Summertime on Airstrip One


In honour of TLF’s 50th birthday, we spent a week at the end of June staying at Barnhill in the far north of Jura, in the company of a few friends. It was a cracking week with fine weather, some great walks and a convivial stay at the house where Eric Blair wrote The Last Man in Europe back in 1948. Okay. Where George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four back in 1948.

Barnhill 2

Barnhill has a fabulous, remote situation a little above the Sound of Jura and three miles from the Gulf of Corryvreckan at the island’s northernmost extremity. For me, having a week to really explore the nooks and crannies of the north end was a bit like  being a Labrador who’s found a decomposed seal to roll around in.

Staying at Barnhill would most definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re someone who thrives on the total absence of TV, the internet, shops and cars then it really does make for a satisfying brew. Speaking of which, Mr Orwell was rather fond of a cuppa and penned an interesting article on the subject in 1946:

In honour of the great man, we spent a great amount of time getting a brew on the stove at Barnhill, using water gathered from a nearby(ish) burn. Though I can’t claim to have followed Mr O’s advice on achieving the perfect brew.


Tea and roll-ups fuelled the creation of Orwell’s magnum opus as he clattered away at his typewriter in an upstairs bedroom, overlooking the Sound of Jura.


This was the room that myself and TLF slept in during our stay. I couldn’t resist having Nineteen Eighty-Four as my bedtime reading:

‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen…’

The following pictures are a selection taken from various walks over the course of the week. Almost all of the pictures were taken within walking distance of Barnhill; we did get a lift 4 miles each way from Road End to Ardlussa for the walk we did to Corpach Bay – we felt that 22 miles would be quite enough for one day…

Pig BayLooking down on Bagh Gleann nam Muc, with Scarba at the upper right-hand side

Above GlentrosdaleAbove Glen Trosdale with Ben More on Mull on the horizon

Looking northwest from Beinn BhiorgaigLooking northwest from Beinn Bhiorgaig

An CruachanDescending to the wild west coast beneath An Cruachan

Glen Trosdale Bay 1Glen Trosdale Bay

Glentrosdale 01Glen Trosdale

Dougsie 1Dougal Mor

Bagh Uamh nan GiallBagh Uamh nan Giall

Lochan on Cruach na Seilcheig 1Lochan on Cruach na Seilcheig

GlengarrisdaleGlengarrisdale and the bothy at the foot of Ben Garrisdale

Glengarrisdale 3Looking across to Scarba from Glengarrisdale

Wee bay 2Wee bay on the west coast

Traigh a Mhiadair 2Traigh a’ Mhiadair and Corpach Bay

126Konrad, Dougal and Nell with Dubh Bheinn as a backdrop

 Traigh a MhiadairTraigh a’ Mhiadair


Abhainn CorpaichThe Abhainn Corpaich


SlowormSlow worm

mating dragonfliesCoitus interruptus: mating dragonflies

Le Roi de Barnhill-1Le Roi de Barnhill

20140627-IMG_7121The very cosy lounge at Barnhill


13 responses

  1. What a gorgeous emerald landscape. There’s something almost tropical about its bright tints. Big birthday wishes to Fiona and hope all is progressing well with her novel on its road to publication. Great to see a new post at Writes of Way and thanks for the lovely journey to the islands this morning, Pete.

    Much love,

    • Hello Hoff, lovely to hear from you. The colours were even more outrageous than my camera could capture. I’ve passed on your felicitations to Fifi who is clattering away in her office (spare bedroom), while I’m sat here in my office (living room) trying to pull together another guidebook (Hebrides) – incredible scenes of Stakhanovite industriousness at Mingarry Mansions!

      How’s it all going in your neck of the woods? Are you full steam ahead on the follow up to Small Heart? Will Alexis get off to a flyer? Will the floodgates open after Sanogo bagged four against Benfica? Answers by email to Dr Doom xxx

  2. Thanks Dave, it was a fine sojourn. I’m already feeling a profound nostalgia for Barnhill. Are you in residence at Burnside just now?

    • Hello Andy! I must pop over to yours and see what you’ve been up to. You want to get up to Jura before we close the border. Alternatively, you could claim asylum – I think there’s to be a fast track for Celts…

  3. Ticks, ticks, ticks, that’s all I can think about when I see young Dougal with his head sticking out of the bracken. I need another dose of Jura soon, its been far too long. Shame its whisky gives me a headache 😦

  4. Somewhere in the region of 60 ticks were removed from Young Dougal despite us having Frontlined him. I can thoroughly recommend the Lifesystems tick remover as the best tool for the job I’ve yet encountered Much like ticks, Jura does get under your skin…

    I imagine the sublime experience of spending 11days on your own with a magnificent landscape has left you quite recharged, but also yearning for just a wee bit more solitude…

  5. What a pleasure, Pete, to read about your trip with Fiona to Jura, which you were just approaching on the ferry the last time we spoke on the phone. Barnhill looks in much better shape than it it did circa 1971, and your distant shot of the house, one of several excellent photographs, shows its delightful pastoral setting, so strongly contasting in appearance and character with the rugged and inhospitable moorland close by.
    Enjoyed too are the references to Orwell’s tea and roll-ups. In a cave on the west coast, close to Glengarrisdale, a friend and I unearthed fragments of a broken teapot and a rusty tobacco tin and convinced ourselves that they must have belonged to the benighted writer…

  6. Hello Robin

    Good to hear from you. I think I could happily live out my days at Barnhill. It was great to have the opportunity to explore the north end in greater depth during our week there at the end of June.

    As it happens I’ve been reading an essay from Shooting an Elephant the last couple of evenings, entitled Such, Such Were the Joys, which recounts young Eric’s hideous experience at the minor public school he attended: beatings for bed wetting, a sadistic headmaster and the loathsome progeny of the wealthy for ‘company’. You can see how Jura would be balm to the soul of a man who’d had that kind of formative experience.

    As for ‘Orwell’s’ teapot fragments and rusting tobacco tin, well apparently his old Rudge motorcycle was still lying at the foot of an alder tree near Barnhill even a few years ago – I have looked for it, but with no success as yet…

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