Walking eight miles along a rocky, tick infested shoreline may not be everyone’s idea of fun but that’s exactly what we put ourselves through towards the end of our stay on Mull. Such madness was not without reason however for this was the route from Carsaig pier to two magnificent natural stone arches that bare the same name. These wave created features have long been on my list of places to visit, not just for their sheer spectacle but also for the sense of danger that descriptions of the path conjure. Anything that’s associated with phrases such as “one slip could be fatal” and “vertiginous drops” is a must experience in my books. As it turned out a little bit of care was more than enough to overcome the various obstacles which gave us plenty of opportunity to enjoy our surroundings. Words really can’t do them justice.
There was an immense sense of isolation in having such a narrow stretch of the island to explore with the towering cliffs to our right forming an almost unbroken wall beyond which almost anything could have existed. For such a brutal landscape there was a wealth of wildlife present from a family of Spotted Flycatchers through to numerous Yellowhammers and a pair of noisy Ravens. Butterflies and insects crawled over every inch of vegetation while out in the water things got even more spectacular. A splash glimpsed from the corner of my eye soon materialised into a trio of Bottlenose Dolphins travelling at speed just a few meters from shore. We watched mesmerised as they headed back the way we’d come, frequently breaking the surface but never long enough to get the camera onto them. Even better was to come though as one of the three dove completely clear of the water and revealed itself to be a small juvenile. Is there nothing that this island can’t deliver? It would appear not as about an hour later they were back, retracing their route and once again giving us simply outstanding views. After that you’d think that a couple of stone arches would have trouble matching up, but match up they did.
Formed through hundreds of years of sea erosion these two natural wonders are one of Mull’s best features and well worth the effort it takes to get to them. The closest and largest almost obscures from view the second but we really didn’t fancy pushing on any further as from here the path truly is little more than a precarious goat track. Speaking of goats there was one final surprise in store courtesy of an animal that I’d hoped to see and which well and truly delivered.
These are of course wild mountain goats (or feral goats depending on which terminology you prefer), a small population of which call the Ross of Mull home. Precise details concerning their origins have been lost to the mists of time but prevailing thought seems to be that they are either the remnants of stock once farmed by long gone crofters, or more exotically animals which swam ashore from Spanish shipwrecks. Either way they are an intriguing and charismatic addition to Mull’s ecosystem that are well worth hunting down if you have the time and inclination. They also seem to bare an uncanny resemblance to the flying dog from “Neverending Story”.