After the previous days adventures at sea, I was pretty keen to keep my feet on dry land and set out for a day of hiking and exploring. I had kipped in Oban for the night but wanted to see more of the Isle of Mull than I had the previous day. So after triple checking that I had put my camera battery into my camera, I packed my bags and once again jumped aboard the Calmac ferry to Craignure.
Having my beloved Olympus OM-D E-M1 fully charged and good to go made me extra happy and resulted in some lovely shots of Oban as the ferry left the port.
Oban is one of those small little towns that looks beautiful from within, but looks even better from the outside.
The Calmac ferry from Oban to Craignure is a comfortable 50-55 minute journey and is wonderfully scenic. There are several shops on the ferry to buy snacks from and at £3.45 each way, it’s a decently priced way to get between isles!
As we neared Craignure I began to get a better look at the beautiful Isle of Mull. I knew from a bit of light research prior to arriving in Oban that the castle I could see was Duart Castle – one of the bajillion* castles in Scotland.
*Bajillion may be a slight exaggeration
Once we had arrived in Craignure ferry port, I hit the ground running to drop off my backpack at the nearby Craignure Bunkhouse and get exploring!
The Craignure Bunkhouse is the only hostel in Craignure and is pretty wonderful. Comfy beds, light and airy dorms, reliable wifi, helpful owners and an extremely well stocked kitchen make it a very comfortable place to rest your head for a night or two. At £20 a night the cost is a little steep, but pretty standard for Scotland.
After dropping my backpack on my bunk, donning my hiking boots and filling up my water bottle; it was time to hit the road!
I decided to take the route leading to Duart Castle. There is a regular bus that runs between Craignure and the castle, but I was in the mood to hike, so hiking was what I did!
There are mostly single lane roads on the Isle of Mull, so if drivers meet whilst headed in opposite direction, then one needs to do a courteous reversal to allow the other driver to pass. I worried that by walking along the road that I would get in the way, but as it turns out, it’s a pretty quiet isle and there aren’t too many drivers!
In the six hours I spent hiking on this day – only 11 cars ever came past me! What is even better is that of these 11 cars, 6 of them stopped to offer me a lift. I have said it before and I will say it again – I love the Scots!
This was my third visit to Scotland and I was expecting it to be pouring with rain – like normal. However it had remained completely dry and at this point I was becoming suspicious that I was in the middle of the calm before the storm!
Just as I was close to certain that soon I would be drenched to the bone with Scottish rain, lo and behold – the sun came out!
Not only that – I soon became too hot and had to take off my jumper and hike in just a singlet! I am not exaggerating when I say that I thought I had either entered The Twilight Zone, or that I had mistakenly boarded the wrong plane and somehow ended up in a tropical forest.
While I was excited by this clear weather – I was also secretly hoping to get assaulted with a heavy downpour! That is after all, what I had come to know, expect and love about Scotland.
Despite my not so subtle attempt at a rain dance (thank god none of the 11 cars saw the travesty that is me dancing) the sun had come out and it had decided it was gonna stay put and shine for a little while.
After another hour of exploring and soaking up some vitamin D, the clouds reappeared and the day became gloriously overcast.
Then to make things even better – I spotted some gorgeous highland cows!
When I eventually made it to Duart Castle I had myself a little picnic in the castle gardens and took in some gorgeous views of the castle grounds. While it may seem strange that I spent all this time hiking to a castle that I had no intention of entering, to me it seemed perfectly normal. I have seen a gazillion** Scottish castles and have always found myself more excited by the view of the outside than the inside.
**Gazillion may be an slight overstatement
Then it was time for the journey all the way back to Craignure where the pub next door to the bunkhouse serves a cracking good haggis and pulls a mean pint.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Oban: Scotrail run several trips per day from Glasgow
Getting to Craignure: Calmac ferries go from Oban to Craignure several times daily
Craignure Bunkhouse: Costs £20 per night – click here for more information and to book
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm M.Zuiko Pro Lens
Remember: To expect the unexpected in Scotland!