Route plan for the day’s walking:
Route plan for the day’s cycling:
The day began very wet, so I hibernated in my tent, ate breakfast and wrote my journal to pass the time. My aim for the day was to climb Ben More, which at 966m (3,169ft) is the only munro on Mull and the only island munro outside of Skye. By 11:30 the weather had brightened, and there were beautiful views on the shores of Loch na Keal.
A 5 mile cycle ride took me to the car park for the footpath up Ben More. Here I briefly met three cyclists from New York who were touring on Mull, who told me that there was some spectacular cycling beneath cliffs just around the corner. They were intrigued by my plans to climb Ben More, especially since the peak was still shrouded in cloud. Nevertheless, I was determined to bag the summit, which would be my first munro. I had been warned to lock and hide my bike well because of “travelling folks” on the island who were “not averse” to pinching valuable items. I therefore pushed my bike up the path and hid it in a patch of woodland. I then began the climb, opting for the easy tourist path up the hillside. On the ascent, there were some good views back to Loch na Keal, although visibility was a little constrained.
Above about 600m, I entered a layer of thick cloud, visibility diminished rapidly. Thereafter it was a steady climb to the summit, which in deteriorating weather turned out to be a bit of a slog. Near the top, the climb got somewhat steeper although it was really very straightforward. After about two hours’ walking I reached the summit, by which time it was cold, wet and very windy. There was little to see in the fog other than the large summit cairn, but I was still satisfied to have climbed by first munro.
In better weather I could have attempted the A’Chioch ridge for a circular walk, but instead I headed back the same way. I was getting cold, and wished I had brought gloves and a hat. While I quickly descended off the mountain, the rain continued to intensify. By the time I reached the bottom I was drenched and decided against further cycling around the island. I couldn’t face pitching and camping in the dreich weather so opted to head for Tobermory Youth Hostel and a dry night. On the way to Tobermory I spotted the little ruin of Aros Castle and diverted down a footpath to explore it. It was very wet and miserable but nevertheless interesting to see the remains of the castle.
The road from Aros to Tobermory involved a long and steady climb. I found this tiring because I was eager to reach somewhere warm and dry, having been soaked through by the persistent windblown downpour. Tobermory is Mull’s capital, largest settlement and only town, situated in the far northeast of the island. It is a popular tourist destination famous as the filming location for the children’s show Balamory. Main Street is lined with the colourful houses that can be seen on the programme. When I arrived I quickly checked into the Youth Hostel, which I thought was very expensive at £17 (as a non-member), although I was glad to be somewhere dry. I soon bought a fish ‘n’ chips from the harbour stall. Still being hungry afterwards, I hoarded food from the Co-op and made use of the hostel kitchen facilities. I ate toast and butter for the first time in over a week! I had to share a room with several people including two other cyclists who were touring the area on a circular trip through Glencoe. I decided the hostelling experience was not for me, preferring the privacy of my own tent to sharing a dormitory, and I disliked having to worry about disturbing fellow hostellers.