The Lost Loch, Part II: Bog Trotting and Burnt or Raw

Lightweight cookware is a wonderful thing when you’re walking any kind of distance to camp. Light loads bring happiness. It seems less fun when trying to cook something other than water. Such cooking becomes less an art form and more of a disaster minimisation procedure. The reason is that it can be very hard to control the heat transmitted through the thin metal of sexy titanium cookware, so you tend to end up sacraficing things. How would you like your scrambled eggs this morning sir, burnt or raw?After the previous night’s gas production antics we ate a leasurely breakfast based on oats. It was a beautiful morning, with the rain clouds which had soaked the tent overnight now long gone. I scurried off for a few minutes to take some photos, and then we struck camp and dropped down off the ridge towards a potentially tricky river crossing.

On the way down we spotted a large herd of deer, perhaps already getting psyched for autumn’s shennanigans. Trying to get close enough for a photo we dropped behind a bluff, then poking our heads above the ridge line the deer were nowhere to be seen. It’s amazing how they melt away.

Down at the river and things weren’t looking too promising. We came up to it at a series of impassable rapids, and opted to walk upstream. Some bushwacking later and we came across an ancient ruined dwelling perched on the steep hillside just above the river. Almost completely hidden by bracken and hill grass, it was enough to make one pause and consider the remoteness of a life lived in such a spot. It really was just about as properly remote as things get in the UK. Getting through winter must have been an interesting challenge. The mind boggles.

Further bushwacking and we came to a wide, shallow pool. Off with the boots and we were soon across and getting a bit of lunch on the go. It was such an enticing pool that I decided it was worth the faff of setting up a rod, and within seconds trout were rising to the little deer hair sedge.

Half a dozen pretty little trout later and we packed up and struck off towards our goal. The first job was to find the path we’d seen from high on the ridge. It had looked promisingly clear and solid from far, but we soon discovered it to be exceptionally bog-like and disliking of leaky footwear. Much bog-trotting followed.


After that we did more bog-trotting. I think there was a dry section of path at one point, but I might be making that up. Things were damp.

After a bit more boggy wading we found ourselves at the head of the big loch and ready to turn and head up to the hidden lochan that was our final destination. Unsurprisingly the off-road section required for this goal was boggy and very wet, so the bog trotting didn’t stop. I’m not sure if I forgot to mention, but it was very damp.

At long last we came up and over the final rise, and there before us lay a rather magical scene. A Lost Loch snaking away between the steep sides of a remote glen. And sure enough, the spreading rings of rising trout pepperd over the surface close to the near shore.

It was 4.30pm. It had taken a bit longer to get here than planned (ahem). I quickly scouted around for a suitable tent pitching spot, but was rewarded with nothing but extremely boggy ground anywhere close to the loch shore. Even the attractive sandy beach that should have allowed for some extreme Scottish sunbathing was completely under water.

Beginning to feel just a touch uncomfotable at the prospect of the night to come I climbed part way back up the hillside and searched hard for a flattish spot. There were one or two, and you’ll never guess, they were boggy as hell. So a decision had to be made between pitching on lovely dry, bare rock at angles ranging from 30-90 degrees to the horizontal, or on profoundly boggy ground. Time to test that ground sheet waterproofing.

So at last to the fishing. There were some issues. The aforementioned flooded beach was the main culpret. It created a barrier of 6″ deep water about 10 metres wide between the solid(ish) shore and the slightly deeper water where fish were rising. I tried casting over it and succeeded in spooking all fish within a 30m radius. I had to get closer, and the only way was to strip off and wet wade up to the thighs. Swimming in highland lochs is one thing, can be very fun in fact, but standing still and casting for a couple of hours in the same water is somewhat more invigorating on the legs.

Luckily the fish liked the look of the little dry shipman’s buzzer I offered them. One after another they supped it down for the next couple of hours. Quite a wonderful thing to catch trout in such a wild place, truly surrounded by mountains and up to the knackers in baltic water. So much fun in fact that we got rather carried away and neglected to take any photos. You’ll have to trust me when I say that the trout were very pretty and all that, but they really were. The only thing which rivalled their shining forms was the incredible sunset which accompanied our dinner shortly afterwards. As pots of noodles simmered gently the western sky blazed the most intense pink I’ve ever seen, sending rays bouncing off the loch below.

It was soon quite profoundly dark, enhanced by the thick cloud that rolled over, blocking out all star and moonlight. Sleep was fitfull, dampened by the pounding rain that hammered off the tent canvas for most of the night.

I’ll spare details of the following day’s walk out, except to say that it was long, involved ticks in all sorts of places, and provided endless views of spectacular mountain scenery. Despite the grumbling over bogginess, we were actually remarkably lucky with the weather as it only properly rained during the nights. It was a really wonderful chance to spend a slightly more extended period of time away in the hills than I usually manage. Having the Lost Loch as a destination was in some ways unimportant. What mattered was that it was a long way away and required a bit of graft to reach. It’s just a shame it wasn’t boggier.

Read Part I of ‘The Lost Loch’ here.

4 comments

  1. Matt E’s avatar

    Glorious Mike! The sight of that loch is enough to set my heart thumping – and hat a photogenic location with the sun setting in the west!

    Nice choice of soundtrack too…..

    HNY,
    M

    1. mike’s avatar

      Hi Matt,

      It really is a cracking spot, certainly worth the walk (at least in retrospect…). Thanks for stopping by, and Happy New Year to you as well. All the best for the new season, however far off it seems right now….

      Mike

    2. Ralph’s avatar

      Excellent article. Feeling home sick for the Scottish life and freedom of the hills. Just a thought, what on earth are you cooking breakfast for? Thought you got married!!!! If she burns the eggs you may need to think about a trade in!

      1. mike’s avatar

        Well the cook wasn’t on this trip unfortunately, so I had to make do with my own meagre skills… What can I say?

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