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The Corryvreckan Whirlpool

The Gulf of Corryvreckan, also called the Strait of Corryvreckan, is a narrow strait between the islands of Jura and Scarba in Argyll and Bute off Scotland's West Coast and only a few miles from Crinan.

The whirlpool is on the northern side of the gulf, surrounding a pyramid-shaped basalt pinnacle that rises from depths of 70metres to 29metres at its 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 (16 km) away.

Local boats do daily trips from Crinan to the Corryvreckan.

Although not formally classified by the Royal Navy as unnavigable the Admiralty's West Coast of Scotland Pilot guide to inshore waters calls Corryvreckan "very violent and dangerous" and says "no vessel should then attempt this passage without local knowledge". However, 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".

Famously, the author George Orwell nearly drowned in the Corryvreckan whirlpool in the summer of 1947. To work on his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell had fled the distractions of London in April 1947 and taken up temporary residence on the isolated island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides.   [As reported on Wikipedia]

On the return leg of an August boating daytrip to nearby Glengarrisdale, Orwell seems to have misread the local tide tables and steered into rough seas that drove his boat near to the whirlpool. When the boat’s small engine suddenly sheared off from its mounts and dropped into the sea, Orwell’s party resorted to oars and was saved from drowning only when the whirlpool began to recede and the group managed to paddle the distressed craft to a rocky outcrop about a mile distant from the Jura coastline. The boat capsized as the group tried to disembark, leaving Orwell, his two companions, and his three-year-old son stranded on the uninhabited outcrop with no supplies or means of escape. They were rescued only when passing lobstermen noticed a fire the party had lit in an effort to keep warm. 

 

A useful source for more information is the Explore Argyll & The Isles website: www.exploreargyll.co.uk/things-to-do.php or you can talk to us here at the Hotel on 01546 830261 or email: [email protected]


Photograph of The Gulf of Corryvreckan - © Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence - Image and further details from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2404815