Originally written 21/07/2017
And so to the last of my posts from Mull this summer, but what a fortnight it’s been. We’ve experienced everything from glorious sunshine to gale force winds and unrelenting rain, Eagles aplenty not to mention sharing an island with just eight other souls and several thousand sea birds. There’s been Dolphins and Otters, Red Deer and Hares, and my footsteps have been a little more cautious having discovered that we’ve Adders basking all across the valley. Both of us have suffered from a damp foot or two thanks to Mull’s boggy interior but all is forgiven after the fantastic and memorable time we’ve been able to spend out in our kayaks. There’s been no ascent of Ben More but we did make it back up Beinn an Lochain and Carn Moir and finally managed to squeeze in my first ever trip across to Ulva. In fact looking back it’s hard to believe we’ve managed to cram so much in and that probably explains the few aches and pains I’m now carrying. Nothing ten hours in the car can’t fix as we make the long journey back to Wales.
The prospect of that very drive meant I favoured a walk from the house with which to round off our Mull adventure. It only felt right really as we got to say goodbye to some of the sights and wildlife with which we’ve been living side by side these last couple of weeks. If only the weather would have played its part but things could I suppose have been a lot worse than the grey sky and showers which faced us. They did however make for slightly treacherous walking conditions as we rock hopped along the coast, one of north west Mull’s hidden secrets our destination.
As we’d seen elsewhere Black Guillemots seem to be doing very well this year with at least another nine individuals out on the water and likely more hidden up in the cliffs. Wheatears were about as well even along the rocky shore though I must admit the sight of a female Pheasant down here did cause us a degree of surprise. Something which was by now almost expected however was the view of a Common Sandpiper’s rear end disappearing off into the distance, one species which no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get close to this time. Out in the loch a trio of Commic Terns were hunting not far from a small flock of at least ten Kittiwakes who as one would periodically dive down to the water’s surface. An impressive sight for sure.
Taking far longer than normal thanks to the slippery conditions we did eventually make it to the still cave. So called thanks to its association with the illegal distilling of alcohol back when these valleys used to be inhabited it now sits abandoned to the birds, a small raised level and a couple of old barrels the only hints to its illicit past.
And of those old communities we passed two on our way back out, first Crackaig which we visited on our first walk here two weeks ago and then Glac Gugairidh nestled over the rise just a little higher up the valley. The network of stone walls and well preserved buildings there make this one of the most evocative abandoned villages on Mull. It’s not hard to imagine what it must have been like for people living up here, a hard life of course but one with a great sense of community.
Back at our house it was as if all the valley birds had come out to pay their respects. The feeders were packed with two families of Great Tits and a variety of Chaffinches, fledgling Robins and Dunnocks littered the ground whilst juvenile Blackbirds and a very active Willow Warbler were constantly flying back and forth. The ever cautious Rock Doves even dropped in briefly before the sight of one another sent them into a blind panic and heading back the way they’d come. Our resident Song Thrush and pair of Swallows were also about as was the young Rabbit which has spent each evening carefully chewing its way through the daisies and buttercups outside our window as I’ve been writing these blogs. I’ll miss them all but I’m confident they’ll be waiting for us to top up the feeders next time we find ourselves on the glorious, Isle of Mull.