A Week of Wildlife in and around Scotland

Aim of the Week: Spot Wildlife

There was no doubt what this week was going to be about – we were defo spotting some wildlife.

The trip to go see the Puffins was booked for Monday, so we left home on Friday night to leisurely make our way up to the Isle of Mull.

The easiest way to do this is to book a Ferry from Oban to Mull.

Unfortunately as I’m hopeless at planning ahead all the ferries were booked so we would have to later “wing it” with a ferry from two other ports which head to Mull.

Day 1

We pitched up on the Friday Night overlooking Lock Awe – and as it was pitch black and around 1am we couldn’t be in awe of Loch Awe until the morning.

Saturday morning was glorious – quite windy and a small chill in the air – but nevertheless grand weather for a holiday.

I spotted a handsome duck! Wildlife checklist – one tick already!

We had a quick big brekkie and then headed for lunch in Oban (yes this is rather daft as we’d eaten around 1000 calories each and Chris was desperate to stop at some fish bars he’d heard of, so we had around an hour to let our big breakfasts go down).

Oban

Oban was absolutely bustling – it was Saturday afternoon after all.  Great feel to the town.  There was a wedding going on so we got to see plenty kilts! They looked fantastic! As did the bride!

If you know Oban, we are indeed in a pub (The Corryvreckan) here taking photos.

Corryvreckan – which this pub is named after – means “cauldron of the speckled seas” or “cauldron of the plaid” from the gaelic Coire Bhreacain – read more here. Basically it is a really cool channel of water that combined with the speed of water and underwater features creates whirlpools and standing waves.  Here’s Oban lifeboat feeling the force of it.

Seafood!

Oban Harbour is chock a block with amazing seafood restaurants and bars and the smell as you walk round is immense.  We found this little place and here’s my Oysters getting prepared – and eaten.  They were delicious!

***I decided to make a little YouTube video encasing all the seafood eating.  I doubt even Nigella can make Oyster eating look attractive – but I can assure you they were sensational!***

Corran Ferry

As mentioned earlier I fudged up a bit not booking a ferry from Oban to Mull, so we needed to head to one of the other two ports on mainland Scotland that go to Mull.  These routes are Lochaline to Fishnish or Kilchoan to Tobermory.

We chose Lochaline as its closer.

To get to either of these ports we discovered we needed another Ferry just south of Fort William at Corran.

The Corran ferry took around 5 minutes to cross the Loch to get to Ardgour after about a half hour wait because it was rammed.

From getting on the ferry it was already full on stunning scenery.

We pulled into a lay by to check out the route we needed to take get to Lochaline – and let the dog have a swim in the Loch.  We stood and read the sign of how it was formed as we looked out over loch.  Then all of a sudden Chris exclaimed;

“Are those seals?”

Seals!

I dashed to the motorhome screaming like a mad woman (this is my standard reaction when there’s something to spot and I don’t have my zoom lens to hand), grabbed the binoculars and camera and sped back to where Chris was stood….we gazed through the lens….it was a seal colony of around 20 -30 seals directly in front of us – nonchalantly looking at us looking at them.

The amazing animals assumed every possible seal position as they relaxed in the water on their backs with tails in the air, lounged upside down on a pile of seaweed staring at us with their lovely whiskers and then as if by magic one upon command of me whispering over the loch gave us a jolly good lap of its island jumping every five seconds.  It was pure magic.

Here’s what I managed to snap – it deserved its own slideshow.

The Drive to Lochaline

After the shock of spotting the beautiful seals we were completely buzzing.  Over the moon delighted – honestly it just got better and better.

The drive to Lochaline from Ardgour is out of this world.

And then the enchanting deer appeared…

This day could only have gotten better with RAF action – but I had to wait until the final day for that see here.

It was spotting madness!

And we were exhausted from it all.

The rest of the day was spent in a gorgeous tranquil beer garden in Lochaline while the kids ran off their energy and we chatted away with another couple from Leeds.  It had been a great day!

Day 2

We had a little lie in after such a busy day then checked out the ferry timetable we needed to get on and made our way over to the terminal.

Unfortunately as we arrived there we watched the ferry depart to Mull because I had forgotten it was Sunday and read the Monday – Saturday timetable.  We now had a two hour wait at the terminal.  Sounds bad eh?  Nope it was gorgeous. Lovely little butty shop and great scenery.  The two hours would go very quickly.  Before we knew it it was time to go….this is my fave video yet! Enjoy xxx

Tobermory

Please click photo for Tobermory blog.  Its so pretty I gave it its own page.

After visiting Tobermory, we drove around an hour to find our pitch for the night at Ulva Ferry.

Turus Mara, who run the Puffin Trip allow Motorhomers to stay for two nights here when they are booked on a boat trip.

It was well worth it.  We had a really peaceful evening watching the sunset.  I actually fitted in a bit of sunbathing.  Chris went fishing – failed as usual – but he enjoyed it too.

Really beautiful place.

I do need to go back though because I wanted to go to the Boathouse on Ulva.

I actually want to live on Ulva – theres only six inhabitants left I believe! Ahhhhh the peace!  One day!

PUFFIN DAY!!!

This was the whole entire reason for this week.  This was the day! You do not understand how much I have wanted to spot Puffins! See attempt 1 here, and attempt 2 here….

Of course this is going to have its own very colourful beautiful page, but I will be missing out the palava we went through before we left for the boat trip at 11:40.

Unfortunately we had run out of water.  Not generally a huge problem wherever we’ve been before as we usually find a tap at a garage, or fill up on a campsite – or go to a shop.   Another unfortunate we discovered was that water on the Isle of Mull has a warning that it is not safe to drink – so even if we did find a tap, it was no good….

We decided we would have to drive to a shop – which was an hour away….an hour of mull driving is like three hours of normal driving – and in a motorhome its hardwork….put it this way – we smashed our step to the motorhome pulling into one of the many passing points.

Luckily we spotted a gentleman walking with a water can and asked him where the hose was and we managed to fill up – we still went to the shop to get drinking water anyway just in case it wasn’t safe.  It was hard work but we succeeded and arrived back at Ulva Ferry around half an hour before departing.  I threw together a picnic….and we were off.

Read all out the awesome boat trip to Treshnish Isles, Fingals Cave & Puffins by clicking on the photo of the little beauty below! x

The End of Day 3

It had been a truly memorable day, but we were a bit stumped then…it felt like the end of the holiday a bit cause we’d done everything we planned and wanted to do.

We decided to drive down to the ferry terminal and sleep down there – passing the stunning Pennygown Graveyard, we couldn’t resist a peek in.

It reminded me of the churchyard of the Wicker Man, I absolutely loved it.

Our final little bit of cool in Mull, just before the ferry, was a stag right in front of us….

We were first in the queue for the first ferry going back to the mainland in the morning.

Day 4

Day 4 ended up being a huge driving day – accidentally.  We were up and off leaving Mull at 7:30am  – as we’d slept at the ferry terminal.

Our aim was to get to the Isle of Skye which was five hours away from Lochaline and spend the last bit of the holiday there having read how gorgeous it is, but Chris had been googling so wanted to try out Applecross Pass – its one of Top Gears greatest roads.

Applecross Pass – or Bealach na Bà is a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross (Game of Thrones???) in the Scottish Highlands.

The historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%.

It boasts the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres (2,054 ft), and is the third highest road in Scotland.

So we made our way there taking in the stunning scenery along the way.

Applecross Pass

So we arrived and saw the warning.

We were in a motorhome – its not VERY large – and its not a caravan – it was decided yep lets do it and made our way to the top!

The driving isn’t that bad really theres a couple of hairpin bends, but plenty passing places on the way.  Just be considerate of others and keep tucked in.  Bikers love this road – it was full of em!

So we went up and down Applecross.  By this time I believe it was 4pm and I started getting edgy realising we’d barely been out of the motorhome all day – the kids were starting to get irritated and I wanted us to settle down.

So Chris suggested we try find the beaches nearby and camp up in one of those.  Well we ended up driving on and on and on….we went on the coastal path round to Applecross this time – which is harder driving than the pass.  Found no beach access at all.  Then arrived in Applecross to find it utterly packed.  We stopped and took a breath.

The only thing we could think to do was to drive back up to the top and set up camp there.  We made it in time for sunset – got the dogs walked – let the kids have a run and then chilled.  I snook out and grabbed some photos of it.

There was 100’s of stacked rocks which created gorgeous silhouettes in the sunset.

And this couple came and got some sunsets too – unbeknownst to them they added another element to my silhouette shots.  I loved it!

So all in all, we’d not had a massively active day – but we had seen a lot and travelled a fair way.  The kids were happy enough, the dogs had been walked.

Tomorrow would be more of an out doorsy day!

The Isle of Skye

We awoke early on Day 5 after determining we would be outside a lot and made our way to Skye.

After a seamless journey over the Skye bridge as we sung “Donald Where’s Your Troosers” (the lyric is “as I walked down from the Isle of Skye) we swiftly arrived at “The Fairy Pools”.  Once again…as this deserves its own page – but it is essentially its a magical wild swimming heaven with the bluest of blue lagoons.  The Kids and dogs loved it! Click the photo to read more.

After the day at the fairy pools we were starving and exhausted so parked up in Portree, Skyes biggest town, for some dinner.  Everywhere was so busy so we ended up at what I have discovered is Portrees 33rd out of 33 restaurants – The Prince of India.

I wont lie – I adore curry – its the food of the gods – we are from Dewsbury we know good curry.  This was phenomenal – the kids demolished it – we got free potato pakoras – the kids devoured them….it was outstanding! My only beef was they served my beer in a warm glass which broke my heart a little.  But the food was AWESOME!

So – stuffed – content – great night – we needed to find a pitch to sleep in for the night….Portree was utterly heaving everywhere so I suggested a gorgeous little layby!

We found an empty one all to ourselves – overlooking a strem – Chris spotted a stag drinking in it. BLISS……until……the dark came…..

INVASION

We were full on attacked and infiltrated by the meanest tiniest little Scottish midges!  I’d heard of them before but these were something else.  They permeated our fly screens and covered every square inch of the roof and walls.  We had no defences.  We could do nothing other than waft and wipe.  It was a horrible sticky torturous night and upon waking we discovered the damage.

Its worth noting for other travellers that Eva’s bits developed at home in the days after the holiday and looked really severe.  Lots of piriton and aloe vera cooling balm helped them clear up.  But never again will I be defenceless!!! THIS IS WAR MIDGES!!!

Day 6 – Descending

We set off almost immediately after waking from Skye to get the air wafting around the motorhome and those dastardly midges out.

Another bit of an epic drive here – believe we were on the road around 12 hours – stopping for breaks and lunches along the way of course – but it was a long haul – but at around 10pm-ish we landed at Ullswater.

Shortly after arriving we discovered that the midges had hidden in every crevice of the motorhome and came out as soon as dusk arrived and began to persecute us for another night – this one seemed worse somehow – targeted our faces a lot more.  We probably ate loads of them.

Day 7

Upon waking I quickly discovered we had stayed in Glencoyne Bay – so my morning dog walk was a treat and a half!  Absolutely gorgeous place!

After a lazy morning I eventually rounded up the troops and we drove into Ullswater for a final lunch before heading home.

We parked up and went for a delicious lunch at Granny Dowbekins in Ullswater – we were super lucky – it had just rained so we snatched the table right next to the river.  The food was absolutely delicious, the surroundings were beautiful – I gave it its own page it was that good! Thoroughly deserved! Great food – but we were stuffed and ready for home.  It was the perfect end to another great motorhoming holiday! It had been a blast.

Holiday Summary!

Sooooo what can I say that hasn’t been said….well this page itself has taken me around four weeks to produce! haha!

The 2541 words above this hopefully captures the fun we managed to cram in.

Yes, the driving can be hard sometimes – but that is family time too – pull over and have a family lunch or a walk!

The aim of the trip was to see wildlife, and i think we utterly nailed it – with much more besides.

Fantastic food, family laughs, gorgeous SCOTLAND!

It was a remarkable bucket list ticking week and one I will never forget!

Fran (&Eva) xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Frances Stoner 29 Articles
Mum of "The Traveling Family UK" - here there and everywhere - love life and living. I enjoy the odd (bucket of) wine and love trying new food. My kids drive me mad but keep me driven. My husband comes up with the ideas - I execute them - and him. Oh and my dogs....my babies forever! Love them!

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