Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jura: writers and stones

It has just been announced that the British writer Will Self will be the first writer in residence at the restored Craighouse Lodge near the Jura whisky distillery. He is following in the footsteps of George Orwell who sought the solitude of Jura to write "1984" in the remote farmhouse of Barnhill in the north east of the island.

Sea kayakers are also drawn to Jura. Its famous Paps guide their crossing of the Sound of Jura. The tides can be taken advantage of and a day trip is possible.

We launched at Carsaig Bay on the mainland and landed here at Tarbert Bay on Jura's east coast. Just behind the beach is a solitary, lichen covered standing stone of great antiquity. Some standing stones might have been connected with astronomy, others with religion or sacrifice. Possibly this one was simply a meeting place. Long before the written word, our ancestors were communicating with each other round stones like these. Unfortunately their oral tradition has long been lost.

With all our technology, is it likely our blogs will generate discussion in thousands of years? I think not, our enjoyable electronic chatter is far too ephemeral. Will 1984 still be read? If it is, will its meaning be understood, so far removed from the troubled times it was written in? I wish Will Self well in his endeavours. He may find inspiration at Tarbet Bay beside the stone of our ancestors. We might not know what its message means but it has transcended 4,000 years.

PS I can thoroughly recommend the 25 year old Jura malt.


  1. Although it must have been done many times, I've not yet come across a 'Sea Kayak Distillery Tour of Islay & Jura' trip report. I suspect those involved get themselves too inebriated to remember what happened. Incidentally, I won a bottle of the standard 10 year old Jura in a raffle last week. I've never won anything in a raffle before and if I never win again, I'll count myself as being very fortunate.

  2. Grazie, like castles, shoreside distilleries are another attraction of |Scottish sea kayaking.

    I have yet to do the Islay trip but it was a unique exprience to paddle up Loch Harport on Skye and stop for a tour and dram at the distillery then go a little further on for a lunch and a pint at the shoreside Carbost inn!