I had one last journey in the little Avon Redstart inflatable before I returned it to my mother. I went to Loch Craignish, a beautiful sea loch between Lochgilphead and Oban.
I asked my brother for advice on how safe this loch was and he assured me it is fine as long as I kept well clear of the loch’s entrance on the seaward side. He warned of a very strong tidal flow that can carry the unwary inflatable boat traveller straight across the Sound of Jura into the Gulf of Corryvreckan, which is home to the third largest whirlpool in the world. The tidal flow at the entrance to loch Craignish starts between the mainland at Craignish Point and the Island of Garbh Reisa and is called the “Doris Mor”. I was keen to see these mythical sounding places for myself so set off straight after work, on a lovely calm Friday evening.
I stopped in the car park at the end of the single track road to Craignish Point and had a look at the old pier here. I had the place to myself. I loved the feeling of open space after being cramped in the hectic office all week.
The Sound of Jura was flat calm because there wasn’t a breath of wind. I was glad it was still too early in the year for the midges and mosquitoes. Far off shore I could vaguely hear the squabbles of a million seabirds roosting on the rocky island of Reisa Mhic Phaidean. Somewhere closer the lonely piercing cries of an oyster catcher broke the still air like the sound of a police car siren. I wondered if that is why its called the sound of Jura ?
I was at the edge of the world again as I walked along the cliff edges towards Craignish Point and the fearsome flows of the Doris Mor. Lost in my own thoughts in this land that time seemed to have forgot, I passed strange rock formations and sea stacks that fired my imagination even further. Was that the sound of the Corryvreckan whirlpool beckoning me to row over and have a look ?
Resisting all temptations, I kept my new found sea legs firmly on terra firma and eventually arrived at Craignish Point. The start of the Doris Mor was clearly seen between the calm surface waters. It silently bubbled and boiled as it sucked and swept its way through the sea channel like some huge river in spate.
Its flow finally ending somewhere on the horizon between the setting sun and the islands of Jura and Scarba. I made my way back to the car park and had a restless night sleeping in the car dreaming of a giant whirlpool patiently waiting with it's never ending appetite for all things float some, jet some or unwary inflatable boat travelling.
In the morning I consoled myself with the thought " Well..at least Im no longer unwary " As the sun rose at 4.00am, I was already making preparations to launch the inflatable at the little bay beside the chapel at Kirkton on the Craignish Peninsula
As I loaded the boat, I was looking forward to a relaxing day rowing quietly along the smooth surface between the many islands in the loch, landing and exploring places new. I put the wooden plank that I used as a seat across the inflatable seat. I found it gave me more stability to row.
I was still half asleep as I floated gently on the golden reflections of the islands illuminated by the early morning sun. I was looking forward to landing and photographing the wild Iris and the bluebells that were now appearing as spring slowly turned to summer.
Although this is hardly a stunning photograph of Loch Craignish, it was the last photograph I took before becoming stunned myself. Moments later I landed on the first island, placed my camera on the wooden plank and hauled the inflatable boat up the beach. The camera slipped on the smooth surface, teetered on the edge the fell into the salt water.
In that single split second, I saw its soul disappear into the deep dark bottomless whirls of the Corryvreckan.
Im sad to say, that camera never took another photograph, but I have to look on the bright side and focus on the fact that the lens still functions and focuses perfectly. I continued my inflatable journey around Loch Craignish without further incident, but I couldn’t help feel a good friend had just died.
I will return to Loch Craignish one day, to avenge the death of my camera.