Dramatis personae (left to right): Dan, Kev, Jeff and Wayne in front of the Abbey at Iona. (The car in the background wasn't part of our group!). Tim couldn't make the trip because of the joys of looking after little daughter Rosie and so Kev became an honorary member of Birders in Boxers for the second year running on our trip to Scotland.
How we got there: We travelled by easyJet from Bristol Airport to Glasgow, parking our car at Ye Olde Airport Tavern, which cost us a total of £21 for 4 days - a saving of £18 on what we would have paid if we'd parked in the official airport car park. We departed Bristol at 7.15am and arrived at Glasgow an hour later, where we picked up a hire car for the trip. The return flight and a share of the hire of the car cost us £90 each.
The drive from the airport to the port at Oban took us roughly two hours where we caught the midday Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Craignure (Mull). The sailing takes 45 minutes to get to Mull. This cost us a total of £21.50 each (car + 4 passengers). We left Cardiff at 4am and were birding on Mull at 1pm!
Where we stayed, ate and drank: We stayed at the Craignure Inn at, funnily enough, Craignure.
The Craignure Inn
This pub is only a couple of hundred metres away from the small ferry terminal. It's not the cheapest accommodation on the island (£39pppn including breakfast) but is ideally located as a base to travel both the north and south of the island. The staff there were really welcoming and the breakfasts were excellent - catering for both veggies and carnivores and using local produce. We had a couple of evening meals at the Inn too. I think the general consensus was that the food there was OK - and no more than that. Unfortunately, there's not that much choice of alternative places to go in Craignure, but we did spend one evening at MacGregors Bar where the food was better.
Mull is a large island with few villages and when you're out and about birding all day there aren't many places where you can stop and get some grub. So we stocked up on food at the Craignure Spar to keep us going through the day.
Back at the Craignure Inn the beer was not bad. Plenty of choice if you like lager, but less on offer if you like (proper) bitter. We ended up drinking a variety of bottled ales brewed on the island at Tobermory. The Guinness wasn't bad either. There was of course an enormous choice of malt whiskies - but we were too chicken to get stuck into them.
Finally, Sunday night is 'Live Music Night' at the Craignure Inn and we had a cracking evening (fuelled by a few beers) listening to a band called 'Vortex' - their music was much, much better than their name!
So, all flights, ferries, accommodation, car hire and fuel came to roughly £250 each.
That's the technicalities of the trip done. What we actually saw will follow soon.