Travel Diaries: Isle of Mull September 2016

Loch Beg in the rain

As alluded to in a couple of recipes recently, I went up to the Isle of Mull to see my parents in September. I have been many times, and every time try to do something different. This time included popping to the idyllic island of Iona (twice, due to poor weather stopping ferries the first time) as well as a walk from Loch Buie to Carsaig (which includes a using a rope to climb down some rocks) and a number of other shorter walks. The trip also featured a 3 day period where we had no running water, as my parent’s pump on their private supply broke. This meant we had to carry about 1000 litres of unfiltered water from the stream up to their house, and we could only really use that for flushing toilets and running a dishwasher. Fortunately we managed to get a pump sorted in a few days, but it was a harsh reminder of why living on an island isn’t necessarily for everyone. This was also the first time I got to meet my parent’s new dog; Meg. She will feature heavily here.

Pennyghael

Loch Na Keal - Isle of Mull

Pennyghael

Pennyghael

On the first day, we tried taking the ferry over to Iona. With bad weather forecasted, and the sea already rough, it was a particularly choppy crossing. We only spent about an hour on the island as the rest of the day’s ferries were due to be cancelled. The highlight of the Sunday was an evening trip to the Ninth Wave restaurant near Fionnephort. The island has a number of options for eating out, ranging from pubs to fine dining. Ninth Wave sits happily at the fine dining end of that, offering a number of 3-4 course taster menues, each showing off the best of Mull & Scottish produce. The next day was written off for similar weather reasons, so we spent it inside baking the Cardamom & Chocolate Braid I mentioned previously, until out of nowhere the weather cleared up just in time for one of the most intense sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.

Iona in the rain

Iona in a storm

Iona in a storm

Sunset from Pennyghael

Sunset from Pennyghael

Sunset from Pennyghael

Sunset from Pennyghael

This change in weather remained for the next few days, so we walked from Loch Buie to Carsaig. My dad dropping us off at one end and picking us up at the other. This is a great way to do this walk, unless you go particularly early and do it in both directions. It’s a walk of around 5.3 miles, with areas only passable at low tide, basalt rock formations, waterfalls, a rope climb down an area of rock (the rope isn’t essential, but comes in handy) and a bit of stream fording where you may need to get your feet wet. All in all, it’s a solid hike over rough terrain but not one to worry too much about if you’re not too fit (neither Maddie or I are exactly in shape).

Ben More

Ben More

Ben More

Loch Buie

Loch Buie

Loch Buie

Loch Buie Castle

Jurassic Coastline

Waterfall

Basalt rock formations

Basalt fock formations

Next up, we went back to Iona, so that I could show Maddie what it’s like when it’s a little less stormy. Grabbing an excellent chilli hot chocolate from the craft shop we walked down to the bottom end of the island, which is something I’d recommend. It’s quieter, and less sandy, but after a relatively simple walk you’re rewarded with a beautiful bay, which is a perfect place to sit and have a flask of tea. This was Maddie’s last day on the island as she had to make her way back for work, so we made a big portion of Mac N Cheese along with a Honey & Rye cake and settled in the a quiet night watching Bake Off.

Iona's Southern Tip

Iona's Southern Tip

Iona's Southern Tip

Iona's Southern Tip

Iona

Iona

Iona

Iona

Mac N Cheese

After she left I spent a day pottering around the house, writing, helping with DIY and occasionally taking the dog around the loch.

Loch Beg in the rain

Loch Beg in the rain

Ben More in Cloud

Ben More in Cloud

Ben More in Cloud

Ben More in Cloud

For my last day, my dad and I went for a walk up behind Craignure. There’s a track that connects the road to a series of hills, each of which have various electrical masts on them. The view from the top gives you a look across the sound of Mull to the mainland, of Duart Castle, the lighthouse and on a clear day, Ben Nevis. It also gives you a look over the south of the island. The weather was constantly changing, so one minute you’d have heavy, black clouds unleashing torrents of rain, and the next you’d have glorious sunshine. This meant that the very tops of the hills were far too wet and windy for us, so after climbing to the top of the last hump we turned back instead of heading on along the ridge, as wind howled around us and rain drenched us in a matter of seconds. Even without going past the last mast and along the ridge, the walk up to this point is a good option if you want views and a bit of a stomp.

Sound of Mull

Sound of Mull

Sound of Mull

Sound of Mull

Sound of Mull

On the last evening, a glorious double rainbow appeared out front of my parent’s house. Once again, my time on the island reminded me what I love about Scotland. It’s increasingly hard to leave the place. On the ferry back to the mainland I even saw a pod of Dolphins, which is a first for my Scotland trips. Next year I want to spend some time travelling the highlands, perhaps walking from bothy to bothy with some friends.

Double Rainbow on Loch Beg

Double Rainbow on Loch Beg

Double Rainbow on Loch Beg

Double Rainbow on Loch Beg

Double Rainbow on Loch Beg

Double Rainbow on Loch Beg