OS Explorer map 374, Isle of Mull North & Tobermory: Ulva, Staffa & Treshinish Isles – I have not visited this map before starting this blog, but do now own the map. Visited for this post 31st March 2018.
My previous post saw the Dearest Progenitors and I in Ardnamurchan, as we made our slow way back home from our stay on Harris. It was a little before 4pm when we arrived on Mull, coming to Tobermory on the ferry from Kilchoan.
Now, I’d been to Mull before, but never to the northern part of the island, so Tobermory was new to me. It’s reasonably famous of course, mostly for its colourful houses, and indeed they were very pretty, especially from either end of the bay where they could all be seen at once.
The ferry drops you off right in the centre of the village, so we drove only a hundred yards or so before parking in a very tight space, in front of an art gallery that had a charming little sign in the window informing potential customers of the number to call “if closed and you need a painting in an emergency”.
We wandered along the seafront and went in a couple of shops – in one I bought this very map! – and had some tea before piling once more into the car to drive to our hotel.
Now, our hotel for the next two nights was not in this map, but in map 375 “Isle of Mull East”. I will therefore tell you about that in my next post. That is not the end of this post, however, because we returned to this map area the next day, the 1st April, and visited several places as we drove a circular route around the north-west of the island.
The first place we visited was the ruins of Aros Castle. I know practically nothing about it, and it was fairly small as castle ruins go, but I liked it.
Despite being just off the main A848 road, it felt very out-of-the-way – to get to it one had to go to the end of a very narrow little road, park in front of someone’s house, and walk through a couple of unsigned gates past a little playground. There were no tourist signs here, and the castle itself just had to be clambered around and into on slightly precarious paths.
Very nearby was our next stop, a Forestry Commission car park from which the plan was to do a short circular walk to see the graveyard and ruined medieval chapel of Cill and Ailein. This all went to plan, but we were surprised, walking along the track, to find that we weren’t in fact walking through forest, as the guidebook suggested we would be, but rather through rather naked-looking land, as the trees had all been recently cut down!
That is, I suppose, the perils of places in managed logging forest. In any case, we soon found the chapel – or at least, Mother Dearest and I did, because Father Dearest had taken the opportunity to wander to the nearest trees for a while.
The churchyard was indeed there. There were a large number of gravestones that had been put in after the chapel had collapsed, including some really very old ones. The chapel itself was still visible too, if only as shapes in the earth rather than any exposed stone.
From there, we drove along a little road through the interior of the island, admiring trees, sheep and hills, until we came to the coast again at Dervaig, where we stopped for a drink break in the pub.
That pub also had a marvellous old OS map of Mull in the entrance lobby – I’m not sure what the scale was (maybe about 1:100000?), but it was just right to fit the whole of Mull on one large sheet, which was pleasing. We then got back in the car and drove on.
We passed the village of Calgary, where we didn’t stop at the beach because the car park was entirely full. It looked pleasant though.
Soon afterwards, we came to a point where one could look down to the sea to the south and see across to the Ross of Mull, the long southern peninsula, but also east to Ben More / Beinn Mòr, Mull’s largest mountain, and its range.
Now, we’d only had tea in the Dervaig pub, because it was rather early for lunch yet, and the drive ahead of us had plenty of villages left on it, so we thought there’d be no problem with that. But alas, it was not to be, because as we drove along the coast, we passed only closed eating places.
We made a brief stop at a viewpoint where there was a memorial stone to a poet, with one of his poems written on it, which I can’t recall much about except that it was about car racing, and that Father Dearest particularly liked it. I haven’t had any success finding it on the internet.
After that, we came to the turning for the ferry to Ulva (a smaller island lying off Mull), and turned down it, again in search of food. There was a closed food van, but just across the water on Ulva, we could see an open pub. However, alas, the ferry was no longer running that day, and we had to give up there too, stopping only to use the toilets before we got back in the car, unsuccessful once more.
In the end, we just ended up going back to our hotel and having a snack in its tea room to keep us going until dinner, about which see my next post! I will, though, leave you with one more lovely scenery photo, of the view towards central Mull and Ben More from the road along which we were driving as we vainly sought food: