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Ellie and Me - T5 travels, Scotland ... (mostly)

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Ellie and Me - T5 travels, Scotland ... (mostly)

Postby Mary » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:50 am

More of Mull (including Ben More)

(Before I move onwards, I thought I'd set out some more major Lessons Learned/adhered to:

1. We all take water for granted. I take 1 x 5 litre container, 1 x 2.5 litre container and 3 x 1 litre bottles of drinking water, but I'm ALWAYS on the lookout for fresh water. When I come home from a trip, it always strikes me just how easy it is to turn on a tap and get as much clean water as I want, but when I'm away it's one of my priorities to find it on a regular basis.

2. I don't worry much about things – I reckon I'm a pretty 'chilled' and easygoing sort of person, but I do have two other concerns/priorities when I'm away: fuel (you never know where the next petrol station will be in the more remote areas, so I try never to let the tank drop below half full) and safety. Regarding the latter, when on campsites I generally don't lock the 'van, but if I'm wild camping I ALWAYS lock myself in at night. Let's face it, it's unlikely that a murderous villain will be wandering around such wild places, but it's better to be safe than sorry!

3. Camera. Always take it with you – you never know when a gorgeous view will reveal itself round a corner. I could have filled the camera's memory cards many times over – just had to try to judge which shots were the more interesting. On the other hand, my brain's 'memory card' holds millions of 'shots' – hahaha.

Right – back to the travels now.)

The following morning, I had the pleasure of actually meeting and speaking with the Mum and boys whose efficiency I'd admired the previous evening. Maggie and her two boys, Michal and Martin. I was amazed to discover that they had been wild camping for quite a while on several islands and were just about to head for Staffa and then home.
Wild kids are happy kids. Michal and Martin by the last campfire of their trip..png
Wild kids are happy kids. Michal and Martin by the last campfire of their trip.
Credit: Maggie Moreira

They all made a real fuss of Ellie (she liked them greatly) and Michal spent a long time getting a knot out from behind one of Ellie's ears for me. Lovely people.
Ellie being.png
Ellie being thoroughly spoilt by the boys!
Credit: Maggie Moreira

I also spent time talking to a father-son team of South African 'twitchers', who told me that they'd seen a pair of Golden Eagles further down the coast and the location of a good overnight spot near Ben More, a lovely couple of lads from the US and a couple from Devon.

Of course, Ellie had a nice walk along the beach and round to Caliach Point.
Beautiful Calgary Bay.png
Beautiful Calgary Bay

Beach art.png
Beach Art (Copyright: MF Webb – ha ha ha)

From the footpath out to Treshnish Point and Caliach Point..png
From the footpath out to Treshnish Point and Caliach Point.

I was quite late leaving the bay, but that didn't matter as I was only going a little further than Knock.

Drove slowly along, partly because the coast road (B8073) is fairly 'hairy' driving and partly because I was watching the scenery and looking out for the pair of Golden Eagles, which I saw, circling overhead!! Nowhere to stop to take photos, though :(

Just before Knock, I took a side-road to visit the Macquarie Mausoleum.
Macquarie Mausoleum.png
Macquarie Mausoleum

Lachlan Macquarie was born in 1761 on the Isle of Ulva. He later became one of the most recognisable characters of Colonial Australia and was described as 'The Father of Australia', due to his good works as Governor of New South Wales from 1810-1821.

Continuing on down the coast, I had no trouble in finding the place to overnight – an 'unofficial' carpark on the sward (or machair (in Scotland, especially the Western Isles): low-lying arable or grazing land formed near the coast by the deposition of sand and shell fragments by the wind).

There were a couple of cars already there and a short while after I'd set up a couple came down the footpath from the top of Ben More. I asked about the walk. They told me that it had taken them 5.5 hours, so no time for me to walk it that day. They advised me that the weather was looking fair for the next day. I realised I'd have to make an early start!

Sitting quietly, eating the last of the crab with rice, I became aware of animals approaching. I hastily got Ellie into the 'van and shut the door – cows with calves can sometimes be unpredictable :(
Here come the girls.png
Here come the girls!

The calves were most interested in the 'van, one rubbed itself on the front bumper whilst a second made good use of one of my wing mirrors as a scratching post!! Yikes!! The group stood around the 'van for ages, mums grooming the calves and letting them feed. Eventually, they moved off (much to my relief) and hunkered down for the night a couple of hundred metres along the road. This was a very good thing indeed, as I needed to find a 'Ladies Bush' and the fact that I couldn't leave the 'van whilst they were there made the need all the more urgent – hehehe.

Seen: A most amusing warning sign on the B8073, 'Free Range Children' and LOTS of bird-watchers.

Next day: woken at just before 07.30 by a strange sound. Looked out, but couldn't see anything. Opened the sliding window and poked my head out – it was a lamb rubbing its horns against the near-side front hub cap!! Seeing me (more likely, seeing Ellie!), it (l)ambled off.

Kettle on, I waited to see what the day would bring weather-wise.

The sun was struggling to break through the clouds, but I decided to walk up Ben More (the only 'Munroe' on Mull) anyway.
Looking down from part way up Ben More, to Ulva.png
Looking down from part way up Ben More, to Ulva

About half way up, I crested a rise and saw that the mountain had its head in cloud – no point in going any further. A pity.

On the way down, I met a few more walkers going up. One of them told me a little story, as we were discussing the terrible midges in-land.

A visitor to Scotland was in a pub, chatting to the barman about the midges. From a corner, an old farmer piped up, “I can tell you what to do about the midges!”. Intrigued, the visitor asked what that was. “Get 500 gms of sugar, add water to make a thick paste and slosh it on every part of your body,” he replied. “Will that stop them biting?” asked the tourist. “No,” said the farmer, “but it will rot their feckin' teeth!!”. (Sweet revenge, maybe? ;-) )

A little disheartened not to get to the top of Ben More, I drove to Fionnphort on the beautiful single-track road. My – but Mull certainly is a picturesque island!

A ferry ride to Iona was a MUST. It's mostly a foot-passenger ferry (with a few delivery vehicles and residents allowed to take their vehicles on it), so boarding was via a ramp resting on the slipway.

Even with the grinding noise of the ramp, the 'slooshing' of the water and the rocking of the boat, Ellie was totally chilled. She walked up the ramp as if she'd been doing it all of her life. Good girl, Ellie.
Waiting for the ferry to Iona to dock..png
Waiting for the ferry to Iona to dock.

I have to say that Iona has a very relaxing feel to it, peaceful and tranquil, despite being quite crowded with tourists.

The Isle of Iona has deep significance for Christians. In 563, Columba (yes, he of the 'footprints') and twelve companions arrived by coracle on Iona, at that time part of a colony on mainland Britain occupied by fellow Scots from his part of Ireland. For the next 34 years, Columba and his monks, from their base on Iona, pursued an active missionary 'outreach', of what has come to be known as Celtic Christianity, throughout the Western Isle and up into the north eastern parts of what is now Scotland.

I didn't have very much time on the island, but did get to see the Nunnery (ruined) and the outside of the Abbey and had a wander round Baile Mòr. There are plenty more sites to see and white sand beaches, so I will probably return at some time in the future.
The Nunnery, Iona.png
The Nunnery, Iona

The Abbey in silhouette.png
The Abbey in silhouette. But wait – 'photo-bombed' by a dragon???? Actually, on reflection, I think it might be one of those long-legged St Marks flies – hahaha.

I had a while to wait for the ferry back, so off to the local pub for a half.
The view back to Mull from the patio outside the Martyrs Bay Restaurant & Bar..png
The view back to Mull from the patio outside the Martyrs Bay Restaurant & Bar.

Back on Mull, I was wondering where to camp for the night when I noticed a small sign pointing along a narrow track, marked 'Campsite'. Quite a long track, which led to Fidden Farm Campsite.

Another beaut of a site. A huge site, with masses of space, I found a pitch overlooking the beaches – and what wonderful beaches they are!!
One of the lovely sandy beaches at Fidden..png
One of the lovely sandy beaches at Fidden.

The site is described as 'basic', but apart from the fact that there are no power or electric hook-up facilities, the rest of them are great. The shower/toilet block has recently been refurbished (to a very high standard) and all of the other usual stuff was there – washing-up area, chemical/waste disposal point, drinking water etc.

At £8.00- per night, I thought it a bargain.

I was told by other campers that it can get VERY busy during high season, with some (selfish) people setting up 'small villages' (tents, vans, cars, windbreaks, gazebos) to reserve their 'favourite spots' and leaving campervans/motorhomes/tents on-site for the whole of the summer season. Plenty of room when I was there, though :-)
Ellie doing one of the things she does best – having a 'wee nap'..png
Ellie doing one of the things she does best – having a 'wee nap'.

The tide.png
Tide nearly in and night nearly here.

A family day out.png
A family day out, gone horribly wrong! “Baaaaabara, Baaaabara – I told you the tide was coming in!!”

Seen: Otter (in the distance and gone before I could get the binoculars out for a better look) :(
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Ellie and Me - T5 travels, Scotland ... (mostly)

Postby Mary » Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:03 am

Fidden to Loch Sunart

Wow – it was windy that night!! I was woken several times by the 'van rocking and then by the 'tick, tick, tick,' of the 'fridge. The pilot light had been blown out and it was trying to re-light itself. Turned it off. In hindsight, what I should have done was to get up and put the top down, but I didn't think it would get worse. No real damage to the 'van in the morning, just a small amount of water ingress through the folding joint at the back of the pop-up roof, where the wind was hitting it with full force.

It was cold, so I had to turn the heater on for the first time in my travels. It's a diesel-powered heater and works really well. I was soon warm and toasty in the 'van. The wind was still a howler and I couldn't get the gas hob to light, so no tea (disaster!!!). I didn't know if it was because I'd run out of gas or because the wind was blowing into the hob's exhaust vent. I was quite surprised to see that none of the tents on the site had been blown away.

I spoke with a very nice girl, who had a tent pitched near to me, and she told me that the pub in Fionnphort had wifi, so off I went for a late breakfast/early lunch. Nice pub, pleasant staff, good food. I was really glad that it had rained during the night – it meant that I had the pleasure of seeing hundreds of waterfalls on the drive up to Fishnish.
Waterfalls along the beautiful A849.png
Waterfalls along the beautiful A849


Waterfalls everywhere, like shining white ribbons and threads, flecked with silver, pouring and splashing down over black or slick grey rocks. Thundering into lochans and rivers which boiled and raced and tumbled to the sea. To lush bays with an abundance of sea animals and seaweeds. Otter heaven! Fresh water for grooming, mating, raising cubs; sea water for fish and molluscs and crabs and FUN!!

There is a road sign which warns of 'Otters for the next 6 miles!', but not a one did I see :(

Ferry crossing Number 4 was Fishnish to Lochaline (short and sweet) and from the latter my route wound up through Morven to Strontian, with the weather clearing and the mountains getting higher and higher – definitely into the Highlands now.

Found a nice campsite overlooking Loch Sunart (Resipole Farm Holiday Park) - £19 for the 'van and me for the night – no charge for Ellie (the site is VERY dog-friendly, too). All the usual facilities and very helpful staff (and if you get to Reception early enough in the morning, they have freshly baked soda bread for sale (baked by a local lady - yum, yum, yum!).


The receptionist told me that they had gas bottles if I needed on, but once I'd set up both the 'fridge and the hob worked fine, so it must have been the wind earlier in the day that had stopped them both working – phew!

After the HUGE burger that I'd eaten in Fionnphort (and not having walked far), supper was just soup, bread and fruit.

Walking Ellie, I met a very helpful older couple, who told me of a nice, quite local walk and a couple of wild camping spots nearby.
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Ellie and Me - T5 travels, Scotland ... (mostly)

Postby Mary » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:53 pm

.... Whose first adventure you can read here .... HERE :mz
Plus Hooray :applause :applause More adventures from the intrepid chums :-D

After the last three 'travels', I've finally discovered the 'perfect' shower technique:
1. Remove outdoor shoes and put on flip-flops/crocs etc;
2. Walk into cubicle and place shampoo, shower gel etc. in appropriate place (i.e. IN REACH!);
3. Remove clothes, hanging them so that they are in order of whatever you put on first at the front;
4. Hang towel WITHIN REACH;
5. Shower;
6. Grab towel, dry as much as possible;
7. Dress top half;
8. Wobble about on one leg, whilst drying the other, lifted leg/foot, WITHOUT a) dangling towel on wet floor, b) falling over, c) putting foot down before inserting foot/leg in shorts/trousers, etc. (and therefore having to start again);
9. Repeat the process above for the other leg/foot;
10. Leave cubicle;
11. Grab mop etc. and clean cubicle for next person;
12. Remove flip flops/crocs and put on outdoor shoes;
13. Realise you have left shampoo, shower gel etc. in cubicle;
14. Remove outdoor shoes, put on flip flops/crocs etc.;
15. Enter cubicle;
16. Retrieve left objects;
17. As 10;
18. As 11;
19. As 12;
20. Leave shower block.

See - simple!! :wink

Before 'movin' on up' towards Mallaig, I had a chat with more 'neighbours', who had refurbished an old school on the Isle of Skye and run it as a Bed and Breakfast place. We were discussing the fact that the water in the locality was a lovely 'peaty' colour (think of weak tea) and how nice it tasted. They told me that when they ran the B&B they had a party from the US staying for a weekend. One of the guests asked, “Why is the water such a funny colour? Is it safe to drink?”. To which the host replied, “Oh yes, it's safe to drink – it's that colour because it comes with whisky pre-added!” - hehehe.

As recommended the previous evening, I took a quick trip to Kentra Bay and then the rough track to the ruins of Castle Tioram.
Castle Tioram – access via a causeway at most times, except on spring tides.png
Castle Tioram – access via a causeway at most times, except on spring tides

Here, I walked the 'Silver Walk' (6.5 km). It's described as 'exceptionally rocky and often boggy with unprotected, dangerous drops in places; the return walk over the hill is bleak and very boggy'. I can confirm that all of this is true. If you are a vertigo sufferer, as am I, it's quite 'challenging'. The trail is extremely narrow in places and a real roller-coaster, with steep stone 'steps'. Stout walking boots are a must.

However, the fear was worth it – splendid views out across Loch Moidart.
Looking out over Loch Moidart from the Silver Trail..png
Looking out over Loch Moidart from the Silver Trail.

The Silver Trail – one of the less narrow parts .png
The Silver Trail – one of the less narrow parts !!

I got a bit lost towards the end of the trail, but met a nice young Dutch couple who were in the same predicament. So, together, we forged our way ahead – EU collaboration :-)

On the way back, they took the High Road and I walked back the same way I'd come. I beat them back to the carpark :thumbsup

Back down the bumpy track and then towards Mallaig, via the 'Alternative Coastal Route' – beautiful beaches between Arisiag and Morar, but all of the sites along the road were full. Eventually, I found a carpark at the Silver Sands of Morar, where some kind soul had hacksawed off the 'No Overnight Parking' signs and there were 24-hour toilets.

A lovely walk along the glorious white sands there.
Silver Sands of Morar ('Local Hero' and 'Highlander' were filmed here)..png
Silver Sands of Morar ('Local Hero' and 'Highlander' were filmed here).

There were lots of nice people camping down on the beach and quite a few more turned up at the carpark, asking if I was going to go down for the night. Wish I'd taken a tent with me. If I had, I would have gone. A real broad spectrum of people and all ages – would have been fun.
Ellie was rather tired, after the strenuous walk near Castle Tioram, plus a long walk on the beach..png
Ellie was rather tired, after the strenuous walk near Castle Tioram, plus a long walk on the beach.

Seen: Lots of (screeching) herons, kingfisher (?), sheep warning signs that had been altered with black marker into rhino warning signs :-), seaplane

The following morning, I woke and suddenly thought, “It's time to go home!!”. It was a strong feeling and quite surprised me.

Packed up and headed for home, via cousin Jan's place again.
Final ferry journey, the Corran Ferry.png
Final ferry journey, the Corran Ferry

Whilst back at Fletchertown, I helped out at the 'dig' at Holme Cultram (not digging for me – I was in charge of washing tile faragments, bones etc.).

The West Cumbria Archaeological Society (WCAS) had found three large, almost complete, medieval jugs/pot a few days before I got there, and Jan was in charge of putting them back together.
One of three medieval jugs/pots found at the latest (and probably last) dig at Holm Cultram.

WCAS has a Facebook page and welcomes new members, especially those who are willing to volunteer to 'dig'!!

https://www.facebook.com/West-Cumbria-A ... 5/?fref=ts
The 'soggy end' of archaeology – but a very interesting trench in which, eventually, the remains of a stone jetty and wooden pilings were found. .png
The 'soggy end' of archaeology – but a very interesting trench in which, eventually, the remains of a stone jetty and wooden pilings were found.

So – back home and journey's end. There is still so much more for me to explore on the West Coast of Scotland and I'm very much looking forward to returning next year (I'm hoping to do some 'island-hopping').

But … my NEXT 'travel' starts very soon.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading :-D

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