All Aboard

After a peaceful night in the Crinan basin, breakfast on board and coffees from the Crinan café we set off through the sea lock towards Jura.  Andrew was keen to visit the house where George  Orwell had written 1984 (in 1947) and we anchored in the bay south of what we thought was the house at Barnhill.  We ferried the crew ashore in the tender and set out through thick fern and bog towards the house.  “Bit scruffier than I imagined” said Ros as we arrived, “can’t imagine how they can rent this out for £600 a week” as we were confronted by an array of three abandoned land rovers, a wrecked caravan and a house surrounded by an overgrown unattended garden. It was only later as we sailed south to Craighouse that we saw another, much neater,  similar looking house that we realised we had visited  the wrong house.  But we did comfort ourselves with the fact that it might be the house bought by Henry Acland’s nephew – “last house on the track north after George Orwell’s house” he’d said when we’d met him at our Bristol  book group the week before.


IMG_3174The wrong George Orwell house

We didn’t leave our anchorage until about 4pm and it was a 3-4 hour trip with the tide in our favour to get us to Craighouse.  In typical Andrew fashion, he cooked a meal while at sea, including a barbecue on board – this is not quite as dangerous as it sounds as there was very little wind and within an hour into the trip all the sails were down and we were motoring. But dead on 7:30pm, as soon as we’d picked up a mooring in Craighouse Bay, the meal was on the table.

Sailing toward the Paps of Jura while Andrew barbecues with the meal on board, ready on our arrival in Craighouse

 We woke to one of those days you rarely see in Scotland – a windless, cloudless blue sky with sunshine, just right for climbing the Paps of Jura. While Ros stayed on the boat, the rest of us left in the dinghy to motor about 2 miles along the shore in the direction of a jetty, where we’d seen on the Ordinance Survey a track to Loch an t-Siob, a small loch on the way to the lowest Pap.  We had discussed moving Milo across the bay, but were pleased we didn’t as even the dinghy went aground before we reached the jetty, so we landed on a beach about half a mile short.

Milo on her mooring at Craighouse; feeding the swans on deck and the landing party arriving at the beach

Our plans for finding this track were thwarted as it went through some private Forestry land with notices clearly saying the Jura Paps’ path was a further 1.5 miles along the road.  The spirit of the landing party was to climb, so as soon as we saw a track going up through the wood, we took it,  coming to moor land, but with no easy access to the track.  We followed faint cart tracks and sheep tracks toward the first mini-Pap, arriving there just in time for our picnic lunch with fabulous views of the bay.



The view from our mini-pap lunch time picnic stop

Andrew did a recce to see if was possible to get to the Loch, our original target, but it was a long way and the Paps themselves full of screed and a potential 10 hour walk that we did not have time for, so we set off back on a shorter route. This was really boggy and most of us, with the exception of Rebecca, managed to return to the road covered in peaty mud.


Skye having her turn at the tiller on our return to Milo to pick up Ros and rendezvous with the shore party at the pub.

After sitting outside enjoying drinks at the Jura Hotel we returned to Milo to set sail for the Fairy Islands at 5pm – a bit mad, as it was a four-hour trip, but there was no wind and we were motoring and had one of the most beautiful sunsets we’d seen in a while.   Ros cooked our evening meal while on the move and with our previous track to follow, we dropped anchor in the dark and had another lovely meal on board when we arrived.

Percy taking pictures of the sunset

One of the delights while steaming up Loch Sween as the sun was setting was the reflection of the sunset in the water.  Percy took some beautuful photographs. The night sky when we were anchored in the Fairy isles was spectacular. The Milky Way was particularly clear.


Our anchorage in the Fairy Isles as we left in the dinghy to drop Andrew and Becky at the head of Loch Sween for their walk back to Crinan to collect the car

The next day Ian took Becky and Andrew in the dinghy to the head of the loch so that they could walk to Crinan to pick up their car. Ian and Ros with the crew of Hugh, Percy and Skye prepared for the short journey to Tayvallich where we would be met by Becky and Andrew with their car. Percy put out the fenders. Hugh prepared to throw the aft warp ashore, with Ros on the fore warp. What an idyllic scene thought Ros as they motored into the harbour, grandparents teaching their grand children to sail. Then wham, bang, crunch as we hit an unseen rock in the harbour.  The boat came to abrupt halt, pitching forward and throwing us all about. Ros kept her head and told Ian to go astern and we managed to rescue the situation, although it took Ian some time to realise that we were not going to sink. We approached the pontoon and Becky said “has that happened before?”, possibly wondering if she had been irresponsible to leave us with her children. “No never before”, said Ros, trying to re-connect with the idyllic sense of sailing with the grandchildren. Andrew suggested that it was probably the keel that had been hit and not the more vulnerable hull. One of the locals on the shore, to put us at our ease,  said, “it’s happened to all of us”. We all calmed down and said farewell to Andrew, Becky and the children who needed to return to Edinburgh early that day.


Milo berthed in Tayvallich after hitting a rock in the harbour (ouch)



1 thought on “All Aboard

  1. Andrew Sutherland

    Hi Dad, thanks for the post – lovely memories. Even through we didn’t get to George Orwell’s house we certainly felt the isolation of his existence while he was there. A x



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