Sketches from the stunning Isle of Mull
Our holiday, walking and sketching. Using watercolours mostly, but also working with pencils & a graphite stick.
Using a new watercolour pad for me – Aquarelle by Clairefontaine 140lb, 24 x 30 cm. Which proved to be a very nice paper to paint on. My other smaller sketchbook was my more usual A5 Daler Rowney cartridge pad.
Watercolour sketch, started lightly first with pencil ~ A4. Of the beautiful views from Ulva, out across Geasgill Mór, Inch Kenneth to Gribun on Mull.
I found this to be a very relaxing peaceful spot, looking out over the sea. I finished the painting off later, as I ran out of time.
We crossed ‘Over the Sea to Mull’, piped with the lament of the car alarms going off on the ferry. Arrived at Kate’s Cottage, at Aros Bridge – slightly chilly. Then cooked up some curry and lit the fire and started to feel warm. The Cottage is very quiet and comfortable, with a little flock of chickens who live in the garden. They would sit on the window sill looking in at us. It’s lovely to be here!
Woke to wind and rain (Force 5 gusting 7), so had a leisurely breakfast before driving into Tobermory. The fine views along the road were sadly mostly obscured. Once there, we dropped into the Aquarium. Here our little lad was able to handle starfish, crabs, scallops, sea urchins, etc. Which he thought was truly wonderful!
Everything was soggy in Tobermory, with lots of Musto sailing gear with bright yellow rain hoods in evidence. All of the burns and waterfalls were thundering with the rain.
Back at Kate’s Cottage the rain finally stopped while we were eating our dinner of sausages. So we ended the day with a lovely evening walk to Port an Tobire and Aros Castle from Aros Bridge. Along the way, we saw several Greylag Geese, Herons, Oystercatcher’s and Kittiwake’s.
Greyer start to the day than we had hoped. We set out for the ferry to the island of Ulva. Stopping on the way to check if any Eagles were sat at the spot we had a tip-off for. Which is along the side of Loch na Keal, sadly there were none to be seen. Once on the island, we purchased our ferry tickets from the cafe (The Boathouse) and set off for a stroll.
We had picked the ‘Livingstone Route’ of Stanley Livingstone fame. (His grandparents had lived in a little croft at Port á Bháta.) So off we set winding through the paths. By now the sun had come out, but with a little wind. Which is good as far as I’m concerned as it keeps the midges at bay!
Our route went through a surprising amount of woodland, which must be sheltered on this eastern part of the island. We also came across many little painted pebbles that had been left/hidden for children (and us!) to find.
We continued over the moors and down a little path. Into a steeply wooded valley to the ruined village of Port á Bháta, stopping for lunch and a sketch (see the featured sketch above).
Moving around the coast eastwards we found the cave where an archaeological dig has been undertaken. Here Mesolithic remains were found. The cave is quite large, set into the hillside and is reputed to have been dated back to 5650 BC. Midden finds include the remains of flint and a human infant. As well as animal bones belonging to the Ice Age (Lemming and Arctic fox).
Standing looking out through the entrance we wondered about that ancient landscape that our human ancestors would have looked on. Where would the sea level have been? And what was that cold, ice age horizon like that they would have looked upon?
After these heady thoughts, we carried on, up and down, past basalt cliff columns back to the jetty. Finishing with a well-earned cuppa at ‘The Boathouse’.
We all agreed that Ulva was a smashing island and definitely one to come back to. The walks were all very well signposted too, with no worries about navigation.
On the way back those elusive eagles were still not perched on their tree! The rotters!
We arrived at Fionnphort at lunchtime, along with everyone else – coaches, cars, and bikes. So it was with many others that we walked along the Ionian road to the Abbey. Oddly though, most people headed straight on past. So it was with some relief that we found a quiet spot in the Abbey garden to sit, contemplate and eat our sandwiches.
The Abbey is an amazing place, with an amazing history. Having been found in 563 by St Columba and been restored from dereliction by the Ionian Community in modern times.
After the Abbey, we crossed the island as I wanted to do some sketching in the bay of Camas Cuil an t-Saimh. Again this was in watercolours on a quick pencil drawing. I had also wanted to get down to the Bay of the Curaich’s but alas, we had run out of time!
After some Fish & Chips at Salen back on Mull, we headed back over to Loch na Keal to watch the sun slipping down over the water. Another Golden Eagle flew over us and it seemed like a perfect way to finish off the day.
Rudha nan Gall Lighthouse
On our way back we had a very windy walk up and around ‘S Airde Beinn, a classic extinct volcano. With a loch in its crater, we had been here before and it’s always impressive. It has stunning views of the North of Mull, Coll, Tiree, Ardnamurchan and beyond to Rhum and Skye, which just looked like rows of mountains without any sea between them!
It was the usual lunch and sketching situation sat outside Duart Castle in the sun. This time though I wanted to show the brooding, rugged character of Duart Castle. Which sits on its promontory guarding the eastern Sound of Mull. This time I used a Graphite Stick with just a little wash of blue and burnt sienna watercolour sky.
Not too many people here today, which was nice for us, but probably the Castle would have liked more.
The Castle has massively thick walls and hugely heavy roofing slates to try and keep out the wind, rain and in times past other fellow Scots. Though they seemed to be having to re-double their efforts to keep out the weather. As there was scaffolding up to replace the mortar between the stones. The huge walls were leaking! (I chose not to add the scaffolding to my drawing.)
So ends our Mull Odessey. We had rain, driving back all the way home – Mull might have been a bit soggy again after we left.
Lastly, one final very quick A5 sketch as we drove past Loch Lomond in the mist and rain. This time using a black watercolour pencil.There are some spots on it from the raindrops.
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