Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Stillness and symmetry - an autumn day on Loch Laggan
As Allan and I continued our paddle back up Loch Laggan the windless conditions made for great lighting effects. Ahead, a narrowing reflection of the sky onto the water led the eye to a point of convergence. I've noticed before that where this happens, the subconscious tendency is to head straight towards the point of convergence.
Across the water, Coire Ardair of Creag Meagaidh was reflected in gorgeous symmetry with warm autumnal colours projected onto the loch. The stillness of air and water contributed a lot to the totally relaxed atmospere of the day.
There are a couple of tiny islands in Loch Laggan, and although small, this one holds plenty of interest. Named Eilean an Righ (King's Island), the map marks the remains of an "Island Dwelling". We landed to take a closer look at the ruins - which hadn't been possible due to a different water level last time I paddled here. The island at first apears to be a possible "crannog" - an artificially built platform but is believed to be entirely naturally formed.
The visible ruins consist of wall sections made from stone mrotared with lime. A doorway is clearly visible looking out to the south. The internal dimensions of the building have been calculated as 28m long by 5m wide, so it would have been reasonably large. The ruins have been dated to around 1500 and overlay a much older structure which may have been burned. Fragments of a clinker built boat of roughly contemporary date have been found here and at various places in the loch the remains of dugout canoes have been uncovered so there is clearly a long history associated with the place.
From Eilean an Righ there's a nice view across the water to Ardverikie House, which looks very grand in it's setting next to the loch, particularly when autumn colours are at their best.
Ardverikie was completed in 1877 in the Scots Baronial style which was popular amongst landowners of the day. In more recent times it has been used as a filming location for the TV series "Monarch of the Glen" and for the film "Mrs Brown" portraying the life of Queen Victoria's ghillie John Brown.
A little farther along the loch we came upon this small beach of pale sand which looked as if it could be a feature in a Zen garden. The lack of tide and relative lack of wave action had allowed the different water levels to each leave their mark as if raked over the sand.
It seemed a fine spot to land for a coffee, to enjoy the stillness and to contemplate what had been a really good short day's on the water. Kayaking on fresh water is just a bit different from sea paddling - but it does offer some great days out.