Loch Lomond to The Cairngorms

Updated: Apr 24

We had set our alarms to wake us up early enough to catch the sunrise over Ben Lomond and the Loch. We were hopeful that the rain from the night before would have cleared away by the morning to leave us with a perfectly still, sunny morning to go for a paddle. As usual the weather had other plans and at 6am we woke up to the sound of rain pattering down on the tent. After a quick check outside we confirmed that a picturesque sunrise was not on the agenda and hunkered down in our sleeping bags for another couple of hours.

When we did finally venture outside at about 9 o'clock the weather was much more pleasant. The Loch was flat, there was no wind, and the sun was trying it's best to make an appearance. Maybe a good paddle board session was on the cards after all! Wasting no more time, the kit was brought down to the beach and we got our breakfast of sliced haggis (a new favourite) and sausages on the go while we set up. All seemed well, until a rather concerned looking Ian was walking back over to where I was cooking breakfast. Uh oh. He informed me that he had just tried to start drying the wet tent out using the cars heaters, but it wouldn't start. Oh dear. As soon as breakfast was ready we both went to investigate, paddle boarding had to take a back seat, the car was more important. We needed to get it going so we could make it to the Cairngorms before dark because we were wild camping again! I was really hoping that the battery had gone flat overnight and it was just going to be a case of jump starting it. It wasn't. The lights on the dash came on when the key was turned but the engine wouldn't start, and the radio wouldn't turn on? Weird. Must be a fuse we thought. Accessing the fuse box was made more difficult than it should've been because of a seized bolt, and we didn't have any WD40 to loosen it up. We gave up and tried to bump start it on the off chance it would work. We only had one chance at it because we were at the top of a small hill and wouldn't be able to push the car back up for a second go. I pushed and Ian steered, when the car was rolling at a good pace Ian dumped the clutch, the car spluttered, and cut out. We regrouped on the drivers side to talk about what on earth we were going to do. We had no breakdown cover, and we were about 20 miles from the closest town. While we were having a rather sad chat Ian gave one last defeated attempt at turning the key. The car sprang to life! It turns out that while we were talking Ian had knocked the console under the steering wheel with his knee which had reconnected a loose wire responsible for the ignition. It turned out that while we were fixing another issue before the trip we hadn't reconnected some wires properly. Thankfully the trip could continue!

By the time we had finished messing around with the car the clouds and the rain had come back. Remember before all of that we were planning to go paddle boarding. We couldn't change the plan now so we finished setting up the kit and got on the water. It was absolutely freezing, even in our wetsuits and we got blown about all over the place, but it was exhilarating nonetheless. When we couldn't take the cold anymore we packed up as quickly as we could and got in the car with the heaters on full blast, and took a moment to relax.

All of the delays meant that we didn't get to the Cairngorms until after dark. We did our best to find a suitable place to set up the tent but everywhere we looked there were 'no overnight parking' signs. Finding a good spot was looking increasingly unlikely as it got darker and colder. Hungry and tired we gave up when we came across a small town on the edge of the Cairngorms and booked into a hotel for the night.

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