Showing posts with label isle of mull. Show all posts
Showing posts with label isle of mull. Show all posts

Monday, 17 September 2018

Fish and chips in Tobermory

Saturday 15 September 2018

Nido’s parked up at Crannich Farm campsite, in a lovely valley inland on Mull. It’s raining and is forecast to carry on until the morning, but we’re on electric, we have stuff to watch on the laptop and we have cake!

We had a lovely sunny morning on Fidden Beach.  I made use of the hot showers on the site while Cathy prefers the equally hot shower in the van - perhaps it’s no coincidence the midges have stopped flying around us this morning!  The plan today was to visit the colourful capital - Tobermory.  The 50 mile journey was along a scenic route, following the road along a couple of lochs, with highland cattle slowing us down  on occasion.  The road meandered alongside the water, sometimes curling in to cross moorland, again all on a single road with passing places.  Only by Loch Na Feal were there any places to park and admire the view (and possible wild camping spots when drier).  The last few miles into Tobermory are on a wide (for Mull) two lane road, which felt very strange!  The town offers free parking and we were able to easily park Nido.  I expected it to be busy on a Saturday, but I guess we’re approaching the end of the season, so there were only a few people about.  After stopping to buy Cathy a headband for walking, we enjoyed some fish and chips from the van at the Fisherman’s Pier - very tasty - that was our main meal for today sorted.  As I ordered, Cathy took the cakes we’d bought back to the van - that’s tonight’s ‘dinner’ sorted!  We had a bimble along the main street, past the brightly painted shops, pubs and restaurants, before following a path for 2km to reach a headland with a lighthouse.  There had been a few landslips along the path; it must be a full-time job keeping it open.  

Our drive to Crannich Farm was short and we were soon pitched up overlooking moorland and the pine forests on the opposite side of the valley.  We have free wifi here but it’s weak and intermittent, so I won’t be uploading three days’ worth of blog posts today.  Tomorrow we leave Mull and start to head south down the Kintyre peninsula, but I think we’ll be back to this lovely island.

A sunny morning at Fidden Beach


Excellent fish and chips on the Fisherman's Pier

If you look carefully on the far middle left, you can just make out the head of the seal following this survey boat

Isle of Iona and Fidden Beach

Friday 14 September 2018

Nido’s parked up on a grassy mound overlooking the white sandy beach at Fidden Farm.  The sun has just set through the clouds and below the rocks and cliffs in the distance and the wind has dropped.  This is a lovely spot, a well-used campsite with a mix of vans and tents, all pitched close to the beach and facing the sea.  There’s a new facilities block with toilets and hot showers, but no EHU.

We were up and on the beach at Uisken at 0730 this morning; the rain had abated and we enjoyed a walk on the sand as the tide returned.  Our next stop, the ferry terminal at Fionnphort, was just a few miles away.  It was raining again when we arrived and we had to wait about half an hour for the ferry, but at least we were in a warm, dry waiting room, with a great view over to Iona.  The ferry crossing was only about 15 minutes but was a bit lumpy.  Iona is just three miles long and just over a mile wide.  It’s been a place of Christian worship for more than 1400 years and still has a vibrant religious community.

The rain was here to stay this morning, so we were glad of our waterproof coats with peaked hoods.  We walked around the ruins of the fourteenth century Augustinian nunnery, disused since the Reformation.  We took the road North, passing the large Iona Abbey and stopping off at the eleventh century, St Oran’s Chapel, Iona’s oldest building.  It stands at the centre of Iona’s sacred burial ground - Reilig Odhrain, which is said to contain the graves of sixty kings of Norway, Ireland, France and Scotland, including Duncan and Macbeth.  It’s also the final resting place of John Smith, the Labour Party leader who died suddenly in 1994 - a very peaceful spot.  Carrying on along the north road, past crofts, homes and hostels, we came to lovely white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.  It was still raining hard but it didn’t spoil the beauty and serenity of the place.  Back in the village we stopped to warm up and dry off with a hot drink and shortcake at the Iona Heritage Centre, before visiting the adjacent museum.  Had it been a better weather day, we would have walked over to the Machair, on the west side of Iona, to the evocatively named Bay at the Back of the Ocean, a crescent of pebble and shell-strewn beach and with a spouting cave to the south.  We’d then have continued on to the south of the Island to visit Port a’ Churaich (Bay of the Coracle, aka St Columba’s Bay), the saints traditional landing spot on Iona. But the weather was a bit wild so that’ll have to wait for another visit - and we will return.

The return ferry trip was kinder; the wind had died down and the rain stopped.  Fidden Farm campsite was less than 2 miles away, so (while our wet things dried in the van) it didn’t take long to get set up and head off for a long walk on the beach, through the rock pools and over the many large gatherings of seaweed.  The sun made the odd appearance - enough time to throw our shadow but not long enough to warm us up!  So the rest of today was spent in the van, reading, eating and looking out at the view.  Cathy stepped out to take some sunset photos, while I sat in the van, watching a pod of dolphins far out by the cliffs through my binoculars.  It’ll be another quiet night with no artificial light, so proper dark.   

Sunrise at Uisken Beach

Breakfast view

St Oran's Chapel - Isle of Iona

Iona Abbey

Knight's Grave Slab?

North end of the island

Fidden Farm campsite


Uisken Beach - Isle of Mull

Thursday 13 September 2018

Nido’s parked on a flat grassy knoll right next to the beautiful sandy and rocky Uisken beach on the Isle of Mull.  This is a wild camping spot - £2 per person per night, paid to the friendly Mrs Campbell at the Uisken Croft just up the hill. It’s been raining most of the evening and set to continue through the night, but it’s still a peaceful, magical spot; we have it all to ourselves.  The tide was out when we arrived but with the waves crashing on the rocks out in the bay.

We stayed by Loch Lomond last night, having driven across the hills and up the motorway, past the craziness of the junctions around Glasgow.  Loch Lomond was a bit of a disappointment; for some reason I expected places to be able to pull over and walk alongside the water, but our route took us up the west side where the busy A82 is the only route, with no footpaths.  Our stop for the night was at Inveruglas Visitor Centre, having purchased a £3 camping permit online the night before. It’s a visitor centre (ie some leaflets on a shelf) and public toilets, with a wooden viewing point looking south across the Loch.  There’s a hydro-electric plant across the road, with the wide water pipes climbing the high hills above.  The view point is a stopping off point for the tourist coach trips; I think the Americans and Japanese were a little bemused by the constant rain showers, but in between we had some lovely sunny spells and blue sky. So yesterday was a bit of a transit day.

I think we may not have stopped over at Loch Lomond if I hadn’t bought the camping permit in advance.  I’m finding it hard to get out of the habit (and my logistics training) of thinking ahead, having a plan (and a fall-back).  Cathy’s always good-humouredly chiding me for it, but I worry we’ll be stuck with nowhere to stay.  The downside is that I become focussed on the destination rather than the journey.  I’m currently reading a book on my kindle about a lady who walked the St James’ route on the Camino  de Santiago Compestela (an area we covered on our travels through Northern Spain earlier this year).  I’m in no way religious, but I do get how the journey is spiritual; maybe I’ll walk a similar camino one day.  One thing she’s learned as she walks the route day by day,  is that you cannot look too far ahead - you must focus on being in the present and make the most of today.  Maybe that’s what I need to do more (blimey, that was a bit zen!).

This morning we were up with the alarm at 0700 and on the road by 0730.  Stopping off on the way to admire the powerful beauty of the Falls of Falloch, we carried on north along the A82, stopping at a quiet car park for a bacon butty and a cup of tea.  The road took us through some small villages, past lochs (and through the rain!) until we arrived in what felt like the busy metropolis that is Oban.  The Tesco superstore was doing a good trade and quite a few van owners were doing similar and topping up.  We arrived at the ferry terminal and I popped into the office to collect our tickets, booked and paid for online.  It would have been a lot cheaper without the back rack (without which we would have been under 6m), but still not a bad cost for a 45 minute return trip.  The ferry wasn’t too busy, a few cars, one other campervan and a coach load of Italians and Americans.  It stayed dry enough for us to spend some time on the upper deck, enjoying the view and the fresh sea air.  There was another short, sharp shower as we returned to the van, but the sun was shining as we drove off at Craignure and turned left to join the main road to the south.  The A roads on the Isle of Mull are mainly single lane, with passing places roughly every 200m.  It’s surprisingly stress-free driving on these small roads - much less than a narrow two-way road - and most people were considerate when pulling over to let each other pass.  Only one car refused to give way, forcing me to reverse back up the hill, until he and his miserable looking wife could pass - no friendly wave to that one!

We passed a lovely sea loch on our right, with the mountains climbing the other side.  It looked perfect terrain for otters and there were road signs to beware of otters crossing!  The valleys and fast flowing streams also looked ideal terrain for bears if they existed here - we could imagine one bounding around in the water trying to catch a salmon.  During the brief sunny intervals the mountain rocks shone against the myriad matt colours of the hills. About 27 miles down the road, we turned off on to another single lane road, before turning off into an even narrower road - albeit still with plenty of passing places - to arrive at Uisken beach.  I parked at the bottom and walked up to Uisken Croft to ask permission from Mrs Campbell to camp and paid our £4.  This is an absolute bargain for such a stunning location; we couldn’t quite believe how lovely it was.  First thing was a barefoot walk on the beach and paddle in the (a little colder than Anglesey!) sea.  However, the rain soon started to sheet across the bay and we retreated to the van for a brew and warm up.  Dinner tonight was paella, cooked and eaten indoors, but what a view from the galley door!  We’re hoping for a lull in the rain later so we can step out and enjoy the peace and solitude.  The tide is almost in now and lapping the stones and sand just a few feet away from Nido’s tyres.  It should be a quite and peaceful night.

Loch Lomond

Sailing from Oban

Wild camping on Uisken Beach