Mull Games, Loch Breachacha, Rain in Loch Aline
One good thing about rain is it makes the waterfalls more impressive. During the last couple weeks of July, we had four consecutive fine days and during the rest it either rained all or part of the day with accompanying strong winds - typical Scottish summer. Thankfully one of the better days coincided with the highland games on Mull held on the golf course at Tobermory. The day started at the distillery (next to the marina) with the Oban pipe band leading an impressively large crowd to process along the harbour sea wall then up the hill to the golf course. The site has a convenient bank stretching the length of the "arena" and we chose a spot near the finish line with excellent views of the dancing, long jump and high jump. The dancing was impressive, but more amusing was watching the young girls practicing away from the stage. They all had huge boots on over their dancing shoes reminding us of Saint-Saëns' elephants dancing to Berlioz' Dance of the Sylphs.
The most entertaining races were those for the public, the under 5s race being hilarious with tantrums, collisions, false starts and running the wrong way. But all participants were rewarded with sweets so ended in smiles. The adults races had a prize of a half bottle of whisky for the winner so the starting line was crowded and competition fierce.
The only activities we could not see were the "heavies", but half the crowd had to leave mid afternoon to catch the ferry back to the mainland so we could move up to watch the tossing the caber. There are no rules to the exact size of the caber, except that it should be sufficiently large so that not all the competitors are able to toss it. It took two "normal" men to lift it off the ground.
It was a great day out, with the only down side was discovering several ticks the next morning, the bites from which are still itching.
From Mull we sailed to the southern end of the island of Coll and enjoyed four fine days of continuous sunshine and moderate northerly winds. The anchorage of Breachacha (see banner) was perfect for these conditions and we had it all to ourselves. The head of the loch as two castles, the old one (left) is a 15th century tower house and was the stronghold of the Macleans of Coll, and has recently been renovated by a descendant from Bristol. The "new" one (right) was built in the 18th century for the laird of the Coll Macleans and was a stop for Boswell and Johnson on their Tour to the Hebrides. The castle is for sale as a "listed property in need of repair and is not a project for the faint hearted".
The southern end of the island is also an RSPB reserve. The area is a narrow strip of sand dunes between two beautiful white sandy beaches. The dunes are covered in beautiful wild flowers and our walk was accompanied by the heady perfume from banks of purple clover.
With the forecast looking unpromising with strong winds and lots of rain we decided to head back inside Mull to Loch Aline. Here it has rained nearly continuously for six days. At least there has been some Test Match cricket to listen to on the radio. The forecast is not improving so we are contemplating ending our cruise early this year.