8 October 2016

The Castles and Clans of Mull and Glencoe

John Miller and Annette McGarill

Spent a delightful 6 days on the MV Glen Massan from the 8th to 14th October. For the duration, the notoriously fickle Scottish weather decided that it was time for the sun to shine, the rain to stop and the wind to cease to blow. Seriously, I'm not making this up! With the elements in our favour, the omens were good, and so it proved, as our mini cruise was, in turn, relaxing and exciting. Both leisurely and lively. The affable crew were ably led by Martin, our Skipper, who displayed confidence, and extensive local knowledge. Robert, the bo'sun, was amiable and quietly efficient in hospitality and an expert at making napkins into fantastical shapes! Darren, the engineer, was cheerful, helpful on embarking and disembarking the vessel and wildly enthusiastic about matters relating to the boat's workings and all things mechanical! Last but not least, Michael, our Chef, in his tiny galley kitchen, carefully prepared and then presented beautifully, outstanding classic dishes to rival any top restaurant, whilst finding the time to include a few Scottish favourites (Stovies, among them!). Although each day's itinerary is described as flexible, it does follow a theme. In our case it was 'The Castles and Clans of Mull and Glencoe'. However, due to Castle Stalker being booked by another party on the day that we were close by, the Skipper suggested that as the weather and sailing conditions were favourable, he would be prepared to venture further out to Iona and Staffa, if we agreed. This was an unexpected bonus and was enthusiastically accepted by all passengers. We also took in Gometra, Ulva and various points on Mull including, of course, Tobermory! Some people considering such a holiday might have some misgivings about using the boat's small tender, but we managed to get ashore and back on board on every occasion without any undue fuss or mishap. The whole experience, including my sampling of a different malt whisky every night before dinner, was wonderful. We also managed to get a glimpse of some of the local wildlife, e.g. sea eagles, seals, herons, stags and otters. Unfortunately, no porpoises or dolphins put in an appearance on this trip (at least, not through our binoculars!) However, there were more than a few highlights. The undoubted climax for us was our visit to Staffa, not just the waters around the island but being afforded the opportunity to actually set foot on this tiny magical island and enter 'Fingal's Cave' itself'! I still find myself humming Mendelssohn's masterpiece every time I think of our visit! All in all, this was a terrific way to spend a week in October. Thanks to all the on-board crew, not forgetting Ali in the office, for a truly memorable holiday! John and Annette, Glasgow

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