We had planned to visit the famous Urquhart Castle on Day 5. We carried out our useful morning routines before setting off to the castle, so that we could be tourists for the morning.

Urquhart castle is located right on the bank of Loch Ness and one of the most picturesque castles in the world. There is so much more to it than you can see from the water, the grass is unbelievably green, and it made the stone look fantastic. We spent about an hour walking around/in the castle. We would have loved to take a day off, grab a picnic and spend the day there. Apart from the masses of tourists, it was really relaxing here.

Ross O' Sullivan - Swimming Across Scotland

After we left the castle we started to head towards Fort Augustus, where we could start the swim. The road was running high up above Loch Ness, we decided to check out where we’re getting out on the way to our start location. We were quite concerned when driving the car around this side of the Loch Ness as the bank was incredibly steep. Bloody good job we did check if we had access, as there was no safe route from the water to the road. There was a bit of an access, but it was about a 60 degree slope for about 10m, one trip and we would be dead. This was a risk not worth taking. The plan had to change.

We saw there was a bridge nearby going over a river at the side of Loch Ness. This may be a perfect stop to get out, it’s a little off the Loch but it could save the day. Not in the slightest, the bridge straddled two rapids that would have put the jeepers up professional kayakers.

Ross O' Sullivan - Swimming Across Scotland

The original plan for Day 5 was to take on 10km of Loch Ness. However, due to having no access to/from the loch, we decided to paddle the last canal of the trip, which was about 8km long and finishes at Inverness on the East Coast of Scotland. We said that we would sort out the access point on Loch Ness on the way home from Invreness. We will do this whole trip, but doing it as we originally planned was out the window. We were now winging it as we went.

We arrived at the canal at 2pm. The weather was 21 degrees and fairly calm. Perfect for Loch Ness, shame we couldn’t find a place to get out today and had to rearrange our plans. But at least we don’t have too long a day today so we won’t be out there too late.

Getting ready to get on the water took ages, we were all dead on our feet, and the boards were left for times with just pumps attached and nobody pumping. We were all drained, we were all disheartened that we couldn’t get on Loch Ness and moral was at an all-time low for this trip. Hopefully once we were on the water things would improve.

Ross O' Sullivan - Swimming Across Scotland

We got on the water after about an hour of setting up. Once on the water we had a chat about what we were going to do about Loch Ness. We know that there are gale force winds coming towards Loch Ness from the west. So the whole adventure was in serious trouble.

All the time we were talking about tomorrows plan, we were flying down the canal. Travelling at about 4km/hr! This is the fastest average speed we had done on this trip, and it was easy (especially for Claire, who we let just float on the boards whenever possible, because she had a massive day ahead of her tomorrow on Loch Ness and her shoulder was quite sore.

We flew the canal, with very few points of interest apart from a really low bridge in which we all had to lay on the boards to get under. Once we were out of the canal and packed away all of our gear, we walked to the end of the Caledonian Canal, where the North Sea enters Inverness. We had reached the finish line, but we all knew we still had Loch Ness to take on. When we reached the end of the canal, we could smell the sea, as the tide was out. We had travelled from coast to coast, but we all knew that we had to take on Loch Ness tomorrow, in high winds.

Ross O' Sullivan - Swimming Across Scotland

We went into Inverness for some dinner. When we left Inverness we headed back to the campsite, and on the way we looked out for suitable exit points for Loch Ness. We had a few ideas but needed Internet to investigate further, which none of us had. We had to head back to the campsite, go to bed, and get up early for a team meeting to discuss the plans for tomorrow.

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I have to thank the following people/companies for helping us out on this adventure:
Puravida Boardriders, Oshea Surf, Zone3, Back2Front Physiotherapy Ltd,Meridian Foods, The Grazing Shed, SwimSecure, Bunroy Park, and Cannich Caravan & Camping Park

Daily distance travelled – 7.73km
Total distance travelled – 57.51km
Daily time on water – 2hr 26min
Total time on water – 19hr 35min

Day 5 – Swimming Across Scotland