Hebrides: Island 7 of 51: Isle of Mull (1)

Mull: Population 2990, Inner Hebrides

location-map

Mull was always going to be an island requiring several visits.  The diversity of the landscape, the large number of locations to be photographed and the fact that there are another 5 smaller satellite islands to visit means that I had always planned to visit Mull several times during this project… which is fortunate as the weather was unbelievably dire this first trip!

I woke at 3am on a dark and drizzly Sunday morning and began packing for an overnight stay on the island.  Just one day earlier I’d managed to secure a last minute overnight stay in a lovely little cottage near Lochdon (Bramble Cottage) so this trip involved an overnight bag and the camera gear.

Another first:  I had company on this trip as Jonny decided to come along with a view to making a video, so after I’d picked him up we were off on our way north to the town of Oban.

We arrived in Oban earlier than expected, so early in fact there was a slim chance we might be allowed on to the sailing before the one we’d booked, so we headed straight for the ferry port.

We were checked into the “standby” lane and waited in the hope that we might be allowed to board but unfortunately the ferry was full so we had to wait until our pre-booked 11.10 am sailing.

After the earlier sailing departed we were moved over to lane 1 – 2nd place – and informed we had until 10.40 before we needed to be back at the car, so off we headed on a whistle stop tour of Oban, which to be fair, doesn’t take very long on a rainy Sunday morning!

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After a quick wander around the town, a visit to the bank and a coffee at the local Wetherspoons, it was time to return to the car and prepare for the sailing across to Craignure.

We boarded the ferry and set off to find a nice vantage point for the crossing to Mull.  Unfortunately the weather was terrible – windy with that fine drizzly rain that manages to get into and under every possible kind of waterproof clothing known to man – but we braved the outdoors on the crossing anyway and snapped a few shots of Kerrera and Lismore, two more islands I’ll be visiting very soon!

Once docked at Craignure we decided to head for Fionnphort on the western coast in the hope that the weather might improve as we went further west; it didn’t.

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After a brief stop at Bunessan (above) to photograph the bay during a break in the rain, we continued on to Fionnphort.  We toyed with the idea of crossing to Iona, but, with the weather so bad, decided to explore the coastline a little instead.

OL_3W2A8594(Above: Fionnphort coastline with Iona in the distance)

We photographed and videoed the coast for a while, there really is something magical about just sitting listening to the waves crash against the shoreline, then, hungry and cold, we decided to take a break and grab some lunch at the “Keel Row” in Fionnphort.

Warmed, fed and “watered” (no actual water was harmed during the course of the lunch) – we decided to return east towards Craignure.

OL_3W2A8610(above: Loch Scridain from Pennyghael)

There are a few locations around Scotland that I’m convinced I’ll eventually get a great shot, but have never managed to so far… Every time I visit the light’s not right, or the weather’s less than perfect or, etc, etc…
These elusive locations include (but are not limited to) the Devil’s Pulpit, those annoyingly photogenic Rowan trees on Conic Hill, the view down Loch Garry, the falls at Glen Orchy, and a secluded beach in Argyll…

The view from Glen More down across the three lochs of Loch Sguabain, Loch an Eilein and Loch an Ellen is another one of those locations.  I’ve photographed the place many times, but, I’ve never left with a shot that I think captures the essence of the place…
Apparently a favourite of the white tailed sea eagle, this part of Mull is remote, wild and seriously photogenic, but, I’ve never yet managed to be there just as the light was perfect. Maybe next time?

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Moving on from Glen More, we decided to check in to the cottage before arranging the rest of the evening.  Possibly a mistake as the cottage was nice and cosy and the rain was torrential outside, so, eventually, we settled down to watch some Netflix instead!

To be fair, the weather never improved and the sunset was a non-event photographically, so with sunrise at just before 4am, we decided to call it a day and have an early night.

It was a wild and windy night and I was extremely glad we hadn’t decided to camp overnight when I was awakened just before 4am with the rain battering off the windows in my room.

Sunset came and went but I did manage to capture the moment of sunrise through my room window looking out towards Loch Don…

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After a coffee, we packed up, said our farewells to Bramble Cottage and jumped in the car to try our luck in the north of the island.

Tobermory is one of those places where it’s impossible to feel down about the weather. The brightly coloured buildings force you to feel like you’re on holiday and, by default, having fun.

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Ice creams, a chocolate store and gift shops, several excellent cafes and a whisky distillery make for some enjoyable hours of fun for all of the family!

(Also, I’d encourage a visit to the museum – which I found fascinating)

From Tobermory we decided to head south again towards Craignure, initially with a view to visiting Duart Castle, but, on the way north we’d noticed some shipwrecks on the shore in Salen, so we planned to stop off there first, if we could find a suitable parking place.

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After a while exploring the shipwrecks, we headed south to Craignure and a bite to eat at the wonderful Craignure Inn. (Steak pie AND clootie dumpling – perfection!)

Lunch over and with just over 2 hrs until our booked ferry back to the mainland, we decided to visit Duart Castle.
Typically as our allotted departure point approached, the weather improved, so much so that by the time we were leaving Duart, there was actually some sunlight hitting the landscape…

OL_3W2A8821(Above: looking out over the Eilean Musdile lighthouse, Lismore from Duart Castle)

We returned to Craignure and managed to arrive first in the queue. (I’m paranoid about missing my ferry connections…)
As I was sat in the car thinking over this blog, I’d pretty much decided to write the trip off as a “location scouting” visit, but, in retrospect I think that does a disservice to the trip.  Sure, the weather was less than ideal, in fact, it was terrible, but sometimes, bad weather makes for some nice photographs.  No one wants to see blue sky pics all the time.  It rains in Scotland, everyone knows that, it’s why the landscape is so dramatic, it’s why we have such spectacular colours and it’s why I love it, so why not photograph it?!

My next island is likely to be either Kerrera or Lismore, but, I’ll definitely be back to Mull again in the next few weeks, so stay tuned! 🙂

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