We drove into Scotland and took the beautiful Glen Coe road north with its high imposing hills closing down to the valley floor. A (very) slight knowledge of the history of the area added to drama of the scene. Loch followed loch as we headed to Oban to catch the ferry to Mull.
The highlight of our visit to the island was a boat trip out to another island – Staffa. We went to see the intriguing vertical basalt columns that form the tiny island and the deep sea cave (Fingal's Cave) which is supposed to have inspired Mendelssohn's Hebrides overture. The highlight for me though was the hundreds of puffins that wheeled around, landing only a couple of metres from us. They are quite small and fall prey to large gulls so the presence of people close by provides protection.
We also had an interesting if rather brief visit to Iona. The church is lovely and quite evocative. It was not hard to imagine life there in the 6th century and it remains a very peaceful and contemplative place in a beautiful setting.
Going through Castle Duart on Mull gave us something to compare with a later visit to the the Skye Museum of Island Life. The museum is a series of preserved buildings that made up a typical croft, and the crofters house itself was lived in until the late 1950s. While I would not say that the laird lived in great comfort in his castle, it certainly felt luxurious in comparison. One of my great grandparents came from the Shetlands and her life there must certainly have involved eking out an existence on such a croft – all hard work and freezing cold.
Our fine weather finally broke and we enjoyed a blustery walk to the Neist Lighthouse on a mostly rainy day on Skye. The buildings are far from beautiful but the vertical cliffs are very dramatic and it was worth braving the elements to wander around the cape.