By Dick Lucas
Chris and I go to Scotland every January to the “Made in Scotland
Trade Show”, which is held in Glasgow at the Scottish Exhibition &
Conference Centre. The centre is located on the bank of the river
Clyde and next door to the building affectionately called the
Armadillo as it looks something like one of those creatures. The
Armadillo is used for concerts and similar events. Attending the
trade show to find new products from Scotland is the reason that
most of our adventures are in the winter and as I have mentioned
before we can go places and not have to fight big buses and crowds
of people as well as going places buses and tours don’t go.
are leaving in a few days for our next adventure but our original
plans had to be changed. The main island in the Shetlands has a
Viking festival at the end of January called Up Helly Aa which is
held in the village of Lerwick. We decided to go and found out the
best way to get there is by over night ferry from Aberdeen. I
checked on ferry schedules and places to stay in the Shetlands and
this is the first time I could not find a place to stay. I tried
the web and called the tourist information office on the island
and all that was available was a very expensive hotel so we
cancelled our plans. There are plenty of B&Bs but they were all
filled up for the entire week. Some friends that live near Lerwick
have promised to get us a reservation for next year and we are
making plans to go next year. I tell you this because if you plan
on going you need to start making plans now for next January.
wrote about our trip to Kilmartin Valley not long ago but I want
to tell you about why we ended up there instead of Iona. We always
hit the ground running and get out of Glasgow as soon as we can to
miss all the rush traffic and we were headed for Oban. Our first
stop is always at an inn in Crianlarich which was built in 1705
for drovers. They have a small pub which always has a coal fire
burning and some locals in the pub. It is good place to take a
short break if you are traveling up A82 along the west side of
were running late so we decided to spend the night at the inn and
Chris asked for the haunted room. Every place that caters to
Americans have discovered that we love ghosts and so all of them
now have a ghost, I think in many cases invented for our benefit.
We stayed in the ghost room but she didn’t show up, it was
supposed to be a 5 year old girl that died of fever in the room.
Chris stayed up all night to see her but she never appeared.
lollygagged the next morning and missed the early ferry to Mull
but caught one that afternoon and it was on the way to Mull that
an announcement was made that the ferry to Iona was canceled due
to a storm. We stayed on Mull that night and the next day and
since we still couldn’t get to Iona we decide to explore Mull.
took the single carriage road, B8035, on the West side of Mull and
it was absolutely beautiful, even in the winter. We had left at
noon so we didn’t have the time to explore the entire West side of
the island. We had to get to Tobermory so we only got to see about
half of island. I wanted to see a man that carved walking sticks
so we called him and went up to his home to look at his work. He
also had a place to rent which was self catering so we took it for
the night. We went down to local’s favorite pub for dinner, only
two places were open for dinner, and it was full of local people.
The owner is about 90 and is there every night keeping an eye on
his pub. We enjoyed the meal and the visit with the local people
and found out more about the village.
Tobermory is a relative new village having been founded in the
1700s although it is thought to have been a settlement for many
years due to their safe harbor. Their big claim to fame is that a
Spanish ship from the armada sought shelter there in the 1500’s
and was sunk. MacDonald of the isles has salvage rights to the
ship but they have not found it as of now and only the MacDonalds
can search for it. The Spaniards were absorbed by the local Scots
and many of the people living there now have Spanish blood in
Chris and I spent most of the next day shopping in the several
small shops along the harbor. You may recognize the village from
the many pictures of the village and its many colored buildings.
It was here I found 2 videos I have looked for along time. One is
called “I Know Where I’m Going’ and was filmed on the island in
the 1940s. The other is “Whiskey Galore” which was filmed near
there. We enjoyed the day we spent at Tobermory and again we were
the only tourist we saw. Later that day we drove back to Graignure
and took the ferry back to Oban.
will end this with a story told to us by a local resident. There
is a wee island just off the West coast of Mull and it is called
Inch Kenneth. The story that was told was three sisters lived in a
large four story home on the island during WWII but were not very
popular and kept to themselves as one was a Nazi, one was a
Fascist, and one was a Communist. We saw the home on Inch Kenneth
from Mull as it was not very far off the west coast of Mull.
During our short tour of the west side of Mull we had snow, rain,
wind, and sunshine all in the three hours we were on the road and
only met one car on the road. If you ever do one thing in your life, go to
Scotland, rent a car and have an adventure.