away was our home for the evening, we had to swim with all our equipment and make sure nothing gets wet, including Jess’ hair! We both looked at each other and smiled. This is what we are doing! How lucky we are to do this in the quiet, tranquil Loch Awe with no one around except the wilderness and the distant sound of cars rushing to their next destination. A quick change into not so many clothes and dry bags packed, we slipped into the water.

The cold shock of the water soon wore off as we secured our flippers to our already numb feet and kicked away. Jess rested comfortably in her attractive rubber ring which provided a welcome buoyancy aid and would be highly recommended for anyone wishing to do something similar. In the middle of the loch we suddenly became very aware of how vulnerable and alone we were. This was an incredible feeling. We were on our own, floating in the middle of the water, smiling at each other. No safety boat, no alternative but to get ourselves to land, and no one else around, apart from a couple in a kayak looking at us with perplexing looks! This was the moment the adventure became real and we both couldn’t help smile and laugh. 20 minutes later we felt the water shallow and waded on to the island – ecstatic, victorious, and slightly nippy.

As we both exited the water the weather was against us and the rain came pouring down. This would not have been a problem if my dry bag had not leaked soaking my kilt and some of my dry clothes. But being prepared for such inevitabilities, we got dressed and set off to venture into the island and find our spot for the evening. After a half hour exploration around the island and discovering a very old graveyard, we found an area away from the nearby road and set up camp. We had the island to ourselves.

You don’t need to cycle, swim or even kayak to make an adventure happen…

People often ask what we do when we are in the wild with nothing except nature. The answer: be with nature. Sourcing wood for a fire, cooking, eating and relaxing. The peacefulness and slow pace is the best thing you can experience. With full stomachs and a fading fire we headed to our tent trying not to think about the swim back in the morning.

Up with the sunrise, we drank our tea in the hope that our bodies would retain the warmth for the return trip back to mainland. The water looked less inviting especially after we tested the temperature with our toes hoping that it would some how have warmed up over night. There was only one way back and that was to get in the water and go. Feeling the cold this time, we kicked our flippers and got across in record time with the sun breaking through the clouds to warm us as rose out from the loch. This made the trip seem very worthwhile.

The cycle back to the car was serene and gorgeous with the sun breaking through the trees and reflecting off the loch. When the weather comes out in Scotland it really is one of the most beautiful places.

A short drive later we arrived at Loch Etive where we kayaked to the remote bothy of Cadderlie. This was our try-out of the kayak for our River Ganges adventure – Source to Sea. Will the kayak get us up the loch in one piece? Yes! Thankfully, the Sevylor Alameda Premium is an incredible purchase and we highly recommend it to anyone wanting a strong and compact(ish) boat to have an adventure on.

The paddle up the loch was another treat with beautiful mountains shadowing over us as we headed north. We did not know the exact location of the bothy but knew it was there. We felt like sailors exploring unexplored territories. And that is why we love adventure.

About 300m from the waters edge, there it was. A lonely building standing in the middle of green fields, surrounded by forests and highland cows. To get to the bothy we had to hurdle a barbed wire fence with the kayak in hand and avoid upsetting the local highland cows who, with their pointy horns, seemed perplexed as to our presence. Knock knock. No answer. We had the bothy to ourselves and it was spectacular.

This was Jess’ first bothy experience and she quickly settled in by gathering brambles and made a sweet sauce for some cheese and crackers. We were lucky to find a well supplied wood supply in the bothy and had a roaring fire going in no time. Bothies are free to the public and can be found all over Scotland. They attract like-minded people and is one of the best ways to the spend the evening in wild. So later in the evening, a young man named Steve arrived and we spent many hours chatting and sharing stories together. As evening fell upon us and with the bothy as warm as a sauna, we fell asleep in our sleeping bags with a roof over our heads.

The morning arrived and the loch mirrored the mountains and sky. We could not wait to get back on the water. As we set off, we paddled silently, taking in the majestic surroundings that we were lucky to be in the middle of. With a slight tail wind behind us, our journey back was effortless. We had completed our two adventures in two days.

Why did we do it? To have fun, enjoy the good outdoors and spend some quality time with each other without 21st century distractions.

You don’t need to cycle, swim or even kayak to make an adventure happen, you just need to take life back to basics and think creatively about how you can achieve it!

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