I didn’t quite finish recounting our very long, thrilling first day on Mull/Iona, because there was so much to share.
At the end of the last post, I said I had an agenda for leaving Iona before too late in the day, and now I’ll reveal all. One of my bucket list items for the trip was to see an otter in the wild. I’d tried to book an ‘otter walk’ with a guide, but they told me the tide was wrong on the days we were there, but were very helpful with information, giving us the best chance to find them on our own, if we could track down the right conditions:
- Low tide at
- either sunrise of sunset
- a stretch of rocky beach/coastline where
- a fresh water stream empties into the ocean
They suggested a particular spot on the island, and we could probably meet all those conditions if we got there in the early evening. Hence the time schedule.
There was just enough time to stop briefly for a photo of this striking waterfall
And then on to the beach!
Honestly, I had no great confidence for our otter hunt. We’ve looked for them for years, unsuccessfully. On the other hand, the islands are one of the best spots for sightings, and I now had the best possible information, which I’d lacked before.
We parked up several times and investigated small coves, finding only diving birds and the ubiquitous herons – one to every few hundred yards!
We’d just got back into the car after one of our fruitless searches, when I spotted something bobbing in the water in the next cove along. I leapt out of the car, leaving Brian to park up again, and ran along the road to cross the small bridge (fresh water outlet, remember?) I wasn’t overly hopeful, expecting it to be another diving bird, but no! It was an otter!!!
In fact, two otters!
Okay, so its a long way off (no telephoto lens, sorry) but you can clearly see the difference between the bird in the centre and the otter lying beside it.
Here he is, in the edge of the water
And on the beach, a fair bit closer
Now take a look at the diving technique, which is what I spotted from 2 beaches over
Again, not so impressive, but this was much more fun!
Believe me, that was amazingly close up to such an elusive animal.
That was a cub. Mother was fishing most of the time, although she did join her baby for a little while, and I snapped the tail end of that encounter!
Wow, what a privilege.
So then it was back to our B&B for the night. I mentioned it in a previous post, but it bears another mention as the best venue of our trip, and we are committed to staying there again – just 3 double rooms, the most wonderfully comfortable bed, a peaceful, beautiful location, and the most delicious breakfasts ever. I highly recommend the smoked haddock with poached egg.
Fairways Lodge as you can imagine from the name, overlooks one of the island’s golf courses. This is the view we woke up to each morning
We ate that night at Café Fish, which doesn’t sound so swish, and is, in fact, a tiny café on the top floor of the CalMac ferry terminal, but so popular, we couldn’t get a table before 9pm, and they turned away oodles of people even after we’d sat down to eat. This list of their accomplishments might tell you why…
- Lonely Planet recommends as one of their top 5 restaurants to eat in Scotland.
- Participants in BBC’s Britain’s Best Dish – The Chefs 2011.
- Awarded Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence every year since opening (14 years).
- Rated Number one restaurant in Mull by Trip Advisor
- Rated 2017 Seasonal Restaurant of the Year by Scottish Food Awards
- Rated “UK Fish Restaurant of the Year 2012” by The Good Food Guide.
And when you realise that everything you are eating was caught earlier the same day, you start to appreciate why it has gained these accolades.
Lots to see the next day, join me in my next post, on my trip around the other side of Mull.
Duart castle (Rowan tree)
pics of Tobermmore
ferry over, weather cleared up – last 2 golden eagles
buzzard on fence post by side of road
West coast up to Mallaig via Castle Tioram