Jun 20, 2018 - Lord of the Glens
We sailed early from Inverie on the mainland, in calm waters and light airs for a two-hour passage to the Isle of Eigg, most populous of the Small Isles with over 100 inhabitants. At the turn of the nineteenth century some 500 souls lived on the island. It has always been regarded as the parent island of a group that includes Canna, Rum and Muck, with the schoolmaster and clergy (both Catholic and Protestant) based on the island. The passage enabled us to hear a presentation on Scottish nature and prepare for the onshore activities, a more strenuous hike in the direction of An Sgurr, a massive column of pitchstone, as explained by our geologist who led this activity. A gentler walk along the shoreline covered history and botany and van transport took the photographers to the Bay of Laig on the remote northwest coast. By the end of the morning the sky was blue and we were basking in warm sunshine.
Lunch-time re-positioning saw us sail past the lighthouse on the tip of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the westernmost tip on the British mainland. Along the coast of the Isle of Mull we spotted the nest of a white-tiled sea eagle on a sea stack, with a fledgling eagle about seven weeks old. Then coming in to Tobermory, the principal settlement on the island, we were given an orientation to the town’s many attractions: a museum, an aquarium, book and whisky stores, cafes and an arts centre, and a useful ATM machine. A photo walk through the town and a longer walk to the lighthouse were offered, the latter being one of the Stevenson lighthouses, built by the father and uncle of Robert Louis Stephenson, whose Kidnapped is loosely based on the island’s geography.
After dinner, we had a presentation from a representative of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, a local charitable foundation that Lindblad has been supporting this season. We were fascinated to learn of the Hebridean orca pod that has genetic links to its Antarctic cousins rather than to other north Atlantic pods and sad to hear of its declining numbers that may in large part be the result of very heavy concentrations of PCBs in their bodies, the orca being at the top of the food chain and thus uniquely vulnerable.
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