Niall Colquhoun is very lucky man. He lives in Luss, a village on the western shores of Loch Lomond. He regularly posts monster paddles he does on the loch in all sorts of weather conditions. He’s an experienced paddler with a wealth of experience and enjoys flying about the loch one of his many boards. This trip was completed on his zoomy Starboard Allstar 14 x 28.
Niall enjoying a paddle on Day 1 of his adventure on The Great Glen Way. Fort William to Inverness.
Niall describes his paddle in very windy conditions from Balloch to Luss below. Check the map here to see his trip. Wee break at Inchmurrin to correct the direction he was travelling before moving onwards to Inchcruin, skirting Inchconnachan and Inchtavannach before arriving home! Please bare in mind that Niall is a highly experienced paddle and that this trip, in these weather conditions is not for beginners!
There was a steady wind roughly 25km/hr gusting 50kmhr often. The bed of the loch creates very short & deep waves at particular spots. These are the spots that generally toss me off the board. I had a couple of refreshing dips on this trip. I don’t wear a dry suit, just neoprene trousers, a cotton t-shirt and a windproof shell. This works well for me. I really relish the cooling dip. The problem I have is being tossed over to the far side of board away from the wind. Correcting the direction of such a narrow board and then pulling yourself back on board without it smashing you in the face can be tricky.
The wind on this trip was a south westerly so I needed to end up due north west to counter the weather conditions. Interestingly the islands on the Loch in these weather conditions provide a fantastic shelter. They also cause havoc in that if you don’t get on the correct side of the island depending on the wind, there is no way you are going to end up where planned. Phone a friend required if this goes wrong for pick up at a very different end point!
A misty Loch Lomond on a much calmer day
This time I had to beach on the first island, Inchmurrin and take my board for a wee walk to find a sheltered beach before heading out on the Loch again.
Looking at the above map you can see where I turned left. if I didn‘t do this would have ended up on the wrong side of the islands due north. I had to travel across the waves and it was hard hard work. Staying on my feet was difficult so I had to spend some time on my knees. In fierce winds like today, even on my knees it was difficult to paddle. At times I was holding on to the board as the waves threw me whatever way they decided.
Some calm water towards the end of the trip arrived before more open water hit me hard. The only thing that helps you in these conditions is head down, paddle hard, wobble, balance, find shelter and dreaming of that change of clothes and a warm house!
The beach at Luss looking over to Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southern Munro. Niall’s playground.
The final stretch of calm came just before the last 1k crossing, from Inchcruin back to Luss although the wind funnels between the island and the hill making paddling tough. 1k doesn’t seem far but I was feeling tired after fighting the wind for the past 12.5k
Once home a change of clothes and for recovery a 1 hour snooze.
And that ladies and gentleman is a tough paddle by a very experienced paddleboarder in very, very tough conditions.
Hope you enjoyed the read! ✌🏼