A trip to Ballachulish and Glencoe last week gave me the chance to experience a new swimming location and on a sunny warm morning I set off to Cuil Bay, close to Duror village in Appin. Turning off the main road I passed a tiny, stone built moss-clad bridge, now bypassed by a new road. Primroses peeked from its nooks and crannies and daffodils bobbed their heads brightly. I thought of all the people who had journeyed to the Highlands over this ancient bridge in centuries past.
Continuing along the single-track road, it wasn’t long before Cuil Bay opened out before me – a beautiful pebble beach with stunning views onto Loch Linnhe and the mountains surrounding it – some nearly 3000 ft and still dusted with spring snow – and on to Lismore Island and, in the distance, the Island of Mull. Eider duck and barnacle geese were happily pottering around. Gorse bushes were in full bloom and scented the air. It was calm and quiet – perfect for a morning swim.
I’d been told it was a popular bathing spot but the water still being cold, there were no other swimmers around. Being unfamiliar with the location I decided to keep close to the shore and swim along the beach within my depth. I paddled in (being careful not to disturb the geese) and set off – first the shock of the cold, then a few minutes of gritted teeth, and then the familiar delightful sensation of being quite comfortable in the cold water. Floating on my back and gazing around at the dramatic scenery I counted the mighty mountain peaks – easily more than twenty! The mountains to the west are part of Kingairloch, beyond which lies Morvern and the peninsula of Ardnamurchan; to the northwest Ardgour, Sunart and Moidart; and to the north, Scotland’s highest peak Ben Nevis near Fort William. Of course, none of this is in present day Argyll, but historically the county of Argyll did include these areas. They are so stunning and so close to Argyll that visitors really ought not to miss out – after seeing Argyll first!
Revelling in the gentle sunshine and the majestic views all around me I floated happily for 15 minutes, looking north, south, east and west, on this beautiful spring morning. Far across the loch I could see white fluffy shapes, and beside them tiny white specks – the sheep with their spring lambs!
After my swim I headed straight back to the hotel, where I was able to sit by a roaring log fire and enjoy further views of the loch and mountains while warming up with a pot of tea. I don’t believe Scotland’s scenery can be beaten anywhere in the world.