The Scottish Raid

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Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:13 am
Boat Type: wooden daysailer

The Scottish Raid

Postby miketath » Sat Jun 22, 2013 12:57 am

Just back from my 3rd attempt at The Scottish Raid managed to do the whole lot coast to coast this time around (got beaten by the weather last year) could have done with a bit more wind and less rowing though!
loads of pictures and stories on the website
recommend next years event to anyone with a suitable boat its great fun and can be very testing!!

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:13 am
Boat Type: wooden daysailer

Re: The Scottish Raid

Postby miketath » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:56 am

Seems we are not the first people to appreciate this place!

Cruise of the 'Joan': Caledonian Canal, 1927

'Cruises of the Joan'

© Lodestar Books

I reached Inverness in the nick of time before 9 p.m., when they stop work. At Clachnaharry the boat was tied alongside some piles where I could step straight ashore. It was luxurious, not a movement on the water and scarcely any in the air; the sun shone; the weather was warm – coffee and pipe were both excellent: I blessed the gods for this once. My friend Peatfield joined me on July 10th.

The fee for traversing the canal from sea to sea was £5, the payment of which was submitted to with a pang. It is a minimum charge for the journey and as there are more than thirty locks and bridges I suppose it is a fair price. The man who took my money said it was a pity my boat was not bigger; it would have cost me no more. The fees, he admitted, were high but even with high fees the canal did not pay its way, so that it was lucky a Government department had charge of it. The scenery alone was worth the money, however. The canal deserved all that had been said to me in its praise. You can collect all the finest hills, mountains, woods, forests, lakes and rivers: with lawns and moors that you ever admired; play combination puzzles with them; the Caledonian canal will beat anything you can produce.

When you want to bring up, you tie head and stern to poles or bollards or trees or shrubs or flowers. If the wind is off the bank you float as far as your ropes allow. If it is towards the bank you float as far as your keel allows. No tide, no current, no waves, no worry, no trouble. The water is fresh and good; you fill the kettle from over the side.

I very much fancied a job as lock-keeper; Peatfield a post as bridge attendant – said it looked a bit less fag. The lock-keepers said it was monotonous and an undesirable place in the winter. The bridge people grinned their meaning, which we easily grasped.

We started from Inverness on Wednesday afternoon, July 11th, with a fair wind. After going through three locks under the interested gaze of the few people who were about and with the cheerful and active help of the lockmen we had a gentle sail of five miles, passing Dochgarroch lock, where we tied up for the night. Here we found a couple of open-air men living in a tent on the canal bank. During the summer they cycled to work in Inverness. In winter they lived in the town. Their tent was a picture of tidy comfort. The highland cattle grazing around, which according to my distantly acquired knowledge should have been wild and ferocious, were too tame; the men had been compelled to put a wire fence round their tent to restrain the animal’s love of human society.

Next morning, the wind being right ahead, we were obliged to resort to towing. We kept at it for a few hundred yards, after which it lost all its amusing interest and we waited for the wind to lull. The canal was too narrow for us to get a start with sailing, though we could generally turn if we once got going. I did not mind the delay. A month’s delay would have earned my approval. In the evening we pulled the boat a bit farther and set sail. The wind was light and still ahead, so that progress was slow. For two miles we turned along a tiny lake and a very narrow channel and then found ourselves in Loch Ness, a lake twenty-three miles long and more than a mile wide. We were photographed as we passed the narrows by an enthusiastic old lady. This was at 9 p.m. when the light was so poor that I am afraid she wasted her time. We anchored at 11 p.m. near the shore, four miles down the loch.

On Friday with a stiff wind behind us we ran down the loch to Fort Augustus. There was no trouble in keeping the boat on a straight course, nor did the dinghy sheer about as it usually does on this point of sailing. The mate made the observation that we were travelling faster than the waves, but as they were only bits of things I did not see that it mattered what they did.

After going through five locks at Fort Augustus we sailed another two miles to the next lock. To our surprise the keeper put us through although it was past nine o’clock.

At 10 p.m. we tied up in sight of the next lock. Our ropes were fastened to the silver birches whose branches hung over us. On the opposite bank was the grassy tow-path like a fine lawn prom- enade. Beside it lay a stretch of moorland with a boulder-strewn river, the Oich, and beyond, a line of mountains. My ability to admire fine scenery was greatly strained during the passage of the canal.

For a mile next day we towed against a head wind until we were clear of a lock, a bridge and a very narrow strip of canal. Then we set sail at the entrance to Loch Oich and at once ran aground. This was due to my own carelessness, for I had foolishly assumed that deep water existed everywhere. In Loch Oich, however, it was shallow except in the dredged channel. It took us four hours’ exhausting work to get off again, after performing all the tricks we could think of. Finally we had to careen her over by means of the peak halyards attached to a third anchor we laid out. With this and the added effect of the mate’s useful weight on the end of the out-swung boom, she went over enough to be pulled out into deep water. As we were tired out and it was eight o’clock we tied to one of the channel buoys for the night.

On Sunday the weather, which had been gloriously sunny and hot, changed to a misty drizzle and kept like it with a few fine intervals for the next fortnight. At five in the evening we beat through Loch Oich and tied up close to the next lock ready for going through in the morning. Loch Oich we both considered to be prettier than anything we had yet passed, with its fairy mountains, its antique toy castle and its little play islets, some of which were nearly big enough to stand on.

When the workaday week began we towed and locked and bridged for two or three miles until we arrived at Loch Lochy. Through this lake we beat for ten miles against a hard wind which made us take in a reef. We had to bail out the dinghy twice and got wet through with rain and spray, because we refused to take it seriously by putting on oilskins. At night we tied to the usual flower on the canal bank.

The remaining eight miles we towed against a persistent head wind, but we passed out of the canal on Wednesday and brought up off Fort William, having taken just a week to do the journey of sixty-two miles.

Published with permission: Lodestar Books

'Cruises of the Joan' Lodestar Library

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