Island hopping

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

TUESDAY, 23rd May
Anne and I both had haircuts down in the village...not very good ones. Anne has a tom boy look and I look like a scarecrow.
We picked up P and D and set off on an excursion west and south. We took overnight bags in case we stayed out too long although I'm not too sure that there were too many B&B's open. We took the ferry across to Corran but stayed in the car for the short trip over. We drove across the moorland to Strontian on the end of Loch Sunart where we had an early lunch. Venison burger for me. Across the highlands along a single lane road with passing points every hundred yards to another ferry where we had to wait an hour for the boys to have their lunch. It was still cold and windy but with patches of welcome sunshine. Thirty minutes across the Sound of Mull to Fishness from where we drove to Duart Castle.
The family home of the Campbells sits on a headland exposed to the Irish sea but facing the Scottish mainland. I drove through all the manned or womanned checkpoints and dropped P and her wheelchair off at the main entrance. Today the wind whistled around the castle and we were glad to get inside. The rooms were furnished in a 19th century manner but there were also exhibits from the more recent family gatherings. The castle was built in the 12th century but was empty for most of the 19th century until it was rebuilt from scratch in 1912 at great expense but they have done an excellent job. [In my opinion all British castles should be restored to their former glory. Hang the expense and the greenies.] It really was a mess. Not even a roof. The current family still live in the east wing whilst the west is open all the way up to the battlements. It was essentially a square around a central courtyard.
I paused for a while in the 'keep' in a bedroom/dining room/bathroom area of the family McLean. The fourposter bed was covered in a very attractive floral bedspread with sheets and dressing table cover to match made by the villagers, I was told, for a family wedding some while ago. The rooms were dark because the walls were two metres thick with small slotted windows on the outside. God knows why anyone would want to live here. No matter how powerful or wealthy you may have been it is very desolate although Andrew Saul the concierge disagreed with me. And he is probably right. The towns of Oban and Fort William are not far away provided you want to spent a day's wages on the ferries. Move the headland to the Mediterranean and it would be a very desirable residence.
Photos everywhere of the family and friends on various occasions...mostly weddings.
The floors are linked by a very narrow, sandstone, winding staircase. Wide enough for one man to defend the castle with a sword. Another reason why it would be difficult to live there. It's not a castle really. More of a fortified family home.
Afternoon tea in the café. A little brownie and a cup of coffee. The inevitable bookmark. Picked the gang up and wound our way back to the other ferry terminal to check out the times. An hour and a half to wait so we went on a drive around Loch Spelve to Kinlochspelve. A delightful drive through the bluebells and gorse, along a narrow road and across 'weak' bridges. Back to the Oban ferry which was running late so I closed my eyes for a while until the time came to drive on.
It was furnished like a cruise ship with bars and cafés and two decks of lounges...very well appointed. This was a 45 minute crossing with the sun low behind us lighting up the headlands. Magnificent...especially with a beer in hand
On Arrival in Oban we made a dash for the EE-USK fish restaurant on the quay. Great position, lovely food, shame about the acoustics. Drove home in the twilight.  
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