The waters around Loch Eriboll on Scotland’s northern coast can be a beautiful, if unforgiving place. While much of Scotland has been battered by storm Brendan this week, spare a thought for Darragh Carrol, a 25 year old adventurer who fell foul of Sutherland’s wild seas.
Darragh, who is originally from Dublin, was sailing his wooden boat back to Ireland from Norway, armed with minimal supplies, a hand compass, and old maps. It should have been an adventure for the ages, but in the early hours of Saturday morning, as he was heading to nearby Kinlochbervie, a fearsome storm forced him to take shelter in Loch Eriboll. The loch is under WildLand’s custodianship as part of the Eriboll estate.
Night fell, and despite repeated attempts to drop anchor in the shelter of the loch, Darragh found himself in an increasingly precarious situation. In the wee small hours, with his boat taking on water and the waves crashing around him, Darragh made the bold move to jump ship and swim to safety.
It was here, in the driving rain and howling winds, that our intrepid sailor found his refuge in Foulain Cottage, our little bolthole on the loch side. Freezing cold from his tussle with the sea, and in dire need of some rest and recuperation, Darragh made camp in the cottage to weather the storm.
Morning came, and after his first night of sleep in roughly 24 hours, Darragh found himself greeted by local police. A concerned passer-by had alerted them of activity at the cottage. It may not have been the most welcome sight after an evening of sheer, bloody-minded survival, but the officers, working with WildLand’s estates manager Andrew Adamson, soon came to understand the drama of the sailor’s tale.
“Our first concern was for the wellbeing of this intrepid sailor, and we are pleased that our little cottage was able to offer him shelter during what must have been a terrifying ordeal,” says Andrew of the encounter.
In no time at all, Darragh found himself with a small band of helpers – from WildLand staff, the coastguard and construction teams to concerned local residents – offering food, mechanical expertise, and help with his battered (but not bruised) wooden boat.
“They came in a matter of an hour and many members of the local community were also down to help,” explains Darragh, who has since had an opportunity to dry off in the comfort of Foulain Cottage.
“I truly could not believe how helpful the local community was – it was incredibly inspiring to see such helpful, hard-working locals willing to stand in the rain from morning to night to help me.”
The group of happy helpers would spend the next 14 hours getting the boat upright, so that they could asses the damage and help Darragh find his way home.
“We helped him get back on his sea-legs, and we have been touched to see the community rally round to offer food, mechanical expertise, and a helping hand with the boat,” says Andrew.
“It speaks to the generous, open-hearted spirit of this place and its people.
“We would also like to thank Police Scotland and the coastguard for their speedy assistance in this matter.”
WildLand has donated the use of Foulain cottage to our shipwrecked adventurer for a few days while he repairs his boat and continues on his journey.
“I couldn’t of dreamed of a better team of people working together,” says Darragh, “…it is a day I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Are you looking for shelter in the wild Scottish Highlands? Take a look at our cosy cottages in Sutherland and the Cairngorms.