Cragaig Bay

Our chosen anchorage of Cragaig bay looked ideal for the N to NE winds which were due for the next few days. It is sheltered from all winds except Southerlies and on getting up next morning my historical antennae began to twitch. The shelter was provided by numerous little islets and peninsulars on the North sides of which were “noosts” – lanes cleared through the boulders where shallow draft craft could be beached in complete safety , even if the wind was from the South. There looked to be quite a few ruined buildings dotted around the hillside and I knew that most of these had been empty since the clearances of the mid 19th century, so that these noosts had lain unused for close on 200 years. But could they be older still? 

I couldnt wait to get ashore and sure enough the little ruined village had a sign recording that this was the ancestral birthplace of Gen Lachlan McQuarrie – the father of Australia .Of more interest to me the same sign told us that village name – Ormaig- was from the Od Norse meaning Bay of Serpents – or Bay of Longships! Of course , it was the ideal place for a Viking fleet to lay up with room for twenty or so  ships to shelter on their summer voyaging – or even lay up for the winter.  In later years the Scottish galleys and local open fishing boats would have gladly used the same noosts – and now it was all abandoned.  We may now have wonderful forecasting and much improved equipment but the small boat sailor still faces the same imperative to find suitable shelter when the elements get grumpy that our Viking forebears did – and to me this place shouted out its maritime history even if it was less safe for our deep keel craft than the shallow beachable ships of yore. 

Even if I hadnt been excited  by the history of the bay , the sheer beauty of the immediate surroundings with the grandeur of the cliffs of Mull as a backdrop made a decision to spend a few days exploring the area by foot and canoe an easy one. Just next to the anchorage a little bothy in fine condition looked very attractive and we soon met a young couple walking in to spend a couple of days there. Unbelievably you can rent it on AirBandB , although all requirements need to be carried in on your back or by boat. Other folk were camping on an island a mile or so to the west , having got there by kayak and in the prevailing fine weather it was a marvellous place to spend a few days. 

An hours walk to the west were a few more ruins and an old graveyard. One of the newer stones recorded the death of Donald McLeod in 1671 at the age of 80 , suggesting it might not have been a bad place to live before the clearances . Perhaps in those days with more cultivation, the land was less infested with ticks – this was the only problem in this marvellous place – Lynda collected no fewer than 20 !

One Comments

  1. Good to read that you are back out there, as I wake to a very grey and dismal looking Southern Hemisphere winter morning

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