Day 8 |
May 24, 2009

Tobermory, Scotland

By Robin Aiello, Lecturer

Co-ordinates: 56°37.243’N, 006°04.096’

Weather: Overcast with rain showers

Air Temperature: 14C

Due to strong winds and rough seas, the trip to St Kilda was cancelled and instead, the ship anchored in the sheltered harbour of Tobermory. The Expedition Team had organised a full day of activities, starting at 0900, which included free time in the village as well as an afternoon tour of some local sites.

Tobermory is an exquisite town, with brightly painted houses situated along a small horseshoe shaped harbour. The name, Tobermory, means the “Well of Maty” – an ancient healing well located above the town. Today, this small port is mainly a holiday resort destination and sailing centre. More recently, it had become famous because of the BBC television programme for children called Ballymory.

In the morning, the guests had the option of sleeping-in, relaxing onboard or taking a Zodiac shuttle ashore and wandering through the town on their own. Despite the intermittent rains, several guests showed up for a guided walking tour of Tobermory with Ross and Colleen.

I was one of the Zodiac shuttle drivers taking guests from the ship to the shore and enjoyed taking the guests on a slow tour of the beautiful sailing yachts moored up in the marina – especially a pair of wooden gaff-rigged sailboats. An unexpected surprise was the spotting of a lovely otter that was very busy diving into the water and retrieving crabs for his breakfast. We had good close-up views as it sat on the seawall steps munching on the crabs.

After lunch, the guests once again headed ashore to join the planned coach tour heading to two of the region’s most well known castles – Duart Castle and Torosay Castle. What a fabulous trip!

Duart Castle (Dubh Ard – Black Point) stands alone right on the edge of a sea cliff, and today it made a beautiful, moody scene with the misty weather as a backdrop. It is the home of the MacLeans of Duart and was originally built in the 13th century, and recently rebuilt in 1912 by Sir Fitzroy MacLean and the architect John Burnett.

Torosay Castle was very different. It is owned by the James family and is one of the few remaining buildings that were designed by David Bryce. The castle itself is beautiful, with tall ceilings, spacious rooms and large picture windows that flooded the rooms with light. Although the rainy weather prevented us from thoroughly enjoying the gardens, we had some good views of these famous Italianate gardens from the dining and living rooms.

All guests were back onboard the ship in time for the afternoon Recap & Briefing, followed by dinner. After dinner, while the ship sailed onwards toward Loch Ewe, the Expedition Team hosted a fun game called the “Liar’s Club” in the Panorama Lounge.