The only ride from this tour that I haven’t done yet is from Craignure to Lochbuie. It also happens to be the trip that I am not going to cycle. Not because I won’t be cycling today, but because we have another change of plans for today. Since we had done part of the Craignure – Lochbuie route yesterday, our guides decided not to go to Lochbuie today. Instead, we are now going to cycle from Salen via Craignure to Duart Castle. From the fortress, we will return by bike to Craignure where our boat will then be waiting for us. This also means that instead of the planned 50km (31 miles) we will only cycle about 36. But it does not indicate that we won’t repeat any of the routes we did yesterday, it will just not be an as long repetition.
I suspect the main reason behind the decision is to save time. If we had been able to stick to the original plan, we would have had our sailing day today. Doing so might have allowed us to arrive around 3p.m. in Oban giving us some time for sightseeing and tourist-shopping. But with the changed schedule from the first-day adaption were necessary during the week…and now we are only leaving at 3p.m. for Oban. I hope we will still make it in time for some sightseeing and shopping…
Cycling on the Isle of Mull again
Never mind. I am having a good time today no matter if I am going to cycle to Lochbuie or to Duart Castle. The weather is again in my favor. A brief passing shower makes for some cooldown. But the rain does not last long enough for me to consider putting on my rain gear. Those who did change into rain gear had to change back mere five minutes later…
After an almost relaxing ride with no significant climbs to handle I am arriving at Duart Castle. As so often before I am the last one to do so due to frequent photo stops. What could be better than a nice cup of tea and a Scone with clotted cream for lunch now? So far nobody has given me a time of when we are to return to the boat…so a little break should be alright.
Unfortunately, it turns out too late, that my little lunch break robbed me of the chance to see the inside of the castle. I would now only have half an hour left before my group is to start the return ride. By far not enough time to enjoy the inside of the castle and learn more about its history. I will read it up later, but now I really regret that I had a lunch break.
A brief history of Duart Castle
The fortress is the seat of the MacLean clan. It is first mentioned in 1367 in a papal dispensation allowing Chief Lachlan Lubanach MacLean to marry Marry McDonald, daughter of the Lord of the Isles.
During the Jacobite rebellion, the MacLean’s joined forces with Bonny Prince Charles. They were, however, unable to defend the castle against the British invasion led by General Leslie in 1647.
In 1673 the clan lost the castle to the Earl of Argyll to pay back a significant depth. But the MacLean clan regained it in 1681 when the Earl of Argyll fell out of favor with King Charles II, only to lose it to him again ten years later. First, in 1910 it came finally back into possession of the MacLean Clan when the 26s clan chief Sir Fitzroy Maclean purchased it back again. It was then that they started the massive, and to this day still unfinished, task of renovating the castle.
I would have loved to spend some time in the castle breathing its history. Would I have given up on some photos on the way if I had known before? Maybe. But I guess I would have preferred to give up on my lunch instead.
The last time sailing
Returning to the Flying Dutchman, I learn from one of the crew members that they usually anchor at the castle adding a second dingy tour to the adventure. Now, this would have allowed me to go inside… But not only that, our foot-sick travel mate would have had a chance to visit the castle too. So from this point I have to disagree with the decision that was made, but well I did not know better, and I am not in charge. Who knows what other reasons are behind this decision, but the guides?
Nevertheless, I enjoy the last round of sailing. Jan is once more setting sails instead of using the engine – after all Saturdays are sailing days. Since the weather is showing itself from its best side, he adds a tour around Sgeir Dhonn (engl.: Brown Rock), where usually we would find a whole colony of brown seals. Today though, only a few seals are on the rock. Still, this is the closest I have come to any wildlife during this tour.
Sightseeing in Oban
Back in Oban, I have just enough time for some shopping and to climb up to McCraig’s Tower, before dinner.
John Stuart McCraig (1824 – 1902) made his fortune as a banker in Oban. In 1895 he commissioned the building of the McCraig Tower. Not only to create a lasting memory of the McCraig family but also to give the stone masons work during the winter time. Upon John Stuart McCraig’s death, the work was abandoned. He had dedicated money in his testament to complete the building, but his surviving family members successfully fought his last will.
I am enjoying the view from the tower over Oban before it is time to return to the boat for captain’s dinner. When I arrive back at the Flying Dutchman some of my group have changed into more blingy clothes. Suzanna looks at me, asking if I would change clothes for dinner. I can feel her relief when I tell her that I am not.
One last night of sleep on the Flying Dutchman before I am going to return to Edinburgh.