Friday 31 July 2015
Lochaline to Tobermory
Driving tour, 3 mile walk
Tobermory Youth Hostel
I woke to the sound of rain thundering on the roof of the Dive Centre. I had done some handwashing the previous evening and none of it had dried in the damp weather. I draped it all around the car, ate some cereal and headed off to catch the early ferry from Lochaline to Fishnish on Mull. The ferry had a technical problem that meant the 4 cars waiting to board had to drive on and turn themselves around. No problem with only 4 cars but there was a longer queue when we got off at the other side.
I had done no research on Mull and had only bought a rudimentary map yesterday. I was therefore in the unusual position of having no idea what to go and see, no idea of where I was going to stay and no plan. So I drove West to Tobermory, the main town. It has a pretty high street facing the harbour that is used for a well known children’s TV programme and so is now quite a well-visited place. It is pretty with all the buildings painted in bright colours.
It was still pouring with rain when I parked and went to the tourist information point to find some accommodation. I had thought I would camp but the forecast is terrible for the weekend so I was lucky to get availability in 2 hostels.
The girls in the Dive Centre (the owners were out diving so I only saw their daughters) had recommended the Tobermory Bakery and the Chocolate Shop. I went to the Bakery for coffee and a croissant; very nice too.
The man at the ferry terminal/tourist information had recommended a couple of walks and things to see. Mull has more forest than the rest of the West Coast and this seems to have attracted Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles. It would be amazing to see one of them. I didn’t know that Mull has lots of wildlife, including a large otter population. I guessed that Mull had lots of wildlife when I drove through the small coastal town of Salen and saw loads of birds right by the shore. There was even a road sign telling me to beware of otters running across the road. I got a great view of a buzzard that was sat pretty close and just looked at me.
I drove to the NW corner, near Glengorm Castle (which is a hotel) and went for a walk.
Past the Castle there is a set of standing stones (there are many around here) and further on there is some forest (possibly with Eagles) and the small Mingarry Loch.
There were lots of Highland Cattle wandering around, including calves and a bull, but they just looked at me through their wet shaggy fringes.
After half an hour I was soaked through but carried on to Loch Mingarry where I found a nature hide.
I took shelter in it and spent almost an hour watching for wildlife. It was not as good as if I’d had binoculars; I think even the birds were hiding from the rain. I saw lots of herons fishing, a curlew, geese, a few gulls and Oystercatchers, but no Eagles or otters. Ah well.
Back at the car I had more wet clothes to drape everywhere and so I drove off in my Chinese laundry. I spent a couple of hours driving a circular route that took in most of the West Coast of North Mull.
It is quite a dramatic coastline with some good cliffs and great views, particularly to Mull’s own set of small islands: Ulva, Gometra, the Treshnish Isles, Little Colonsay and Staffa.
Unfortunately today was not a good day for views. I enjoyed the drive nonetheless and did see a rather angry looking waterfall that was quite impressive.
I also stopped at Calgary Beach, with its beautiful sand and clear sea.
Back in Tobermory I checked into the Youth Hostel on the High Street and went to the pub along the road. Just my luck they were short on chefs tonight so were no longer serving food when I went to order. A quick trip to Co-op and it was a pasta meal for me.