G’e be nach stiuir coire-‘bhrochain, cha stiùir Coire Bhreacain
He who cannot steer the porridge pot, will not steer Corryvreckan.
The moral of the proverb is that you should have a hearty breakfast if you’re going to take on the Corryvreckan!
As soon as I found out that you could swim the Corryvreckan as part of an organised trip, I had to do it. There is no way of doing it safely except at slack water – and having the local expert knowledge of conditions.
The Gulf of Corryvreackan – Coire Bhreacain – is the narrow strait of water between Jura and Scarba, off the west coast of Scotland, in Argyll and Bute. When it’s going, it is wild. It contains whirlpools, standing waves, deep holes, underwater pinnacles and fast tides. The origins of the name are varied, yet some legend surrounds the Norse king Breacan, who was swept into the whirlpool, Coire Bhreacain – The Cauldron of Breacan.
Apparently George Orwell nearly drowned in the Corryvreckan, as he wrote 1984 in Jura.
Out trip starts in the idyllic yet bizarre marina town of Craobh Haven. A very attractive set of houses and a marina, yet it feels quite out of place, with no doubt some idiosyncratic characters kicking about.
After the introduction, safety briefings and first swim by the marina, we set off for the approx 30min boat trip. It was an overcast day yet quite calm for swimming. The rain would come later.
We were in the capable hands of our skipper Duncan Phillips, and another boat, Moonraker piloted by Tony Gill (thanks R,J &B!) with a fantastic beard.
Once we reached the north of Jura, it was time for the swim. We were given the option of touching land at each end, I obviously did! Can’t be skipping out on distance, now!
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I cracked the GoPro on my head and captured the swim…with mixed success.
This was a cracking swim. Not too hard, yet quite wild at the same time. Never once did I feel unsafe and the few jellyfish stings I picked up at the end were just a minor irritation, like a nettle. We swam in two groups of 4, with everyone keeping pace relatively easily I think. One brave non-wetsuiter!
That was it, the Corryvreckan completed! 8 swimmers, 1401m, and roughly 24mins. Back on the boat for a hot chocolate, warm-up again and onwards to the pub!