Sidmouth Gig Club crews tackle the 'Monster the Loch' race in Scotland
PUBLISHED: 12:41 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:41 03 October 2019
Following their exploits on the Clyde, Sidmouth Gig Club's Scottish tour continued last week, writes Nick Thompson.
On the Monday they launched Little Picket at Balloch, at the south of Loch Lomond, and rowed up the loch to Inchmurrin.
This is the UK's largest inland island for it is an island on a lake, and fortunately large enough to have its own pub and restaurant!
Better still it was soon established that the bar manager used to work at the Victoria Hotel in Sidmouth!
Tuesday was a free day, some walked up a mountain, others enjoyed Glasgow's cultural highlights and pubs, though not necessarily in that order.
On Wednesday, it was back to the rowing. We launched both boats at Arrochar, and had a long row on the aptly named Loch Long.
On our return we were greeted by a local resident, Mr Ron Sivyer, who coxed boats at the Henley regatta in the 1930's.
The top of Loch Long is quite remote and there are very few boats of any size, and he was delighted to see two gig boats rowing past his house.
On Thursday, the rowers moved north to Fort Augustus, a small town at the west end of Loch Ness.
Our mission was to take part in the 'Monster the Loch' race, 21 miles along the loch to the outskirts of Inverness.
Many people doubt the existence of the Loch Ness Monster so we took our own.
Its creator was Barry Morton, who has amazed Sidmouth with his previous versions of Poldark's Mine, Mary Poppins' house and most recently a full size Fatberg. Our monster rode on a surfboard and stood around 10 feet high. On a trial run the sight of a rowing boat being chased by a green monster caused consternation to a large party of Japanese tourists.
Twenty-one miles of rowing was never going to be easy, but this week the wind favoured us, and both our boats completed the course in under four hours.
There were the usual apres-rowing celebrations, including another ceilidh, but then it was time to pack up and head south. Most of our rowers flew home, but the boats needed to be towed the 632 miles back to Sidmouth on a busy Sunday, over 13 hours of hard slog down the A9, M90, M6, and M5.
It was all worth it; lots of travel, two hard races, marvellous scenery, friendly locals, and lots of fun.
Sidmouth Gig Club offers a warm welcome to new members, whatever their ability. We have around 100 members and are a sociable club with lots of non-rowing activities. There is also a growing youth section which welcomes youngsters from age 13 and over.
If you are interested in joining the club or coming along to a taster session, please search online for Sidmouth Gig Club or contact the membership secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org