AN ORACLE IN A CORACLE IN A MAELSTROM
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ne Sunny Day in May…

We (Zofia, Tabitha and I) headed to Crinan harbour to board a sexy looking boat with Venture West written on it side

We were bound for the CORRYVRECKAN originally known as the Cauldron of the Plaid - a place where the Cailleach would usher in Winter by washing her plaid in the Corryvreckan.

The Corryvreckan is an almost mythical whirlpool off the North end of Jura

We were on board with the skipper Sandy Campbell and one other Passenger and off we went – we headed North West out of Crinan Harbour – which incidentally was originally called Port Righ ( Port of the Kings)

We headed towards Jura and boated up her east side until we got to the top of the island – we then bobbed and twisted and swung our way through the gap between Jura and Scarba

This is where the CORRYVRECKAN lives and at first it looked like a pot of water just ready to come to the boil with a rolling promise just under the surface – then Sandy took us towards a spot that his practised eye knew was about to erupt and in we went – spinning and tossing – waves splashing us on the boat – my daughter was on the boat with us and I’m ashamed to say I was too fascinated with the maelstrom beneath us to be aware of where she was – (in my defence – she is 18, taller than me and physically very fit – so quite capable of looking after herself, but even so – Bad Mother moment)

I LOVE these Mother Nature Red in Tooth and Claw moments – when you realise just how insignificant we really are in the big world/sea out there…

Sandy took us to more and more maelstroms and we were tossed and thrown about then we headed further West and went round the back of Eilean Mor and then we saw and felt the most amazing thing – the water was rushing towards a dip in the sea and just pouring into it (obviously this is what I THOUGHT was happening – I expect there will be a proper scientific term for it all) and Sandy being the professional showman and Skipper came and joined us on the outside bit of the boat where we were standing, which alarmed us as we very quickly we felt ourselves being sooked towards that very powerful and scary looking edge of water.   Sandy actually had the engine running but even then we were still moving backwards – but fear not – he shot back into the cabin and saved us all – but it was without doubt a very very amazing moment – another one of those where you think WOW… properly WOW.

We then headed up the side of Scarba, seeing Eagles, seals, deer and wild goats before floating, spinning and bobbing between Lunga and Scarpa and then back to Crinan.

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We could see Colonsay and Mull to the West – and Sandy showed us a wee place where St Columba, the Celtic Oracle and bringer of Christianity to Scotland stayed for a while in a Wee Cell – he stayed there after sailing from Ireland via Southend in Kintyre on his way to Iona– all in a tiny boat called a coracle.  

Big Respect to St Columba, especially if he had to cross the Correvreckan in his wee boat

Hence – the Oracle in the Coracle in the Maelstrom

A wild and exciting day out – I would highly recommend it to everyone x

We then had a delicious lunch at Kilmartin Museum Cafe x

BIG OLD STONES & BROONIES
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Standing stones

Kintyre is pretty ancient – I know this because we have old things here – I mean really really old things – some of these things are so Awesome and so Ancient that a BIG part of me believes they were put here by the Gods, or the Sidhe (fairies) at least.    Sadly I know man did some of the work – but magic was definitely involved – and I know this because I have FELT it

And ….

So have others – so it’s not just mad old me.

All down the West coast of Kintyre runs a line of standing stones and cairns, some of these are visible and some are not – some are all alone and some of them exist as a wee gang looming over the coast just keeping a wee eye on the passer bys –

I would like to talk about two of these Antiquities that I have had personal contact with

The first is a single very tall standing stone called Beacharr – it is near Tayinloan and after excavations in the 1892 it revealed a new type of pottery that was forever after called Beacharra pottery

Beacharr Stone stands looking out over the Island of Cara and when I was a lassie my Dad used to tell me the story of how the Stone got there in the first place… would you like to know too?

So … if you are all sitting comfortably I shall begin –

In the days of the fighting and feuding between the Clans – there was a Clan called the MacDonalds and a Clan called the Campbells and they really didn’t like each other, you may have heard of this before…

Anyway,  the MacDonalds owned the island of Cara and it has its own Broonie that protects the Clan members. One day a Wild and Bold Campbell dared to land on Cara and started wandering about it – the Broonie was raging and turned itself into a Giant and started to chase it off the island, a sharp stone wedged in the Giant/Broonies sandal and he stopped to pull it out – he chucked it over his shoulder and it flew across the water and it landed on a hilltop at Beacharr Farm. 

The rest is history…

Our second trip to a Magical Place is to Ballochroy

A trio of beautiful stones that align with the Paps of Jura and on the night of the Summer Solstice something magical happens.

The first magical thing that MAY happen – the sun will shine and a breeze MAY blow the midges away…

This will ensure the second magical thing will happen, however if the sun isn’t shining and it’s raining and cloudy – come back next year,

But if the sun is shining but the wind is low – BRING A MIDGE NET.

As the sun sets, it rolls down the side of the middle pap (mountain) and will sink – but if you are really lucky and the Gods like you – it will appear again in a flash that takes your breath away…

If you are handy with a dowsing rod or a hazel twig have a look for the Ley Line that runs through the stones and down the peninsular.

PURE MAGIC x

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Just to reassure you all this kind of thing does not happen on the Solstice - the midges are far too fierce xxx

Glenbarr StoresComment
AWAY DOWN SOUTH FOLLOWING ST. COLUMBA

One of our staff (Zofia) has lived in these parts for 25 years and it became apparent that in all that time, she had never drifted down past the legendary Muneroy Stores and their amazing cakes made by the Fabulous Frances

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So we had to remedy that - 

We headed out of Campbeltown following the signs to Southend – enjoying the beautiful farming land around here, and if you also head this way - be aware that you are heading in the direction of the most Westerly point of Scotland and the closest point to Ireland from Britain. 

As you enter Southend  

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Go straight past Muneroys – but come back later – you will not regret it… 

Leave the village with the lovely sandy stretch of beach on your left – that points to Dunaverty Castle and Rock – where the terrible massacre happened -

Come back here when you are ready to be steeped in a bloody atmosphere but for now let us continue South …

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Not far beyond you will see a wee car park on your left and a long golden beach stretching away ahead of you with big rolling waves inviting you to jump in – great for doing handstands in… 

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From this car park you can visit St Columba's Footprints, Well and Cave 

The story I was always told was – that St Columba popped into Keil – Southend on his way from Ireland to Christianise the Wild Pagan Picts – thinking this would be a good place to get started he settled in his Cave – Blessed his Wee Well and carved/magicked a footprint in a rock at top of a wee hill.  A lot of work – considering he then got back in his wee coracle and headed further North to Iona.   

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I’m not sure why he gave up on the Wild Southenders – but I think they enjoyed following the Old Gods too much.   

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From here you can go South to the Mull of Kintyre – but that my Lovelies is for another day and another blog  

I personally would head back to the village for a wee cuppa and a tremendous cake. 

Glenbarr StoresComment
Exploring the East Side - Saddell, Torrisdale, Carradale and beyond...
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Drag your eyes away from the fabulous Atlantic Swell and head to the East of Kintyre - Nip through Campbeltown and steer your tiller to the east. You will see Davaar Island to your right - don’t forget to come back and visit here but check the tide times first.

Head up the Coast towards Peninver - keep your eyes peeled - Dolphins like to play at the bay here

Keep going through Saddell, you can come back here for a bit of Viking history another day

Next you will see the Gin Capital of Kintyre - Beinn and Tuirc Kintyre Gin at Torrisdale Estate - keep going - you can come back another day and visit the distillery and buy some of their fabulous gin - if you are travelling early enough you may see the infamous shoal of Merwomen who are reported to swim in Torrisdale Bay - all year round at Sunrise - just don’t hang around long enough to hear them sing - or you will never escape…

Soon you will arrive in Carradale - which is where I live and it is the best place ever - a mile long sandy beach that is usually packed with 5 people and their dogs, occasionally there are some horses galloping about too. Carradale is surrounded by sea on 3 sides and you are spoiled for choice for a swim, paddle or evening bonfire…