- Mull and the Puffins -
It is not difficult to assume from the headline that this journey is first of all dedicated to the puffins.
The Trip to the Isle of Puffins
After a calm journey we reached Newcastle.
The check-in and the start from Amsterdam/Ijmuiden went fine like every year.
We do not tarry and across the Scottish Border...
...a short stop - like always...
... we continue our way to Perth...
... down the Trossachs.
In June the mountaintops are actually still covered with snow.
Like last time in Oban, we stop at the Failte-B&B.
Dunollie Castle – closed since 4.00 p.m., what a pity.
Beside the grand view we enjoy an excellent breakfast at the Failte.
Now the time has come – we’re going to Mull to face the puffins!
We haven’t the least idea that very soon and much too early we shall be back here.
Passing the lighthouse of Lismore...
.. we come to Craignure.
Follows the unbeatable highlight of our journey: the tour to Lunga. Lunga is an island of the Treshnish Isles, an uninhabited group of isles belonging to the Inner Hebrides..
Once a year the puffins return from sea to breed. Lunga is one of their hatcheries. This tiny island can be approached by boat via Ulva on the short tour or from Fionnphort.
As we have rented a cottage near Bunessan, we are starting from Fionnphort, booking online..
Less than one hundred locals, one grocery, one camping ground and fishery.
Opposite Iona can be made out.
Close to the port is a wonderful beach...
...…now and then a little traffic...
... and fishing.
At last, there comes the boat to take us to the puffins on Lunga.
Of course the small boat is the one...
Some people prefer to stay in the cabin because of drizzle rain...
... but we are sure: the weather will change soon.
Docking is somewhat special...
The ship will wait for our return.
Time to explore this island!
Lunga - A Vulkanic Island
Lunga, of volcanic origin. Sometime this island was inhabited. Somewhere around here the remains of a settlement are said to be, remains of a blockhouse, deserted in 1857. Today the puffins are living here.
They are not penguins – actually they are plumed black and white…..
and walk as erect as the tailcoat-wearers...
...but their beaks remind rather of parrots..
Due to that they have been nicknamed „sea-parrots“.
They can be found in the Northern Atlantic as well as in the western Artic Ocean.
Puffins are breeding in burrows and on cliff
They prefer fish, crabs, and molluscs.
Cats and ermines are their enemies.
The birds reach an age of up to 30 years.
They can reach a flying speed of 40 km/h and reach a height of 30 cm.
Down to 60 metres such a bird can dive under water.
A puffin may hold in its beak a lot of fishes at the same time…
…some are said to make it 50.
It is the official bird of Canadian Counties of Newfoundland and Labrador.
During winter the beak gets a grey-brown colour.
In parts it’s a little steep here. ...
For the time being the puffin is ranking as of last concern.
The population in Europe is estimated to more than 7 million pairs.
However, the population is varying at lot.
Increased mortality of the adult birds during wintering on the high sea
seems to be the reason.
Both partners have an equal share in breeding and feeding.
'Nothing but' a cormorant…
The food is presented to the nestling…
…or dropped into the nesting hole.
Depending on the feeding the fledglings leave the nest after 35 to 55 days.
One clutch holds but one egg, the breeding time comes up to 38 days.
At night young puffins ‚train‘ how to fly before setting out to sea.
As soon as the sea is reached, the young birds swim out on their own.
They do no return to the colony.
The adults however do return to the colony for 2-3 weeks.
You may approach the puffins and their breeding holes.
Only if you come too close to the nests, they will attack.
Birds banded in northern Scotland were mostly found in the northern Atlantic and the North Sea.
Birds from Iceland however are only found at the coasts of Newfoundland.
What a pity that after two hours we have to go back…
In the distance the boat is already waiting for us to take us to Staffa, the 'Island of Columns'.
The 'Island of Columns'
A cable at the oar is ruptured – the start is delayed.
Somewhat whistfully we say farewell to Lunga and the cute puffins.
Soon Staffa comes into sight – the 'Island of Columns'.
Here Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is said to have been inspired to his Hebrides-Overture...
He especially had liked ‚Fingal's Cave'. We are waiting eagerly.
In the end we have to change the boat and the former one is sent to repair.
Fascinating – hexagonal basalt columns of solidified lava all over the place...
...created by a gigantic subsurface explosion about 60 million years ago.
Also here puffins can be found, but first of all we are here because of ‚Fingal's Cave -
80 metres long and 10 metres wide, named after the mythological Celtic hero Fingal.
It is hardly credible that all this is natural.
The ceiling, gleaming greenish, seems to be made of mirrors...
The cheerful boatman tells us that once a rich American made a present of this island...
... to his wife. She however was not very happy with it and made a present...
... of Staffa to the Scots, or to be exact to the Trust for Scotland.
In the background the islands of Gometra and Ulva can be made out.
Only further up you can see and realize what a fantastic basalt-creation this is.
Take care, there is no railing!
Down yonder the boat is waiting for us. Back we go.
Soon Fionnphort is in sight again.
'O no, not another castle’, I thought when we approached the Isle of Mull. A short way after the lighthouse of Lismore Duart Castle could just not be overlooked at the northern tip of the island. It wasn’t for my wife anyhow and so she dragged me there.
Let’s say right from the start that this time it was fully worthwhile.
The Maclean Clan owns Duart Castle.
The successors of the clan take good care of it.
You notice that at once. It is far better kept than many a castle...
... in the custody of the state.
Everything looks like someone having lived in here up to yesterday...
... and down we go.
This prisoner was a shipwrecked Spaniard of the 16th century.
By the way: This is a loo.
In the middle of the 17th century the castle was deserted...
... and happily went derelict until the early 20th century.
Then the Macleans bought back the castle and had it restaurated.
Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, and Catherine Zeta-Jones shot movies here.
Over a circular staircase we reach the so called Battlement.
View without limit… and not often does it happen that you can look from one castle...
... across Duart Bay at another castle.
Somehow the lighthouse of Lismore is omnipotent.
The Trossachs, snow is lying on the peaks, further left the Ben Nevis.
The stairs are turning to the right, making it difficult for attackers to draw their weapons.
Duart Castle looks bulky but isn’t after all.
Here you can make out on what kind of rock massive the castle is built.
The neighbouring restaurant/coffee shops leaves nothing to desire.
A plain churchyard...
… and steep cliffs.
And back we go...
Now, what was it...
Right, a long time ago when we were on Ardnamurchan with the kids. We had taken the ferry and spent a day in pouring rain in Tobermory.
This time the day starts rather misty...
.. but the sun will be there soon – hopefully.
The ambiance of the scenery is splendid.
We drive along the coastal road via Salen and Craignure.
And we have no idea that soon we shall be back to these places.
Some time we leave the ‘main road’...
.. and follow a side road.
Driving slowly makes you enjoy the landscape all the more.
We are going right through the clouds...
Sometimes a sheep lazes around on the street...
... or we pass waterfalls...
.. and more than one narrow bridge.
Only when approaching Tobermory the view gets better.
At many a place we sincerely hope that there is no oncoming traffic.
Arriving at Tobermory.
The whisky distillery of course is not lacking...
Admirably colourful houses and small shops all over the place.
Here you will find handmade chocolates.
Tobermory has a population of about 750.
This boat has seen better days...
Glancing at the so called upper town.
In 1905 some bishop had this clock erected.
From 'Cafe Fish' you have a fine view on Ardnamurchan.
Here the ferry to Kilchoan/Ardnamurchan leaves.
Any number of cute shops in Main Street.
We take a look at some of the shops, then drive back to the south end of the island.
Dream Coast with Weaving Mill
By and by our time here comes to an end, thoughts wandering to the northern coast – our next stop.
However, we learned about a weaving mill and consequently set out to Ardalanish.
Sheep are our guides...
Quite a distance to the letter box...
No doubt – this is the way to the weaving mill.
First of all however down to the beach – another of these dream beaches.
Looks more dangerous than it is...
The whole beach to ourselves.
It’s rather warm and we are glad to get into the cool building.
Machines all over the place...
Interesting to see how tweed is produced.
I’d like to have taken along a sheep skin for a friend but the wool...
…comes off the Hebrides as the young woman explains to us.
She shows us all the machines which as matter of fact are still in use.
Martina listens to any number of explanations while I am paying a visit to the tea room.
At last: the coffee is ready!
There’s also a small shop – and quantities of cloth.
Then we set out to return home.
Just before we leave the Isle of Mull for the Northcoast we visit a small, hidden beach.
We leave the car at a parking lot because the path to the beach is not suitable for cars.
However, this becomes the last excursion on this journey.
Somewhere after Loch Assapol we leave the car walk down a rocky road to Scoor Beach.
Lonelyness, mobiles do not work here, no net.
A dream beach, clean sand, clean water - no one in sight.
Then our journey suddenly ends. Martina slips over a stone and her leg is broken (tibial plateau fracture).
The way back to the road appears to be endless. I get the car and hobble down to the beach.
An elderly Scotsman from Glasgow helps us. Here his hand prints can still be seen from pushing the car several times forward on the steep way back. In between he cleared away stones and opened the fences. Finally we start for the hospital in Craignure.
Thank you, helpful guy from Glasgow!
Piers, the doctor, and the nurse provide us with tea and coffee. The kind welcome is followed by a harsh verdict: either by helicopter to Paisley/Glasgow or put the leg in a cast and back to Hamburg for operation. We decide to return to Hamburg at once.
Thanks for the help and the cheering words, Piers!
Now 2 ferries had to be rebooked. A problem came up with the Mull-Oban-Ferry. Then I remembered the police station (above) in Bunessan. The policewoman there could help us. We got a transfer for the same day and a hotel room at Oban.
Thanks a lot Claire C. und sorry, and sorry that on your day off I made you jump from your afternoon nap!
We are treated preferred, get a place beside the elevator and a wheelchair.
Our thanks to the team of Caledonian MacBrayne!
At Oban Bay Hotel we are welcomed by Sharon, she had been informed by the police officer. We wish to thank her entire staff who looked after us so well.
Thank you, Sharon!
A very special thanks to DFDS for their quick assistance in rebooking the Newcastle-Amsterdam-ferry. Parking space on the car deck beside the elevator, a steward brought a wheelchair and we were booked into an accessible cabin.
Thank you, DFDS-Team in Hamburg!
SSo within three days we were back home. I certainly will not forget Margaret in Talmine and Maureen in Pitlochry. They both forsook the payment for cottage resp. B&B when they learned about the accident and that we were not able to come. See you for sure!
Unique Scotland – you hardly will find that in Germany or anywhere else.
Next year we are going to continue this journey.