Tobermory, Duart, Iona, Oban

Aug 16, 2018 - Lord of the Glens

Sharp showers alternated with bright sunshine today, creating multiple rainbows. A full arc of color spread over Tobermory as we sailed off toward Craignure. At Craignure, we disembarked and went by coach to Duart Castle, where a horizontal rainbow skimmed over the sea. Other rainbows appeared throughout the day—a photographer’s delight.

Duart Castle is a big block of a building set on the coast of Mull. Originally constructed in the mid-13th century, the castle fell to ruins after the Macleans lost it paying off debts in the 17th century. The Macleans bought back the castle and restored it beginning in the early 1900s. The castle now functions as both a museum and a residence, with exhibits and displays for visitors. As rain fell, we took a tour, walking up and down spiraling staircases, exploring rooms refurbished and decorated to provide the atmosphere of an old clan castle. Then the sun came out, and we strolled the grounds down to the shore, with rainbows in sight the whole way.

After lunch, we were off to Iona. We crossed Mull by bus, with delightful and informative commentary by our bus driver, Sheila. By a short ferry ride, we crossed over to Iona. St. Columba arrived on Iona from Ireland in 563 AD, establishing a monastery and starting a spiritual tradition that has continued down through the centuries. From Iona, St. Columba and others spread Celtic Christianity across the pagan Pictish country that we now know as Scotland. Today, the island holds the ruins of an Augustinian nunnery and a restored Benedictine abbey that was established around 1200 AD by the sons of Somerled, King of the Isles. Adjacent to the abbey is the king’s graveyard, where Scottish, Irish, and Norwegian kings—including Duncan, MacAlpine, and Macbeth—have been buried over the centuries. With sunshine and blue skies, we explored the island and all its history and natural beauty.

We boarded Lord of the Glens, which was waiting for us at Craignure. A blazing bright double rainbow spread across the sky as we sailed toward Oban, our berth for the night. Oban is a bustling town, a transportation hub, and known as the “Seafood Capital of Scotland.” We capped off the day with a whiskey tasting—a flavorful end to a brilliant day.

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About the Author

Robin Patten


The natural world has always been central to Robin’s life. At an early age, she was out exploring the Montana backcountry, learning natural history through experience. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in landscape ecology from Colorado State University, followed by an M.S. in Environmental Writing from the University of Montana and a Post-Graduate Diploma from Scotland’s Centre for Mountain Studies. Her studies included environmental history and cultural geography, and her work often focuses on the interactions between cultures and landscapes. Robin still lives in Montana, writing and working from a small cabin near Yellowstone National Park.

About the Photographer

Brenda Tharp

Brenda Tharp

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

For over 20 years, Brenda has used her photographs of the world to celebrate its beauty, and inspire others to protect what we have. Brenda grew up exploring the woods, lakes, and coastlines of New Jersey and New England and her family traveled regularly throughout the eastern U.S., camping, hiking, backpacking, and canoeing. She spent most of her childhood engaging with nature in some form or another and learning about animal behavior. When her father taught her some photography at 13, Brenda soon combined her love for nature with her newfound passion, and several years later her adventure began as a freelance photographer, teacher, and writer.

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