A Scottish Odyssey

The memsahib & I decided on one last Scottish tour of The Highlands, our fifth, before we run down the curtain.

I have some Scottish ancestry, my grandmother’s clan was Bruce although a lowland clan I always feel a blood bond when I visit the lochs & glen’s fanciful though it might be, incidentally my sister feels the same.

My first visit was in 1958, a family adventure in a Ford Consul with journey breaks in Buxton & a small village in The Highlands the name of which escapes me but where I tasted my first Scotch pancake, hooked thereafter.  There were no motorways in those days so London to Skye was seriously adventurous.

It might amaze you to know that with the exception of 1958 every trip since has been bathed in sunshine. We have honeymooned on Colonsay, climbed Ben Nevis & a handful of Monroes, sailed on Loch Ness, bathed in the Solway Firth & visited the field of Culloden all in sunny weather so ignore the weather doom mongers.

But I digress, the last pilgrimage was to Mull.

I recount here only to brief potential travellers to this wonderland of beauty on the edge of the British Isles.

We dwell on an East Yorkshire small holding, so the journey is slightly daunting if you don’t break it.

We stayed over night at Lockerbie, as it seems does everyone in transit to The Isles, it is a god given strategic break for the Highland bound traveller with some good value hotels, we stayed at the Somerton, easy parking & plausible nosebag.

Visit the memorial to the Pan Am flight tradegy & have a little weep for those innocents killed, heartbreaking.

Onwards to Oban, three & a half hours on reasonable roads but beware the Loch Lomond road requires dedicated concentration.

Marvel at the beauty of the Trossachs en route & grab a coffee & leg stretch.


We had a honeymoon break forty years ago on the way to Colonsay but can’t remember a thing about the place, it is a very interesting town, Queen Victoria loved it.

We rented an Air B&B bungalow near the centre, very good value & dog friendly.

The Oban Inn offers excellent hand pulled ales, The Shack, a shellfish Aladdin’s cave by the dock for the connoisseur & Jackson’s butcher for exemplary Haggis, I brought back a dozen for the freezer. It doesn’t have to be Burns Night to eat Haggis.

There is a regular small boat ferry to Kerarer, worth catching if only to inspect the yachts in the marina.

For a trip around the island we sailed on the Allans’ boat Purple Heather with a skipper & first mate of the old school type.

All the more amusing therefore to see some council jobsworth had suggested on their blurb that the wee vessel was LBGT, PTO, QED friendly & a ‘safe space’ for trans people. So passengers of that persuasion could be comfortable in the knowledge they would not be heaved over the side when no one was looking.

I doubt the two crew sea dogs had a clue what a trans is but the council had ticked the box.

On to Mull

A Caledonian McBride ferry to Mull, efficient, fair value & regular sailings but the service is beginning to creak a bit. Wonderful views on the forty minute voyage, wrap up well to stay on deck even on a sunny day.

On disembarkation at Craignure turn left to Fionnphort for the Iona boats or right for Tobermory & wild life island visits.

Mull is a big island with mainly single lane roads, passing places are many but patience & cooperation are the order of the day.


Ouch! The tourist season is short, the winter days are dark so expenses are high for everything, Prepare for London prices.

All the hospitality staff are free spirited youngsters from far afield, consequently cheerful, helpful & friendly. The harbour front ice cream parlour is a delight & local boat crews competent, committed & patient with doddery passengers.

The boat trips are essential & fair value.

Birds aplenty for twitchers, Puffins, Shags, Guillemots, Razor Bills, Oyster Catchers & we were blessed with a White Tailed Sea Eagle leisurely stalking our boat.

Minke whales & Dolphins a bit further out to sea so pick your trip carefully.

Watching the bird watchers. This is quite fun. The true twitchers are gray in every regard. Gray hair, gray beards, cameras with telescopic lenses, field glasses & tripods. The twitcher aristocracy will probably carry a vegan picnic.

A special treat for me was a youngsters’ pipe band practice by the pier, they were pretty good & coached by a clearly devoted master piper. One wee lassie was blowing her heart out with a look of such concentration & she couldn’t have been more than ten. I was actually quite moved bless xgher.

Incidentally I can’t get a squeak out of the bloody things.

Some tips

I know it sounds corny but fix up the car music system to get the full flavour of your vist. You will visit Staffa & Fingle’s Cave, so rev up your Mendlesohn, add Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, Hamish MacCunn’s Land of the Mountain & the Flood add  perhaps the Pipes & Drums of the Scots Guards. (This tip goes for Elgar’s cello concerto if you are ever in the Malvern Hills).

Scenery inspires music & should be juxtaposed whenever possible.

Check your family history, like as not you will have a Jock lurking somewhere no matter how far back. My tailor ran me up a pair of trews in the Ancient Bruce tartan, I sport them on Burns Night, Mrs,B has a shawl Bruce of Kinnaird, a more mellow tartan than the ancient Bruce which makes her resemble a homicidal tomato.

Final advice

Steer clear of whisky distilleries.

© Godfrey Bloom 2024 – Godfrey Bloom Online