Freshwater Lochs of Scotland Challenge


Some skiff crews recently enjoyed an expedition on Loch Shiel, enjoying the slightly different experience of having freshwater under the keel, and the different wild life and weather that comes with that. No racing took place, just an expedition with friends, with a bit of wild camping thrown in.   We were once told that there was a shortage of fresh water suitable for rowing in Scotland.  Can this be true?

Here is a list of some fresh water lochs.  To truly conquer one, you really have to have rowed its length.  So who can claim the following 30 biggest Lochs  for St Ayles?  (sorted by surface area….  as long as there is over 2 feet below us, it does not really matter how much is down there, unless you try to anchor).

Did you know that Loch Ness has more water in it than all the lakes in England and Wales combined?  And that Loch Morar is the deepest loch at over 300 meters deep in places?  And that there are over 30,000 freshwater lochs in Scotland. Anyway, here is your list:

Loch Lomond

Loch Ness

Loch Awe

Loch Shin

Loch Maree

Loch Morar

Loch Tay

Loch Ericht

Loch Shiel

Loch Quoich

Loch Rannoch

Loch Lochy

Loch Arkaig

Loch Leven (Fife/ Central)

Loch Katrine

Blackwater Resevoir

Loch Fannich

Loch Cluanie

Loch Monar

Loch of Harray

Loch Rimsdale, nan Clar and Badanloch

Fionn Loch

Loch Langavatt

Loch Laggan

Loch Ken

Loch Doon

Loch of Stenness

Loch Assynt

Loch Treig

Loch Mullerdoch

Loch Bee

Some of these you may never even have heard of, which might indicate that they will be a bit trickly / impossible to get to with a road trailer.  More information on the standing water database.  They are mostly found in the Highlands, but there are representative bits of water elsewhere, including the Hebrides, the Northern Isles and the South of Scotland.

Please make sure you make a good impression when undertaking any adventure, and that you have suitable permission to use launch facilities. You could always charm the locals into building their own St Ayles and using their stretch of water for rowing.  Try to be very understanding of fishermen who will be used to having most of these stretches of water to themselves.  Make sure you follow the outdoor access code, and remember that you may be remote from assistance, and should plan and prepare accordingly.

Appearing on this list does not indicate that the body of water is navigable….  up to you to determine that.   Leave only ripples, and not too many of them.  Post in the comments below once you have navigated one in your St Ayles. Name the date, the boat and the club for posterity.  And lets not turn this into an overly competitive activity….   it is after all meant to be the opposite of that.  Be delighted for anyone who rows one of the lochs, and claims it for St Ayles.

Those outwith Scotland do not need to miss out.  There are significant navigations in England and Northern Ireland to be explored, for instance the Rivers Tees, Thames, Tyne and Severn, the Norfolk Broads,  Ullswater, Connieston, Windermere, Lough Erne….  plenty more.  There are two major overseas tours planned at the moment, the Bay of Quinte Raid 2015  and the Kiwi Raid 2016.

…  and finally, once the boats are packed away and the fish supper has been finished, don’t forget to write up your experience for the benefit of others by entering it in the SCRA Cruising Log Competition.

The photo is Loch Shiel, taken by Max Blinkhorn.




  1. #1 by Max Blinkhorn on 24 August 2015 - 6:29 pm

    Loch Lomond is perfection and nearby.

    Loch Ness is a bit dull – no really, it is.

    Loch Morar is fabulous with a haven called “Swordland”! and there is also a possibility of doing Inverie, Mallaig, the same weekend.

    Shin is also not hugely dramatic. Drama! Give me drama!

  2. #2 by Karen Thompson on 26 August 2015 - 11:33 am

    Loch Maree – now there is a beautiful stretch of water! The local wild swimming group swam it end to end in dreadful weather last year. But it would be a shame to rush an expedition on Loch Maree and not visit some of its legendary islands.

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