The Swirling Waters of Scotland’s Corryvreckan Whirlpool

Little can match the unusual adventure in Scotland of a trip to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. This legendary maelstrom or whirlpool lies off the west coast of Scotland between the islands of Jura and Scarba. At its most spectacular the whirlpool is supposed to form a swirling vortex 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep!

The whirlpool is caused by a giant rock pinnacle that rises from the ocean bed to almost within 95 feet of the surface. Water is forced upwards when it hits the submerged rock, causing huge waves. Located at the north end of Jura, the geographical relationship between the islands and mainland of the Argyll coast create a complex tidal system. The noise caused by the swirling cauldron of water can keep the neighbours awake up to 20 miles away.

The sheer primal energy has fascinated people for centuries. It was a Mother Goddess for pre-Christian Picts, the womb of all creation. They believed it could even awaken dead warriors. Legend has it that a Norwegian prince, Breakan fell in love with a princess from the island. Her father promised him her hand in marriage if the prince spent three nights out on boat in the Corryvreckan whirlpool. The prince returned to home and collected three cables, one of hemp, one of wool and one from maidens’ hair. He survived two nights but unfortunately the rope made of maidens’ hair broke on the third night and he perished.

There are a number of tour boats that offer trips out to see the Corryvreckan including a 3 to 4 hour cruise to the whirlpool. An exciting way to get to Corryvreckan whirlpool is to fly on a seaplane. The trip gives a wonderful aerial view of the ancient Argyll forest and the romantic Inverary Castle on Loch Fyne. One can fly over Mull, Jura and the Corryvreckan all in one hour. People have now even started raising money for charity by taking a boat out into the whirlpool.

The island of Colonsay near here is another interesting place to visit near here. Located to the west of Jura and to the southwest of Mull, it can be reached by boat from either Oban on the mainland, or from Port Askaig on the Isle of Islay. A tranquil spot with many lochs, moors and woodlands, its sandy beaches below the stark coastal cliffs are a big attraction. What a contrast to the maelstrom of Corryvreckan!