Scotland's West Coast is an incredibly special place but there is an extra sprinkle of magic in the archipelago of the Hebridean Islands, they have some of the best beaches to be found anywhere and there's just something about the way of life on the islands that can't be found anywhere on the mainland. The islands are sometimes a wee bit more difficult to access and this possibly adds to their appeal but last week I managed to visit two islands in one day which was quite the adventure. The islands I visited were Mull and Iona, they are probably two of the most accessible islands for a lot of people. The sailing from Oban to Craignure only takes 50 minutes and Oban has good transport links to the rest of Scotland. However, I must emphasise how important it is to book your car on the ferry well in advance to avoid disappointment, this can be easily done on Calmac's website!
I wanted to spend as much time as possible on Mull so we left super early to catch the 8.40am ferry, as the sun rose it ignited stunning shades of gold in the mist which cloaked the glens, I couldn't resist stopping for a photo or two. Early morning is definitely when the landscape is at it's bonniest.
On arriving at the ferry terminal we collected our tickets and half an hour later we were sailing out of Oban harbor, the sailing was beautiful, there was hardly a ripple on the water. I was really hoping to see whales or dolphins but I had no luck unfortunately, there were a lot of seabirds however. 50 minutes later we arrived at Craignure and I headed straight for the road to Fionnphort, I had been told this was the most beautiful part of Mull so I was very excited.
The first part of the road lead us up into a mountains, the scenery here was spectacular and it was easy to see why Mull has been Christened 'Eagle Islands' while driving through here we spotted five eagles which were souring behind me as i took this photo.
The road soon drops back down to sea level and continues along the shores of Loch Scridain until you reach Fionnphort, this part of the drive was really spectacular, it was struggling to keep my eyes on the road. This is a single track road but as long as you drive slowly and use passing places you shouldn't have any problems.
It took us one and a half hours to get to Fionnphort but we were stopping regularly so on a direct run through the drive would take about 50 minutes. Calmac have a fantastic page explaining how to get to Iona and other relevant information which is definitely worth a look. The ferry crossing to Iona takes 15 minutes, the sea is genuinely the beautiful turquoise colour you'll see in my photo below which blew us away. Most people go to Iona for the island's famous Abbey but we decided to head to the beach on the West Coast since it was such a nice day, the walk took us around 35 minutes at a quick pace but it's definitely worth the walk as here you'll find pure white sand hidden away in a wee cove looking out to turquoise seas. We spent about an hour just relaxing here before heading back to the ferry. By the time we got back to Fionnphort it was around 3.30pm so we decided to make our way back to Craignure via Salen.
The light was stunning on the drive back round Loch Scridain which made the landscape perfect for photographing so there were many stops. There are a heard of Highland cows along this stretch of the Loch they seemed friendly enough but just don't get too close or in between a mother and calf as this could potentially be dangerous.
A few miles outside Pennyghael we turned onto the B8035, I think if I remembered correctly this is sign posted as the Scenic route to Salen. Once the road leaves the shoreline it's a steep drive into the mountains before the road levels and you are greeted with spectacular sea views.
The road then winds back down to the shore and took us along a very narrow road with cliffs towering above, it's amazing but also slightly nerve wracking as there are massive boulder which have fallen down the cliff just lying at the side of the road, however be assured driving along this road is perfectly safe.
As we arrived back in Craignure the sun was setting and hitting the top of the mainland peaks including Ben Nevis, Ben Cruachan and everything in between! It was a really beautiful end to a wonderful day. The ferry sailed out of Craignure at 7.15 and we were back in Oban just after 8pm.
If, like me, you have limited time but love exploring Scotland's island I would thoroughly recommend planning a day trip to Mull and Iona, although I would have loved to have spent more time on the island I felt I did get to see and do a lot in that one day! And this is just one option, there are many other things you could do on Mull in a day like climbing Ben More or heading to Calgary Bay, another option is to visit THREE islands in one day with Staffa Tours.
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Living in Fife, one of my top day trips is a drive up the road to the lovely city of Perth. Full of lovely wee shops and places to eat, its own concert hall and museum & art gallery, the stunning Black Watch Castle and Museum, and with top sights like Scone Palace and Kinnoull Hill just down the road, it’s a brilliant place for a visit.
One of my favourite things to do while visiting Perth is taking a walk along the brilliant River Tay Public Art Trail. The Trail has 22 different sculptures which mainly sit along the two banks of the River Tay from the North Inch to the South Inch and down to the High Street, and reflect the history and heritage of the city and the river. Two of my favourites are ‘Millais’ Viewpoint’, a huge picture frame which is situated at one of the favourite viewpoints of John Everett Millais, a Victorian painter who had strong links to Perth. If you stand just right, you can frame the view of Kinnoull Kirkyard, where Millais’ wife is buried. Also keep an eye out for the colourful birds by Rhonda Bayley on Tay Street. These wee guys are inspired by William Soutar, Perth’s best known poet, and his poen Bairn Rhymes, and they never fail to put a smile on my face!!
Find out more about the trail here. You can pick up a leaflet for the trail from Perth iCentre as well
Has anyone else walked the Art Trail? Or do you have any top tips for Perth?
A fish supper takes some battering.
Fish in crispy batter, plump chips, with salt ‘n’ sauce if you’re in Edinburgh, salt ‘n’ vinegar in Glasgow. Guzzled outside in the cool of the evening, washed down with a glug of Irn Bru.
Here are 10 great chippies that your tastebuds will thank you for visiting:
There’s Bay Fish and Chips in Stonehaven. It was UK ‘chippy of the year’ in 2013.
At Anstruther Fish Bar you can polish off your fish supper overlooking the harbour. Watch out for the hungry seagulls though.
The most northerly fish and chips in the UK are at Frankie’s in Shetland. Oban Fish and Chip Shop in the town’s George Street is a stone’s throw from postcard scenery of Oban Bay.
Hungry? Ashvale Fish Restaurant in Aberdeen serves the Ashvale Whale - 1lb of haddock fillet.
Glaswegians smother their suppers from the Merchant Chippie in the High Street with salt ‘n’ vinegar.
It’s salt ‘n’ sauce at Edinburgh favourite, L’Alba D’oro in Henderson Row.
Walking in The Trossachs is great for working up an appetite. Sort it with a fish supper at Mhor Fish in Callendar. Or head ‘doon that watter’ to the Isle of Bute, and Rothesay’s traditional West End Café.
In the mood for a fish supper now. But where’s the best?