Introduction – Swimming Across Scotland:
The challenge is simple. I aim to swim across Scotland! Ya, who would have thought it? But you can actually swim from sea to sea from the west to the east coast of Scotland, without ever touching land. How cool is that? I have visited Scotland a few times as a teenager, and simply loved its unspoiled and rugged landscape. I just can’t wait to get up there on Day 1 and dive into this adventure (literally).

I will start the adventure on the 27th of August. The expected duration of the challenge is 7-9 days, so I will be finishing sometime between the 7th-9th of September. I will be swimming around 15km every day.

The swimming adventure will start at Fort William and will finish at Inverness. The total swimming distance is about 100km. Its quite an interesting adventure as there are three massive lakes (lochs), which are all joined by either a river or canal or both. It’s quite an obvious thing to state, but the water doesn’t flow from one direction to another e.g. from Fort William all the way to Inverness. From the first loch it flows back towards Fort William. But then, from the first loch onwards it will flow towards Inverness.

Ross O Sullivan swimming across Scotland
Swimming across Scotland from Fort William to Inverness

So Whats Involved?
The swim will start at Fort William. The first obstacle is getting from Fort William to the first loch. The first lock is called ‘Loch Lochy‘. A river called the River Lochy flows from this loch towards Fort William. So I ain’t swimming against that river. There is a canal adjacent to the River Lochy, which I could swim up, but I need to get permission from Scottish Canals. It is about 13km from Fort William to the start of Loch Lochy.

From here, I will swim across Loch Lochy, which is 16km long, until I reach another canal. This canal connects Loch Lochy to Loch Oich. The next step will be to swim the length of Loch Oich, which is about 8km long. I will then swim down the River Oich. This will probably be the most dangerous part of the adventure. From looking on maps, it looks like this river has loads of shallow fast sections with a few rapids chucked in for good measure.

Then we enter ‘da beast’! Loch Ness! When I reach the start of Loch Ness, I will have swam about 47km. Loch Ness is about 37km in length and is one of Britain’s most famous lakes/lochs. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as “Nessie”. Loch Ness has the greatest volume of water in the British Isles, helped by the fact that it is 230m deep in places. No wonder ‘Nessie’ likes to live there. It’s weird to think that I will be swimming with 230m of water under me. “What the hell could be under me at that stage? All sorts I’d say. 16-foot salmon, 3-eyed trout. Who Knows?”.

Ross O Sullivan swimming across Scotland

After the magnificent Loch Ness, we have our last challenge, which is to swim down River Ness. This river also looks quite fast flowing, with rapids present once again. I will finish in the sea by Inverness. So I will start in the sea and finish in the sea.

What are the main difficulties?
A 100km is a very long swim. My moving speed will be about 3.5km/hr. By the time I take breaks etc my swimming speed will be about 3km/hr. Divide this by 100km and you get around 33 hours of swimming in 7-days. This is nearly 5-hours of swimming a day in freezing cold water. Which brings me to the next difficulty. The freezing cold water! This is my biggest worry about this trip.

Where I am swimming is very high in Scotland. The water up here is so cold!!! I will be swimming in about 10 degree water. For anyone that doesn’t know what 10 degree water feels like, I’ll break it down for you. The temperature of a leisure swimming pool is about 30 degrees. A competition swimming pool is about 26 degrees. The summer sea temperatures in the UK and Ireland is about 14-18 degrees. I have swam in 10 degrees water before, and it is unbearable. You are a ticking time bomb at this temperature. I wouldn’t be able to sustain swimming in this water temperature for any longer than an hour. Hypothermia will be my biggest worry for this adventure. But we will put every safety measure in place, to prevent me reaching this (worrying) point. The water temperature could be about 13 degrees though. So I’m really hoping that this will the case. Otherwise, it will be unbearingly tough.

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Scotland is high up!

This adventure will be my toughest yet. It might not be as long as the River Severn Adventure. But the challenges I will face, are much different than what I experienced on the River Severn. All I can do is prepare myself as best as possible and go for it.

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