Tuesday, 4 May 2010

An Island Fit For Kings (and Hitler’s Groupies).

It’s not every day that you are party to a little piece of history in the making, but Sunday past was one such day for ‘Mull Magic’. The venue was the privately owned island of Inch Kenneth, which lies on the bottom lip at the mouth of Loch na Keal. The occasion was the first ever commercial landing to the island, organised by local company, ‘Mull Charters’, operated by husband and wife, Martin and Judith Keivers.

Very few of the world’s population of 6,818,700,000 have even heard of Inch Kenneth, never mind set foot on the island, so we really did feel very special to be among the chosen few on this inaugural visit.

Dominated by the forbidding hulk of the 200 metre high cliffs at Gribun on the nearby mainland of Mull, Inch Kenneth occupies a truly quintessential Hebridean setting. Only one mile in length and half that distance at its widest, the island provides easy walking surrounded by some of the most heart-stirring scenery on the Isle of Mull.

Composed of sedimentary conglomerates and limestones, Inch Kenneth is a fertile oasis amidst the volcanic lava flows that predominate much of Mull’s landscapes. The island’s fine, sandy soil promotes flower-rich grassland in Spring and Summer, while providing nourishment for a 200-strong herd of Barnacle Geese that arrive each Autumn from breeding grounds in Greenland.

Once regarded as second only to Iona in its ecclesiastical importance during Medieval times, Inch Kenneth has found a certain notoriety more recently which, no doubt, adds to the island’s allure. Once the home of the song writer and philanthropist, Sir Harold Bolton, who penned the lyrics to the ‘Skye Boat Song’, the island became (in)famous during the Second World War due to its connection with the Mitfords, a minor aristocratic English family, who purchased the 19th century mansion house in 1938.

One of six sisters, Unity Mitford was a staunch supporter of the Fascist movement and an admirer of Adolf Hitler, with whom she became a friend. Held back in her early life by her prettier and more clever sisters, Unity craved attention and developed a desire to shock. An exhibitionist, with a coarse sense of humour, Unity discovered that her love of Nazism allowed her to stand out from the crowd. Having attempted suicide, with a pistol given to her by the Fuhrer, when the Second World War was declared, Unity returned to Britain and spent her last years on Inch Kenneth. There she spent her time improvising religious services in the medieval chapel and planning her own funeral.

Unity was only one of a highly colourful family full of stylish ideals and controversial political alliance. The Mitford’s association with Inch Kenneth has given this idyllic little island a mystique that many would find hard to believe. However, there is much, much more to the beautiful and lush island of Inch Kenneth than the Mitfords and, having finally set foot on its hallowed turf, ‘Mull Magic’ can’t wait to go back on a further voyage of discovery and enlightenment! For more photographs of Inch Kenneth taken on this momentous occasion, go to the Mull Magic Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mull-Magic/62130039800

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