Garvellachs, Corryvreckan, Islay, Jura & Colonsay
The Garvellachs Heading south from Oban you can see “the bridge over the Atlantic” connecting Seil island to the mainland. We pass Insh island and Easdale before arriving at the Garvellachs which are inhabited today only by sea-birds, sheep and seals. The Garvellachs are known as “The Isles of The Sea” although the literal translation from Gaelic is “Rough Islands”. On the main island of Eileach an Naoimh you can see the remains of an old monastery and “beehive houses” where the monks used to live. St Columba’s mother is reputedly buried here.
Scarba, Corryvreckan and Jura Just south of the Garvellachs lies Scarba – well known for red deer – and the Gulf of Corryvreckan, site of the largest whirlpool in the Western Isles and third largest in the world. When the tide state is right it’s exhilarating to cross the maelstrom in the safety of a large, solid boat! South of Scarba is Jura, which means “deer island”. This is a sparsely populated wilderness dominated by three spectacular peaks called the Paps of Jura, the lowest an impressive 2,400 feet high. Jura is home to over 100 species of bird including snipe, eagles and osprey. As well as deer you may also see otters, wild goats and grey seals on the rugged west coast of Jura.
Colonsay West of Jura and north of Islay lies Colonsay which has Celtic standing stones and a large population of otters. More than 150 species of bird have been recorded over the years including eagles, Shearwaters (right), Great Northern and red-throated divers, hen harriers, merlins, swans, geese, choughs and ravens. Around 100 people inhabit Colonsay and Oronsay which are separated by a stretch of shell sand. This can be walked across when the tide is out.
Islay Of all the Hebridean islands Islay boasts the richest bird life with over 180 recorded species. The island is probably better known, however, for its whisky distilleries, of which there are eight. Three of these – Bowmore, Lagavulin and Laphroaig – are perhaps familiar names. Islay has huge numbers of geese and at least one distillery has harnessed their protective natures making use of a troop of “guard geese” to protect their whisky!
DID YOU KNOW?
Atlantic puffins have penguin-like colouring but they sport a colourful beak that has led some to dub them the "sea parrot". The beak fades to a drab grey during the winter and blooms with colour again in the spring.