You could be forgiven for thinking that we were overlooking an idyllic, sun-kissed bay in Antigua or the Azores. However, the reality is that for Antigua, West Indies read Ardnamurchan, the most westerly location on mainland Great Britain! With an azure blue sky and a shimmering, aquamarine sea, there is no better place in the world to be, than here in the West Highlands when the sun is shining.
The Ardnamurchan countryside, which is founded on an ancient collapsed volcano, provided us with some wonderful wilderness walking, despite the fact that we were never more than a couple of miles from habitation at any time. Spring had yet to arrive in the Ardnamurchan hills, with the brown colours of Autumn in need of refreshing and in complete contrast to the canvas painted by a dazzling blue sky.
Little stirred as we climbed to our rocky viewpoint, high above the Sound of Mull, where we were treated to the most incredible vistas, West to Ardnamurchan lighthouse and East to a line in the distance depicting the Isle of Mull’s three highest mountains, Dun da Ghaoithe, Ben Talaidh and Ben More. As we settled down for lunch, our eyes were attracted to the natural art that adorned the rocks and, in particular, to the distinctive blood-red fruiting discs of Red-Eye Lichen.
As we walked among the fields and gardens of the local village, our ears were assaulted by a cacophony of birdsong. April is the month when the intensity and diversity of the West Highland ‘Dawn Chorus’ increases. Resident songsters, like Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock and Robin, find their airspace invaded by returning Summer migrants, including Willow Warbler and Blackcap. The Chaffinch may be the most ubiquitous bird in this part of the Highlands, yet its cheery demeanour and rollicking, staccato warble never fails to put a smile on our faces. ‘Mull Magic’ may be used to seeing ‘celebrity’ birds and animals on our walks on the island, yet we have a truly egalitarian approach to our wildlife watching. The cheeky Chaffinch gives us just as much pleasure as a majestic Golden Eagle (and it has a far better singing voice, to boot)!