Saturday, 8 October 2011
MULL, LAND OF THE SEA EAGLE
The landscape and wildlife on the Hebridian island of Mull is as dramatic as anywhere in Scotland. I am here with my wife for a few days on my third visit. It is not long before I see white tailed eagles (called sea eagles locally), hen harriers and an otter. It is deer rutting season and I hear the call of a stag over the moors. My cycle ride is to be Mull's Figure of Eight, a loop around the coast that shows the best of this island. It is October and the weather is closing in so it will be taken over two days.
I leave the land where yesterday my wife and I saw the white tailed eagles and as the coast turns south I realise that the wind is now behind me. This is much better. The sky has cleared and I can see the islands of Rum, Coll and Tiree on the horizon. Staffa is there also and Ulva soon follows. This coast has just a few islotated houses. I pass a water spout shooting vast volumes of water into the sea. This is spectacular scenery.
Looking out to sea, I see more squalls. Another one hits me. This time it is hail and even colder than before but it quickly passes. Although one island, Mull is narrow in the middle with a short single track road. This is the crossover of the Figure of Eight. I pedal off to Salem on the east coast along this road.
It is now just 10 miles to cycle back to my start at Tobermoray and my legs are wobbling. I now look across the Sound of Mull to the Scottish mainland on the other side. The view is just as dramatic. This last section is slow but no less rewarding.
On my first visit, I cycled the Figure of Eight in one day. This time I have only done the north part. The weather has completely exhausted me after 43 miles. It was Scotland in the raw and I enjoyed the challenge.