A special day out
Continuing the Fank Project in the last blog, I had a special day out on Iona yesterday. I had been told about 3 fanks there and had found a couple of maps on the Ross of Mull which I wanted to investigate. The weather forecast was amazing, so I left home just after 6am to make the most of it!
As I drove across the island the temperature hovered between 0 and -3 degrees with hoar frost on the roadside verges. The sun was rising when I reached Salen Bay, I love the shape of this tree. The light got better and better. Air so clear and colours so rich. A pink glow infusing the hills and warming the shimmering still sea.
I got to Fionnphort in plenty of time for the first boat at 8.45am and watched the ferry emerge from the sheltered Bull hole. It moors there overnight.
Bay at the Back of the Ocean
Because I had limited time I took my bike, but walking is just as pleasant if you have longer. I had been told about a fank on the machair so that was my first port of call. Not a soul around, just fields of sheep and lots of lambs. Cottage gardens full of daffodils and tulips. The Bay at the Back of the Ocean is stunning, and the machair doubles up as the island golf course though not unsurprisingly there was no one playing. I found the fank, it was semi sunken in to the ground at one end but made of concrete rather than stone, so too modern for me. I flew over it anyway!
The north end
Next I cycled up to the north end where I had been told of a fank at Calva. I found Eilean Chalbha on the map and headed in that direction. I could see an enclosure drawn on the map and assumed that was it, but when I flew, I wasn’t so sure. There were remnants of two older enclosures not far away with secondary walls which could have either been houses or pens, difficult to tell. More research needed. But no regrets.
It was so beautiful there. I walked across the dunes to the beach and walked its length. The colours were out of this world. Literally popping. While flying I could hear Skylarks and Peewits and walking along the shore I saw Oystercatchers and I think Sandpipers.. (I am no birdwatcher). It was so lovely to walk, following Greylag geese prints in the sand, picking my way around rainbow coloured rocks. The cold air thick with seaweed and ozone warmed by the sun.
I took my picnic to another beach near the ferry and picked a handful of cowries in minutes. I thought of collecting these beautiful cockle shells but in the end I didn’t. By this time it was nearly one pm, time for the ferry back to Mull. There were more people about now. Locals walking or running, gardening, cycling with children, shopping. I bumped into someone I have been having regular meetings with on Zoom but had never met in person! The island is obviously quiet given the Covid situation, and I felt very lucky to have had a legitimate reason to use the ferry. Having been one of two foot passengers and one car driver on the way over, I was the only passenger on the way back. I have never experienced Iona like this before.
What a special day out!