Saturday, 21 May 2016

"There's A High Over Scandinavia..."

That's me and Davy, leaning on the quayside at Oban as the sun sets over the bay and the mountains of Mull. It is, honest. Oh well, okay then, it isn't. It's a random young couple who happened to get between me and my camera.
     Davy, with his usual weather eye, announced that there was a high over Scandinavia and the weather was going to be unusually good in the Western Isles. So we hurriedly packed, dashed up the motorways early on Sunday morning and spent the evening in Oban.

         The next morning we took one of the good old Callie-Macs out to Craignure on Mull.

         The crossing only takes 45 minutes. As we neared Craignure, we passed Castle Duart.

          On previous visits to Mull we've investigated Grass Point, where the drovers used to bring their cattle, to ship them over to Kerrara and the mainland; and we've driven down the Ross of Mull to catch the ferry over to Iona. But, on this trip, Davy was interested in seeing the beaches on the Ross of Mull. He'd picked up, from somewhere, that they were reckoned to be 'the finest beaches in the UK.'
       I'll say this much: they're not at all bad.
      An equally fine beach is on the North of the island, at Calgary. It was all pure white sand, empty blue sky and a sea of a pale blue impossible to describe. Icy cold, though. The sea, that is. The beach was hot.
       This isn't Calgary - it's one of the Ross of Mull beaches, because my camera's battery had run out by the time we got to Calgary and I somehow managed to forget all electronics. I suspect it was a kind of accidentally-on-purpose sort of forgetfulness.
      Calgary in Canada, by the way, is named after Calgary on Mull. A chief of mounties, apparently, used to spend his holidays at Calgary on Mull, and when a name was needed for a new fort in Canada, he suggested 'Calgary.' The little village on Mull's name is really Gaelic: Cala ghearraidh, or beach of the meadow pasture.

 The amazing pink rock you find on Iona and Mull.
     We stayed at the Argyll Arms in the village of Bunessan. It could not have been better. The road ran right past the pub's door but was hardly busy. On the other end of the narrow road was a bay, with a view out to Staffa. The staff were friendly, the room comfortable and the food good.
      Almost all the roads on Mull are single-lane, with passing-places. Driving them is a strain. You have to be constantly watching for vehicles miles ahead and calculating whether or not to pull into the passing-place nearest to you. There are always plenty of drivers who seem incapable of grasping the idea of passing-places and drive right up to your car's nose and impatiently wave at you, to tell you to reverse. They do this, even when there is a passing-place directly behind them which they have driven right past. They think you should reverse around a blind bend with rocks to one side and a drop into a loch on the other rather than they reverse a couple of metres in a straight line.
      Amazingly, when a police-car is on the road, all the drivers suddenly seem to understand passing-places.
     But not the eagle-watchers who park their cars in passing-places and set up telescopes on tripods, to keep watch on some distant peak.
     Davy and I saw eagles. We had walked up one of the island's roads less travelled, and Davy pointed and said, "What's that?" I looked and, gentle readers, honestly thought I saw a glider heading towards us. (My eyesight is not the best.) "Eagles," Davy said. I suppose if we'd had binoculars, we could have told whether they were golden eagles or sea-eagles, but eagles they certainly were. Too ruddy big to be anything else.
      But the driving. To reach Oban, Davy drove 300 miles, with only a couple of short breaks. He said that was easier, and less strain, than driving the 50 miles from Bunnessan to Calgary.

          A man with sense enough to bring co-drivers.

        I loved our time getting sun-burned in the Hebrides but, for me, the highlight was a boat-trip to  island of Staffa.
        I shall save that for another blog.



madwippitt said...

oh wow ... it sounds absolutely wonderful! Thank you for sharing :-)

Susan Price said...

In good weather, the Hebrides are wonderful. In bad weather, they're pretty bleak.

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for all these pictures. That route out to Mull is magical - a crossing to yearn for, at least in good weather.

Joan Lennon said...

I love your let's-just-do-it adventures!