The Garvellachs and the gulf of Corryvrekkan

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This video shows the might of the Corryvrekkan tidal race – close to where we sailed today.

https://www.seafari.co.uk/oban/our-tours/whirlpool-specials/

After a comfortable night and delicious breakfast again at our guesthouse www.hawthornbank.co.uk it was time to head south to our adventure on the water. Hawthorn Bank is a lovely guesthouse in Oban close to the harbour with lovely views out over the bay to Kerrera. Well worth checking the website for a place to call home in Argyll.

The day started meeting our skipper, Duncan and his boat MV Farsain based in the lovely Craobh Haven marina. Our trip today was to sail around the Garvellachs (Islands of the Sea) which are just north of Jura. Our aim (Atlantic swell permitting) was to stop at Eileach an Naoimh (Gaelic for Isle of the Saints).

Captain Duncan and his pirates!

The day’s weather looked good and hopefully it would lend itself well to some nature spotting on the way. It wasn’t long before we came across some common seals sunbathing on the rocks – oblivious to our attentions and noise.

Clearly we weren’t enough of a disturbance to make them all dive into the water although some seemed to be having great fun putting on a diving display for us.

Duncan had only just finished promising us that we would spot Sea Eagles (much larger than the Golden variety) than we rounded a headland and high above the cliff and an eyrie was a golden eagle fighting off the attentions of a lone raven trying to get closer to the nest to snaffle the eaglets).

Cormorants, shags, eider ducks, all made our journey more fulsome as we headed to a leeward slope for a coffee. As we gazed on to the island we suddenly spotted a good number of red deer hinds paying us very close attention due to our voices and no doubt our very pungent human aroma drifting on the wind towards their territory.

Cormorants and seals in abundance

You can just spot the red deer on the skyline!

After coffee we headed to our island destination passing the slate isles where derelict skate quarries reflected the sunshine. These islands were formed in the PreCambrian Age almost one billion years ago. The islands have steeply angled sides when viewed from the north east and present vertical cliffs to the north west. To the landward side they seem to be green islets, full of wildflowers such as primula amongst the pink quartz and limestone boulders.

We moored up on Eilach an Naoimh (Isle of the Saints) and set about exploring the early ecclesiastical buildings of the Celtic church. The 9th century monastery with its ‘beehive’ corbelled stone cells is believed to have originated in 542AD by Irish saint Brendan the Navigator. The original buildings may have been destroyed by the Norse invaders in the 7th century and later rebuilt in the 9th.

Looking towards the beehive cell

The inner wall of the cell

Beth in the prison cell or food storage building!

There’s no easy way to get in Beth!

Eithne’s grave

Our lunch spot

Beth makes the summit for lunch

After lunch, we headed back to the boat and took a route back through the ‘Grey Dogs’ tidal race between Lunga and Scarba. The standing waves and sensation of travelling uphill on an ocean was really something to experience, as was the velocity of the tidal race. The term dogs is presumed to relate to the seal colonies nearby although it’s not certain.

On the return to the marina, Duncan managed to find us some more seals, red deer stags, hinds and a Sea Eagle near its nest carefully watching over it. It was truly huge with a wingspan of approximately 8 1/2 feet, almost 20% larger than the Golden Eagle.

A 45 minute drive back to Oban remained and a wee dram for the ladies to cap off the day before dinner at EE-USK fish restaurant on the harbour.

A spectacular day with www.aboutargyll.com and it’s only Monday!

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