Hotel bedroom view.
Apart from a visit to Islay a decade ago the western isles are pretty much a mystery to me, and Mull, because of the Sea Eagles, has long been in my wish list. I didn't see a Sea Eagle this time, so obviously will have to go back.
All islands have there own distinct flavour (theoretically I know this, but it's still a surprise how different the ones I've been to feel), my first impression of Mull was one of general affluence, and that tourism is a big part of that. For such a small population it's particularly well provided with cafes. We only had two and a half days in Mull which isn't nearly long enough - another reason to go back.
The second thing you notice about Mull is the roads. They're mostly single track and spectacularly twisty - it took us almost 2 hours to drive 50 miles, at the height of the tourist season it would be even slower going. This was fine for me, I don't drive, so was free to look out the window and enjoy the scenery (everything looks like a postcard), probably less fun for D. If anyone reading this ever plans a trip to Mull, plan it carefully, it's quite a big island, everything will probably take longer than you think to get to, and it's not really the sort of driving that invites you to get in a car and keep going until something looks good. That's part of its charm.
Tobermory looks exactly like its pictures and is utterly charming, everywhere seemed to do great food, there's another distillery at one end of the harbour, and all the comings and goings of the boats was mesmerising. We stayed at the Western Isles Hotel (it's seen better days but has relatively new ownership and is undergoing rolling refurbishments. Any shabbiness was more than made up for by the most spectacular view, friendly helpful staff, and that it had featured in a film I love, 'I Know Where I'm Going'.) which I loved. I can't overstate how good the view was, and whilst we didn't see those eagles the hotel terrace was filled with swallows each evening, watching them at (very) close quarters over a gin and tonic was wonderful.
Iona is just off the end of Mull, and again it's picture postcard perfect, in a day when it was supposed to rain we had glorious sunshine, the whole lot looked like a painting by Francis Cadell. Whatever we didn't have the opportunity to see on Mull, I have at least come away with a much better image and understanding of all sorts of things I've read in the past about the west coast of Scotland, and a much better appreciation of the work of the colourists who I've always been a bit dismissive of in the past. I really want to go back.