A Night Under the Stars

View of moonrise over Ben Starav taken from Loch Etive
Moonrise over Ben Starav

The end of September probably marks the end of easy camping in Scotland, not so much because of the cold (and it does get cold!), but the nights start to get too long for comfort. In any case I was happy to take the opportunity of a quiet overnight away under canvas, as it’s one way to keep the stress of day to day life at bay, if only for a few hours. This time it was a trip to Etive with the SIB in the back of the car, and a late launch as the sun faded in late afternoon.

A calm morning - boat camping on Loch Etive with my trusty Avon inflatable in the foreground
Early morning sunrise on Loch Etive

An inflatable has the advantage that you can pretty much park it anywhere except on a cliff, without having to worry about mooring off an unfamiliar beach – you can lift it clear of the tideline just like a kayak. Loch Etive has a good number of quiet little spots you can get ashore without difficulty, although finding enough clear, dry space for camping is more of a challenge. My chosen spot was up towards the head of the loch on the southern shore and I was pleased to find it an easy pitch as well as a good landing site on a tiny gravel beach hidden in behind some protective rocks.

By the time the tent was pitched and some dry wood gathered from the shoreline it was pretty dark and starting to cool down.

A cheery little campfire brightens the darkness of a night wild camping on the shores of Loch Etive
Cheery Campfire
A night shot of the tent with a little campfire burning on the shoreline of Loch Etive
Keeping warm!

The heat from the fire was very welcome and I was content to have it closer to the tent than I might normally feel comfortable with. Woodsmoke also has the huge benefit of persuading the midges to head elsewhere, although I think they were starting to thin out a little anyway as the days cool in early autumn.

Boat camping on Etive - clear starry night
Stars over Ben Starav on Loch Etive
The Milky Way in clear skies above Loch Etive - camping a long way up the loch and away from civilisation
The Milky Way in clear skies above Loch Etive
The shoulder of Ben Starav is brightly lit by the rising moon in the early hours
Moonrise over Ben Starav, Loch Etive

I had a rod with me, but was quite content to knock back some coffee and drink in the stunning array of stars above me – far more impressive when they’re not washed out by the lights of even our smallest village. Practising a bit of low light shooting with the camera kept me amused too, especially since I’d forgotten the tripod.

Other than a couple of stags arguing in the distance it was a very quiet night, although it did get chilly enough to wake me up a couple of times. Morning was as calm as the night before although this didn’t last too long as the wind picked up sharply as I headed back down to Bonawe, leaving me well soaked with spray by the time I reached the car. Not a real problem as all experienced SIBbers quickly wise up to the benefit of a spare set of clothes 🙂

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