Is there a more romantic Valentine’s Day present than jumping in a Scottish Loch and swimming for a mile?
NOPE! Back in February I won two entries to a Great Swim event thanks to this fish face gif tweet. Looking at our schedules we decided to make a trip out of the Great Scottish Swim and spend 4 days in Scotland over the August bank holiday weekend.
We arrived just as the sun was setting at our little Farmhouse B&B in Balloch and the last of the 10k swim finishers were getting out of the Loch. We met Josie down at the shores and she pointed out all the important parts of the course before we walked into town to find carbs (pasta with chips and a side of garlic bread anyone?) and beers for dinner.
Our 1 mile wave started at 12:00 so we had a huge farmhouse breakfast and then went down to Loch Lomond Shores to watch for Josie & Katy finishing their earlier races.
The sun started to break through the clouds just in time for our wave. The event was so well organised we were in the start pen for 11:30 with lots of time to get in the water to acclimatise (a brisk Scottish 14*C wasn’t quite the 20ish this southerner was used to) and do an awkward jazzercise style warmup.
I loved the land start to the race and even with a pretty narrow start most people had spread out so there was lots of room to find your pace. It feels kinda weird to talk about a “route” in a 1 mile lap but it was a nice out-and-back-and-a-bit which I liked as you could look at the different shores on each breath and let’s be honest, the scenery was worth a few extra seconds of race time.
I slapped the finish gantry (Rio inspired) even though there was still about 20m to go to the beach exit. The exit was too shallow to swim but a bit too far to take many confident steps, but a lovely volunteer came out to help me up to the sandy beach.
I swam for about 45 minutes and would have gone out to do another lap if Josie & Katy would have waited that long for a pint. After a quick change in the tents we parked ourselves on the patio of one of the shores pubs and toasted some Tennents shandys to a perfect day.
After the swim we drove up the Loch to visit Balmaha and do a quick hike up to Conic Hill summit before another pub dinner.
We were given cotton finisher race t shirts, WHICH ARE AWESOME! I’ve already worn this one more than any other 2016 race tshirt. Booo technical tshirts. Bring back cotton t-shirts!!!
We spent the rest of our time in Scotland eating lunches by lochs, eating cake in scenic places, climbing up hills and finding shelter from the one brief rain storm in a re-purposed bothy.
We snuck in one big hike on our last day before flying out of Glasgow at 5pm. We hiked up Ben Arthur in the Arrochar Alps.
Scotland you were fantastic on both land and in water.