Mull is a small island and therefore doesn’t have exactly what I would call a “thriving social life.” There is only one pub and I finally went there the other night with a friend on the farm. But that’s kinda all you get as far as that is concerned. Even still, Mull has brought in a lot of firsts to my life, just in a different form.
My first weekend here, just a little over a week and a half ago, I pointed myself to the wee isle of Iona. This friendly little island is a mile off the shore of the Ross of Mull and is just one mile wide and three miles long. So I could walk the length of it in under an hour. The ferry ride is just about 10 minutes and drops you off at the tiny “village” that contains a few hotels, shops, an old nunnery and a pub. Iona was allegedly the first place for Christianity to reach, brought in by St. Columba. It is a frequent pilgrimage place for believers or those just looking for a peaceful place to retreat. There are Celtic crosses everywhere, and a very active Christian community in the old Abbey.
When I planned to go to Mull and visit Iona, I had no idea about the religious significance. My first day there I walked around the nunnery, the abbey, and up to some of the beaches and had a lunch of falafel at one of the hotels. Iona’s landscape is rocky and hilly and green and at the northern point you can see the ocean on all three sides. The second time I went to go to the service at the Iona Community. They are a multi-denominational community who puts an emphasis on social justice and peace and meeting with each other in their respective locations (not all members are on the island-most aren’t.) I thought their approach and methods were beautiful. In these little groups they apparently keep each other accountable to being involved in some effort to establish peace-be it attending a multi-faith event or lobbying against the development of nuclear weapons-and challenge each other to be good stewards of their money, the earth, and keeping their spirituality alive. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I thought about becoming a member.
Another “first“ I had was going to another little Isle called Erraid. This trip actually heralded in several firsts for me.
Erriad is a tiny little island that isn’t really an island. What I mean to say is that when the tide is out, you can just walk right across. In fact that’s the only way to get to the island, by either walking when there is low tide or walking at the shallow bit of the ocean-which requires wellies anyway. I was on my way to visit the wee little isle when lo and behold, on the side of the road was a baby highland cow. I nearly squealed with joy because I’d been out hunting for this little nomadic herd of cows before and failed to find them. I’m glad to report that they are just as cute and fuzzy as they look in all the pictures. The babies look like little teddy bears, and the adults are very fluffy with nice long horns. I loved them. I tried to make them be my friend, but they seemed less than interested.
Once I got to the island the tide was just about out, so I hid the bike in the rocks (as Rosie and Nigel suggested) and started across the water way. I wore my wellies, which I was glad to have done, especially once I got on land. There are bits of Mull and the isles that are just little hidden marsh lands. I stepped a few times only to find my feet sinking down PAST my wellies. I somehow managed to find the mud holes that were so soft and deep that they went up past the top of my boot. Finally I traveled through the wetlands of Erraid to the other side of the island-maybe a mile and a half-and took a seat up on the rocks. I was gazing out at the beautiful sea shore when I saw what I finally recognized as a seal. It’s not like I haven’t seen a seal before, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a seal out in the ocean- in the wild. I crept down and got right up on the rocky shore as close as I could to the rocks they were laying on out in the ocean. They saw me but were entirely unconcerned by my presence. This picture is from a distance, but you can see the little guy on the left curling up in the typical seal pose.
After a sufficient amount of time next to the shore I marched back. I was of course, concerned that the tide would come up and I wouldn’t know how to get back. It was also getting late and I didn’t want to ride my bike back in the dark. When I got back to the other side of the island, I found this guy. I have no idea what it is, my best guess is a sailor holding and upside down boat. But either way, cue awkward self-done photo shoot.
Without realizing it, I also just so happened to make it back when the sun was setting. So I got to walk across the rising ocean in the golden-orange sunlight. Such a perfect end to the day.