Wild Walks in Scotland – Isle Of Skye

The most intriguing thing about the Isle of Skye is its attached, albeit by a bridge, to the island which I call home. Nowhere else within the UK has the same ancient; almost mythical feel about it. I visited the island a few weeks ago with my old pal Jamie. We parked Storm (07 Citreon Relay 2.2 HDI 100 L1h1 medium panel van) in the large lay by just after Kilamarie. The destination was Camasunary Bothy, a 3 mile hike over a small hill.

The hike took me and Jamie around an hour and a half, mainly due to our severe fatness and all round general poor health. It is an absolute cracker of a walk, for such a small hike it really is staggeringly beautiful. Of course, we were both armed with sea fishing rods. After cresting the hill and walking down to Camsunary we stopped to recover our breath on some rocks by the sea.Almost immediately upon our arrival small fish were jumping just yards out from the rocks upon which we were perched. I eagerly tackled up a spinning outfit and got stuck in, then the darndest thing happened….

An entire family, two adults, 3 kids and dog emerged, in the sea, from around the headland to my left, swimming frantically with a rather large log in tow, all supported by a couple of buoys. Straight through my swim. Now, bear in mind, this isn’t an inner city park lake full of people and dogs, I had driven for 14 hours, to one of the remote parts of the country where you don’t expect to see anyone for miles and  5 minutes after arrival, two generations of an entire bloody family with pets swan through my swim.

It turns out that the offending family live in the house of Camasunary, which it just so happens has no access via road and the only way to get wood for heating is to swim it around from Elgor. To think I get pissed off when I have to put my beer down and walk 3 metres to the heating programmer in my house to pop the heating on. Despite killing my swim, the family seemed really nice and I take my hat off to them for their efforts, although I do think really you should only do that once and then invest in a boat.

The fishing eventually recovered and despite having 5 takes in 5 casts I couldn’t get a fish to stick. Probably need to sharpen a few of the hooks on my old lures to be honest. It must be noted that throughout my short session there were sea trout jumping everywhere. I would love to come back with a fly rod and some waders, but I most certainly would not like to do the walk again especially carrying my knackered old waders.

After fishing, we retired to an already half full bothy. The Camasunary Bothy comprises of 5 sleeping rooms and 2 lounges both with fires. One of the main rooms was already occupied by 3 Frenchman, a German, and a guitar playing Czech. Naturally, we opted for the empty room. After a long day we got our Trangia’s out and started rustling up some dinner. Whilst Jamie cooked up some Pasta N Sauces, on the menu for me (due to a logistical error back at Storm), was a delicious mix of mushroom soup, processed peas and rice. As I was polishing off my disgusting dinner, 4 merry Czech men walked through the door. After briefly sizing each up (always a wise move in a shared bothy to make sure your new roomies aren’t “murderer looking” types); we all tentatively started small talk. Soon, a can of Stella was offered to me which I readily accepted. This was a really kind act, I would certainly not carry beers over that hill and then give them away, willy nilly, to a fat Englishman, whom, I had just met in the middle of nowhere, especially one eating one of the weirdest dinners anyone has ever seen.

As the night progressed, slowly, more and more booze was produced and eagerly consumed. I contributed my vintage bottles of Aldi London Gin and Napoleon Brandy. These went down a treat, you would have thought they were bottles of Hennessy Cognac or a nice cold Taittinger. I suppose when your out in the wilds these little luxuries go a long way, just ask swimming log family.

 

The Road to Nowhere – Loch Lomond

For us simple minded anglers, nothing quite gets the blood flowing like the thought of a good ol’ road trip. Loading up the wagon; hearts full of an excited optimism. The anticipation builds throughout the hum drum week; thoughts drifting lazily towards our piscatorial passion. Of course these dreams rarely fulfil expectations but thats what fishing is all about, well thats what I think.

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This trip was extra special, Loch Lomond the destination; Esox Lucius the target. Loch Lomond is the largest body of freshwater in the UK dwarfing even the mightiest of waters and its packed full of fucking pike; allegedly. As ever NCA associate Jamie Ward was riding shotgun.

For a change, I had conducted some initial research before this trip. Information was sparse but a few choice locations kept cropping up. The first was a spot passed on to me by an ex colleague, who was the inspiration for this trip. I was told of monster catches from this area. This spot was a small beach tucked away on the western shores of the loch barely big enough for a bivvy. Having conducted a thorough wader and stick depth check. I discerned that the depth of the loch very slowly tapered off and that it was still fairly shallow at 40 yards out, no less than 4 feet deep. However, the loch did seem low during our visit.

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The bait for the weekend would be the wallet hugging recession pike pack from Online Baits UK. Found here. The service was brilliant with delivery instructions followed to a tee. The pack contained a vast array of dead baits that only a fool would fail to catch on. I even injected the fish with heroin so they blended in and looked even more natural in this Scottish setting.

We spent the first frozen night (this trip took place in January) near Luss without a bite, We decided to move early the second day to the far side of the Loch to a location near Balmaha. Up[on arrival this spot felt much pikier, it shelved off straight away to around 20 foot at 10 yards out. Also rather than the gravel bottom there was a tackle munching, feature packed rocky bottom in it’s place.

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We spent another night cuddling around a fire place, shooting the shit but the floats remained resolutely un-submerged. Despite a valiant attempt to sink them by a Scottish yacht lout, who motored past us at about 300 yards out going flat out. Standing on the top deck of the boat was a man presumably Scottish, arms raised, shouting SCCOOOTTTLLLAAANND!!!. Whilst this is was a beautiful sight in itself, it was even more hilarious to see (first hand) the devastation that can be caused by a large boat travelling at speed. A couple of minutes after he passed, a tidal wave of gigantic proportions washed ashore and split both of our cups of tea and splashed us both a little bit in the face.

In summary, no fish were caught over the weekend trip but I could not recommend a trip up to Loch Lomond highly enough. Despite the freezing cold temperatures and teas being spilt by rampaging Scotsmen it is without doubt one of the most beautiful areas of our mossy little rock. I will be back probably with Jamjam.

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