Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Brownie of Cara; the correct way to greet him.

 At long last we paddled under...

 ...the steep rocks of the Mull of Cara. In 1756 part of the cliff collapsed and a tidal wave swept right round the island destroying the houses on the north side of the island. Maybe it was an earthquake or maybe it was a meteorite strike no one knows. In the middle of the grassy shelf on the Mull's shoulder we could just make out an isolated block of rock known as "The Brownie's Chair".

 We passed Cara house which has a resident ghost called "The Brownie", he of the eponymous chair. The Brownie is a mischievous spirit and it pays all visitors to stay on his right side.

At long last we pulled into a white, shell sand beach on Cara. We had covered 78 km since leaving Campbeltown just 24 hours previously and now we had arrived in the Hebrides! This might not seem like much to proper sea kayakers but to us, who merely dabble our paddles, it was quite a lot more than we were used to!

 If one lands on Cara (and especially so, if one intends to stay the night) it is a wise sea kayaker who knows the correct protocol for greeting The Brownie. It is vital to do this before doing anything else. One needs to raise one's cap then doff it in a suitably deferential manner while at the same time saying in a clear voice "Good Evening Mr. Brownie". The only acceptable variation to this protocol is to change the greeting to suit the time of day of one's arrival.

Failure to satisfy The Brownie on this matter will result in him interpreting your arrival as a serious diplomatic faux pas. All manner of mischief may then be unleashed upon your party by this unhappy spirit. Campbells need to be particularly careful as The Brownie is the spirit of a MacDonald who was murdered by a Campbell. Best advice would be to never disclose your surname on Cara. If your first name is Campbell then you must use a nickname or visit Gigha instead. The annals of Scottish sea kayaking are full of tales of The Brownie's mischief; kayaks floating away in the night, paddles being hidden in the bramble bushes and much, much worse.

Fortunately our greetings seemed to be acceptable and our camp was established without mishap or incident. But the uninhabited Cara House was just out of sight, over the bluebells and... night fell...a light came on in The Brownie's room...


  1. Fabulous information, and all of it will be taken onboard for my trip to Cara/ Ghigha.. glad The Brownie had his light on to read by.. and just to let you know he was IN for the night.. :-)

    1. Graham, to avoid any mishaps or unpleasantness it is vital that you follow the instructions to the letter. If you are travelling with others it is important for everyone to appreciate these courtesies to The Brownie. Sceptics don't last very long on Cara!

      Have a great (and safe) trip.