So where shall we go today I wonder ......... mmm ........ oh I know ........ Mull. In fact why don't we visit some of the islands off the west coast of Scotland for the next few weeks.
Mull is a fabulous island and very popular for day trippers and holiday goers. I have relatives and friends that wax lyrical of the place. As for me ........ the closest I've been is Oban, but it's on my list.
Lonely Planet has this to say "From the rugged ridges of Ben More and the black basalt crags of Burg to the blinding white sand, rose-pink granite and emerald waters that fringe the Ross, Mull may lay claim to some of the most varied scenery in the Inner Hebrides. Add in two impressive castles, a narrow-gauge railway, the sacred island of Iona and easy access from Oban and you can see why it's sometimes impossible to find a spare bed on the island."
Duart Castle is old, as in really old. It was originally a rectangular wall surrounding a courtyard and was part of a line of fortifications. You can see Ben Nevis to the north and Jura to the south. When Mary MacDonald, daughter of the Lord of the Isles, married in 1350 she was given the castle as part of her dowry. It's been added to over a period of time and even those additions are really old. Like many old monuments in Scotland it eventually was abandoned and lay empty for more years than you really want to know about. Sir Fitzroy Maclean bought the place in 1910 and started the mammoth task of restoring the place. (If you collect Lilliput Lane it's in there.)
Torosay Castle is a whole lot younger and was completed in 1858 in what is known as the "Scottish Baronial Style". The castle and gardens were open to the public up until October 2010 and as far as I know it is still up for sale. Oooh who wants to buy a Scottish "pile" with a gorgeous view?
One one of my visits to Scotland I watched a program, with my kids, called Balamory. Loved it. It used Tobermory, the capital of Mull as it's backdrop. I loved the colorfulness of the town AND the characters and wished I could be there watching the program being filmed. It looked like so much fun.
Meet Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1824). Now why would I want to talk about him? Well he was a local laddie, born on Ulva, who is buried on the island at Gruline. An inscription on his tomb says "The Father of Australia." He transitioned New South Wales from a penal to a free colony and helped to shape Australia. He also took part in the American War of Independence in 1777 (via Nova Scotia) and stopped off in Jamaica for a wee while, so he got about a bit :) Before becoming Governor of NSW he did a stint in India and Egypt. He is credited with designing one of the original street layouts for what is now Sydney. While he did not think up the name Australia he was the first to use it in official dispatches in 1817.
And just because I love the scenery here's Carsaig Arches on the Ross of Mull. mmmm shades of "How to Train Your Dragon" don't you think ;)