14/100 – Loch Drunkie

The name sounds funny, which is as good a reason as any for choosing a swim spot. It’s located on the “Three Lochs Drive”, a winding scenic road through forests and mountains, with views out over Loch Drunkie, Loch Venachar and Loch Achray. The first to come into view is Loch Drunkie, glittering on the valley floor below as we round a corner. Framed by pine forests and led up to by marshy grassland stretching away from the road, it lies grey and calm and placid. The low cloud cover is echoed back in tones of silver. The driving rain of the morning has given way to a persistent drizzle, not weighty enough to disturb the water.

We set off on the circular Loch Drunkie trail, past a big xylophone made of wood and a set of bell pull ropes that are part of a series of outdoor musical instrument installations. The path is trodden dirt littered with golden green pine needles and intricately spiked pine cones. The rain whispers on the top branches but is barely a mist by the time it gets down to us.

Just round a corner we come across the perfect spot – a muddy slide down to a flat clear bank. The remnants of a bonfire sit by the shore, stone boulders and logs dragged into a circle round it. I step down into red water, mud and pebbles separated from my toes by the always flattering neoprene swim socks. It’s not far to wade till the water hits my waist and as I push off the rain stops.

Clouds slip higher and hover quietly in the sky. The wind is not certain enough to blow them entirely away. The mountains form a rich green V and the rocks that they become when they reach the shore are petrol blue. The water mirrors back the colours, brighter even than the original, as if the water has applied a coat of gloss.

As my hands disturb the glassy surface the colours dance and swirl, painting rings and ripples, spirals, curves and lines that never settle long enough to hold onto. They only exist for a moment. My hands are ghostly, white, fleshy beneath the surface. Looking along at them as they stretch their furthest, I see the rich red-orange of the iron, the earth in the water. I look down for my feet and there is only blackness.

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