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  • ben--taylor0

Here comes the sun

Here comes some words, doodidoodoo...

The sun is shining, glaring at me through the tent fabric, making me sweat slightly. I'm perched, almost precariously, atop a boulder that slopes elegantly into loch long. The view is alpine. Or fjord-like. Blankets of rough pine rising up from the dark-blue sparkly spangliness that runs as if it were a great rippled road from left to right.

The rock I sit on is old, wrinkled and swirly in a way that refuses to conform to any kind of pattern. Random communities of bright quartz stick out in big chunks; the overall effect is of a big grey blob of ice cream, complete with tasty bits, slowly sliding into the sea.

The smallest caterpillar I have ever seen is currently descending the prescipitous slopes of the rucksack, it seems unfazed by the dizzying heights, and the wind gently rustles the tent door.

I don't really have much reason to hurry on my way today. I appear to have landed, four days out from Glasgow, in a small paradise.

Last night, the owls intermittently went woo, and sometimes hoo, and occasionally even woohoo. Whilst, in the distance, the restless lights of the local oil refinery cast a warm amber glow, and twinkled in a way that could have been described as enticing. I'm sure that if I was a moth, I would have happily described it as such.

After telling myself that I would take it easy at first, and definitely not rush out of Glasgow in search of hills and peaceful lochs, I ended up reaching Arrochar a day early, feeling fairly shattered. I guess I needed to blow off some steam that had been brewing for the last month or so. I definitely felt better to be on the way!

What can I say about the first day, other than it was sunny and I was a big tumultuous bag of mixed emotions. I ended up making friends with a guy called Mike near Dumbarton, who offered me beer, some much needed conversation, and then food and a place to sleep for the night! It was a lovely and unexpected start to the journey.

Day 2 was damp. It took me across the tidal flats towards Helensburgh. The bags weight really making itself known to me, with regular breaks to relieve the soreness and stiffness.

In the afternoon, after feeling quite glum, I decided it was time to try out the raft for a bit. I was slightly concerned that the rucksack would cause it to be too unstable, but it turned out to make the kayak tremendously well balanced.

So, feeling hilariously elated, and grinning like an idiot who's just had their first kiss, I paddled happily and haphazardly north; straight into the restricted zone of one of the Clyde Navy Bases. By the time I realised I might be trespassing I was already being speedily approached by a police launch boat and two armed ribs. I explained that I only just realised I shouldn't be there, and enquired where I was allowed to paddle. They pointed me across the loch. After taking my details, I paddled to the West shore of Gare Loch, followed closely behind by the two ribs. For the rest of the evening I felt paranoid, like I was being watched and scrutinized, as I made my way down the Rosneath peninsular. Once I set up camp in the trees at the southern tip of the peninsula, I relaxed, ate and fell asleep as soon as it was dark.

Day 3 was a long 20-odd mile trip up the length of loch long. As the name suggests, it is quite long.

The afternoon was spent paddling up the east shore, all the way to Arrochar. On the way there were many eider ducks, oystercatchers, terns and even some dolphins. I could here them snorting out air as they breached the surface behind me, but were out of sight by the time I turned around, leaving barely a ripple. So I stopped paddling for a while, and drifted aimlessly along, watching them curve in and out of the water.

I kept wondering if maybe I had missed a trick, surely this can't be happening already?

Yesterday was wet. I was meeting with Tara from the Marine Conservation Society in the afternoon, so I spent the morning reading and then getting soggy on the nearby hill, The Cobbler; a hill I have been meaning to explore for quite a while now. Inevitably it was in the clouds, asleep, refusing to stir until at least mid-afternoon.

After going slightly astray (definitely not lost) on the summit, I rushed back down, picking up the bag along the way. I soon met up with Tara, and a whirlwind of a dog called Orca, at the head of the loch. We were there to do a little beach clean and have a look at the seaweed surveying, as well as chat about future plans. It was great to finally meet someone that I had spoken to through the organising of this journey. It has been really weird just speaking to people on zoom or over the phone, and not physically meeting them. But I guess a lot of people have been experiencing that recently.

After saying goodbye, I raided the local chippy, and set off down the west shore of Loch Long to a little known place called Dail. A collection of ruins that have been swallowed by the forest, right next to the loch shore.

That's it so far...

The sun is getting high now, and in the time it's taken to write this the tent has warmed up considerably.

I think it's time to get going.

So long!

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