Scotland – 2 – Mull’ing it Over
Our site was in Benderloch about 8 miles from Oban and we spent 2 weeks here. Just a short walk down a track and we were on the beach at Tralee Bay. Large sweep of sand & pebbles and a perfect place for Neil to get his paddle board out – which he did a few times. Convenient for after dinner walks, morning walks, afternoon walks …….
Oban was a nice town. Busy with the ferry terminal and train station but a nice range of shops right on the harbour front and places of interest. We visited Oban a few times.
One of the benefits of being near Oban is it is the main ferry port to the Isle of Mull and we planned an overnight stay in Tobermory, the main town on the Isle. Whilst it doesn’t look a very big island, there are very few roads and 90% of those are single track with passing places. Living in Cornwall, we are used to single track roads and these roads were more pleasant to drive as they were mainly open, without the high sided walls that most Cornish lanes have which obscure the view of oncoming traffic and the landscape. The passing places were frequent and we headed across towards the Isle of Iona. We had a good day weather wise with a mainly sunny sky and no rain.
I had looked on-line before hand for yarn stores on the Isle and found that the Ardanalish Weaving Mill was on the way to Iona. Well a turn off the main road and a few miles off the way but pleased we went as I had a good potter around the mill and store and came away with a purchase or two. We also had our lunch there – venison pasty and cake washed down with coffee which was unexpected but welcome as we arrived at 1pm and hadn’t packed a picnic. The views from the yard outside the mill to the Isle of Jura were again – wow.
The trip from the ferry terminal on Mull to Iona had been stunning. We continually repeated “wow” and “impressive” as we drove along the south road, We crossed to Iona on the ferry by foot and walked up to the Abbey. We had a couple of hours on the island exploring the Abbey, Nunnery and craft shops before heading back for what was going to be at least a 2 hour drive to Tobermory and our b&b for the night. We chose to drive a more scenic route that we had been told wouldn’t take us much longer than returning on the route we had come. I briefly saw otters on one section of the a loch. In fact otters and eagles are common to spot although that was all the wildlife we did see if you don’t count the herd of cattle heading towards us on the single track road. More “wows” as we took in the scenery.
The bed and breakfast we stayed in Tobermory was lovely. Just a short walk downhill (which naturally made going back uphill, very Cornish) to Tobermory. Some of you may know Tobermory as the town used in the UK children’s programme, Balamory. The womble, Tobermory, was named after the town. Tobermory is very quaint and pretty. The sweep of houses running along the shoreline with just a narrow road between them and the sea wall. Many of the houses are painted in bright colours. After our evening meal we walked along the front and admired the crystal clear water over white sand near a slipway. It could almost be the Caribbean!
On our second day, the weather was cloudier with occasional showers and visibility not quite so good although this changed with the showers. We took the road around the top of the island and explored that side of the island. There are so few roads that it is a case of when you have started a journey on a road you are committed or have to turn around to come back the way you have come.
We really liked Mull. It had a nice feel. Tobermory is the main town but didn’t feel busy and we enjoyed our potter around the shops before we left.
Naturally we visited some castles. Like Wales, Scotland doesn’t seem short of a castle or two. We went to Dunstaffnage Castle which is on the way into Oban from Benderloch and Dunollie Castle which overlooks the entrance to the harbour at Oban. I do like a mooch around a castle.
Having joined the National Trust for Scotland when we visited Culzean Castle near Ayr, I was pleased to find Arduaine Gardens was not far and a NT site. They were lovely gardens and, as we had come to expect, had fantastic views across lochs to some of the Inner Hebrides islands. We ate lunch at the hotel near the garden entrance and I had the biggest serving of Moules Marinereres I’ve ever had. In fact too many really. I shelled them all but didn’t manage to eat them all or the broth. Neil had the Cullen Skink. Delicious.
We crossed the Atlantic! I repeat, we crossed the Atlantic! Not on a boat but over the Clachan bridge. The bridge links the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Seil.
Whilst we were at Benderloch we walked the beach, explored the local area, Neil got out on his SUP a number of times and we cycled quite a bit. The road the site was on was a single track that only led to dead ends on the loch side and was not a through route so the roads were very quiet and as we were down at sea level, mainly flat. At the end of the road where it joined the main road was one of the National cycle tracks, Nr 78. This ran in both directions to Fort William and towards Oban with the parts we cycled mainly following the old railway line so the path was not on the road but a shared cycle/walkway and right along the shore line. It was pleasant cycling with great views and no stress of cycling on roads.
We both really liked the area and enjoyed our 2 weeks but we were ready to move onwards and northwards to the Highlands for real.