(For pictures please click here)

I had managed to finish work early, which meant I wouldn't be walking in the dark. It didn't work that way, a two car pile up on the Kingston Bridge put paid to that.

I finally arrived at White Cairn farm and walked up the path, past the Duck Loch to the end of the Sandy Loch, in the area between the two Big Faeries, to where Bob (bordertroot) was camped beneath the Bare Hill of the Roaring Stags.

Is that too cryptic for you? OK then.

I arrived at Finchairn farm on Loch Awe side, parked the car, geared up and started the walk up the track. Through the first gate, turn right, through the next and take the track leading off to the left, easy enough except I took the wrong track that soon disappeared so it was across country in the gathering gloom until I found the right track. There is nothing like a bit of fun to start a trip. The track meandered here and there, up and down, with some parts under water. In the dark I didn't know how deep these areas were so it was up the banking and by-pass them. Eventually, with the aid of the GPS and the co-ordinates given to me by Bob, I found where I had to leave the path and cut across the moor to the campsite. By this time I was saturated in sweat, tired and looking forward to sleep. I put on the head torch; I hadn't needed it until now as it was easy following the track, and set off into the unknown. Following what I thought was a path, with the GPS and the map for comfort, I eventually came to a small, deep, stream with no apparent crossing point that I could see in the dark. The GPS was showing the campsite just on the far side so I walked, staggered would be a better description, for a bit upstream but the ground was flat so the river stayed the same width and depth. It was back down to the start and see if I could get across at the loch. Six feet from where I was standing, I found the crossing, over I went and up the mound on the far side and down to the loch shore where I would find Bob. I found a boat but no tent, I swung my head from right to left but all I was getting was reflection from the mist that was lying everywhere by now. I shouted into the gloom, "Bob!!!" nothing, I shouted twice more, "Hellooooo!!!!" My voice echoed back to me from some distant hill, still no Bob. I zoomed the GPS in, the campsite was showing up just to my left, three paces, something like a black hump showed up on the edge of the point, a flash at the back and a few steps nearer, and I had found the tent, and not a sound. Half an hour later my tent was up, I was in the sleeping bag and trying to get to sleep with the adrenaline still pumping through my system. It was past midnight.

Saturday 24th July

So to the fishing. Bob woke me at seven thirty, not that I hadn't already been awake; I am always awake with the first light of a new day. The sleeping bag hood soon puts paid to that and I soon fall asleep again.

I dressed and got out of the tent to a pleasant morning and an even pleasanter introduction to Bob, bordertroot from the Wild Fishing Forum. We sat and ate breakfast chatting and getting to know each other as we had never met before.

I left the route decision to Bob as this was his territory and I had never fished the area. We walked back across the swamp I had negotiated last night, keeping to the higher ground where the ground was drier, and reached the track. We turned left and started to climb steeply stopping briefly to watch a group of three anglers crossing the moor towards our tents. The three of them, two men and what appeared to be a woman, carried on past and our minds were a little easier. We carried on and, over the rise, we came to our first loch, Loch a'Chaorainn. Cutting down and across we fished the bank nearest us. The weather was sunny with a light breeze; water temperature was 16C and air 20C when we started. I missed two fish, one to the Iron Blue #12 on the middle dropper and one to the Dry Fly #14 on the bob. This was only my second outing this year so reactions were slow. Finally, I got one all of two inches on the Iron Blue, then one of 4oz on the HillLoch Nymph on the point, which I had to retrieve with the forceps as it had taken it well in. I had seen nothing rising except for the ones to my flies as I carried on down the bank. Then it happened, the Dry Fly disappeared in a splash, I lifted the rod and I knew right away that this was a good, if not very good fish. I let it run a few times and it bored under the rod bending it right over. Bob came down for a look as I pulled a brown trout of 1lbs into the shore. Picture taken he was duly released.

Reaching the end of the loch we studied the map before setting off for our next destination, Loch na Creige Maolaich. After following a deer path we found one going up hill and, after a stiff climb, came to the loch at its outflow. To the left was sheer cliff but to the right a point and decent banks for fishing. Bob decided to have a few casts in the shallow bay and I moved round to the point. With the breeze coming from the left I fished out and down the bank moving a few yards or so after a few casts in the one area. A fish slashed at the Iron Blue just under the surface. I felt its weight, then nothing. A small indentation to my right was the area for my next cast and as soon as the flies touched the water it exploded under the flies. Two fish, both about 4oz, latched onto the Dry Fly and the Iron Blue. I played them into the shore beside me but the one on the Dry Fly slipped off. After trying to get a picture of the second one, it wouldn't stay at peace, I released it too. We fished on round the loch but I never touched another fish.

Our third and final loch for the day was Loch Cam. It was a shorter climb this time, although it didn't feel any easier. The loch at this point is split into two arms. The one we took, to the left, was the shallower weedy one, but it didn't produce any fish for me.

That was that. The sun was dropping and we had a couple of miles to trek back to the tents and supper. We found a deer path and followed it back to the track and then it was an easier stroll down the hill on the track we had climbed earlier that day. We chatted over supper then we both headed for our tents and sleep. I was exhausted.

Bob was up bright and early next morning, which is more than can be said for the weather, from four o'clock it had been sheeting down with strong winds to accompany it. As he was heading out early, and had the farthest distance to go, we said our farewells clad in waterproofs. It was a pleasure meeting and fishing with him and I hope we can do it again sometime.

I had breakfast; packed the tent and rucksack; checked the area for missed rubbish and left. The little stream by this time was an embryonic river. The stepping-stones were under six inches of water. After a bit of a sprauchle I managed to get across with just a slight dampness round the cuff of one boot. I now headed back down the path I had walked up in the dark. It was flowing with water and I half expected to pass some salmon migrating to their spawning beds. The bits I had to walk round were now even fuller with water, and deep. Now that it was daylight I could see the path I should have come up on Friday night and was soon at the car.

Writing this at the computer I don't know which part of me aches the most feet, legs or shoulders. The company was excellent as was the fishing, but I think it needs a week to do it justice. Maybe next time.