Showing posts from May, 2021

Iona to Oban

 This evening, I am reporting on yesterday's trip from the island of Iona to Oban on the Scottish mainland via Isle of Mull. These sites can all be found on the west coast of Scotland. First we caught the regular ferry from Iona to Fionnphort on Mull. Journey time is about ten minutes.At Fionnphort we collected our car as visitors to Iona are usually banned from taking private cars. Image below looks back on Iona and it's famous abbey. Small schooner is used for tourist boat trips.   The following images were taken from the thirty-five drive from Fionnphort to Craignure on the eastern side of Mull. The journey along the (single track) road took us about ninety minutes.This trip is just as impressive as the destination. Note that Mull is constructed rather like a multi-tiered wedding cake. Thick layers of basalt lava sit on top of a complicated basement of much older rocks which peep out around the edges. Mull displays a long and interesting history. The oldest rocks on Iona are

Trip to Iona

                                             Mull landscape en-route to Iona This morning, we departed our lodgings on Isle of Mull and embarked on a thirty-five mile drive to Fionnphort via a long and winding, single track road. The drive is part of the experience but opportunity for photo stops are limited due to the narrowness of the road combined with flow of traffic. Because of these features I missed the chance to photograph a herd of feral goats. However, weather conditions were excellent comprising sunshine and blue skies. After about 90 minutes we arrived at Fionnphort to connect with the ferry to Iona.Unfortunately, we were not alone and found parking extremely challenging. However, we eventually found a spot and boarded the ferry for the ten minute crossing. Visitors' cars are not usually permitterd on Iona which is just as well as road space is extremely tight.  View from Fionnphort looking towards Iona.( The village's name is the anglicised pronunciation of the gae

Scallastle Forestry Walk-Mull

                                       View across Sound of Mull to the mainland This morning, we undertook a three-mile hike along a trail through Scallastle Forest on the Isle of Mull.This entailed navigating tracks and trails, steep and rocky in places, through regenerating woodland on a hillside. Scallastle offers an atractive cascading burn (stream) and views across the Sound of Mull to the mainland opposite. This site is managed by government agency, the Forestry Commision. Historically, in common with many other such sites, Scallastle grew conifers on a mono culture basis.  However, such practices were not conducive to the local eco-system consequent upon which a more enlightened regime for managing the environment has been implemented.Emphasis is now on improving the natural woodlands by better management of wildlife and biodiversity. We encountered a wide range of native flowers including, violets, bluebells and primroses. We also saw bog cotton and thistles.Trees included bir

Abandoned village on Isle of Mull

 This morning, weather on Mull was cool and windy overlain with intermittent light rain. As the conditions were just about tolerable for hiking we undertook a roiund-trip four hour adventure along little used tracks in the S.E of the island. This entailed traversing wet moorland landscapes which actually afforded good landscape views of nearby mountains and lochs. Landscape view We noted the hundreds of acres of rolling moorland appeared to be totally devoid of farm (e.g. sheep and cattle) animals or wild animals such as deer. Note the 'tramlines' in the bottom half of following image. These appear to be remnants of 'rigg and furrow' farming methods of days past when families were allocated strips of land on a rotation basis for cultivation of crops. Gates are no barrier!       Waterlogged trail Our key 'find' of the day was abandoned or 'clearance' village in a remote spot. Mull is home to many such abandoned communities. Most of these probably relate t

Isle of Mull sites

 Highland Cow near Duart Castle Today, weather was, as predicted, characterised by persistent rain.Same conditions are on the agenda tomorrow. Owing to the weather constraints, we focused on two sites, namely Duart Castle and Eas Force Waterfall. DUART CASTLE This structure has a long association with Clan MacLean with latter tracing back to 1174. The castle was originally part of a chain of such fortifications around the Sound of Mull in the west of Scotland. It came under MacLean control in 1350 as wedding dowry settlement.It was then embellished and enlarged under the new ownership. Further structural imporovements were made in the mid 17th century. In 1691 the castle was surrendered to the Duke of Argyll (Clan Campbell). Subsequently, the castle was used as a garrison for government troops until 1751 when it was abandoned. In 1910 the castle was purchased by Sir Fitzroy MacLean, 26th chief of the clan. He then embarked on a huge project to restore the ruined building. It is evident

Northumbrian Gardens, England

This evening, I am reprising a one day tour of two important gardens which can be found in Northumberland, N.E. England Alnwick Castle This morning, we departed our Edinburgh lodgings and drove south for about two hours to our first stop at the delightful market town of Alnwick and its famous castle which in recent times has been linked with the Harry Potter phenomenon. Tour group members visited the historic castle and/or the gardens which were resplendent with a cascading waterfall. Considerable sums have been expended on developing the gardens in recent times and visitors are well rewarded with a diverse and colourful display. Specific aspects include Grand Cascade, Poison Garden, Treehouse, Roots and Shoots Garden, Cherry Orchard, Ornamental Garden, Rose Garden and Serpent Garden. Alnwick Town   Alnwick Castle Garden   Alnwick Castle Garden  Alnwick Castle Gardens  Alnwick Castle Gardens, After lunch at Alnwick Castle Garden we moved on to nearby Howick Hall , home of Earl Gr