“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

May 25, 2018

Trip to the Island of Jura

Wow!! What had I just walked into? I had packed a sleeping bag, mat, snacks, clothes, water-proof trousers, gaiters (which you put on your legs from your shoes to your shins to protect from ticks and walking in spiky areas) etc. into a large hiking back pack and a smaller back back. I was now walking up a hill following a meandering goat's trail walking away from our hut accommodation (called a bothy) towards the north coast of the island of Jura to see the third largest whirlpool in the world. We were walking in single file: Graeme first with his walking stick to feel where we should stand so we didn't fall into a bog, me following closely behind trying to remember Graeme's (long) steps, and Camden following my steps (an Australian friend we met at one of The Drovers Inn on one of our previous trips to Loch Lomond). We had just started and I was already feeling hot and panting from the steepness of the hill. I remember thinking: "This is surreal, how did I get here?"

Driving toward the harbour at Craobh Haven, where we would get the boat across to the Island of Jura  

Our boat journey from Craobh Haven in the top right corner, down the black line through the gulf of Corryvreckan (which is in between the islands of Scarba and Jura), and down to approximately where our hut accommodation was on the Island of Jura. 
This map shows the location of the Island of Jura in Scotland. Jura is inhabited by 200 people and around 5,500 deer. The top half of the island is taken over by deer, but the bottom half is inhabited by people. We went to the top half to the wildest place that Graeme had ever been to ;)

On the boat :D It was such an amazing day!! 
Passing the Island of Scarba over the gulf of Corryvreckan, which has the third largest whirlpool in the world. The whirlpool is only seen at certain times, and so it was not noticeable during this trip. The island of Scarba only had two houses on it, where one was a bothy and one was someone's home. Apparently, the island has boar on it, which instantly made me think of Astrix and Obelix ;) Oh the childhood comics :D We were driving in the boat over the top of the island of Jura to get to the top-west side of the island. 
Graeme enjoying the view

Getting close to the island
Taking the smaller boat to the island. Graeme went first with all the luggage in the dinghy.


Trecking with all our stuff from the shore of the island to our accommodation. I felt slightly off balance with both the back packs on the front and the back of me with the two sleeping mats (one for Camden and one for me). Graeme was holding the bags of food and cooking stuff, so I can't complain about what I was carrying ;) 


After we arrived at the bothy we placed our stuff down in one of the rooms. The room consisted of a higher platform to sleep on (fit three sleeping bags on), a table to put our food on, a fireplace and some chairs. We were warned about the mice who eat any food left lying about, so we hung the food up in bags from hooks on the wall. We had some bread (sour dough bread from an amazing new bakery that I recently found in Portobello called Breadshare) and sandwich fillings to eat before setting out for a hike to the most north of the island to see the whirlpool.

The road we took.
The adventurers!! From the right: Me, Graeme and Camden: graduates of the goat-walking school :)
We were passing many bogs. Graeme liked to show us exactly how deep the bogs were, so he placed his walking sticks into them. This one was the deepest we found. 
From here we walked up a mountain along a goat's path. Literally. We were jumping from one mound to another mound, and in between were bogs that we could have fallen into :O

Made it to the top!! We took a quick breather and ate a snack (chocolate). I think it was at this point that we, well me, realised how unfit I was ;)
The path we had taken



Checking the map. I think it was at this point that we realised that the path we had followed had taken us too far towards the centre of the island, rather than north towards the top of the island (which is where we wanted to go). So we decided to not go to the top of the island, because it was now too far to include it in our hike that day.

The middle of the island

One of the rivers we had to jump over :D

Glimpsing the sea
Camden and Graeme posing for the picture :) 

One of the rivers that I almost fell into :o

Admiring the view from a bird lookout-rock. This was our half way point, where we were going to start heading back from towards the bothy. We sat here for a while eating snacks to gather up the energy to trek back.

Seeing a deer on the way back. He must have been quite young, because he didn't move while we kept moving towards him. He had probably never seen a human before and didn't understand the dangers (talking about humans who have guns).
Stopping briefly at another rock that birds use as a lookout point. This can be seen from the high point on top of the rock in the right corner. We used these points quite often as a good vantage point to see the terrain and to decide which way we would go next. 
Looking back where we had come from 

Friendsie!!

Another deer :) 


Climbing over cliffs to get back to the bothy, which is located at the beach you can see in the middle of the image

Photo break ;)

Walking down a rocky cliff
Camden following suit

The drop down from the cliff

View to what we named "Seal Island", because it is seems to be where the seals like to sun-bathe.  If you look closely you might see some seals at the bottom of the island.

Getting closer to our bothy

Graeme helping us jump from one rock to another to cross a stream

After getting back we started thinking about making dinner ;) My feet were really sore because I didn't have the right socks on, so Camden and Graeme kindly left to go to the stream close by to get some water to boil. They were so kind :D

Boiling water for our soup and tea :D Camden brought some lovely mango green tea, and so it was refreshing drinking that outside sitting on a chair listening to an Australian band that Camden liked after such a long (5 hour) hike! Bliss :D

Graeme made the soup with Swiss-style stock, mushrooms, and noodles. It was super tasty!! Graeme said that we could put tomatoes in the soup, but I made sure that he didn't and remembered that they were for our breakfast the next day ;) I had to constantly remind him of that fact ;) He must really like his cherry tomatoes :D 

The sun setting

The bothy at night

Video showing the bothy: where we ate and slept. Graeme had put the fire on in the room, and because we didn't know that we had to open the chimney, and because the windows and doors were closed, the place was filled with smoke. And then the Carbon Monoxide alarm went off :o Luckily the smoke cleared very quickly when we opened the chimney and all the windows and doors!!

That night was a very interesting night ;) I remember feeling very tired, not to mention extremely cosy and warm in my wrapped up "mummy-type" sleeping bag. But the problem was that I couldn't get comfortable. I think I kept waking up throughout the night, and I remember feeling so excited when finally the light started coming in!! I realised at that point that I really needed to go to the toilet, so I quickly put on my jacket and headed out to go to the toilet in the great outdoors ;) After that I fell back asleep for a bit, I think.

We then made porridge for breakfast. I went out to get some water from the stream for tea, and when I came back Camden made a joke about Graeme putting Swiss stock (which has vegetables in it) into the porridge. And upon tasting it I realised that in fact it was not a joke ;) So I had some interesting porridge for breakfast ;)

Outside when I went to the stream to wash the bowls from breakfast

View from our bothy to the sea. After we had finished breakfast I noticed a yacht in the sea, which was unusual because we hadn't seen any other human being on the island. A few minutes later a large tourist group came along to see the bothy, and so we chatted with them for a while, and after that group of tourists left for a quick exploration of our side of the island, a guy (we don't remember his name, so for the purpose of the blog we will call him Tom) who had been hiking for a while. He was going to be staying in the bothy in another room then for a few days. So we gave him some of our left-over porridge. 
After tidying up we set off for a shorter hike than yesterday. Probably half of the reasoning was because we were so tired from the hike the day before and ended up having a longer morning, and half because this was supposed to be a somewhat relaxing trip ;) We had thought about going swimming, but it happened to be a rather 'dreich' day (Scottish word for a gloomy, wet and grey day), and it was predicted to start raining in a few hours. So we decided to go and explore some caves nearby.

The first cave we came across. We had to climb up a rocky bit to get there, but it was pretty cool to see a little cave at the top
Not to mention we got a great view of the little inlet of sea!!

We then walked along this beach area to see some caves on the other side. The area was a treasure haven for people who like bits and bobs. We named it "The beach of boys (buoys), where girls can visit." Graeme wanted to name the beach "Bob". It is a name that he names practically everything that he doesn't remember the name of, and I guess it was somewhat logical because there were bits and 'Bobs' littered all over the shore ;) 

Finding lovely flowers on the beach. Graeme informed me that they are called "Sea Pinks"
Walking up to a cave, where we found the remains of a dead deer :(
Looking down into a cave ;) We thought it was probably best not to go down into the rainforesty-looking, slippery and dark cave, which I decided I was extremely happy about :D

Amazing stone structures on the beach that we were trekking over



One of the few trees on the island of Jura. Practically a celebrity ;) 


It then started to rain so we decided to head back to the bothy. We were also getting quite hungry for lunch ;) 



Graeme leading the way through the high grass
A ruined house next to the bothy. We stopped to see what was inside, but there was juts some rubbish and lots of weeds.
When we got back we started making lunch using all the things we had left-over, so for starters we had a vegan fry-up using all the vegetables left. This was because both Camden and the new guy Tom were vegans. Afterwards Graeme and I fried up a steak to get our protein. We were sooo full by the end of all that food ;) 

We then packed everything up, said goodbye to Tom after telling him about all the quirks of the bothy and the fire place, and mustered up the energy to set out in the 'dreich' weather towards the beach to be picked up by the dinghy to take us to the warmth of the yacht. To be honest, I felt exhausted already at this point. 

I remember walking through the high grass in my sneakers, because me other shoes were already wet. After the high grass we came to a stream. I decided to take my shoes off so that they wouldn't get all soaked in the water. But when I took my shoes off I discovered that it was even harder to walk over the slippery stones on the river bed, not to mention that it was freezing. It was also very windy, and I could really feel the wind blowing my off-balance because of the two big backpacks that I was wearing, one on the front, and one huge one on the back. So I was really trying to muster up the energy, while feeling like crying. Graeme came along, my knight in shining armour, to take both my backpacks so that at least I had nothing making me fell off-balance. I prayed a quick "God I need you" prayer crying out for a burst of energy, and walked without feeling my feet for the last few metres to the shore. That was definitely the walk of courage. Pushing yourself to the limit shows you how strong you really can be!! 

Once at the shore line we just had to wait for the dinghy to come and pick us up. Firstly Camden and I got on board, and then Graeme came with all the luggage. When we were all on the yacht we discovered that we were soaked through, low on energy and totally ready the comforts of civilisation!! But ...  the adventure did not stop there!! 

The yacht we were on, finally :D 
I told you about the third largest whirlpool, right? Well, we sailed right over it. It was VERY choppy seas, and I started feeling slightly seasick :o But it was pretty amazing!! Our seasickness left us when we discovered that we were on the path of a pod of dolphins!! 

 

It was so magical seeing one dolphin after another jumping out of the water in pure joy. One of the guys there said that anyone who was depressed could not see the dolphins and still be depressed. I guess it is such a spectacular sight that you can't help but be overjoyed at the sight of such beautiful creatures. 

When we finally got off the boat, and said our farewells to the amazing yacht owner, we set off for the car. Yay :D Warmth!!! 


Driving in a nice warm car was such bliss after our adventures. 

And we were soon to realise that our adventure was not over yet! Nope. We got a flat tyre from a really treacherous road that the Sat Nav (called Zoe) took us on. So Graeme bravely went out in the rainy weather to change the tyre, leaving Camden and I in the warmth to chat about Australia. It was lovely, but I was feeling bad for Graeme out there in the cold. 


After we arrived at the Drovers Inn, which is where Camden works and stays (where we first met her), we all had a lovely dinner. I got a nice hot chocolate as well to give me lots of sugar to stop shaking from the cold :D We were all so tired, and so we talked mostly about the photos we took from our adventure and how appreciative we all were for our amazing company. And perhaps we might have thought about where we would like to go next, but I can't quite remember. Who knows, we might go somewhere even more wild than Jura? 

Till next time,

Laura xx (edited by Graeme)