YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD FOR ADVENTURE
I was so excited to meet my sister-in-law Maggie off the train in Glasgow for the start of our girlie road trip in My motorhome 'Dora the Explora' around Western Scotland. We have known each other since we were eighteen and have had many holidays together throughout the years. It is great to still be doing them in our sixties as you are never too old for adventure.
First we got to explore Glasgow on a fabulous walking tour with walkingtoursin.com Our amazing guide Caron was so engaging and comical.
She told us so many interesting facts about the city. Including why two prominent statues have cones on their heads (student pranksters keep replacing them when the council remove them) I had never done a walking tour before but I would certainly do one again in a city because I would have missed so much had we not done it. We went to the Necropolis, which is one of the most significant cemeteries in Europe. It was built when Glasgow was the second city of the Empire and it contains the remains of almost every eminent Glaswegian of its day, including William Miller the author of Wee Willie Winkie.
As we walked around the city we were treated to some beautiful murals depicting people like the patron saint of Glasgow, St Mungo and his mother.
We savoured the delights of some Cullen Skink at Cafe Gandolfi cafegandolfi.com It is usually a Scottish soup with smoked haddock, onions, potatoes and milk but this restaurant hand deconstructed the ingredients and it was one of the most delicious things that I have ever tasted in my life!
We were not able to go to the Mackintosh museum because it was closed and when we went to visit the church he designed we found that too was closed so we could only admire his work from the outside of the building.
The next day Maggie and I packed up the motorhome, said our goodbyes to our fabulous host Ged, from @theyestribe and headed off up the road to Oban, which is known as the gateway to the Isles.
It was such a beautiful drive, we were blown away by the scenery, especially as we had to do a detour through Glencoe because there had been a fatal accident on the road we were going to take.
We were pretty tired when we got to the campsite I had earmarked for us to stay at, only to find out that it had closed for the season, just the night before. We begged her to let us stay as we would be off early and on the ferry to the Isle of MULL but she was having none of it. Thankfully we found another site just on the edge of Oban and it was beautiful. We got a warm welcome and settled in for the night. It took a bit of getting used to having a travel buddy. Sorting out the beds for two and learning to move around the small space with someone else, especially as I had got into my little routines. But I was so excited to have Maggie with me. We had been planning this trip for ages.
I was nervous about catching the ferry to Mull because I had never driven the motorhome onto a ferry before. I was very glad that Maggie was with me to keep me calm. We arrived in plenty of time to collect the tickets from the office and queued up to board the ferry. I should not have worried because it was no problem driving on. We quickly grabbed a coffee from the cafe on board and headed outside to look at the spectacular views as the ferry crossed from Oban to the Isle of Mull. The crossing did not take too long but it gave us a taste of what was to come on the Island.
The first place we stayed on Mull was near Salen and it had model of a great big pink highland cow outside the entrance so we could not miss it. Of course we had to have our pictures taken with it.
We pitched up by the loch and wondered at the beauty of the place. We drove up to Tobermory which was a fishing port in the late 18th century and is now the main town on Mull. It is also famous as the setting for a children's programme called Balamory and when we were in Glasgow Ged made sure Maggie and I knew the theme song, so we could sing it when we got there.
It is a picture-postcard kind of place with brightly coloured houses along the Main Street to the Pier. Just a mile and a half outside the town is the Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse. It is well worth the walk.
The next day we took the short ferry ride to the small island of Iona. It is only one and a half miles wide and three miles long and is famous mainly for its Abbey. It is an island of special significance for Christians, in AD 563 Columba arrived from Ireland to spread the gospel in Scotland and Northern England.
We toured the Benedictine Abbey and walked around the island, it was so peaceful. We had wanted to go to the uninhabited Isle of Staffa to see Fingal's cave the next day as it is famous for its natural acoustics but the boat trip was going to be very choppy due to very high winds, so we gave it a miss. One more reason to revisit the area when I can.
We did get to go over to Ulva, which ended up being my favourite place. It is a community owned island off the West Coast of Mull. It is only separated from Mull by a very narrow straight. You summon the boat by moving a piece of wood on a board to show a red square. When the boatman on the other side sees the red square he knows to come and get you to take you to the island. I loved how quaint the system was. I even got a go at steering the boat, much to my delight! Unfortunately for us the Boathouse cafe on the island was closed because it was the end of the season. I had heard good things about the food there. Oh well next time. There are several trails on the island, which is so peaceful.
We plumped for the walk to the church which was lovely and we got to photograph some Highland cattle for the first time. I just love their faces.
We managed to explore most of Mull in the motorhome, we drove for miles and the scenery was magical.
Maggie was laughing at all my expressions and comments when I came to tricky driving conditions and she said I should record myself one day and listen back to it because she thought it was hilarious. I admit that some of the single track roads were quite hairy, so I just took it steady and I may have voiced some expleatives.
We had one particularly stressful situation when a man on the other side of the road, heading in the opposite direction towards me, shot passed his passing place and then tried to get me to pass him on a narrow part of the mountain road on the outside! the weight of the motorhome would have toppled me over the edge if I made a mistake and I was not willing to do that, so I pulled across as close into the hillside (even pulling in my wing mirrow ) and motioned for him to pass on the outside or reverse to the passing place he should have stopped at!.We had a standoff for what seemed like ages before the car behind me passed me, admittedly it was tight, but it showed that the other fella could have got passed if he was not willing to reverse. He then had a standoff with the other driver, until he finally did what he should have done in the first place, reversed back into the passing place, so we could all pass each other safely. All the waiting around meant that I had to do a hill start on the steep bit of road, my heart was in my mouth because the wheel began to spin and I thought "what the heck do I do if it does not move? I would not have been able to reverse on the steep narrow windy road!, thankfully the wheel just got a grip as I very slowly released the clutch and the motorhome moved forward at a snails pace until it got around the bend and then I was ok. But I was really shaken by the whole experience. Saying all that most people were really friendly about using passing places and navigating the single track roads and I usually felt quite confident.
The good thing that followed was that we found an amazing place on the edge of a lock to wild camp with no electric. Despite the heavy rain most of the time we got a window of a couple of hours in the evening, so I managed to build us a fire and we sat out at the edge of the lock with a couple of beers and chilled out. It was such a great experience and I was so happy to have shared the beauty of it all with Maggie, she is such a great travel buddy.
The next morning we got up in the pitch black to get the seven o clock ferry from Mull back to Oban. It was gorgeous to see the sunrise on the ferry.
We spent the day exploring Oban, which is really beautiful. We arrived very early on the ferry so took a walk along the seafront and to the wonderful beach at one end of the town. Then we made the steep climb to McCraigs Tower which overlooks the town of Oban. The Grade B listed monument is made up of two tiers of 94 Lancet arches. The structure was commissioned by John Stuart McCraig as a lasting monument to his family and to provide work for local stonemasons. It was based on the Colosseum in Rome. His death from a heart attack brought an end to construction.
We had worked up an appetite with all that walking so headed to a restaurant that I had booked after a recommendation. But we passed a seafood shack on the pier and next time I will be eating there rather than a posh restaurant as the food looked delicious.
The next morning Maggie left me to catch her train back to Glasgow, then onto Leeds. It was most definitely a memorable girls trip and I cannot wait for our Motorhome trip to Ireland next year.