18/100 – Millarochy Bay, Loch Lomond 

It’s the greyest, rainiest day of our stay when we return to Loch Lomond. As the largest body of inland water in the UK and the most famous in this area, it feels slighting to give it only one visit and then let it go. The Great Scottish Swim was a wonderful experience, but an organised, busy, prescribed one. I want to feel the solitary wilderness of the lake and so, from a pebble beach that is disected every few minutes by wet-weather gear clad hikers, I wade out into rain spattered grey water.

Millarochy bay has natural horse shoes of shoreline looking out to the mountains at the other side of the vast expanse of water. A collection of tree crowded islands huddle together off shore to one side and a small informal marina sits at the edge of a campsite to the other. The boats rock gently in the wind, clanking slightly.

It’s a different magic to the clear cold water and startling sharp focus mountains of the past few swims. The hills, the sky, the water, the rain – they are all washed in whispering shades of muted blue and grey. The rain makes grasshopper, water-skater circles on the surface, plucking drops back up skywards when it begins to fall harder, a lake full of lake water rising to join the sky and sky water plopping down into the lake.

The mist is thick and touchable, yet it’s more a shading than a substance – I can see everything, though the edges are softened and blur into each other, inky blue that bleeds into taupe that bleeds into dove grey. It feels more alive in the rain and I feel more a part of it all. A dog on the shore runs into the water after a stick and I have my only swimming companion. I’m glad I came back to see it, this huge wedge of still, shifting, changeable water. Not only is every slight location change different, but every season, day, time of day, whim of weather. You never have the same swim twice. That’s what makes it so special.

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