Day 119, 120. Sat, Sun, 29th & 30th July. Acharacle to Salen, Isle of Mull.
Not much to say about todays walk, it was just over 17 miles, all road walking with the most interesting bits of it along the edge of Loch Sunart. I past the Ardnamurchan distillery at Glenbeg, I went into the visitors centre and was offered a 'wee dram' but politely refused it, I can't touch the stuff !! The distillery is very new, only built in 2014 although I was told that whiskey distilling had been going on in the area illegally for many years.
Ardnamurchan point is said to be the most westerly point on the British mainland but being surrounded by so many islands and it not being entirely clear which islands are and are not connected to the main land, I'll have to take their word for it.
After studying the map, I had already planned to hop on a bus for the last part of the journey to the tiny pier at Kilchoan, the road looked risky on the map and that assumption was confirmed by the minibus driver. The narrow twisty road goes inland, up and around some big hills and for many stretches, the road surface was covered with rocks, according to the driver, rocks that are constantly slipping and falling down the mountains, often hitting cars and cyclists !!! A nice fist sized rock around the back of my head was sure to spoil my day and with my recent luck !!! The minibus trip was a good call. No sooner had we got to the pier, the small ferry was docking and the 3 cars, 2 pushbikes and me embarked for the £3.20, half hour trip over to Tobermory.
Knowing the campsite was a half hour walk, mostly up some steep hills I decided to get some food and have a pint before I headed up there, I needed to charge the battery packs I use for charging my phone, watch & torch and a pub is the ideal place to do that. I also intended to catch up on a blog or two but as I sat down at a table close to a plug socket, Australia and New Zealand were just kicking off so my homework, as always, would have to wait. I'd not sat with a pint and watched the rugby for ages !!!
As I was leaving the town at about 10pm to walk up to the campsite I noticed the Masonic Lodge but sadly I never noticed the tent pitched on the grass behind the lodge. When I returned in the morning to have a look at the lodge, I found it had been taken over for a whole month by a trader selling all sorts Himalayan clothing and clat, it was obviously his tent out back and had I seen it, I wouldn't have walked in the near dark up the mountain to the campsite !!! I'd never see a Masonic Lodge decorated like this before !!!
I sat in the sun outside a cafe in the harbour watching a couple of tall ships leaving. As I sat sipping on a mug of coffee listening to the sea cadets chanting as they were hoisting the sails I was reminded that the last time I visited Tobermory was in 1984 when I had sailed into the harbour on a 60ft sailing boat. I was a spotty 14 year old on a 3 week long school trip from my school in Germany. We had driven on a coach from Osnabruck to Rotterdam for the ferry to Hull, then to Pocklington to pick up a load of Yorkshire kids then driven up to the west coast of Scotland to spend 3 weeks on a tiny uninhabited island called Shuna. Our time was divided into four, four day blocks, canoeing & windsurfing, conservation, yachting and another block which I have never managed to remember !!! Maybe it was just loafing about and was really boring which is why is has vanished from my memory. The four days on the yacht was by far the best part and we sailed in and anchored up in Tobermory for a night. 39 years ago !!! That's scary...
I walked half way down the island of Mull and pitched up on the campsite at Salen, a fairly non eventful and boring walk, the most exciting part of the day was that the sun was shining when I arrived so I managed to hand wash my shirt, shorts and underwear and hang them out to dry... Admin completed, I nipped up the road to the Salen hotel and had a roast beef Sunday roast with a couple of pints and my week was completed on a high when the bar manager wouldn't allow me to pay for my meal. What a top bloke, he didn't have to do that. I walked back to the campsite and watched a group of young ladies going out for a swim, practicing for a charity swim they were planning to raise money for the rugby club.
I watched the sun setting until the midges became too much to bear so I headed up to my my tent, full up and content and looking forward to Monday morning. I was heading back to Oban on the mainland, my boots were completely shot and because they were falling appart my feet were always hurting, that morning one of my laces snapped so it was definitely time for a new pair...