Exploring the Hebridean
by Boat

June 2013

Participants Diary Notes

At the end of June an intrepid band of 15 adventurers set off to explore the Hebrides by boat. We started with the Corryvreckan, the world’s third largest whirlpool in the straits between the Islands of Jura and Scarba. It was just after the equinox when it should have been performing at its maximum but the day was sunny and calm and the whirlpool was relatively well behaved. We did however surf the tidal wave which completely soaked a couple of our more enthusiastic photographers who were leaning out over the stern !

We sailed on to the Garvellochs, a group of three uninhabited island lying south of Mull, on one of which the Irish St Brendan founded a monastery in 542AD before sailing on to discover Iceland, Greenland and North America. The monastery thrived until abandoned with the arrival of the Vikings. The island has remained uninhabited ever since so the monks ; beehive cells are fairly intact.

Our journey took us across Mull to the island of Iona , founded by St Columba un 563 which became the centre of Celtic Christianity in Scotland and over 40 early kings of Scotand, France, Ireland and Norway are buried here. With calm sea we were able to visit the island of Staffa with its strange geological columns of basalt and take the boat into Fingals Cave which inspired Medelssohn to write his Hebridean Overture. On the island we visited the puffin colony, where we were able to get within a meter or so of the nesting birds.

We travelled in a convoy four cars up the west coast – driving being more practical for the narrow roads than hiring a bus. On the Isle of Skye where a boat took us the uninhabited wilderness of Loch Coruisk, dramtically surrounded by the Black Cuillin mountains. Here we were able to approach a colony of seals rearing their newly born pups.

Finally we crossed to Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides from where we had planned a boat trip to St Kilda, a group of islands 64km further west in the Atlantic which were inahabited from prehistoric times until they were evacuated in 1930‘s. However the weather turned windy with a heavy swell, so the trip had to be abandoned. However on Harris and Lewis we visited the standing stones of Callanish, constructed around 2900BC , a place of pagan worship and a huge astronomical calendar. At Carloway we went into the broch, a circular tsone fortress built in the first century AD and inhabited until around 1300. We visited examples of 18th and 19th century blackhouses – traditional cottages with thatched roofs and also a mill built in the 6th century and in regular use until the mid 20th century.


The Secretary:

Michèle GRAU mich.grau@wanadoo.fr
Tel: 04 68 98 08 81 (répondeur si besoin) 

Robert LOEILLET  loeillet.g@free.fr
Tel: 06 03 69 86 71 

Josep Puig i Catelfach