Showing posts from July, 2017

Iona - the Christian story

Each year, hundreds of thousands of tourists and worshipers make the pilgrimage to Iona, a tiny island separated from the west coast of the Isle of Mull by a mile-wide channel. The island's religious timeline began in 563 AD, when Irish-born St Columba landed here to begin spreading Christianity across the islands and Highlands of Scotland. The saint founded a monastery on Iona before he died in the year 597, establishing the island as one of Europe's great pilgrimage destinations. The following 15 centuries have given rise to an extensive collection of chapels, carved crosses and archaeological remains, mostly close to the tourist route between the jetty and the abbey, which we've tried to make sense of below. On top of all the religious sites, Iona has some beautiful natural features which we dip into on a separate page (coming soon). Unsurprisingly then, you can't really do the island justice in a day, though most people try. At the very least, aim for a reasonably…

Lochbuie Stone Circle

You know those places that look tempting on the map, but they're so difficult to get to that you wonder whether it's worth the effort? Well, Lochbuie Stone Circle is one of them - but it's absolutely worth the journey. 8 miles on a twisting, single-track road from the nearest A-road (which is itself single track), a small sign shows where to park just before a bridge. White stones then show the way across a treacherously muddy field - wooden pallets and planks help cross the bogs, but there aren't quite enough of them so decent boots are recommended. As usual, little is known about the circle beyond what you can see: nine stones up to two metres high, with a few other standing stones scattered around the immediate area which you'll probably spot from the path. Standing in the middle of a monument thousands of years old is always an atmospheric experience though, enhanced here by the stunning setting beneath Ben Buie and (probably) complete silence on a calm day. K…

Clachandhu beach

Clachandhu beach certainly isn't the biggest beach on the Isle of Mull, and it definitely doesn't have the whitest sand. But perhaps it has the most gorgeous setting, with majestic cliffs backing the bay and views out to Inch Kenneth, Ulva and northern Mull. The island's main settlements are an hour's drive away so you're unlikely to be sharing the sand with more than a few other people. That's lucky, as there's no formal car park. The beach isn't worth the trip at high tide, but the scenic approach road from the east - hugging the base of the crags as it follows the coast - definitely still is.

Name: Clachandhu beach ★★☆☆☆
Location: B8035 at Clachandhu, G.R.: NM 453352 ///lushly.changed.nesting

Walk: Mull's Ben More (and more)

Ben More is the highest peak on the Isle of Mull - and what a peak! Sharp ridges separate at least three great coires, with a scree-girt summit standing proud in the middle of it all. One easier side (to the west) provides a popular "tourist route" to the top, but misses out on the most dramatic profiles of the hill. Instead, experienced walkers can approach by this eventful ridge route taking in Beinn Fhada and A' Chìoch on the intimidating north side of Ben More, saving the other path for the descent. Route finding higher up requires care, but stick to the easiest line and any scrambling is simpler than it looks from Beinn Fhada, at least if the ground is dry. Views are fantastic in clear weather, with the only downsides being the road walk to start (or end) the day and an energy-sapping initial ascent.

Name: Walk: Mull's Ben More (and more) ★★★★☆
Length: 14 km / 9 miles
Ascent: 1260 metres
Main summits: Beinn Fhada (702 metres, Graham); A' Chìoch (867 metres); Be…