Saturday, 16 June 2018

Mull Weekend:
Day 1- 27th April 2018.
The first walk of the Biggar Ramblers spring holiday to the Isle of Mull was an afternoon forest walk at Craignure. This three mile walk in Scallastle forest was accessible from our base in the Isle of Mull hotel.
With a cuckoo calling and sunny conditions between short showers the tone was set for three lovely days.

Day 2- 28th April 2018.

 The day started well with 8 walkers led by Brian setting out from Dhiseig on the south side of Loch na Keal. Ben More with snow remaining on the north-east side was in sight and looked a challenge with its dark top. Shortly after ascending about 400 feet the group stopped to look over the loch and golden eagle flew past giving a display of gliding with the little wind. After crossing Abhainn Dhiseig the ascent steepened and the party spread out. But it was around 1;30 that the first 4 reached the summit followed by another 2. The 6 who made it enjoyed view all around the island. Distant locations that were identified included the Cuillins of Skye and Rum, the Etive hills, Paps of Jura as well as the local islands of Staffa, and the Treshnish Isles. The return was by the same route.

The rest of the group enjoyed 2 nice walks in the vicinity of Tobermory. In the morning, in lovely sunshine, the party headed along the coastal path to Aros Park, with excellent views over the colourful town and harbour. The walk circled Lochan a Ghurrabain before descending to the pier, an excellent viewpoint for photographers. After lunch at Tobermory, the party walked to the lighthouse, with stunning views across the water. Rhum and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula could be seen amongst other places.

Day 3- 29th April 2018
We set off in sunny weather, but with a slight threat of rain, from Lochbuie old post office. Actually it hasn't been a post office for some time- however in 2012 it reopened as a small shop with an honesty system for payment. However it was decided that we should start walking as soon as possible, so no coffees to start ( though our leader, Jason, managed to snaffle a shortbread while no one was looking). The start of the walk took us along a track along the coast, and very shortly the first sight of the trip was St. Kilda's church. All fourteen of us crammed into the church to look around - an early Christian cross can be seen in the porch. After this, we continued along the track which eventually became a well-worn path taking us to Moy Castle - built in the 15th century by the Macleans, this is a ruin, and the internal structure is closed to the public for obvious reasons. At this point we rejoined the track again which took us around the headland with the only ( very slight) incline in the whole walk. A couple of SUVs passed us at his point, on the way to a picnic. We took the time to look at some of the coastal plants, birds ( a great northern diver in the sea, a song thrush in the tree above our heads). From a wildlife point of view the best sighting was that of a slow worm. No adders were seen, despite the warnings back at the old post office. The wind picked up a little at this point as we dropped towards the beach, and we watched the picnickers take a very troublesome goat into another field where it wouldn't endanger their lunch. Soon after this we found ourselves being followed by a braying orphan lamb; one of our party passed this on to the farmer. We were now at the mausoleum for the Lochbuie Macleans. After a quick look around the museum we decided this was a good time for lunch, and the grounds of the museum provided a good vantage point to view Loch Buie itself and the impending rainclouds.
We decided to walk back via the beach since it was slightly shorter, but also simply to vary the route, and we caught some light showers. At the castle, this time we followed a second track inland. This took us through the grounds of Lochbuie house, past some holiday cottages, and a nice stream where we stopped to watch a grey wagtail. We ended up on the small single track road that we'd driven on earlier. The reason for this detour was to see the stone circle. The guide book describes the route to the circle as " quite boggy", which , when we arrived at the gate, transpired to be an understatement. Some planks and aluminium boardwalks had been placed on the route, but many of these had sunk, or were now islands in the quagmire. Inevitably, all of us got a bit muddy, a few got very muddy, and those decided to go back and follow the tarmac to the car park. The other half of us persevered through the peat. The stone circle is in a deer-fenced field. While not exactly Stonehenge, it was an impressive group of originally nine stones, some around 2 metres high. We retraced our steps back to the road, and got even more muddy, one of our party ( who shall be nameless) getting stuck and having to be dug out - however this all adds to the fun ( sometimes at others expense!). We stamped off all the mud on the road back to the old post office, where we all had coffee and cake. The old PO does a roaring trade.