Norway was really great, but we feel drawn back to wild Scotland.
There still is a to-do list such as Cape Wrath, the most north-western point of the island. The name means "Point of Return". That's where we are going.
The crossing from Amsterdam to Newcastle was pleasant as always although the dinner buffet we liked to much no longer is what it once has been. In former times the choice was too great, today it is too small.
The first attraction of the journey is the recently opened Queens Ferry Bridge near Edinburgh. So lets cross it...
After an overnight stay in one of the most beautiful towns of Scotland, Pitlochry, the "Gate to the Highlands" we start early in the morning to the Shin Falls. We had a first rate night at Morag Cottage, comfortable beds and a great breakfast.
Now the most awesome part of Scotland is ahead of us. We pass the Cairngorms to Inverness. Behind the Dornoch Forth Bridge we have to turn left. Follows the traditional stop close to Bonar Bridge. Public toilets are rare on the route, therefore the stop.
Once more to the left behind the bridge and a short time later comes the next traditional stop at Invershin. Always queasy to walk over the grating of the bridge to the opposite end and look down. You get a great view on Carbisdale Castle which is used as youth hostel since 2011.
A short time later we reach the "Falls Of Shin Community Project".
Nothing much on here today, not even jumping trouts or the like. We are a bit excited because we do not want to be too late at our first cottage at Durness so that we can store supplies from the local supermarket.
We are reaching Lairg and for the very first time do not take my favourite route via Crask Inn and Altnaharrah to the Kyle of Tongue but once more turn left. The direction is Rhiconich. So we avoid driving around endless Loch Eribol.
Bright sunshine and we get to Cottage Transvaal in Durness.
For the 2nd part of the week the weather forecast gives no charming news, so two days later we set out to Keoldale. After 20 minutes we reach the small jetty. We are not the only ones wishing to cross but there is room enough on the ferry.
The transfer takes about 10 minutes, at the opposite side of the Kyle of Durness a small old coach is waiting for us. Not just our idea of up-to-date but somehow all people get into it and the coach starts jerkily.
We are going over rough and smooth at slow speed. The driver explains to us that that he and his company team are responsible for the condition of the streets. We can easily believe it.
We are now in a military area. This is the reason why there are no "public" roads and visiting the lighthouse of Cape Wrath is only possible this way. Well, there also is the "Cape Wrath Trail", a route of about 320 km across the Northwestern Highlands from Fort William to Cape Wrath but we wanted to take it easy today. The driver however does not make it that easy.
The coach rumbles across rock and gravel. Now and then remains of ammunition and craters can be seen as this area is used by the Royal Air Force as military training area for bombing.
Our bums are aching when finally we pass an entrance. The coach stops and we are there.
The lighthouse was built in 1828 by Robert Stevenson but first of all we peer down from the high cliffs whether any pirate ships are in view...
Anyway, this Robert Stevenson - an engineer - has nothing to do with Robert Louis Stevenson, the writer.
Neither are Vikings in sight. They are said to have returned from here to their homelands in former times - therefore the name of "Point of Return".
The lighthouse and its foghorn.
The view is gorgeous. There is a little coffeeshop and a 2-hour-stop. Then the driver of the Cape Wrath Mini Coach calls us for return.
Weather worsens, a storm is announced for the coming days. We are rumbling back.
We are glad over a short stop to take a look at the beach of Kearvaig in the distance.
Beside this there is nothing but heather and lots of puddles.
At the opposite side the Faraid Head and the beach of Balnakeil can be seen.
Seals at the Kyle of Durness...
...and arrving at the jetty.
The transfer back with the ferry - rain approaching from Cape Wrath.
What are the 'Brexit' consequences for Scotland holidays?
At the very first nothing will change as long as the English Government has not submitted any application at Brussels. As Mr. Cameron is shilly-shallying and abdicates his responsibility by resignation, the English Government is playing for time.
So let's assume that one day Great Britain is no longer an EU-member and we want to go to Scotland. Let's further assume that Scotland is not successful in trying to get rid of London by referendum and stay with the EU.
For Scotland fans like us this will mean:
- travel costs (ferry, plane) will increase
- roaming fees are not adapted to EU-standard and will increase as well
- due to the equally more expensive trips abroad the English will stay on the island and invade Scotland
- customs clearance has always been slow in England and perhaps will be the more so
- in all prices will increase on the island because with the No to EU customs and other transition levies are possible again
- ID card was always required as England never joined the Schengen-Treaty. It is hardly to be expected that visa are required
- as the currency together with the British economy will decline, the exchange rate will be favourable for us - thus at least partly making up the increased prices
Racism and animosity towards foreigners dramatically increased after the Brexit, primarily in England. For this reason we will not visit Great Britain for the time being.
Iona – the holy island of the Scots
Iona is an island of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. The biggest islands of the Inner Hebrides are Skye and Mull. Iona is one of the smaller ones. For centuries Iona represented the spiritual centre of Scotland, so we were most expectant what would await us there.
We chose the rather short tour from Fionnphort, which by the way is pronounced Finnpho'.
This time the journey was to be much easier so that we took the ferry from Fhionnphort on Mull to Iona.
To avoid the hords of tourists, we travelled on a Sunday morning with the best of weathers.
We took the route along the coast, passing neat gardens and looking out to Mull...
past St. Columba's Chapel.
Less than one kilometre and we reach Iona Abbey.
Ahead of us the cloister of Iona.
A holy well with sacred water. The legend says that the end of the world will be there when these stones, the 'Clachan Brath', the 'Prayer Stones' are completed abraded.
From this place Christendom is said to have spread across the greatest part of Scotland.
Again and again the name of Calum Cille, St. Columba, occurs.
'St. Columba's Pillow', which in the beginning was lying at his grave...
and later was taken into the abbey.
At the main entrance headsets with acoustic information can be got as audioguide. Martina takes them but I prefer to concentrate on the optic impressions.
They exist in abundance. A church with so many side rooms that one can almost go astray.
Everywhere burial places of Scotish kings like Malcolm II, Macbeth, Duncan I and many others.
Windows, pure beauties...
Here Mull can be sighted in the background.
This window shows St. Columba, who died in 597.
In the 5th century Calum Cille began to build this cloister which became the centre of Scottish Christendom.
Of course also the Vikings have been here and wreaked their customary havoc.
At the end of the 1st millenium the several times demolished cloister was abandoned.
From the base of the cloister the abbey was newly erected in the 12th century.
Afterwards the cloister passed through several Scottish clans and in the beginning of the 19th century the church was built once more.
Now and then you can find green penetrating the old walls.
A baptismal font...
...of course they hold regular services here.
1938 the ecumenical Iona Community was founded.
Iona Abbey is under the administration of the Historic Scotland Society.
A pious, almost opressive silence...
Small chapel in a side room of the main church.
All the time you find commemorative plaques along the walls.
Here were are in the cloistered courtyard.
Delicately chiselled capitals...
On this level you also find the conference area of the Iona Community...
A sculpture called 'Descend of the Spirit'. Indeed?
Beside cloister and abbey we find a small exhibition.
And that's something to look at:
The Book of Kells!
One last glance at the cloister and we proceed to Findlay's Rock, to the head of Iona.
Findlay's Rock is the northern head of Iona.
There is actually nothing special here except sheep, rocks, and beach.
It does not take us long from the abbey. Iona after all is only 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.
Soon we reach the Traigh an t-Suidhe (Beach of the Seat).
Over there is the uninhabited isle of Eilean nam Ban.
Looking out to the islands of Staffa, Little Colonsay, Gometra,
Ulva, Lunga, and also Bac Mor, a tiny island looking like a sombrero from the distance. It is also called Dutchman's Cap.
Staffa, zoomed by telephoto. Fingal's Cave can be clearly made out.
Mull, Starting the Journey
After a rough journey we reached Newcastle.
The check-in and the start from Amsterdam/Ijmuiden went fine like every year.
This always is an exciting moment.....
... a few minutes before embarkation starts...
Here we go. The forecast announced rough sea.
We gladly reach Newcastle after a stormy night.
Scotland, here we go!
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.
less than 100 people do live here,you find a grocery, a camp site and many fishing boats.
The holy Island of Iona is not far....
There are clean beaches next to the harbour....
...and some traffic every now and then...
From Fionnphort the ships to Iona, Staffa and Lunga depart.
This ship goes to Iona.
Sorting the catch of the day.
Not far from Tobermory you find a wee paradise.
First however the road gets narrower and narrower. Cycle Trail is written here...
Passing Bloody Bay, we are travelling a heavenly landscape until we reach a park.
Scotland-buffaloes bar the path, then we are there.
Glengorm Castle, beautifully situated at the Sound of Mull. Ardnamurchan in the background, the most western point of the Scottish mainland.
A park and a small coffee shop - time for a rest...
...enjoying tea, coffee, and cakes.
A stately castle, offering B&B at hefty prices.
On we go, passing the castle. We the reach a scenery....
...right away like paradise.
A trail takes out towards our destination and never the saying has been as true as here:
Here really the journey is its own reward. Including 'Charly', the young bull...
... or a sheep, apparently feeling right swell.
Highland Cattle taking a nap in the sun. In the background the Sound of Mull.
Here we are:
The Standing Stones of Glengorm.
3 well preserved rocks of about 2 meters height.
Everybody who is anybody peacefully resting and grazing.
Visitors are a rarety. The animals are most trusting.
Nevertheless: Better keep a distance from the chief bull.
A cute hair cut...
Finally we leave the wee paradise.
'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.
Beaches and Landscape
There are so many beautiful and interesting things to see on Isle of Mull.
However, here are a few stunning and interesting places.
Somewhere after Loch Assapol we leave the car and 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.
- more to follow -
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.
Page 1 of 4