Monday, 16 May 2011

Isle of Mull

Ferry in Oban
Even though the weather forecast is dreadful, (heavy rain, cloudy tomorrow, then heavy rain, heavy rain, heavy rain!), we decided to head off to the Isle of Mull. We bought an island hopscotch ferry ticket for Oban to Craignure (Mull), Tobermory to Kilchoan (Ardnamurchan Peninsula, mainland) and Mallaig to Armadale (Skye) and then return from Skye over the bridge.

Landed in Oban on Monday, just in time to catch the ferry to Mull at 2pm. From about 12pm until 6pm it rained hard continually - got an intermittent leak in the van which is very frustrating! We drove down to the far south west of the island to Fionnphort which is port for departure to Iona. Found a great site, Fidden Farm, across from Erraid and a most beautiful position, a few metres from the shore and a white sand beach, with little inlets and coves. We stopped overlooking the sea and when, eventually, the rain stopped it was one of the most outstanding sites we have ever been to. The occupants of the few vans that were there promptly spilled out of their cosy homes, complete with binoculars and long lens cameras. A bird-twitchers paradise and so quiet. We were surprised how quiet the island was considering it is only 30 mins from Oban - single track roads around all of the island - very unspoilt.

Beach at Erraid
On Tuesday, with the only dry period forecast for the foreseeable, we caught the first ferry to Iona and had a wander around. Iona is a religious community, founded in 1938, where visitors are welcome. It is famous, of course, for being where St Columba landed in 550AD and established the first christian monastery. The original abbey has been rebuilt and houses guests from all over the world. It is quite a thriving community and busier especially when day trippers arrive from Oban. Thankfully we had come back to Mull before the hordes arrived, brought in on several large coaches.

Then the long drive to Tobermory, main town on Mull and inspiration for Ballymory, children's programme. We went via a very screnic route which shook us around a bit! Milk had turned to cheese by time we arrived in Tobermory! Next time we said we would go to Staffa to see Fingals cave and maybe take a wildlife tour to try and see the golden and sea eagles. There are a number of locations on the south and west of Mull, famous for sightings of these large birds. The road twists and turns under dramatic cliffs, with views of nearby large hills, the highest at 3000+ft, Ben More, and across the sea to the Treshnish Islands, Coll and Tiree, Inchkenneth, once owned by the Mitford family, Ulva and Little Colonsay. In the distance we could see Staff, with its dramatic form, but not the weather to take a cruise there today!

Tobermory is very pretty with it's multi coloured houses and a very secure natural harbour, and an enticing whisky distillery. Keep walking Marie!!!

Tomorrow we set sail to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula - weather forecast not good I am afraid.

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