Getting to Mull does not have to be difficult! In fact, it can be fun, and part of the holiday. I was thinking about this last weekend, when we did a road trip down to Somerset. We encountered some of the issues our guests experience on their journeys getting to Mull, and I thought about the joy of arriving on Mull and at Treshnish leaving the mainland and its traffic congestion issues behind you!
When I was in my twenties, living in London and coming to Mull for holidays, I would drive at night and sleep in the car if I got tired. When we moved here I was in my thirties and we still did the occasional overnights sleeping in a landrover (which was not comfortable in any way!). In to my forties and to be honest the car journeys south of the border became few and far between. Travelling with a child is a different challenge any way as the journey can seem soooo long – so, for us, taking detours and stopping off on the way has made the journeys much easier.
Making a detour
Last weekend we had to make a detour to Wigtown (some detour!) on our way south. A carefully timed journey, we left Mull on the 7am ferry, and got to Wigtown in time for lunch at Beltie Books where my photographs are still on show. We walked the dog to the Martyr’s Stake and watched geese coming in to land on the salt marsh. We looked round Wigtown’s lovely bookshops. Before we left we had tea with a friend and then headed to Dumfries to deliver photographs I had sold.
I had booked the hotel at Tebay and we knew we could eat delicious local food at the service station if we were late, before heading to stay at the Westmoreland Hotel. Coco was with us so we needed somewhere dog-friendly to stay. They even provided her with dog bowls on a mat, and a bag of treats! We had a family room, simply furnished, clean and comfortable. Lovely toiletries made locally. Tebay has built its reputation on using locally sourced and grown food, and the service is always friendly and helpful.
After a comfortable night’s sleep and breakfast we headed south. However we didn’t take a straight route to Shepton Mallet! We had an easy drive from Tebay to Gloucester Services on the M5. It was now time for lunch and a dog walk. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Turf rooved buildings, gentle landscaping with lots of trees and wild flower covered slopes. It was almost beautiful – that is saying something for a service station! Difficult to believe we were beside a motorway. So much so, we didn’t want to be inside – even though inside was very nice too. We had a picnic outside in the sun. I have never felt the urge to do that at a motorway service station before! Again locally sourced, farmed ingredients – made on the premises. What a difference to the usual motorway stops. After our enjoyable break from the road, we headed to Bridgewater. Farmer had somewhere to visit there. Then on to Glastonbury and through to Shepton.
All in all we had driven a long way, but we had had a lovely two days in between all the driving, with good stopping places and distractions along the way. And after a lovely long weekend, we headed straight back up the M5, stopped at the same service stations and the same hotel and arrived home none the worse for wear having had a great time off island! Concluding, I think, that you can reduce the travel hassle hugely by having a positive attitude, planning and timing it well, and making the journey part of the holiday. There was possibly a little bit of luck in there too…
PS I like the way they have concealed the bins.. might copy that idea for the cottages!