Tag Archives: Scotland

WILD LIFE TOURISM ON MULL – where the bloody hell are you?

Grey seals - 'Quick get under water guys, here come the wildlife spotters!'

Grey seals – ‘Quick, get under water guys, here come the wildlife spotters!’

It looks so easy when David Attenborough does it. He whispers a few lines to the camera, parts the bushes and there’s the beast in question doing something photogenic.

We’re learning that real wildlife spotting involves good days and disappointing ones, even on Scotland’s Isle of Mull, a mecca for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Fortunately, although our trip is billed as the Around Mull: Wildlife Explorer itinerary there are plenty of other attractions to keep us happy in the Hebrides.
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The Glen Tarsan, between Iona and Mull.

The Glen Tarsan, between Iona and Mull.

It was a great week. Here’s the full article about our cruise around the Isle of Mull, recently published in the Fairfax Press in Australia…

‘I so want that boat,’ says the American lady beside me.

With its dark blue hull and gold funnel, the polished wood of its superstructure catching the light, it bobs on the inlet below us, framed by yellow gorse bushes in the foreground and the rocky shore of the Isle of Mull beyond.

I eavesdrop as a discussion starts among the members of her tour bus party. Is it a local fishing boat? Too clean. A private pleasure cruiser? Too old-fashioned.

Smugness gets the better of me. ‘It’s my boat,’ I say. And for this week, it is. Continue reading


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Not much happening in Loch Spelve.

Not much happening in Loch Spelve. Those black spots are mussel buoys, I’m told.

Insomnia has its advantages.

I’m usually awake around 5am and on this Majestic Line cruise around the Isle of Mull it’s worth getting up and taking the camera out on deck. Continue reading


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The Holy Isle - Iona.

The Holy Isle – Iona.

‘What year are we talking about, Richard?’ asks one of my fellow passengers on the Majestic Line cruise. We’re about to land on the place where Christianity first came to Scotland.

We agree it’s probably about the 13th century AD. We’re wrong – not even close, in fact. Continue reading


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A bit of chop in the Sound of Iona.

A bit of chop in the Sound of Iona.

The company name ‘Majestic Line’ is a sort of ironic joke. It was taken from an old Scottish sitcom in which an unemployed sailor pretends to have found a great job in an elegant cruise ship with a gold funnel.

Converted fishing boats are seldom majestic and the two boats in the fleet are not the Queen Mary and the QEII. The Glen Tarsan and the Glen Massan can take just ten passengers each; the intimacy has great appeal to us during our six-day Wildlife Explorer cruise around the Isle of Mull in Scotland’s lovely Inner Hebrides. Continue reading


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Well, maybe only in Scotland would this be a cool numberplate.

Well, maybe only in Scotland would this be a cool numberplate.

Wifi is slow and limited, but worked just well enough to get this posted.

This morning Mevrouw T and I board the train in Glasgow’s Queen Street Station to head north to Oban, then it’s onto a boat for a wildlife cruise around the Isle of Mull. Stay tuned…


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Want to walk in Europe this year, but don’t want to organise it yourself or spend big bucks on a guiding company? Try joining a walking festival.

There’s been an encouraging surge in interest in my report on last year’s West Cork Walking Festival, so I thought I’d go for a tramp around cyberspace to see what’s on offer for 2010.

Walking festivals are a brilliant idea – locals get together to organise walks for a few days, set up some routes to showcase the best hikes in their area, ranging from easy strolls to challenging adventures, engage knowledgeable guides, charge a modest fee to cover costs, post details on a website and see who turns up.

West Cork attracted groups of 25-50 for each event, a good number, I thought – enough for everyone to meet a few people, but not so many that it was ever overwhelming. I arrived on my own and left having made some friends I’m still in contact with. Thanks to the guides I learned a lot about the area’s history and characters and thanks to the craik in the Irish pubs at the end of each day, a foine toim was had indeed.

These are some festivals I found coming up:

May 1-8 Caithness and Sutherland (Scottish Highlands)

May 7-13 Newton-Stewart Walking Festival (Galloway Hills, Southern Scotland.)

May 22-June 6 Lincolnshire Wolds (Lincolnshire, England)

June 25-27. Mourne International Walking Festival. (County Down, Northern Ireland).

July 1-4 Castlebar Walking Festival (Ireland’s wild west)

Tuscany is advertising the Tuscan Coast and Islands Walking Festival from April 2 – October 10. That’s a long time to stay festive, but there’s a lot to see under the Tuscan sun. www.tuscanywalkingfestival.it

If you can add interesting festivals to this short list, please let me know about them in the comments box below.

Finally a word of warning.  On the web I found publicity for some  ‘festivals’ which were being run by commercial tour guiding companies. I have no reason to think they’re not interesting and  good value, but they were considerably more expensive than walking festivals run by local volunteers.


Filed under Budget travel, England, Hiking, Ireland, Travel, Travel- Europe