29 June 2014

Around Mull : Inlets and Islands

Chris Brock

Having travelled up to Oban from Norfolk, I was eagerly awaiting my second cruise with The Majestic Line. I met up with Ray and Carole Herbert, who I had met on my first cruise in 2013, and we had agreed to stay at the same B&B in Oban. There we met Tom, an elderly gentleman who was a veteran of Majestic Line cruises. He would be on the same cruise as ourselves. In the evening we ate at EE Usk, a highly rated local fish food restaurant on the quayside, and could see the Glen Tarsan and Massan at anchor.

On the Saturday morning we went into Oban, and by now the The Glen Tarsan was moored on the quay. There we met our convivial captain Iain, who kindly informed us we could bring our luggage down to the quayside early and the crew would put it on board for us. Around 3pm we went down to the meeting point, and started meeting up with our fellow travellers, before transferring to the Tarsan, and having our welcome aboard toast, meeting our crew, Iain the skipper, Gavin the engineer, Stephen the bosun, and Mike the chef. We set sail, started to get to know one another, and departed for Mull via the Sound of Kerrera, heading for Loch Spelve, our first overnight stop. After we anchored, we had our canapés at 7pm followed by a delightful meal, which is a feature each evening.

On the Sunday, following breakfast, we departed for Duart Castle. We had stunning views of a Sea Eagle as we passed Grass Point, with Iain slowing the boat right up, so we got a good look. We arrived at Duart castle, and landed, spending a good couple of hours exploring. In the afternoon we set off for Tobermory, arriving in fine rain, but that did not deter us from landing and having a look around. On Monday morning we landed there again, finding a few place to explore. On our way in from the Tarsan, we passed the Shag colony in the sea wall, and had good views of these small divers. Departing Tobermory we rounded the most northerly point of Ardmore Point being treated to the pelagic Manx Shearwaters on the way, before arriving on Lunga, largest of the Treshnish Isles, around 2pm. We spent a good hour walking amongst Puffins, Razorbills and watching Fulmars nesting. This was an ideal photo stop as the Puffins were so close, that even telephoto lenses were not needed. Leaving Lunga we set sail for our first attempt at Fingal's cave on Staffa. Sadly, on this and the following attempt we couldn't get in due to the onshore seas, however, it was a great treat to see what has recently been rated as one of the 7 natural wonders of the Commonwealth (BBC Sunday 20th July). Later on the Monday we anchored off Inch Kenneth, where stayed for the evening, being treated to Otters playing on the rocks, and Highland Cattle on the fore shore.

Tuesday we landed on Inch Kenneth, the home of the Mitford family earlier in the 20th century. While we were there the sun shone as we explored the chapel and the decaying farm, before setting sail for Iona, where we landed after lunch. Some went off to explore the abbey, others went looking for Corncrakes (heard but not seen!), others just chilled! It was a beautiful sunny afternoon on an idyllic, peaceful island. As we were not being picked up until 5.30 we were able to experience the peace of Iona without the hundreds of tourist around, a stunning and beautiful island. Iain then guided the boat around to Bunessan, where we anchored, ate, at enjoyed the most perfect sunset. On the Wednesday, we moved up to the island of Gometra, where we had a short walk, explored the bothy and Thunderbox number 10, then back to the boat for lunch. In the afternoon, Iain sailed around Ulva to the ferry. Stephen and I decided to hike the six miles around Ulva. We had grand views of deer on the hill tops, and all around looking back towards Mull. We were treated to fields of Blue bells, as well as seeing how the island is being cleared of forestry to allow it back to its natural state. On Thursday we sailed for Calgary Bay, a lovely remote bay, and although the weather was not so good, we all had a great time, before sailing for our last night near Loch Aline.

The Majestic Line provides superb holidays. The crews are delightful, and can't do enough to make the stay memorable and happy. Each night Chef serves up top quality, local food, brought to us by the crew. We were also fortunate to have Tom with us, who knew so much Scottish history, and regaled us with tales of his life. For a truly relaxing holiday, the Majestic Line really knows how to do it, that's why I have already booked for 2015!

Chris Brock July 2014

 

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