The Isle of Lismore, West Coast of Scotland.
For my husbands birthday he wanted to cycle to the small Isle of Lismore and around the island. He had done the trip last year and wanted me to experience it too.
Nestled between the mainland west coast, the Isle of Mull and the Morvern peninsula; Lismore floats like an upturned flat-bottomed boat right in the middle of Loch Linnhe. For a cyclist the going is easy and relatively flat and with so much reward for so little effort.
A 45 minute crossing on Calmac Ferries from Oban (travelling north west) or a short passenger ferry from Port Appin, run by Argyll and Bute Council, Lismore is very accessible and often overlooked.
Closer to the date of departure we had to change our plans as I have an injury which means I couldn’t cycle or carry a heavy backpack. We ended up taking the car with us and the dogs – Valerie and Mikey – the Greyhounds. Although initially disappointed we couldn’t cycle we didn’t let it stop us having a wonderful trip and only used the car to transport our belongings to the off grid bothy we were staying in for one night.
Sailean Bothy is run by a fantastic couple who couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. We had candles and a paraffin lamp waiting for us as well as a big bag of wood for the fire. As night closed in and the small bay disappeared we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights and so many stars my neck hurt from looking. This is a truly off grid bothy with no running water and basic accommodation. Nestled into a corner of a small bay, below a waterfall and limestone cliffs and sheltered from the sea by a small hill it was idyllic and cosy.
If you visit be sure to take cards and whisky. And keep your eyes peeled for Eagles which swooped down in front of me in the morning before I’d had my coffee.
Anywhere you go in Lismore has incredible views. From the rolling limestone hills and fertile farmland to the rising hulks of Mull, the Morvern peninsula and the mainland west coast.
The lime workings were fascinating and worth the walk down the track with fantastic interpretation. As our trip was in March there was nobody else there which added to the desolate, abandoned feel of the once thriving area. Just a small harbour and lobster pots being used by a local fisherman reminding you that you aren’t quite alone.
The ruins of the 13th Century Achanduin Castle on the south west of the island are beautiful and I highly recommend the walk to them. The track takes you over farmland and along muddy tracks before the old walls and incredible views appear below you. The story behind the castle can be found on a discreet interpretation board and be sure to look out for seals in the bay below.
Going back to the title of this post.. Lismore has big views but isn’t so tiny. You could have a wonderful long weekend on the island or even a weeks holiday and not be bored. We were only on the island for 2 days and for a short visit we were able to see a lot of the island. If you visit be sure to pop into the village shop for supplies (so well stocked and friendly). Sadly the Heritage centre was closed as I’ve heard their cafe is fantastic but we did buy some incredible scones from the honesty box at the Point (where the Port Appin ferry comes in).
I have to return.
See below for information and more photos.
More information on the island can be found on the community website: http://www.isleoflismore.com
If you are a keen cyclist, Paul recommends cycling from Oban to Port Appin on the fantastic cycle path and then travelling over on the passenger ferry. This extends the cycling opportunities.
How to get to Lismore:
From Oban: Calmac Ferries runs four times a day during the week (a little less on weekends) and timings can vary depending on the tide so check with the operator. The crossing is around 45 minutes and takes you to the south west of the island. Costing around £6 return per person. Bicycles go free (with limited availability so please check).
From Port Appin: Argyll & Bute Council run a 10 minute passenger ferry crossing up to 12 times a day from Port Appin to Point on Lismore (the north east corner of the island).
Once on Lismore everywhere is walkable (for the avid walker) or really close if travelling by bike.
Lismore is a small island with a population of only around 150 people. There are a few guest houses but no hotels. There is a campsite and bunk barn / hostel as well as some Air BNB’s. Check out the community website for more information.
We stayed at the heavenly off grid Sailean Bothy (found through Air BNB).
Photos: All photos taken on my mothers old Olympus Trip 35 with expired 35mm film.