My sister Pia came to visit me for a few days and we went on a trip to Oban, the Isle of Mull and a bit across Perthshire.
She arrived on Friday afternoon and we went for sushi at Kenji in Stockbridge. Very good sushi and reasonably priced so I can highly recommend it. It was raining since the later afternoon so we only went around Stockbridge for a bit, sat in a café and then had sushi.
We were in bed very early as we had planned to head of towards Oban via Inveraray the next morning which is quite a drive that way. And oh my god it was lashing down when we passed Glasgow. Like honestly. I felt like we were in the Noah movie just that we had no arch that saved us haha. There were huge puddles on the road and when we left Loch Lomond behind us and went onto the A83 from Arrochar towards Inveraray there were huge waterfalls coming down the hills to each side of the road. This was great to see tho! It then rained and stopped, rained and stopped so at least we were able to get out the car at the car park at the Rest and be thankful – Commemorative Stone, from where you have a great and beautiful view across Glen Croe. I generally love the drive on the A83. It does not always have to be Glen Etive or Glen Coe. They are other beautiful drives around Scotland too :). And I only discovered that one by accident when I was driving back from Oban in May. Because the road towards Tyndrum was closed that day and I had to go via Kilchurn, Inveraray and pass Loch Lomond to head East.
We then stopped at Inveraray castle. We only went into the castle and the gardens and not into the actual village. But I go there again anyways end of September so will have enough time to explore the surroundings :).
The castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell. It is beautifully located near Loch Fyne and looks like a proper fairytale castle. I found the entrance quite expensive but it was really nice insight too and I bet the gardens are stunning in spring when everything is blossom. I also saw pictures of it in winter with snow around. Looks magical!
Afterwards we drove further on passing Kilchurn at Loch Awe. But as it was raining heavily again we did not stop for the castle but drove on. We stopped at Connel instead where the Falls of Lora were in full speed that time. I don’t think I have seen them so strong before.
From Wikipedia: The Falls of Lora is a tidal race which forms at the mouth of Loch Etive when a particularly high tide runs out from the loch. They form white water rapids for two to five days either side of the spring tides.
The falls of Lora are generated when the water level in the Firth of Lorn (i.e. the open sea) drops below the level of the water in Loch Etive as the tide goes out. As the seawater in Loch Etive pours out through the narrow mouth of the loch, it passes over a rocky shelf which causes the rapids to form.
It was early afternoon when we arrived at our B&B in Oban. Billy, the host was very welcoming and gave us loads of tips. The room was also very nice. Big and bright. Pia and I have both been to Oban before so there was not much new Billy could tell us but it is always nice to have host who cares. (I mention that as it was different in our B&B on Mull).
After resting a bit we made our way into town and walked up and down the harbour. It was partly cloudy with some light rain showers so we had a nice view across the harbour towards the Isle of Kerrera and you could even see the higher mountains of Mull at the horizon.
We had a table booked at EE-USK. I always wanted to go there but I don’t feel it is a restaurant where you want to eat alone. I don’t have issues eating alone in casual pubs or restaurants but EE-USK comes across a bit more posh so I would feel strange sitting there eating by myself. It is a great restaurant though. Right at the pier with great views on the water from the big glass front windows. It is a seafood restaurant mainly even though you could get a steak too. We shared scallops and prawn filled smoked salmon parcels as a starter and head a big bowl of mussels each as a main. Best mussels I had in Scotland so far – honestly. I had some on Skye at the pub in Sligachan which were good too, and some at Loch Carron last year which were only ok compared.
Before we went back to our B&B we stopped at McCaig’s Tower. We had an amazing view across the harbour of Oban! With the sun about to go down behind Mull and some crazy clouds.
However we were in bed early again as we had to catch the ferry to Mull the next morning. Breakfast was a bit of a funny experience though. Billy had loaded the table with different cheeses (mostly different kinds of cheddar ;)), cold meat, jams, honey and so on but only croissants and sweet kind of rolls that you normally only eat with jam maybe. So he was confused when we asked if he had some toast for us :D. He did bring us some which was really nice – but it was funny that you have a table loaded of toppings for a toast or roll but then nothing to put it on really. An American couple that stayed at the place, too, joined us for breakfast and we had a little small talk about where they were heading and I gave them some tips where to go. It is funny that I am now a person giving advise on where to go in Scotland. My flatmate also asked me for recommendations and I love helping out.
We arrived way too early for our actual ferry but managed to get on the one that was just about to leave which was pretty lucky and saved us 1.5h waiting and wasting time basically.
The crossing was great as we had mainly blue sky and clear views on the coastline and other small islands. Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins or other wildlife :(. At that point we were still looking forward to our Staffa boat trip the next morning.
It was a good decision that we did not drove all the way to our B&B first which was near Fionnphort which is a 50 minute drive from Craignure where the ferry from Oban lands. We made our way up North of Mull instead. We only quickly stopped at Tobermory to take a few pictures and then headed further North taking the road towards Dervaig and Calgary beach.
Billy had told us that a lot of Scots from Mull went to Canada in early days and were settling at Hudson Bay. Funny enough I had just finished watching Frontier – the series about the fur trading in Canada at Hudson Bay. Otherwise I would not have known what he was talking about to be honest. But I learnt that Calgary in Canada is named after Calgary on Mull :).
Pia and I both loved Dervaig. It is such a little gem of a village. If I go to Mull again I definitively spent more time there.
Calgary beach was nice too and we had a little pick-nick on one of the benches there but it was pretty windy so we did not stay too long.
The road from Calgary on wards was pretty adventurous though. I could not really enjoy the views as I had to concentrate too much on driving and looking out for upcoming cars. However, the views are stunning! Next stop for us was at Eas Fors waterfall. We spent quite some time there as it is really a very nice waterfall. We then actually wanted to take the road a long the coast from Gruline to Dererach but it was closed :(.
So we had to go back via Salen and Craignure, which – looking back now – was not the worst as I think the drive through Glen More is amazing! Unfortunately at that point I was super tired from driving – especially those single roads. I’m glad it is not as busy on Mull as it is on Skye because I would have lost it completely. People are just too stupid to drive :p. What do they think the passing points are for?? And then all those caravans on the single roads… I understand people love camping but most roads in Scotland are just not made for caravans and coaches!
So I could not enjoy ghe drive as much as I would liked and we also hardly stopped as I just wanted to arrive. Which is a shame as the following days it was rainy and misty in the Glen and you could hardly see anything left and right of you. It is still beautiful but to have a bit a view would have been nice. At least we saw loooads of coos! Another factor you had to drive very carefully not to hit one! They were just wandering on the road…
Our B&B was a few miles outside of Bunessan and about 2 miles from Fionnphort in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived my first thought was literally – OMG… what have I done! 😀 As from the outside it did look wild. We were greeted by Peter who was a proper sarcast and was winding us up the whole time. I don’t mind being funny and sarcastic at all but this was a bit too much to be honest and just got a bit tiring. The room was really nice and comfortable though and we had everything needed for breakfast and they even offered canned soups, baked beans and noodles. However it was a real pity we did not meet Carol the wife at all. Like basically we haven’t seen both of them for the whole time which I found kind of strange. If I would host people in my home I would at least say Hi when I hear them coming or ask if they need anything when they are for example in the dining room. I mean everything was really nice and clean but this was just unusual for how I know it.
We went to a pub in Fionnphort for dinner and had the usual Fish ‘n’ chips. We walked around the harbour area for a bit afterwards but were both really tired so headed back very soon.
Actually we had boat tour booked to Iona and Staffa but the weather was horrendous. It was rainy and windy. Like the kind of rains that comes from all sides and it doesn’t matter if you wear rain gear – you will still get wet. So we had to cancel the boat trip and instead drove up to Tobermory again to have a some kind of civilisations ;). We had hot chocolate in the Tobermory Choc, walked around the village and little shops and visited the harbour aquarium where they catch and release fish and crabs etc after 4 weeks. That was actually quite nice and interesting.
But it just did not stop raining and we drove back to our B&B which took over 2 hours from Tobermory anyways and just chilled until dinner time. We then went to a hotel restaurant in Bunessan and left again pretty much after we had finished eating.
It still rained when we left the next morning for the ferry back to Oban. We still stopped to get some pics of the awesome landscapes of Ross of Mull.
Again we arrived earlier and got a space on an earlier ferry than booked. Actually I wanted to show my sister The Hermitage so we took the way via Killin. But we then spent quite some time in Killin. The little monkey got so excited about taking pics of the Falls of Dochart that she slipped and had one foot in the water. I am just glad I did not have to fish her out of the water… Luckily Pia was wearing her hiking boots and could just change into her sneakers back at the car.
We then drove along Loch Tay to Kenmore to have lunch at the Mains of Taymouth. They do really nice food there but the staff is a joke. Super slow, unorganised and not paying much attention. Pia had ordered Steak and Ale Pie and an Appletiser – both was out of stock… They only let us know after we already had waited for the food. So in the end we both had Macaroni Cheese which came with chips and garlic bread – complete carb overload! As a starter I had forced Pia to try Haggis Bon Bons 😉
As it was still raining and already quite late in the afternoon we made our way back to Edinburgh and did not stop at the Hermitage then. But as it was certainly not the last time Pia has visited we can still go another time.