The Hag….

“To the North of Islay and Jura is the worlds second largest whirlpool, the famous Corryvreckan. Our Celtic ancestors knew it as the “Mother Goddess” or “womb of all creation”. Today the thunderous, seething cauldron is named after the Viking Prince Breacan, who perished there proving his devotion to the daughter of the Lord of the Isles.”


Last Autumn Annie and I stood on the coast near Craignish Point looking across to Jura and Scarba. Between them, over 4 miles away, we could hear the rage of the Corryvreckan in full flow.  To my knowledge this is the only whirlpool depicted on a British OS map…


I guess you can say this place has a reputation. For it’s most part the gulf is greater than 100 meters deep. The whirlpool (The Hag) is formed by a single pinnacle of rock rising to within 30m of the surface. This generates the 8.5 knot currents that well up from and drop down to the bottom : where there be sea monsters…


Rowland had asked for volunteers to help is friend Bonnie Perry, on holiday from Chicago, gain further leading experience en route to gaining her BCU 5*.  I was the sole guinea pig for the day.

We set out from Ellenabeich on Seil and with the ebbing tide and were soon passing Fladda and heading for the “Grey Dogs”.

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After 2 hours on the water and 16Km travelled the Corryvreckan came into sight and we pulled into a beach for second breakfast / first lunch while waiting for slack water to arrive, due at 12:25.

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Precision timing : the gulf was flat, the hag a sleeping giant….


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Safely through the Corryvreckan we stopped off for second lunch…

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We headed North on the flooding tide, the Garvellachs and Mull out on our port side. East of Lunga, near An Tudan, we came across a solitary basking shark.

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Photographing “blind” with the camera plunged into the water this was the best shot that I got….


We continued North with “interesting” 7 knot tidal streams around Fladda and Belnahua, heading back towards Ellenabeich.

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Rowland rescued a new laundry basket en route which had probably fallen off a local fishing boat…

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Safely back at Ellenabeich, a Corryvreckan of a different kind ; a wee dram to celebrate…

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I forgot to switch on my GPS at the start of this trip, and then had to change batteries when I eventually did. Following data is approx…
Trip Odom : 39.5Km
Moving Time : 5h 40min
Moving Average 6.7Km/h
Max Speed : 19.4Km/h (near the Grey Dogs)
Oban High Water (BST) : 0755 / 2014 – Spring Tide
Corryvreckan flood tide runs Westwards, beginning +0430 Springs (+0515 Neaps)
Slack Water : 1225


About Andy Harpur

Interests : The Scottish Highlands, The Pennine Alps, The Milky Way, Abbot Ale, Mountaineering, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Canoeing, Sea Kayaking, Astronomy, Guitar, Penny Whistle. I live and breath for the outdoor lifestyle. New places, new faces, new adventures....
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