Friday, 23 December 2011

Jura: June 2011

I should've posted this months ago, but it was such a significant event for me that I'll never forget it, so this blog is written as though it happened yesterday. It's about a circumnavigation of Jura, Scotland with friends from Liverpool Canoe Club.
After a few grotty days stormbound at Oban, we ditched the idea of going to Mull and plan b was put into action.
Having launched from the mainland, somewhere near the back of beyond, we headed off for Jura, only to have our progress blocked by what looked like a tidal race heading from Crinan (I think) to Corryvreckan. So we watched and waited for the tide to slacken. A steamer sped past on the flow...


...and a Lions Mane drifted around below...


Eventually the tide slackened and it was off to Jura!


Jura is full of lonely spots with interesting detail, like Lagg pier...


At the Eastern end of Jura, it gets more committing, so we waited a day or so for a storm and low pressure to pass at Craighouse, which just happens to be where Jura whisky is made.



When the weather abated, we paddled down the remote Eastern side of the island where there are raised beaches. These formed when ice sheets pushed the land down. As the ice retreated, the land gradually rose, so what used to be the shoreline is now a few hundered feet above current sea level. In this remote spot, the beaches follow the hillsides right around Tarbet Bay. The photo below doesn't really show the scale of these huge swathes of rocks that have been rounded by years of waves when they were once a beach.



This place is really only accessible by sea or foot. It was a privilege to camp here - particularly with the clear weather we had. We camped next to this pier. Who knows why it was made, and who had the time on their hands to make something that could only be used at high tide anyway.


It looked more like an Andy Goldsworthy creation to me.

Carrying on, we headed in the direction of Mull...


 ...along a very committing strech of coast...



Although it doesn't look like there was much swell, it was big enough to wash onto the jagged rocks and unpredictably burst into a wave. Among the outcrops on the shore there were shelves of barnacle covered rocks just below the surface, which made the swell even more trecherous. There were few safe places to beach if it had been necessary.
At the North of Jura, the Gulf of Corryvreckan is the last major tidal obstacle to pass. We waited in this bay looking out towards Mull until slack water. 



As we waited, I climbed a hill to get a view of the famous tide race, which has the third largest whirlpool in the world...


Having timed our passage nicely, we made it to the Isle of Luing. The weather was getting variable again. From the Gulf of Corryvreckan to Luing, the quatering wind was getting brisk. Yet as we landed on Luing things unexpectedly calmed down and a low cloud bank drifted across us before resting on Shuna.


We spent our last night on Luing, taking in the surreal weather changes before returning to our starting point on the mainland.
It was the dream kayaking expedition: Remote places, sheltered campsites, great company and skilled leaders who we could trust. I'll never forget it!