Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Adventures of Hjalmar Bjorge - Season 3, Episode 5

The Continuing Adventures of Hjalmar Bjorge
Season 3 - Episode 5 - Gigha and Cara
Exploring the Isles of the West Cruise    June 2-11, 2018

Tuesday, June 5 - Islands 5 & 6 - Gigha and Cara

Tuesday morning we went ashore on Gigha, where a half-mile stroll took us to Achamore Garden. It dates to 1944, and is well known for its amazing collections of camellias and rhododendrons. In the centre stands Achamore House (1884). It is currently for sale - if I had a spare £800,000 I'd buy it.

It has been 20 years since I’ve seen the gardens. Back then they were in a sorry state, but with the help of volunteers they’ve been restored to their previous splendor. My favourite spot was a viewpoint that looked west over the sea to Islay.


Debbie at the viewpoint
All visitors to the gardens are greeted by the resident cat.

Liz, Michael (and friend)

We could hear the peacock well before we came upon it courting a prospective mate. Amazing!

Once back aboard Hjalmar Bjorge the anchor was raised and we made the short (3 mile) transit south to the island of Cara. Just up from the beach where we landed stood Cara House, and the chapel of St Fionnlugh - also referred to as Cella Sanctissimae Trinitas - the Cell of the Holy Trinity.

Saint Fionnlugh was a contemporary of Columba, and is said to have saved him from a spear-wielding assassin on the island of Hinba. Fionnlugh is also known as the Hermit Saint of Islay, and so perhaps when he needed a break from the hustle and bustle of busy Islay he'd escape for a little contemplative R&R on Cara.

The Chapel
Hjalmar Bjorge anchored off Cara House
A 20 minute walk from the chapel, along goat trails through tall bracken, took us to the Brownie’s Chair.

When we landed on the island I forgot to doff my hat to the Brownie as required (perhaps because I was not wearing one). But he must not have noticed, as we all made it safely back to the boat.

The Brownie's Chair was the first of two Hebridean wishing stones we'd visit on the trip. The wish I made on Cara did come true (that the weather would be good for the rest of the cruise). However, the wish I'd make in two days, seated on the moated wishing stone of Erraid, did not come true. (That I'd get off the stone without falling into the moat.)

Front row (left to right): Debbie, Clare, Michael, Wolfgang
Second row: Liz, Nigel, Dave, Jane
Top row: Mike, Hazel 

(No Brownie - but he shows up in the next photo)

Tides control everything on a trip like this, and after leaving Cara we caught the flood tide as it poured up the Sound of Jura. With the Paps to our right, and the distilleries of Islay to the left, we made a quick passage through the sound. After passing the lighthouse of Rubha a' Mhail on the northeast corner of Islay we headed west towards island number 7: the holy isle of Nave.

The Brownie's Chair in profile (centre of photo)

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