Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wild Swimming in The Cairngorms- Loch an Eilein

There are some spots that I have visited around the UK which are beautiful and then there are places which are just outright special. You know deep inside that you want to come back again and again. So what makes something tip from the label of amazing to special? Is it how the place makes you feel? Perhaps you are happy or so content and connected when you are there that you forget everything else and you want to stay in that moment forever. Or is it how you discover the spot which is important to you? Do you prefer to stumble upon it by yourself and relish in the solitude or would you rather for someone to take you to this magical place and share it with you, which makes it feel so special? I guess it is different for everyone. In the case of Loch an Eilein it might be the 15th century castle sitting on a small island, or the thick forest surrounding it, or perhaps it is the water which is so clear, that you can see Cairngorm mountain tops reflecting their magnificence, making you scheme your next day adventures in your mind. Or maybe it is the way I feel when I watch the sunset from the water, my breath being taken away simultaneously by the cold and the colours of the setting sun forming an ever moving backdrop, which makes me want to come for more.

                                                     Pretty magical sunset views

How to get there:

Loch an Eilein is located in the Rothiemurchus forest in the Cairngorms National Park, just a few miles from Aviemore. The forest is popular with bird watchers and has some lovely walks around depending on your fitness levels. There is a paid car park a few hundred meters from the the edge of the loch which makes it convenient for a quick swim! Take the path by the car park on your right with a forest on your left. You will come to the edge of the loch within a few minutes.

          You can swim on the tip of the loch or walk further towards the castle

The swimming really is magical there. You can swim at the top of the lake or if you walk further along the path in the forest, you will come to a small clearing/rocky beach opposite the castle. If you feel like it, you can even swim to the castle and explore which is what I did the first time I ever visited with some friends. The rocks are really slippy though so watch out.

                              There is no elegant way of getting past those slippy rocks

If you walk a little bit further, just before you get to a gate, there is a small platform which makes it easy to get into the water from or is perfect for some Yoga.

                             September dips - the water is starting to feel fresh!

The water is really clean and the temperature is like a typical Scottish loch - refreshing! My favourite time of the day to swim is at dusk but I will always try and and swim in the morning too after I spend a night close by. It definitely sets you up for the day.

             Morning Yoga followed by a quick dip-the platform makes a lovely spot for both 

I guess ''special'' place is subjective to all of us. Loch an Eilein is definitely mine. And how do I know? If you have ever met me in person you will know that I don't usually struggle for words. So it is when I go quiet and cannot (and don't want to) find words to describe what I see and feel. When I am lost in the moment. That is when I know I found something special. And that is how I feel when I am there.