Tuesday, 3 August 2010

An Obliterated Odyssey

Save for the warm air and lack of wind, it was nigh impossible to fathom which season of the year it was, let alone the correct month. The sea mist had rolled in and reduced our visibility down to 50 metres, obliterating the scenic splendour of Mull’s North-West coast, as well as any hope we had of fulfilling our guests ‘Eighteen Island Odyssey'.

The remote headlands on the North-West of the island comprise some of Mull Magic’s favourite walks, offering our visitors (on a clear day!) the opportunity to ‘visit’ no fewer than eighteen different Inner Hebridean islands, by dint of a 180 degree turn of their heads. However, on our most recent visit, we could barely see beyond the nose on our faces and had to draw on all our powers of descriptive vocabulary and fecund imagination to paint a picture of the breathtaking scenery that had been draped in a damp veil of greyness.

In the absence of more favoured blues and purples, grey is alright, so we set about making the most of a day (and a 7 mile walk!) that threatened to close in on us, prompting the need for our compasses to be near at hand. Due to the conditions, we realised that wildlife could be at a premium, so we were absolutely thrilled when a Grayling butterfly rose from some coastal rocks we were scrambling over. It soon re-settled, allowing our guests the chance to discover the incredible cryptic camouflage this insect has, allowing it to blend in perfectly with the lichen-stained rocks it inhabits.

The Grayling is one of our favourite butterflies, largely on account of its ‘drab’ and ‘lacklustre’ colouring. Unobtrusive by nature, the black, brown, grey and white markings of its hind wings help it not draw attention to itself. Just sometimes, however, we can’t help but think that this unassuming insect must have a darker side, perhaps like the Dunnock has among garden birds. Has anyone out there any gossip about Graylings that they’d care to share with us at Mull Magic?

Like a mini-version of the famous Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the United States, many of Mull’s headlands have their very own ‘faces’ that have been sculpted in the basalt cliffs. History lessons at school (admittedly, quit some time ago!) suggested that the Romans never made it as far North as the Isle of Mull. That said, we don’t think that we are stretching a point by suggesting that the following photograph captures the image of a Roman legionary, complete with helmet (and nose), to perfection!