Saturday, 9 March 2013

Loch Lomond Seaplanes

What do you give for his birthday the man who loves water, planes, and Scotland? A seaplane flight from Loch Lomond, of course!

Seaplane at rest, Cameron House:

On my 'bucket list' before turning 40 are a number of items, like running a marathon and traversing the Cuillin of Skye in a single trip. I also wrote 'seaplane' and somebody must have seen it. It referred to changing my job to being a seaplane pilot - an impractical dream, but then aren't all dreams before becoming reality?

Take off: Loch Lomond

The seaplane is owned by Loch Lomond Seaplanes and if you have the money, I cannot recommend the tour enough. "Are you by yourself?" asked the pilot as he put everyone on the plane on a dull early spring Saturday. "Then I'll put you in the co-pilot seat." Best view in the house! We took off from Loch Lomond, banked over Helensburgh, and were over the Clyde in no time.

Looking up the Gare Loch to Faslane:

Below us, a hunter killer submarine in the Clyde - probably the newly commissioned HMS Attack.

HMS Attack:

There was plenty military activity in the area today, including one of the navy's recently decommissioned aircraft carriers slumbering at the long-term anchorage in Loch Striven. "Shall we land on deck?" joked the pilot.

Out over Argyll it was still misty, Mull only just visible, the Corrievreckan stirring faintly, other tide races to the north of Jura. I remembered the last time I was here on the Island Peaks Race, on the water, watching a display of porpoises. No porpoises visible today.

Craignish peninsula:

Cullipool, Luing:

The weather remained dull until we reached Loch Awe. I'd been enjoying the sights, the changing colours of the rocky shorelines, sand underneath water, forestry plantations felled by wind, snow in hollows, the occasional wind farm. But at Loch Awe the clouds cleared to reveal dazzling, white-capped hills, and the flight took on an element of the magical.

Approaching Arrochar:

What sights there were to see!

Ben Lomond:

Loch Long:

All too soon we were over Loch Lomond, the sun out, the water sparkling, the flight nearly over.

Luss from the air:

And then - the approach and landing over the smooth enticing expanse of Loch Lomond. It was the best aeroplane landing I'd ever experienced, probably due to the calm water.

Would I do it again? What do you think?! My budget wouldn't stretch, but imagine flying in to Coruisk from the SECC, flying over Loch Lomond, Loch Awe, Loch Etive, Ardnamurchan, Rum, landing in seal-haunted Loch Scavaig with the Cuillin towering all around, just an hour from the bustling heart of Glasgow with all your climbing gear for a week in the Cuillin! Wait a minute - what was that on my bucket list again...


blueskyscotland said...

That photo of the islands in Loch Lomond is amazing. Looks a brilliant trip Craig. Happy birthday by the way.

Chris said...

Fantastic! Those photos are brilliant.

Robert Craig said...

Thanks! Glad I did the flight then rather than on my actual birthday - rain and low clouds, would probably have been cancelled.

Need to do a winter hill now, have got that itch to get out in the snow again - proper snow, West Highland snow, not Ochil or Pentland snow.