After breakfast we returned to Salen. Refreshed after a good night’s sleep, we were able to enjoy the view of the Sound of Mull which we were too tired to appreciate yesterday. Back at the junction we turned right, after a mile or so there was a campsite overlooking the sea, so Christine was hopping mad that we hadn’t continued last night! Such is life.
We turned off for Ulva Ferry to have a nosey round with perhaps a visit to this small island – the ferry journey only lasts a minute or so, and Ulva is so close to Mull that you summon the boat by sliding a panel on a board which is visible from across the water. There’s a café called “The Boathouse” on Ulva, which would normally be sufficient to tempt us across, but a group of people were waiting around so we asked them why. It was 11:15 and the boat trip to Staffa left at 11:30. Christine and I had been to Staffa before, but Rowan hadn’t and it’s such a special place that we were happy to pay it another visit. We locked our bikes and took our valuables and warm clothing in case there were spare places on the boat. We were in luck, and even got to sit out in the open on top.
The journey across the water is interesting too, with the coastlines of Mull and Ulva to examine, and the Treshnish Isles getting closer as we motored out to sea. Puffins and cormorants were active on and around Staffa as we landed at 12:30. We had an hour and a quarter on the island, enough time for our picnic in the warm sunshine and to photograph the amazing hexagonal basalt columns, some rising perpendicular while others are twisted. We were back at Ulva Ferry for 15:00 to continue our ride along the west coast of Mull.
We took a break at Calgary bay, where there’s a “wild camping site”, something of an oxymoron, driving up in a camper van isn’t exactly wild! We pushed on over the hills to Dervaig, then came the last eight long killer miles to Tobermory, steeply up and down for what seemed like forever, all feeling tired at the end of the day. Then whizzing downhill, past the Tobermory sign but even then the road has a last laugh at the weary cyclist with a final ascent that demands bottom gear before you can enter the town.
We reached the SYHA hostel at 19:30, which left half an hour before the Co-op closed. We bought our food, showered, cooked and dined at 21:00, leaving just enough time for a short stroll before bed.