Rather surprisingly, to us at least, we have discovered we love the island of Mull.
This feeling has sneaked up on us unexpectedly, catching us unprepared for such strength of emotion. On first sight it is a powerfully wild place, its unkempt rock-bound shores backed by massive mountains whose slopes turn from green to grey as the eye ascends, houses scattered about randomly, each one representing a life so different from anything we have ever known, and of course the climate which arrives salt-laden straight off the North Atlantic.
So what is is about this island that has grabbed us?
Maybe it is the untrammelled acres of untrampled wild flowers that I struggle to resist taking countless photographs of. They lie in wait beside every road and path, little splashes of blue or pink giving their all to be more technicoloured than their neighbours so as to catch the eye of a passing pollinator.
Pink is also the colour of the land out in the west where the Ross of Mull stretches its long finger towards Iona. Seen up close, a small piece of this rock is revealed as a randomly chequered patchwork of orange granite and white quartz crystals all bonded together forever by some volcanic magic. Fire and ice has shaped this land and much of the exposed rock in the deep valleys on Mull still bears the signature of long-gone glaciers which scraped and smoothed to leave crests of rounded rock peeping out from the sea of heather and grass. Even the moraines left behind by the receding ice are still visible as vegetated hillocks; it is as if the glacial thaw has only just finished.
The Island’s charms don’t stop with the land itself and the nature on it. I simply could not resist this picture of Loch Don Post Office, located not in the cottage but in the shed peeping out from the shrubbery beside it. The main A road (Mull only has one) passes close by and a bus will stop and pick up anyone brave enough to cope with the single track roads which force drivers to swerve alarmingly into the passing places when meeting another vehicle. Bus drivers on Mull must have nerves of steel.
Ben More, Mull’s highest peak, rises 966 metres from the sea although its domination of the landscape is tempered by so many other summits close by of similar stature. Mull is so replete with steep-sided summits that its roads have to make devious detours along the winding valleys the glaciers have left behind, a delight for the tourists craning their necks out of car windows but a nightmare for the drivers.
The one thing we have found to dislike here is the absence of coverage by our mobile internet provider so our leaving the island today will be our first opportunity for some days to pick up messages and update this blog. But surely this is a small price to pay when matched against the sunsets that Mull has on offer.