May 13, 14
On Friday morning we woke up very early. We couldn't wait for a cooked breakfast, and so just had continental. We walked to the ferry terminal and caught the 7:45 ferry to Mull. Our tour included the ferry from Oban to Mull, the Bowman bus from Craignure to Fionnphort at the far end of Mull, Gordon Boat tours out to the Islands of Staffa, Lunga and Iona. And then the bus back to the ferry back to Oban. It was to be a 12 hour day, arriving back in Oban at 7:45pm. While on the bus, we passed a herd of highland cows on the road and had to wait for them to move over. (We passed them again on the way home.)
On the ferry to Mull
passing by Duart Castle
When we arrived at the boat, the captain told us that it was too rough to land at Lunga (I was hoping to see puffins there, as well). We were supposed to have 1 hour on Staffa, 2 hours on Lunga and 2 hours on Iona. Since we couldn't go to Lunga, the captain offered to let us stay on Staffa for 4 hours and then come back and pick us up and take us to Iona. Most people were just taking the 1 hour trip to Staffa, but there were 4 others who had also booked to go to Lunga and we all decided to stay 4 hours on Staffa.
The captain said that there were puffins at Staffa as well, that they were on the water but if we went to the end of the island and just sat down and waited, they would come onto land. We did that, but they never did come out of the water.
We were glad to stay on Staffa for longer than the 1 hour, but found that 4 hours was a bit too long. It was rough landing and then the boat had to pull away from the jetty in case another boat came along. He anchored out for the hour and then picked up the first group of people and took them back to Mull.
When we were let off the boat it was right near Fingal's Cave. The cave is quite unique. The volcanic rock that forms it, is in the shape of hexagonal pillars. It is the same rock that forms the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. We had to walk along the pillars to enter the cave. Mike dropped his lens cap while we were in there.
Then we walked along the top of the island. We got rained on about 4 times while we were on this island. There isn't any shelter except for the cave, and we were on the other side of the island whenever it rained. It would be sunny, then a rain cloud would come along and then sunny again. We had our umbrellas with us.
The boat was late picking us up because they ended up with a rope in the propeller when picking up the first group. They had to fix it before coming to get us. The captain dropped us off on Iona and said to catch the ferry across in two hours and a bus would be waiting for us.
Waiting to be picked up.
We visited the ruined nunnery and then went to the restored Abbey. Here is where all the ancient Scottish kings were buried, including Macbeth. There were some really interesting medieval tomb slabs.
There were three very old celtic crosses as well.
By this time we were very tired. It had become sunny again and windy. We went to catch the ferry back to Mull (it was only about 5 minutes journey). Then we had to wait for the bus. I took photos of sandpipers on the beach and sheep on the road while I waited. Some little lambs started playing and were really cute. I like the black faced lambs the best.
Finally the bus was ready to leave. We met the highland cows again and also a herd of red deer were very close to the road. It was a single track road, but the bus driver was quite skilled at passing oncoming traffic.
When arriving back in Oban, we decided to try the Eeusk restaurant by the harbour. I had heard good things about it on Fodor. It was quite busy and we had to wait for a table. I had king scallops in mornay sauce and Mike had halibut. It was quite good, but pricey. This was our most expensive meal. £40.40
We were extremely tired and went to bed shortly afterwards. We still had a busy day coming up.
We took a later ferry back to Mull the next morning. This time we were met at the pier by Peter Hall, the owner of Mull Wildlife Tours. We were taking an exclusive wildlife tour with him. He was extremely nice and took us around parts of Mull that we hadn't seen the day before. Unfortunately this day was drearier than the day before and it drizzled on and off. It was nice that we had his landrover to stay in while it rained. We would get out when it stopped raining.
Peter had a scope with him so that we could see animals that were a bit far away. We saw seals, red deer and lots of different birds. He took us to two different sea eagle nests where there were babies. The nests were quite a distance away and it was against the law to get any closer. I was able to get some photos with my 80-400mm lens. They aren't the greatest, but better than nothing. There are only about 8 pairs of sea eagles in Scotland, so we were lucky to see two pairs.
Peter made a list of all the animals we saw and sent it to me in an email. It was an enjoyable day.
When back in Oban, we just got take-away fish & chips to counterbalance the expensive meal the night before. We spent our last night in Oban. The weather didn't really improve and we were too tired to walk around town. I guess I didn't leave enough down time, even though Mike didn't have to drive these past two days.