|Gylen Castle...our destination.|
With a wedding anniversary coming up in a few days, I was determined to plan something rather special to mark this 41st celebration. But what to do? In the past, dining "out" had always gone very well. Fine dining requires, after all, an imaginative menu, high quality food, an excellent overall dining experience, and a unique and special atmosphere. I felt equal to the task at hand.
The mission was to prepare a gourmet lunch experience, ensuring that all of the above-mentioned variables were met or exceeded. The location would be ocean view and secluded. (I was sure that Joan wouldn't mind the fact that the only way to this special venue would be by foot, around 13 kilometres. There would also be some 400 metres of elevation gain over the route, but, no worries, it would serve nicely to enhance appetites.) It would be perfect.
There was just one tiny matter to be resolved. The plan was "hatched" rather late in the day and it was going to be very difficult to secretly prepare and pack the meal in advance.
The following morning, knowing only that we were going "out to lunch" and that it would take a couple of hours to get to the destination (by foot) Joan prepared her day pack...while I discreetly "dealt" with the actual luncheon menu. A quick run to Tesco, the nearby supermarket, was required. Thankfully, it opens early, at 0600. Exiting the morning darkness into the warmth and brightly lit interior, I was one of their first customers. An efficient 30 minutes later, the shopping and preparations were complete. Following a relaxed bowl of porridge with marmalade (prepared by Joan), we were ready to catch the 0840 ferry from Oban (Gallanach) to Kerrera, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, for the 10 minute ride across the Sound.
|Joining fellow passengers, at Gallenach, for the crossing.|
Arriving, the small island immediately feels very special and very remote. There are less than 50 residents. Vehicles are not permitted, except for the use of those who live there...it is very quiet with only the sounds of nature filling the air. For a small island, the landscape feels vast and diverse - a scenic and rugged coastline, secluded beaches, cliffs, caves, heathland, high hills, and sufficient bog to make one appreciate the expense of waterproof hiking boots.
|Not much has changed on the island.|
And why should it.
On Kerrera, there are lots of sheep, wild (feral) goats...
and a bird rescue centre, The Island Parrot Sanctuary, where these exotic birds are given needed care and attention for life. It is clearly a labour of love.
|A parrot whistled at Joan as we passed by...and again |
when we placed a donation in a little container on the fence.
|Looking more like a painting, this image is untouched.|
|Beyond the bracken and the grassy banks, the castle ruins.|
As magical as it appears, the castle had a violent history and a very short lifespan. Built around 1582 by the Clan McDougall, it was only occupied for about 65 years, before being besieged and subsequently burned by General Leslie during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
|Just to Joan's left, sea stacks on the raised sea bed.|
Many thousands of years ago, the sea raged around them.
Exploring the ruins is, as we so often discover here, like "time travel".
|Entrance to the castle interior.|
The ground under foot, on which the castle is built, is a "raised seafloor", once the actual seabed. After the glaciers retreated, the land "rose". Sea stacks and caves, created by the erosive power of ocean waves now stand very high and dry! It's a "dynamic" world we live in. Change is always the norm on this amazing planet.
|An arch was carved by the sea, |
and then the land rose when the Ice Age glaciers melted.
|Framed by the arch, created by the sea.|
Leaving the castle ruins, I kept an eye out for the perfect spot for our pre-anniversary meal together. Twenty minutes later...there it was, the ideal location by the shore, above the crashing waves and looking over to the mainland of Scotland. Indeed. It stirred the heart which was most appropriate. This was, after all, a wedding anniversary celebration.
I needn't have worried. Joan seemed most pleasantly surprised at what was on the menu: Tomato Tortellini Templada (room temperature), pink lady apples, and a bottle each of sparkling Highland spring water. A granola bar was served for dessert. Rather impressive, I would say. :)
She looked pretty pleased, indeed!
|The dining spot at NM 797 266, looking across|
to the mainland of Scotland - the perfect venue!
|Thank you, Tesco.|
Soon, it was time to finish the circuit on Kerrera. The sun was scheduled to set at 1554 hrs, and there was a ferry to catch. Well sustained, we climbed up and over the island.
Somehow, whatever the weather here, the atmosphere fills simultaneously with sun and rain, and almost always offers a visual spectacle.
After a short wait, the ferryman returned.
|The second half of the 13 km circuit, |
and not another soul on the trail.
|The spectral colours near Craignure, on the Isle of Mull.|
|The return ferry ride back to Gallenach.|
|Our route around the southern end of Kerrera.|
The Isle of Kerrera offers solitude, tranquility, adventure, and an amazing journey through geological and human history. And Tesco offers some very handy cans of pasta! Being outdoors makes even the simplest menu, a most elegant feast, every time. ;)
Total distance of circuit: 13.4km
Total ascent: 369m
"Gourmet" lunches enjoyed: 1