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The beauty of Treshnish, Isle of Mull

I ventured off to the Isle of Mull having not been on the Island for a few years, eager to see the startling landscape once again and variations of geology that Mull is home to. I was even more excited to stay with Treshnish and Haunn Cottages located right on an incredible coastal farm with panoramic views over to the Isle of Coll and the Treshnish Isles. It’s even close to Calgary beach with many hiking routes surrounding the area so it seemed like a perfect base for me to relax, be inspired but also to see many varied landscapes.

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I was only on the Island for three days but I sure made the most of it. When I go back, (if is not an option) I  definitely intend to just stay at Treshnish point from the cottage and wander around that area as there is so much beauty and variation in the landscape. I would recommend to really take in that area and slow down with the remarkable location of the cottages. However, because I only had a few days I was eager to get out and about and see more of Mull as it has been way too long since my last visit.

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The background of the farm is a very interesting one: There are 8 cottages, 4 at Treshnish, 4 at Haunn but all with simply spectacular views to the vast expanse of sky and sea around the coastline. The property was one that intrigued me in general because of the sustainability and environmentally friendly ethos it promotes. It has been integral to the owners to preserve the quality of it being untouched. Each building has been carefully decorated to a high yet homely standard, many antiquities that fit the purpose of the location. Modern and homely, whilst preserving the natural quality of the cottages as they always were; slotted perfectly into the landscape, years’ worth of history and tales within the walls. They do not impose, they simply blend beautifully into the location, a shelter against (I’m sure some pretty wild elements) however I was fortunate enough on my stay to have 2 days of sunshine and a day of hail, high winds then sunshine again!

The farm also provides many wonderful opportunities for walking and exploring the varied landscape whilst having idyllic beaches nearby including the infamous Calgary Bay! The cottages are even located within the National Scenic Area of North West Mull, a perfect base from which to choose to enjoy the wildlife, (I saw a few golden eagles) walking and exploring lots! There are nearly 4 miles of dramatic coastline to explore – offering wonderful sea and island views.  Look for the Treshnish Islands, Ulva, Gometra, Iona, Coll, Tiree, Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye. The highest ‘hill’ on the farm is Cruachan Treshnish so it is the best hill to climb to catch the loveliest views. My home for the three days was the Shieling, to be honest I would have been happy in any one of the wonderful properties but this was one perfect for just me, cosy, homely and a quiet secluded spot where I could to and process all the inspiration I had loaded up on from the day!

Here’s some more really interesting history about the place:About Treshnish.

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Day 1: 

Carolyne at Treshnish was so helpful and knowledgeable in providing me with information on what to see locally and also around the Island. She organised a boat trip for me to join onto with the team over at Turus Mara, a family business based on the Isle of Mull. They have been running these exciting and scenic tours to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa for 44 years! Tours can be joined from Mull and Oban and run from Ulva Ferry on Mull to the Islands.

I embarked on the tour from the Ulva ferry and what a day it was! Again we were very lucky with the weather, (I like to think that it’s never bad weather in Scotland, you just have to wear the right kind of clothing) however there’s something pretty special about being on the sea under a clear blue sky and seeing the Islands and surrounding landscape in all of their majesty, that and the fact that the sea wasn’t rough! We headed straight for the Isle of Staffa, leaving the drama of Ben More and the sublime mountains of Mull behind us.

Now the Isle of Staffa has been a place that has been on my bucket list for a long time now, having been fascinated by the Islands from a very young age I made a pact with myself to visit every single one, I’m doing pretty well but the Treshnish Isles were still unexplored to me. The approach to Staffa (pillar Island) by sea is remarkable, the linear magnificence of the rock formations jutting out at stacked angles and the great basalt columns which have inspired millions are a geologists dream!

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We had a couple of hours to explore Staffa which was brilliant as the other boat party were just leaving so there weren’t many of us on the Island. I ambled around, heading for the highest point but then of course Fingal’s Cave was calling and I even spent a good few minutes in there on my own before the rest of the party joined! It is a place that no matter how many times it has been documented or how many images I’ve seen of the cave and rock formations, I’ll never forget the feeling of being sat on the rock looking down at the bright hues of the water and hearing the echoes of my voice carried and bounced around the geological forms. An otherworldly experience.

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Turus Mara collected us and we then set off for the Island of Lunga, the larger of the Treshnish Isles. It was here where I realised how popular puffins are! Like Staffa, Lunga is of volcanic origin and the geology there was just as remarkable! Populated until the 19th century, the Island stills bears the remains of black houses. We had a few hours on the Island which meant I could really explore some of the wilder more remote areas of the Island far from any of the tourists who seemed to just huddle around the magical puffins, (understandably.)

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Lunga is designated a site of special scientific interest because of the abundant plant life found there, many rare plants are endangered and native to the Island. I found walking around the high cliffs of the Island with panoramic views out to the West how large a population of birdlife there was, not only the infamous puffins but guillemots and razorbills too, I’m sure there are even more depending on the time of year!

All in all it was a spectacular day from setting off before 12 and not arriving back to Ulva until 6pm. We had plenty of time to explore the Islands and even sailing back from Lunga stopped to see many seals, and the neighbouring islands of Cairn na Burgh MòrFladda and Bac Mòr. Thanks again to Turus Mara for having me aboard the trip, what a fantastic day! If you would like to book a trip out to the Treshnish Isles with them have a look on their site at: https://www.turusmara.com/timetables-booking/ highly knowledgeable about the local wildlife, history and geology, a big recommendation from me!

Day 2

Now my second full day on Mull was mad, I awoke early and with the beautiful weather I wanted to get out and see as much of the Island as possible.. And that I did! I definitely don’t recommend driving as much as I did and taking in an Island as quickly as me, after all I’m all about the art of slow travel but because I was on my own it was brilliant to just be able to stop whenever and wherever to take in the sights! On this day I ventured all the way down the east coast of Mull taking in the views of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula then over the mountain road towards Carsaig. The mighty roads of Mull are spectacular, lochs, towering peaks and many places to stop and take in the views! I drove all the way down to Carsaig and hiked out to the natural arches, this was one of my main reasons for coming to Mull and the geology there didn’t disappoint!

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I spent a good few hours around this part of the Island and then headed off to my next destination: the Isle of Iona! I’ve been to Iona before yet I wanted to go back for a couple of hours while the sun was out (you have to grab the opportunity in Scotland!) I set off for the highest point on Iona, took in the views and then wandered around some of the secluded beaches in the North of the Island.

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I absolutely love Iona with its sacred and unique archaeology. My last stop of the day was the stunning west coast road that leads from Loch Beg all the way up and around to Gruline making my way back to Treshnish that way! A long windy drive but so worth it, this has to be one of my all-time favourite road trips, each bend I was met with either a sheep, (remember to take it slow) a jutting cliff, an incredible view out to the Hebrides or simply a charming home buried into the land. Traces of history everywhere!

Day 3

My last day on Mull and I thought it would be best to make the most of the location at Treshnish and set off for a big hike around the farm. I spent a good while seeing the full immensity of the farm and visiting a viking burial site, a ruined township and many many sheep all roaming around on the hillside. It also was a great opportunity to see the Haunn Cottages, equally as stunning as the other cottages but that extra bit remote! I’ll let the photos do the talking for my walk around the area, it truly is an inspiring place.

If you would like to follow more of what Treshnish and Haunn Cottages get up to follow them on their social media which captures life on the farm and living in a remote yet scenic area perfectly and of course if you’d like to book a stay here is the website once again with all information!

Thank you once again to the wonderful and inspiring Carolyne and Somerset at Treshnish, I’m looking forward to coming back already! Thanks as always for reading and if you have any questions about the place or what I got up to on Mull simply comment below!

 

 

 

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Dissertation

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So being in fourth and final year at Art School, I had to write a Dissertation.

It’s one of those dreaded things but once it is done and out of the way, you will never believe you got through it!

However mines is all done, printed, bound and sent off to be examined! I handed it in on the 13th of January and couldn’t be happier. I realised throughout writing the dissertation, that I ended up enjoying writing it, I found my subject very interesting, and the more I researched into the chosen subject and read up on articles and books, I found I had a valid point and wanted to keep writing.

Anyway, here’s the title of mines.

‘Genius Loci at sacred sites on the North West of Scotland.’
An exploration into the Genius Loci which is found in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and what factors contribute to this atmosphere.

You’ll realise that this ties together completely with my overall Art Practise so whenever I researched and developed the subject more, I gained more inspiration for my artwork. It also gave me an excuse to travel more to the remote places of Scotland as they were the places I was writing about.

I based the whole dissertation on 3 places and for each one wrote about what factors made up the ‘Genius Loci’ – spirit of place in the area. I ventured out to Calanais on the Isle of Lewis where the famous standing stones are. I also travelled to the Isle of Iona for the second time, this time identifying with the land more and getting a lot more documentation for the writing, and lastly Glen Coe which is possibly my favourite Glen in the whole of Scotland). So with these three places in mind and well researched, I started identifying with all the possible factors that make up the spirit of place within an area. I realised that it is made up of the weather, the location, the representation, the spoken word of the place, the representation, the history, the folklore and a few more. I find this subject very interesting and if you would like to read more about my Dissertation and the whole 8000 words of it just send me a message!

I  concluded that there are many factors that make up the genius loci within sacred sites around North West Scotland, all fusing together in different ways at each site. I found many difficulties in trying to clarify these factors in a way that seems truthful to establishing the spirit of the place or even finding the terms to define them. But in a way, each factor does play a part in merging with the others to produce the genius loci. The overwhelming landscapes, remote locations, documented and oral histories, monuments, folklore, artistic representation and crucially, the receptiveness of certain people who want to make a connection to something unseen, all join together to produce the genius loci. And for each place, the genius loci is determined by different combinations of these factors.

Genius loci then is largely subjective and these are the connected factors which contribute to a sublime atmosphere. However, as I found at the age of ten, from my first visit to Glen Coe, there is something intrinsic within these sites that connects with us naturally. There is something brought by the viewer and there is something projected by the object – but there is also what fills the space between the two.

Isle of Mull & Isle of Iona

For my ongoing projects and general love of travel I’ve been staying on different Islands around Scotland to gain inspiration for my project, take photos and get the feeling of the calmness and mystery of these places for which I want to put across in my own work of depicting the Landscapes.

In the summer of 2013, I decided I wanted to try and visit as many of the Scottish Islands as possible. Having already spent a great deal of the previous year Island hopping around the Outer Hebrides and most of the entire Coast of Scotland, I wanted to go for a place that had stood out to me for a long time. The Isle of Mull and with that, Iona.

I set off from Oban and arrivied into Craignure. Approaching Mull, you see the castle and the dark shadowy mountains along the coast. The feeling approaching an Island always interests me, a real sense of mystery and what you will find within.

We drove up the east coast from Craignure looking out towards the mainland and Sound of Mull.

The first stop was Garmony, a long walk in the secluded, undisturbed grasslands that lead out to Fishnish Bay. The rocks, marsh land and textures in the coast are beautiful. Salen was second, with the rugged coastline and abandoned ships lying on the beach were of great interest. Along with the Aros Ruins and the Salen Forest. Last stop for the day was Toberymory, a little town at the top of the East Coast, lovely.

Next day was spent travelling around the North of Mull, stopping off at Glengorm, Dervaig and Calgary, the bay there was beautiful. Drove down the north west coast to the see the outstanding scenery, looking over to the Isle of Ulva. Further down the coast to Killiemor bay where there are known to be sapphires in the loch. Because of the time of year it is , the Ben More mountain range looked amazing with all the colours of autumn coming through from the mist.

The third day was spent going on a long morning walk through the Aros park, very mysterious forest with many waterfalls and a loch in the middle. Drove down all the east coast past Craignure to a place at the south of Mull called Kinlochspelve and Lochbuie which look out to Loch Spelve. I remember feeling like I had been there before.The vast space along the coast with the hidden lodges in the forest and the rocky cliff sides at the end of the road.

Followed roads to see standing stone monuments and stones circles. Mysterious and reminds you of the past Celtic traditions that are connected so spiritually to the land. Back on the road and had to stop at one of many passing places that looked out onto the large lochs and vast land expanses.The beaches further down the south of Mull are very textured and full of wild colours looking out onto Iona.

We got the ferry to Iona, as soon as you arrive on the Island you feel a sense of tranquility and calmness, eerie but amazing silence. That is exactly the sense of feeling I want to put across in my work, to capture the real sense of feeling of these places.

We stayed at the North end of the Island looking out to Lunga and Staffa with the beautiful white sands of the beaches before us.

Clear waters, white sands and a spiritual awakening with this place. I love being in the wild, small islands, nature and this place has it all. Had a walk to the beaches on the North of the island, walked further into the main part of Iona and the beaches along the coast and then the rocky sands at the west, looking out to other small isles capturing the real sense of mystery of Islands.

Here are some of the many photographs I took while exploring the beautiful Island of Mull and Iona.

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