Thursday, November 09, 2006

The bottlenose dolphins of Gigha and the Brownie of Cara

Recent talk of community buyouts takes us south again to the islands of Gigha and Cara. They lie at the south end of the Sound of Jura off the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula. There is a pod of bottlenosed dolphins which are frequently seen in these waters. One has a distinctive lateral curve to the dorsal fin and I have also seen them 60km further north in the Sound of Luing.

Although Gigha and Cara are not far from the mainland, the waters off their southern points can be very rough as they are exposed to westerly swells from the Atlantic.

The only house on Cara is haunted by a spirit called the "Brownie". It pays to be polite and doff a cap and greet the Brownie on arrival. If this is done, the Brownie can be a helpful spirit who can tidy up and make sure kayaks are above high water etc. However, if you upset him or if you are a Campbell, then he can be very mischievous and hide things in places you have already looked for them or even wake you with a hard slap.

If you sit round a fire, you would be advised to leave an empty space for the Brownie....

The three Paps of Jura lie across the Sound of Jura from Gigha. From further north, there is a more anatomically correct view which shows only two Paps.