In this guest blog, local theatre and filmmaker Alasdair Satchel gives us insight into why he thinks Fanmore, in North West Mull, is the most beautiful place on the Isle of Mull.
Living here you often hear people say “I live in the most beautiful part of the island”. The first time I heard it uttered I thought ‘Here we go…’
I moved to the island in 2007 to live and work in Tobermory. I started to play fiddle with the Mull Fiddler’s on Monday nights at An Tobar. One of the first people I met there was Anne MacDonald. After playing a few tunes and enjoying the company of the other fiddlers we nipped down the hill to the MacDonald Arms for a quick drink. The Arms remains my favourite pub on the island. Susie, the landlady, is the best host. The meals are very reasonably priced and the food is the kind of straight home cooking that nourishes more than just your belly. It’s the sort of pub you dream of. They used to have an open fire in there, I spent my first night on the island sitting by the fire reading a book and enjoying a quiet pint. It was idyllic.
When I asked Anne ‘Where do you live?’ she, of course, replied ‘I live in Fanmore, the most beautiful part of the island’. Surely everyone says that, I thought. Whether you live at Calgary, Kintra, Fionnphort or even Fishnish, surely you live in the most beautiful part of the island?
With work commitments being pretty full-on, it took me a while to get around to exploring the island. It was all beautiful. Stunning, in fact. There was so much variety in the scenery, from the high hills of the middle of the island to the sandy shores of the Ross of Mull, and the delights of Dervaig, it seemed just great. I was glad I’d chosen to come and live here.
Work took me to Ulva Ferry school one day, and never having gone the coast road back to Tobermory, I decided I’d explore the route on my way home to Tobermory. At one point on the journey, I reached a spot that took my breath away. I was high above Loch Tuath, looking out over Ulva and Gometra to the West and the Treshnish Islands. It was the most perfect view I’d found on the island.
Where was I? Fanmore.
Anne was right. To my tastes, it’s the most beautiful spot on the island. If ever you’re coming back from Ulva Ferry of an evening as the sun sets you’ll get a view there like no other. The Treshnish Isles rise in shadow out of the sea against the pinks and oranges of a spring sunset. It’s what you dream of when you think of an island sunset.
Anne opened up a small café at Fanmore called the Hen House, after the space where her grandfather kept his hens. I guarantee you the best shortbread on the island is to be found at Anne’s Hen House. Try stopping there, taking a coffee and shortbread break to sit on the picnic tables outside and stare down the loch and let the world pass you by. It’s one of the best ways to appreciate the most beautiful part of the island.
Thank you to Alasdair Satchel for writing this guest blog. You can discover his theatre and film work on his website. Alasdair also hosts the What We Do In The Winter podcast, a podcast series about life on Mull, Iona, Ulva and Gometra.