Archive for the ‘Tobermory’ Category

Calgary Beach

On the third day of the tour we spent the morning journeying around the north end of Mull visiting Dervaig and Calgary, before returning to Tobermory for an afternoon of free time in the village. This was another good day with a couple of stops during the morning, and once again the weather was very kind – not especially warm, but clear skies.

As on the day before, the morning was spent driving along single-track roads around the north of Mull; and as before the scenery was spectacular. Our first stop was to see some standing stones at Kilmore, just above the small settlement of Dervaig where we spent about 15 minutes. Then it was on to Dervaig village where we looked at Kilmore Church. The main points of interest here seem to be the stained glass windows which date from 1910. One of these has apparently caused some controversy. It shows a figure presumed to be Jesus (he has a halo and a cross) hand-in-hand with an obviously pregnant woman (halo-less) who, thanks to the text below the image, is presumed to be Mary Magdalene. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this window – either I missed the significance of it, or perhaps it I just couldn’t get a good-enough shot of it. But I have an image (below) of another of the windows.

Then it was on to the highlights of the morning, Calgary. There’s no settlement here except for one or two houses, but there is a magnificent white-sand beach, and, just inland, an arts centre: Calgary Art in Nature. There’s also a cafe associated with it, thankfully….

We spent well over an hour in the area, what with a cup of tea, doing a woodland walk, and wandering along the beach. The tea (and, IIRC, a piece of cake) was excellent, but even better were the next two activities. One of the arts centre’s main features is a woodland walk, along which are placed various carvings, sculptures, playful buildings and other landscape features. It’s all quite extraordinary and very beautiful – or at least it was that day, with the sun shining. We did part of the walk and loved it. Then it was down to the beach, which has to be one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been on. Some of the time we strolled along it and some of the time we just stood there and took in the sand, the sea, the sky and the surrounding landscape. It was very peaceful and relaxing.

And after that it was back into the mini-coach for the drive back to Tobermory for our free afternoon. I’ve written about Tobermory in a previous post.

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Wobbly iPhone panorama of Tobermory harbour

We spent all three nights of this year’s tour in Tobermory, staying at a B&B in the village. We also had a free afternoon there (on day 3) which we spent exploring the village, so overall we got to know the public face of Tobermory pretty well. It’s not a huge place – the population is about 1000 – but it’s the main town on Mull (the only place that could be called anything like a ‘town’, in fact) so it has more service than you would normally expect in a place of that size. There’s a bank, for instance, and there are at least two cash machines, one at the bank and the other at the supermarket. (And both of them are free!)

It’s arranged in a classic horse-shoe harbour which faces out onto the Sound of Mull. In the past there were fishing boats and it was the main port for the island, but since the advent of modern ferries, new docks have been built which reduce the sailing time. The main ferry route, from Oban on the mainland, now terminates at Craignure which is about 15 miles away from Tobermory and therefore 15 miles closer to Oban. In fact, the distance from Oban to Craignure is less than half the distance to Tobermory, so Tobermory no longer has its ferry connections. Nonetheless it’s a popular leisure sailing destination, and some smaller cruise ships anchor off-shore and tender passengers into the village.

Round the harbour are the expected collection of pubs, hotels, gift shops, and sea food restaurants. Lots of the latter, and the hotel restaurants tend to specialise in fish dishes as well. There is a lonely-looking Indian restaurant on the front, and a steak house/grill restaurant tucked away just off the main street. Of course there are a number of gift shops, but also some practical shops serving the local community – there’s a co-op, for example. Off at one end of the harbour is a small distillery.

However, the main thing to know about Tobermory is that it’s practically vertical….. The harbour road and the premises along it seem to sit on a narrow shelf just in front of the sea. Behind that the land shoots up steeply, with a succession of further roads parallel to the harbour front but successively higher up the very steep hill, and connecting them to the harbour from are one or two narrow steep roads, and a couple of very steep footpaths. It’s always a worrying sign when you see a long handrail along the side of a footpath! Of course, our B&B (which was very good, btw) was right at the top of the town. After the first night’s struggle up the path immediately after we finished our meal (frequent stops to catch breath were needed), we decided that for future occasions we needed to work up to tackling the hill, so on the following two nights we walked along the harbour and back before attempting the ascent.

To be truthful, there’s not a lot in Tobermory. It’s certainly very pretty, and (as you can see from the images above and below) we were lucky with the weather during our afternoon free time there, so we were happy to wander along the harbour and back and explore. But by the end of the afternoon we felt that we’d seen everything. In poorer weather we wouldn’t have been able to do even that much of course, and in that case the choices come down to tea shops, bars or restaurants.

So I felt that Tobermory is a great destination for an afternoon – OK, a day if you add things such as a visit to the distillery – but even then you really need good weather. And that’s the one thing that really can’t be guaranteed in west Scotland.

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