Aug 15, 2018 - Lord of the Glens
During breakfast, we sailed to Eigg—one of the Small Isles—but an unfortunate wind and tide prevented us from making our planned landing there. We sailed on past Rum and Muck toward the sheltered anchorage on Tobermory, the principal settlement on the Isle of Mull—an island of the Hebrides second in size to Skye.
We navigated the open water off Ardnamurchan Point, the westernmost point on the British mainland. The lighthouse at Ardnamurchan, built by the Stevenson brothers, loomed dramatically through the mist, its distinctive Egyptian–style architectural features warning approaching vessels of a rocky coastline. The Stevenson brothers were the father and uncle of the author Robert Louis Stevenson whose novel, Kidnapped, is loosely based on the geography of the Isle of Mull. In the lee of Mull, as we approached Tobermory, we had the good fortune to see a pair of white-tailed sea eagles on the coastal cliffs.
The name Tobermory comes from the Gaelic for Mary’s Well, a feature that can still be found at one end of the bay, beside the whiskey distillery. The houses are brightly colored because the town was once used as a film set for the popular BBC children’s program, Balmory. In town, there’s a bookshop that also sells fishing tackle, an artisan bakery, a chocolate-maker, a small museum, and several hostelries—including The Mishnish, which was conveniently situated near our berthing. The town has an upper level that is largely residential, but also has a small arts center, An Tobar, and the Western Isles hotel, which holds many mementos of the Second World War. We spent time exploring the town in the afternoon and some of the group hiked along a coastal trail to inspect another of the Stevenson lighthouses.
The morning’s presentation was “The Coming of Christianity to Britain,” to prepare us for our upcoming visit to Iona. During the evening, we heard from a marine biologist working for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphins Trust which is based in Tobermory.
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