To make up for missing the Alpine uphill ski trip I had a few days with my friend Jo – who lives near Stirling. We decided to take a trip to the Hebrides. The Western Isles are sooooooo romantic and beautiful but I have not spent much time there, so I was happy to start by going to Mull. You get the ferry from Oban.
In the footsteps of: Samuel Johnson
We’d had a lot of difficulty finding a last minute b&b; I think we may have got the only twin room available in the whole of the island. It was just up the hill from the Argyll Arms where Dr Johnson stayed with Boswell. As Johnson is one of my heroes I was pleased that we went there to eat although the food was unexceptional. (We were to make up for that the following night.)
In the footsteps of: Saint Columba.
When you are in south Mull it is pretty well compulsory to take a trip to Iona. Because of its history (which you can Google if you wish) it has a reputation for particular peace and tranquillity. We went first thing in the morning but by lunchtime there were quite a lot of people there so I do wonder just how peaceful it can be in summer as there are 14,000 visitors per annum. I guess it is tranquil in the religious community when the tourists have gone. It’s a lovely spot with lots of history and archaeology.
In the footsteps of: Mendelssohn
Sadly I do not have the technological knowhow to attach to this blog an audio of the Hebrides overture, but our trip to Staffa to look at Fingal’s Cave explained why Felix felt moved to compose. It’s spectacular. Bizarrely, Mendelssohn described it as “odious” but then he thought “the Highlands brew nothing but whisky, fog and foul weather” and he was seasick!
For us the sea was smooth and the sun shone warmly. The voyage from Mull took only 30 minutes. We saw seals and puffins on the way. The water was beautifully turquoise, but freezing cold. I would like to go back at a warmer time of year to swim into the cave, where the water is green and the geology amazing (how about it, Tish?). Fingal’s Cave is said the be the other end of the Giant’s Causeway from Northern Ireland, where some of us went to climb a few years ago. Those basalt columns are very steep!
We finished a fabulous day by dining at the Ninth Wave, a restaurant a couple of miles from the B&B. Highly recommended, this could be a top place in London or Sydney but it is tiny (only 16 covers) and owned by a local fisherman who supplies the food from his boat and land, as well as being the waiter, and his wife, a Canadian chef. The service could not have been better and the food was wonderful: crab, lobster, etc., etc. We were there for three hours over four courses and coffee. Do go.