The Lake of Menteith
Launch Point/Parking - This is where the boat takes people over to Inchmahome island, but further south of this car park there are also some lay-bys you can park in and launch from the small beaches close to the waters edge. It gets pretty busy in the summer so just make sure you get there good and early. Keep away from the fisherman... I'm sure you understand why.
Scotland's only lake. But why? The unusual name apparently comes from some kind of corruption by the 16th-century cartographers when they were mapping out the lowlands of Scotland - Laich o Menteith. The word "laich" translates from old scots into "low place". For some reason the lake was called The Loch of Menteith until it changed to lake in the 19th century. Both Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots used Inchmahome island as a safe place for hiding during their times as monarchs in their respective centuries. On the island there is a large Priory which is now all ruins, but Historic Scotland provide a boat service to visit the island as a tourist attraction. It's not a good idea going to explore the priory if you haven't paid.
There is though another wee beauty of an island on the south west side of Inchmahome called Inch Talla. There are ruins on it too from a castle built in 1427 by the Earl of Menteith. It's definitely worth a wee explore.
Back in the summer my wife and I came to The Lake of Menteith with our good friend Laura. She had recently bought a Red 10'6 and wanted to get out. It was a belter of Scottish day. I remember it being fairly windy and the girls both had to sit down on the way back. Remember to always check the wind before heading out onto open water. If you battle into the wind on the way out, it creates great reward for paddling home.
Laura recently went back to Lake of Menteith in very different conditions. Check out her blog post below. :)
First winter paddle of 2021 (Lake of Menteith, Stirling, January 2nd) was my first proper winter paddle, EVER. Conditions were perfect - flat calm, not a breath of wind. A snowy Ben Lomond looking majestic and imposing as the sun highlighted the bright snow and accentuated every contour. The lake was like glass and bathed with (surprisingly warm!) sunshine. It was also ice free (apart from some shaded sections and the fringes) whilst lots of other local lochs were frozen over. Water temperature was around 7c but thanks to my @cskinswetsuits, neoprene socks from Santa and my new @gulwatersports wetsuit boots, I didn’t feel a thing! Even when I went for a quick dip!
I’d love to be able to explore more snowy wilderness by SUP whilst we have these lovely winter anticyclones, but that will probably have to wait until next winter for now. Sticking to our local area for recreation, sport and exercise is more important than ever now if we are to break this cycle of lockdown. Whilst it’s incredibly important to maintain our hobbies and interests / our sports and exercise as we navigate our way through this pandemic - as much for our mental health as our physical health - it’s also incredibly important to stick to the rules and stay in our local authority area (or within 5 miles of it) for the protection of the NHS and our fellow citizens as the pandemic intensifies around us. One last push - we can do this 💪🏼
One thing I learned from the first lockdown, as someone who would be out exploring every corner of Scotland/the world every chance I’d get, is that there is so much beauty on your own doorstep. We don’t need 500 miles of petrol or 3000 miles of aviation fuel to experience wild places, beautiful landscapes and the wonder of nature! I’ve loved watching people discover and post about the lovely local walks, rivers, lochs, hills and waterfalls they never knew existed on their own doorstep. It’s part of the reason why I started this page - a celebration of the opportunities afforded by the landscape of our beautiful little corner of the World! I hope people can continue that exploration this time round and hopefully connect with their local area in a way that brings lasting joy! The more satisfied we become with the ‘local’ the kinder it could be in the global context of climate change and our Planet’s health 🌍Opportunities for great change lie ahead 🙌🏽