Jul 28, 2018 - Lord of the Glens
Mull is one of the most delightful islands of Scotland, and its main settlement of Tobermory is one of its most charming corners. Gaily painted houses cluster around the bay, and every nook has some curiosity—silversmiths and potteries to chocolate and soap makers—to intrigue the passerby. A lovely coastal walk led us through natural Scottish rain forest—hazel, birch, oak, ash and holly—to the Rubha nan Gall lighthouse built in 1857 to guide shipping safely into the Sound of Mull and Tobermory Bay. Wild flowers and flowering purple heathers greeted us at every turn, and the air was piquant with the scent of wild garlic.
Lunchtime, and Lord of the Glens slipped away from the quayside and headed out to our afternoon destination: the Isle of Eigg. Turning into the Sound of Mull, past Ardnamurchan—the westernmost point of the British mainland distinguished by another famous lighthouse—the small isles of Rum, Muck, and Eigg itself soon came into view.
This small island of less than 100 inhabitants has a fascinating history. In 1997, the remaining 65-strong population, in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Highland Council, managed to buy the island from its private owner and establish it in community ownership. Now they are developing initiatives to conserve wildlife and habitats as well as encourage new residents to return or move there to set up homes and sustainable businesses. As we disembarked, our first sight was Donna, the bagpipe-playing harbor operative, and her dog, Pibroch, who was waiting for a sausage from the galley. Our hikers, dodging rain showers, explored the moorland, woodland, and shoreline of this beautiful island—all dominated by the magnificent 1,289-foot-high ridge of pitchstone, known as the Glass Mountain, that formed 59 million years ago by rapidly cooling magma.
Bidding farewell to Eigg, we sailed onward, accompanied by flocks of Manx shearwaters, to the remote village of Inverie. Nestled deep on the banks of Loch Nevis, a sea loch rich in mackerel, the village is far from the nearest road. As the evening sun disappeared behind the mountains and darkness crept over the land, we found ourselves beckoned by the twinkling lights of the Old Forge Inn.
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