It is hard to start a regular guest travel blog without telling you where it all began. My favourite place in the world. So remote I hate even telling people where it is in case they decide to visit and it gets spoilt; Mull, a Hebridean island.
A chance holiday mix up meant my family and I found ourselves there 17 years ago, one blustery Easter. And we’ve not missed a year since. Indeed, it has become so deeply ingrained in the fabric of our lives that if anyone asks what my sisters and I would do if we won the lottery, we say ‘buy a house on Mull’, without hesitation.
So why do I love it so much? You could fly for miles and not find beaches so white and so untouched. A lone person on the beach means it’s crowded and a chance walk results in finding unexplored coves that probably haven’t been stepped on in a decade. The primroses in the spring dot the mossy hills with butter yellow. Hebridean cows have fringes worthy of any Emo. Ben More- Mull’s only Munro – is worth every leg-aching step; when you summit along a snowy ridge you’re standing on the edge of beyond, with mountains petering away underfoot like the fleeting feet of ballet dancers as the Sugar Plum Fairy takes the stage.
On Mull, it is easy to feel like you’re in a paradisiacal paradox of 28 Days Later – with no one left in the world but you. But of course, there are people. There is a brilliantly warm community, regular celidhs, local craft shops and the brightly coloured houses of the ‘capital’ Tobemory (of Ballemory fame) to keep you feeling ‘civilised.’ But head to the Ross of Mull for the bedfellows of beauty and remoteness. Walks along sheep tracks around dramatic headland that nearly always involve (if you’re led by someone like my dad) a nail-biting sea traverse and breathtaking views of islands out at sea that change colour in the light.
The spiritually-steeped island of Iona and its famous abbey are definitely worth a visit too and is just a short ferry ride from Finnophort, as are the ruins of Shiaba (meaning six cows in Gaelic); all that is left of a community wiped out by the clearances in the 1800s.
And of course, as the well-worn cliché goes…the people make the place. At the end of the day we snuggle up a family, play cards and nibble on the veritable deluge of cakes my mum prepares for the trip. There is no internet, no phone signal, no TV. Away from the mod-cons and secure in the familiarity of the island and the wonderful people I’m with, it is the one place I truly relax, stretch out into the space. My heart fills with longing just thinking about it and surely that is what travelling is all about? Finding those magical places that you take with you wherever you go?
So go on, visit, I urge you. Just don’t tell anyone else about it…