Archive for April, 2010

More of Mull

So there it was – Ben More.  Also, despite a dreadful forecast for the day, it seemed the weather gods were smiling on us  – definitely the day to give the big one a go!!

Despite a promising start, ascending along a lovely burn, the initial ascent up to the snow line seemed to take forever.

But as we climbed, the views got better…..

and better…….

until finally only one last push to the snow-covered summit remained.

The weather had become a bit hazy by the time we made the top, but still gave great views out to Iona, with the faint outlines of Colonsay and Jura visible in the distance. It was only from here that we were able to appreciate the true size of Mull, and indeed why it takes about three hours to drive from one end to the other!!

Indeed, after getting the car well and truly stuck in mud whilst trying to let another car past us on the road to Calgary Bay two days before (long story, but thankfully no damage done), I started to wonder if another means of transport might be in order!

Unfortunately we were all out of Polo Mints, otherwise I think we could have made a friend for life here, as well as gaining a more suitable ride home  😉

So, after six years, and three visits, finally a day on Mull when it didn’t pour with rain for the whole time. In fact, if it hadn’t  tipped it down the following day, I might even have been converted!!

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Mull Coast

Every time we go to Mull, it rains. So much in fact, that it’s become a bit of a tradition for us. Others rave about the scenery and the wildlife, but all we’ve really seen to date is rain and midges!

So it was with some disappointment that we watched the weather forecast growing increasingly dark and foreboding as the Easter weekend approached, with warnings of constant gales, sleet, and hail. Had we not booked the ferry already, we’d probably have chickened out to be honest, but decided to make a go of it anyway – after all, rain is traditional on Mull isn’t it? 🙂

We stayed at the Shielings campsite, which is centrally located right near Craignure ferry terminal. And so, on a grey morning, we sat watching Mr CalMac sailing back and forth, and wondering if we ought to get out of bed.

It was at this point, another couple of kayakers, Pete and Mark from Northern Ireland, came and embarrassed us out of bed, and insisted on taking us for a wee paddle around the coast. This was pretty small beer for them, given their far more ambitious plans for the rest of their week, but in our case it proved to be quite a challenge, with me still trying to get to grips with Cyril (now christened the tippiest canoe in the universe), and Mrs AOL still getting used to paddling the Capella.

The conditions were not exactly extreme, as you can see from the photos, but even so, I thought twice before getting the camera out of its bag to take this quick shot as we paddled past Duart Castle.  What benefit do you get in return for all this extra twitchiness? I’m still confused, as the Sirius doesn’t even seem much faster than the Capella. Perhaps it will perform better in more extreme conditions……. but if it’s scaring me witless in a force 3 with 4″ waves, I’m not sure I really want to try it to find out!! {Update – it turns out that the original seat setup had a whole lot to do with these problems. See this post for more details!}

The highlight of the trip was an otter swimming by quite close to the kayaks, which is something I’ve not seen before, being quite new to coastal paddling. I also suffered the embarrassment of inadvertently shouting “WOW! A SEAL!!”, when we spotted this wee fellow, much to the amusement of Mark and Pete (it turns out real sea kayakers don’t take photos of seals, so this was a similar faux pas to say a birdwatcher announcing “WOW! Did you see that Chaffinch!!?” at an RSPB meeting). Still, we thought he was cute!

So, we carried on around the coast a little, just as far as ‘Brian Phort’, (mixed reception for Mrs AOL’s homemade sponge!)  before heading back to base.

The wind picked up quite considerably on the way back, resulting in no further photos being taken 😉  However, we made it back to Craignure in one piece, whereupon I relaxed at last, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and promptly capsized.

Note to self: More practice required!!

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Schiehallion has to be one of my favourite hills, particularly now that the John Muir Trust have amended the main route up so that it follows the contours of the hill better. The ascent gave some great views down onto Loch Tummel, and the mountains beyond.

Whilst to the South, a whole winter’s-worth of snow-clad peaks appeared, just begging to be climbed.

The locals were out in force too, with this pair of ptarmigan still in their winter colours,

but still managing to blend in perfectly with the surroundings when required!

The snowdrifts were still pretty deep on the way up, and the wind-chill on the top had to be experienced to be believed, but as a result, the exposed rocks at the summit had inherited an amazing variety of natural ice-sculptures:

So that’s it basically – another climb up one of my favourite mountains. Oh, and of course we didn’t descend most of the way on our bums or anything – that would have been irresponsible! 😉

But still managing to blend in perfectly with the surroundings when required!

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