Tuesday, 15 May 2012

journey to a western isle

WEDNESDAY - Six see sea eagles

Early start today - breakfast just after seven and another scorcher of a day.  Hard to believe the news we saw last night on telly - most of South West England deluged with floods!  We were SO lucky.

Spectacular hour and a half drive to the Ulva Ferry - skirting the edges of the lochs on empty roads.  Such incredible isolation and wilderness.  Amazing reflections off water like glass and incredible colours and shadows in the early morning sunlight.

Had to wait for some horned friends to let us pass though

At one stage we were rounding a hairy cliff path hugging the rocks on one side and a steep drop to the loch on the other.

The Ulva Ferry landing stage is so sweet and we could see the little Boathouse nestled across the loch on Ulva itself, waiting for us to venture over for lunch later in the day.

The additional interest here was that I'd been reading snippets of Johnson's and Boswell's Journey to the Western Isles about when they'd sailed over to Ulva, so I've put this into a separate post.

Click here to read my blog on Dr J's landing at Ulva.

Anyway, we weren't looking for safe passage to Ulva just yet, our quest was to travel with Martin and try to spot some sea eagles in flight over the loch.

We climed aboard the Lady Jayne and sped off between the magnificent mountains and rock formations.  More basalt columns here which have been overshadowed and forgotten with the splendour of Staffa.

and the most incredible water patterns 'cos the loch was so smooth

 like glass in fact, even reflecting the clouds

 We were no sooner out in the loch than we spotted a school of porpoises jumping and playing near the boat - incredible.  The sun was beating down (as usual!) and the sky blue.

We could see where the white tailed sea eagles were perched in the trees far away but had to wait a good hour for them to swoop down for some fish.  Meanwhile we were entertained with loads of graceful seagulls swooping around the boat, two golden eagles above the hills opposite and red deer on the ridge.

Finally the magnificent sea eagle swooped down from his eyrie and around the boat in search of the piece of fish Martin had chucked into the loch.  What a magnificent sight!  The seagulls soon chased him off though.  My pics aren't brilliant but here they are:

plucky old Jonathan Livingston in full persuit!

The run back was choppier but still incredible colours on the mountains

Back at the Ulva ferry, we signalled for the ferryman to come over and were soon taken on the 5 minute hop over to this little island.


We found a picnic table to perch on and were bowled over by the choice of fresh food at the Boathouse (click here to check it out), where they make all their own bread and pull mussels from ropes in the loch and collect oysters and prawns fresh too.  Incredible.

and I am saying nothing about this teapot!

Just sheer bliss!!

Had a meander in the sun around one side of the island to a tiny simple church designed by Thomas Telford.  Apparently when all the roads and bridges were built in Scotland he was commisioned to design churches and even some houses.

It was very utilitarian in design but so interesting to see, and Audrey gave us all some stern words for the day 

Also enjoyed the little museum in Sheila's Cottage, an old thatched croft, telling the disturbing history of the Clearances which displaced and decimated the poor all over Scotland.  If you click, this link tells you about the Mull Clearances and this one about the Clearances on Ulva.

Tearing ourselves away from Ulva and the idyll of sitting staring at the loch and mountains in the sun, we caught the ferry back to Mull and drove the most spectactular coastal route to Tobermory, past dramatic cliffs, flaggy shores, golden eagles overhead, the lovely cove of Calgary Beach - everything so beautiful and wild and harsh.  And inevitably held up by the odd herd of wilde beasties!

Dropped very suddenly down the steep hill into the captivating Tobermory with all it's painted houses huddled around the beautiful harbour.  Even the fish and chip van on the pier is a Les Routiers!

Dined at the Fish Cafe in the ferry terminal with fantastic sea food and really imaginative menu 

Spectacular drive back chasing the sunset, along the rocky lochs, herds of deer at the sides of us and another golden eagle and an owl or two.  And now the final agony, which of my 15 sunset shots to upload.  It was all so beautiful driving along and stopping in the total silence to take yet another photo.

Another perfect day with fabulous friends.

Now I need to write up our Thursday adventure cavorting by woodland streams . . .

Read all about it here

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