The Gulf of Corryvreckan, also called the Strait of Corryvreckan by the way, is a narrow strait of water between the islands of Jura and Scarba in Argyll, off Scotland’s west coast and a few miles from my hatching place of Oban. The whirlpool is on the northern side of the gulf, surrounding an underwater pyramid-shaped basalt pinnacle that rises from depths of 70metres to 29metres at it’s rounded top. Flood tides and inflow from the Firth of Lorne to the west, drive the waters of Corryvreckan to waves of over 30 feet (9metres) and the roar of the resulting maelstrom can be heard ten miles away. Aye, before you ask, yes we do offer boat trips as part of our tour programme, to the Corryvreckan. Although not formally classified by the Royal Navy as unnavigable the Admiralty’s west coast of Scotland pilot guide, it calls Corryvreckan “very violent and dangerous” and says “no vessel should then attempt this passage without local knowledge”. The nearby ‘Grey Dogs’, or ‘Little Corryvreckan’, is classified as dangerous. Experienced scuba divers who have explored the waters have described it as “potentially the most dangerous dive in Britain”. But we don’t offer diving, so that’s ok

fun on a boat

George Orwell nearly drowned in the Corryvreckan Whirlpool in the summer of 1947. To work on his novel 1984, Orwell fled London in April 1947 and taken up temporary residence on the isolated island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides. Was he after whisky? Or a friend of the Campbells? We shall never know for sure.

In Scottish mythology the hag goddess of winter, Cailleach Bheur, uses the gulf to wash her great plaid and this ushers in the turn of the seasons from autumn to winter. When she is finished with the washing, the cloth is pure white and becomes the blanket of snow that covers the land. Cailleach (old woman or “hag” in modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic) comes from the Old Gaelic.  Another legend surrounds Norse King Breacan. In various stories, Breacan moored his boat near the whirlpool to impress a local princess, or alternatively to flee from his father across the gulf. In both stories Breacan was swept into the whirlpool and his body dragged ashore later by his dog. Breacan may be named after the whirlpool, or its current name may be a Gaelic pun on his name.

Here is a short but good video link of a boat trip we did with guests. We can do this for any number of people but 10 is, both for the size of boat and cost share. We also offer whole day trips from Oban.

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