After a lovely walk along the coast at Ardnamurchan, we set off for the ferry at Kilchoan to head across to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.
We were looking forward to spending a few days exploring the island, of which I have happy memories from a childhood holiday the best part of 50 years before.
We arrived early at the ferry port at Kilchoan so we were first in the queue for the drive on–drive off ferry.
This time Martha was a bit more relaxed from the start. We stayed in the van again and we were quickly across to Tobermory.
We had been offered hospitality from a couple of friends but, by bad timing, I arrived the same morning as one of them left for the mainland on a long-standing family visit, so in the end we headed straight across to Calgary Bay, where Fiona and Colin Brunton had offered us a place to park up. And what a park up it was! Hook up, water, views over the bay, guided walks of the area and lovely meals – as well as the chance to do washing and have a proper shower. I felt truly spoiled. Colin also had a look at the van and confirmed that the brakes needed attention (the light had been flickering on and off for a day or so) but reassured me that they were not unsafe. This was just as well as there was no prospect of getting them fixed on the island – at least not that week! So I arranged to have them done later in Glasgow but it was good to know they would last out.
We had a lovely relaxed day. We went for a couple of walks with Fiona and their dog Ben (Otter’s new best friend) – over the beach, through the Sculpture woods and round the castle, which was to be our regular walk each morning we were there, plus a lovely afternoon walk through the woods at Cuin. We then went to the wonderful store in Dervaig which sold everything you could imagine and many things I didn’t expect. I had never seen humous in a jar for instance – an excellent idea for the van! But mostly it was just lovely to have a day where I hardly drove at all and just chilled out.
We started our second day on Mull with an early morning walk, again exploring the beach, the woods and the castle, with Fiona and Ben. The castle was a lovely old place, with wonderful views over the bay. It had previously been in Fiona’s family and was now being renovated with help from family photos, to restore it to its former glory. It even came complete with its own ‘secret garden’.
Then it was off to explore the south side of Mull. Fiona had recommended we head for Ardalanish, where there was a great beach and a weaving shed, so we set off, taking the long route down the west coast and round Mull’s only munro, Ben More, to Bunessan. The scenery was stunning and the day warm and sunny – the last as it turned out before the weather turned.
From Bunessan, we headed off south to the tiny hamlet of Ardalanish. The beach did not disappoint. Vast and pretty much deserted (once the group of 30 hikers had left!), it had silver sands and pretty coloured rocks. Not to mention plenty of parkour opportunities. We had a lot of fun there.
The weaving shed was fascinating. When I arrived they were just starting to weave cloth from wool from their own Hebridean flock, so I stayed and watched the great looms at work for a while before getting myself a home-made bridie (similar to a pastie) and an ice cream to take back for lunch in the van. We never saw the Hebridean sheep but we did meet some very fine Scottish Blackface rams along the way.
From Ardanalish, we headed to the end of the island to Fionnphort, where we waved at the small island of Iona across the water, before heading back round the eastern coast road towards Calgary. The Oban ferry was just coming in as we passed through Craignure, a much bigger boat (and longer route) than the one we had taken.
All along this road are signs warning of Otters crossing. I kept a careful look out all the way, hoping to catch sight of one, but no luck. We did see a Golden Eagle, swooping down behind the forest edge, its huge wingspan making it unmistakeable and very dramatic. But the only things that crossed the road were the usual sheep, highland cows and a rather incongruous peacock, who seemed rather lost!
Next day we were heading back to the mainland to continue our trip down the west coast. After a final walk with Fiona and Ben, we said our goodbyes and headed off to Fishnish via Tobermory again and the last bit of the Mull coast around the north east corner.
By the time we reached the ferry the wind had picked up and it was a choppy ride over to Lochaline.
This part of the coast is tricky to navigate. It becomes very convoluted and roads do not always follow the coast line. In the end, with time curtailed by the need to get to Glasgow for our garage appointment, I decided to follow the marked Argyll coastal route via the tiny Corran ferry and head from there down to Oban. But first we explored the in and out road up to Drimnin.
It was a wild and windy day so we didn’t see much but it was a pretty run. Between Lochaline and Drimnin we came across the Clach na Criche or Boundary Stone which according to legend marked the border between Pictish and Gaelic lands and was said to grant wishes to any who could pass through the hole without touching the sides. I didn’t try – I could barely stand up in the wind at this point!
We made our way back to Lochaline and then on towards Corran. After the short ferry crossing, we stopped briefly near Onich for a woodland walk to celebrate clocking 2000 miles and a few moments of relative dry.
Reaching Oban was something of a culture shock after the quiet of the highlands and islands. We arrived at the beginning of rush hour and it was a relief to get through and get on along the open road again. We were heading down to Tarbert and Campbeltown but it had already been a long day’s drive, so we stopped for the night beside the lovely Crinan canal at Cainbaan. It was wild, wet and windy but at least safely away from trees or cliff tops!