We caught the early foot-ferry to Lismore, in beautiful weather on the last day of May. If you want a peaceful day off from the world I commend this lovely Scottish island to you, unspoiled and with some of the best views in Scotland.
The Lismore Ferry (c) John Bainbridge 2017
After very heavy rain the day before, we were apprehensive that the weather would be rough, and we had come to Appin particularly to visit the nearby island of Lismore. But like a miracle, it cleared into one of those quite perfect Scottish walking days, with absolutely clear views for miles.
Even before we left on the ferry from Port Appin, I’d spotted an otter through a pair of binoculars borrowed off a waiting bird watcher.
Lismore’s Past (c) John Bainbridge 2017
The ferry takes just a few minutes to take you across the Lynn of Morn to The Point on Lismore. The sea was as calm as glass.
The views from Lismore were quite superb. We’d often seen the island from our many trips across the CalMac ferry to Mull. I’d imagined it a flat and barren. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Lismore has quite a variety of landscapes, and is much more wooded than I’d thought.
Medieval Grave Slabs (c) John Bainbridge 2017
We followed the very quiet lane to Clachan, where stands the island’s lovely church. There was once a cathedral here in the early days of Scottish Christianity. The present church is calm and peaceful, with some excellent stained glass – outside there is a display of fascinating medieval grave slabs, and a sanctuary stone opposite, marking the boundary of the distance you might wander if you’d claimed the protection of the church.
On the coast of Lismore (c) John Bainbridge 2017
The Broch and the mainland mountains (c) John Bainbridge 2017
On the way down the lane we watched a farmer pull in at a gate. He had several bottles of warm milk with him. He stood by the gate and began to call out, doing an incredibly good impression of a ewe. Surely, after a few moments two lambs, either abandoned or orphaned, trotted up to him.
A Medieval Sword (c) John Bainbridge 2017
We ambled on up the lane to the heritage centre and cafe run by the local community – and excellent it was. I recommend the locally-made ice cream. There’s a splendid little museum too, illustrating the life of the island. Well worth a visit.
The friendly lady there told us that it seldom snows on Lismore, though they get a lot of rain and high winds. She added that the mountains on Mull and the surrounding mainland look magnificent from this island viewpoint.
The island is thriving, she said. Young people who had left were now returning. There were currently three new babies on the island.
We followed a lane down to the long island loch called Baile a’ Ghobhain – a rather beautiful stretch of water, reedy at this end. Just before the farm of Balnagown, we took of across country, scrambling across walls and through fences, to Trefour Castle. Not a castle as such but a broch.
Baile a Gobhain (c) John Bainbridge 2017
The fallen walls of the broch are about fourteen feet high and it must have been an intimidating structure during its Pictish heyday. It seems to have been used for several centuries, possibly even by the Vikings whose long ships were once a familiar sight in these waters.
We followed another lane back up to the island’s main road – oh, that all main roads were so quiet and peaceful, heading off to see Port Ramsey, a long row of cottages by the sea, built originally for workers in the limestone quarries. Apparently, some of the islanders still commute by boat to work at the quarry on nearby Morven.
The Broch (c) John Bainbridge 2017
Back then along the lane to The Point and our homeward ferry, admiring once more the many flowers common on Lismore – primroses, rhododendrons, flag irises, and so many more. During the day we also saw a shrew and a hare – the latter were reintroduced to the island some thirty years ago.
Lismore is a very peaceful and spiritual island – it nearly became the religious centre of the area instead of Iona. A wonderful place to relax and potter around.
Port Ramsey (c) John Bainbridge 2017