Subject: Scotland: Loch Lomond & Isle of Mull in November
Hello fello Ziners:

I haven't posted in sometime. But someone was asking about Scotland.

In November of 2002 my wife and I visited Scotland for about two weeks.

From Glasgow, where we visited quite a bit of Mackintosh museums and buildings, we drove to Loc Lomond. For much of the bottom area of the Loc, eight miles of it was not visible from the road since it was very developed. About after a quarter of the way, finally we were able to escape the development and occasionally see the Loc, but often the road ran inland a bit.

We stopped a few time in cut-out viewpoints, but none of them were any good for photos: mostly they existed to allow traffic to get around slow drivers, not as overlooks.

Never the less, the landscape revealed very nice fall color, even in the overcast conditions.

At the Firkin Point [MP #12] sign, I gambled it might be worth pulling off and drive down the lane to the Loc. It proved to be a tremendous spot, a mini peninsula that extended out just enough to get a 270 degree panorama of the Loc and look directly up the Loc for quite a distance. The mountains on both sides cascaded down to the Loc and were reflected into the still waters. Far in the distance on the right was the Tarbet Island area and on the left, Rowchoish. I made a great series of photos of the Loc and the mountains spilling down in the Loc as they receded into a mist in the distance. Quite a bit in the distance along the left edge of the Loc is Rudh Dubh, a little spit jutted out with some pine trees creating a mirrored silhouette. This reflection along with the reflections of the mountains on both sides enhanced a perfect? tourist panoramic landscape.

There are picnic tables and a long paved path along the Loc in both directions. It was a nice spot to snack on crackers and cheese or whatever. (Note: there were toilets at the location, but they were closed for the season.)

We then returned to driving along a delightful view of mountains, valleys, the Loc and a continuation of subtle fall color until we rose to the level of fir/evergreen trees. The roads, thankfully, were smooth two laners, but of course, are very curvy. They are used by tractor-trailer truck rigs that know every curve. They roar around the curves surprising the unfamiliar driver like ? at Halloween.

In the late afternoon, we came upon an absolutely charming shot as we ended a long decent. The road, A83, on the way to Oban, made a turn as we came to the end of a Loc Long, a bit west of Tarbet (which is located on Loc Lomond.) As we crossed a modern bridge over the stream that fed Loc Long, I noticed the original old ? Palladin style stone block bridge on our left had not been removed. I managed to find a farmer's cattle crossing, safely pulled in, and didn't get stuck in the soft earth turning around in the mud and drove back over the bridge and found a spot to park on a sliver of grass that was not a turn off. [Upon examining a map, it may have been Loc Fyne.]

The still water reflected a stunning picture post card. At this angle, the bridge was in the perfect spot and fit into a curve of tall color trees behind and a string of them that extended to the left where a small pure white toll booth? building sat.

Further on, as we got near Inverary (not Inverness), we drove over, and I shot, another old Palladin stone bridge.

Eventually we arrived at Oban, on an inlet on the Atlantic Ocean. Normally, without stops, this 110 to 120 mile trip probably would take approximately 3 hours. Of course, with our stops, it took much longer.

We are stayed at a very nice B&B, the Kathmore Guest House just on the south edge of town center on the main road that I had booked before we left the states, so I knew what we were getting. [Soroba Road, Oban, Argyll, United Kingdom, PA344 5F, Ph: 01631 562104] Out room was 37 ($61) per night.

The owner, Morven Wardhaugh, was a great host, like a realitive! My wife fell ill for a few days and the innkeeper took care of her like a mother.

The building is a typical northern Highland white rectangular block. It is extremely plain devoid of any ornamentation. Very utilitarian - not elegant. The hosts are very nice and caring. The breakfasts are freshly made, very tasty and attractively presented on wonderful china in a quite atmosphere.

I drove to Kilmartin with its Ballymeanoch Standing Stones circles and other circles in the area. I also stopped in at a small museum and gift shop. There is a nice B&B there I had considered staying at across from the stones. If you are not a fan of this stuff I would take a pass on it.

The next morning the sun seemed? to be making an appearance, I decided to gamble and take the highly touted trip to the Isle of Mull on the 10:30am ferry. (It is the first of the day at this time of year. I am loosing much valuable time on the isle and will not be able to allow enough time to race across the isle to take another ferry to Iona because at this time of year the return ferry is the same that took you there! I only had enough time to race around Mull.

The return ferry from Mull in Novemeber is early, 5pm, due to the non-tourist time of year. It is almost a waste of time to go, but since I read so much about it I felt guilty if I didn't go. It is expensive to take a car round trip. You have to check in at least a half hour early at both ends of the trip, cutting off more time from the visit.

No sooner than we got underway on the ferry than it began a heavy mist and than to rain! Oh, Scottish weather!

The ferry was huge! It accommodated many autos and full length tractor trailer trucks loaded with logs on the return trip. The ride was very smooth. On the return trip at 5 pm the dining area did a booming business. Most all the tables were filled with passengers downing hearty Scottish fare with chips.

On the trip to Mull, sailing by various islands, sunlight bathed some so there seemed to be some hope. Indeed this proved to be the case. As I drove along I experienced full sunlight where I was or on some section of the land or seascape that otherwise was somewhere exposed to fog, mist, drizzle, light rain, rain or a down pour. Sometimes within a mile or two! Ah the east coast! As the Scots say, We take the weather as it comes.? Very few Scots use umbrellas. The first time I opened mine today on the windy deck, one of the struts cracked, making it un-repairable in two places.

I noticed foreboding Duart Castle near Craignure as we approached the island where we docked. The MacCleans of Duart built the castle, which is 13th and 14th century, but it fell into dereliction following the Rising of 1745, and was acquired by Fitzroy MacLean in 1911 who restored the castle. I drove over but it was closed for the season and fenced off so it was a complete waste of my time. I then had to back up a portion of the single track road I had taken to get there.

On the Isle of Mull, for the first time I encountered sheep and cattle walking across the single track roads I ws negotiating. You have to stay very alert here. Traffic is rare on such a nasty day in this non-tourist period. As I drove I found many interesting land/seascapes to shoot if the light had been appropriate which it rarely was due to the blustery wind and threatening clouds that gave up showers all day.

Mull is a very large island, so I could only explore approximately on third of it, limited as I was due to the need to be sure I returned early enough to the ferry dock .

In the future, if you are staying overnight on Mull, a good choice would be in pretty Tobermory.

The following day we drove to Edinburgh. The 140 to 150 mile drive from Oban to Edinburgh should take approximately 3 -? hours. We stopped at a woolen shop that had a large ox with long horizontal curved horns standing in a field. He was standing in deep moist mud. He approached the fence and I snapped some shots of "Hamish"? with my wife.

We had a delightful personable Scotsman as our guide. By they time we left the castle it was dusk and a half moon was framed between two towers. I got a nicely lit evening photograph of the castle.

If anyone is interest in seeing my photos of Scotland feel free to go to the flollowing URL:

Peace. Steve