During my time in Scotland I became infatuated with The Highlands – of course it was because of the cows! But, also the amazing wild twists and turns of the mountains, valleys, and lochs in between which are breathtaking. I also spent some time on some of the Scottish islands. Isle of Skye is one that most people have heard of, but I ended up on an unexpected journey that mirrored my entire adventure.

The beautiful port of Mallaig – seamen feed the local seals.

I enjoyed several days in Mallaig, a sea port town in the northwest of Scotland. From there you can find ferries to various islands on which you can stay or just go for the day. After going to Isle of Skye, I decided to visit one of the smaller islands – Isle of Rum. I mean, great name, right??!! I also chose it because the ferries do not depart for each island every day of the week, and Rum seemed to be one of the easier islands to get to. My plans changed when I met Marie and Stephen in my B&B. They had been to Eigg Island and raved about it. They had even seen a herd of cows in the water! So I decided to go there instead of Rum. The problem was, I couldn’t get a ferry out of Mallaig, but instead had to go with a smaller boat out of Arisaig. I did some brief research because I did want to be sure to see some cows (yup, research by cow) and discovered that another island, close to Eigg, seemed more intimate and had more cows – the Isle of Muck.   My B&B owner Tommy told me it was deserted and there was not much to see. I thought “A New York gal on a deserted island? Sign me up!”
 

A bird on the Isle of Muck

Tommy drove me to the Arisaig ferry, and I boarded my small boat – 84 people allowed on it. All was well and fine, except that I didn’t count on such a choppy ride…..for two hours. If you recall, I did overcome my fear of the rocking boat, but I hadn’t counted on getting queasy because of the long duration of the rockiness.

 

We stopped at Eigg Island first. I felt so close to getting seasick that I almost gave up and settled with the Isle of Eigg so I didn’t have to face the sea again. There was even a herd of cows about 15 minutes in the distance. I saw them grazing and knew I’d be able to reach them, even if I walked.

 

But I remembered my Costa Rica message to “go a little further” and I began to realize if I stayed on Eigg I knew vaguely the experience I’d have and I was guaranteed to see at least one herd of cows. By continuing to Muck I would be venturing truly into the unknown. And that mimics the whole point of my journey. Decision made, and I braved the boat again.

The welcome committee


 
I was delighted to find out the captain had seasick medicine. I hadn’t even thought of a way to get over the seasickness apart from being on land, but another passenger was ill and had found out the captain carried something with him and luckily, I was privy to his conversation. The medicine worked perfectly and 30 minutes later I found myself on the deserted Isle of Muck. The welcoming committee was two cows by the side of the road, followed by an entire herd who wondered what I was doing on their road, and then some bulls just chilling.

One of the resident bulls on the beach!

I kept walking and the green of the fields and the blue of the sea made me feel I had found paradise. I walked on and found a bull on the beach. (Much better than a bull in A China shop.) I saw a bird I’ve never seen and in the distance a conference of cows convening on a cliff. (Apparently descendants of Highland cattle mixed with some French cattle.)

 

40 people reside on the island. They just hired a new primary school teacher, and she happened to be on my boat! She was going to look at her new home so she knew what furniture and belongings to bring. She’ll be teaching five students. We had a chat about bravery – me for traveling the world alone and she for moving from a big city (Edinburgh), leaving her own kids behind to move to an island with 40 inhabitants. Both of us felt we were simply doing something we were called to do. Like me, she had been told she was brave but didn’t feel that way because when you just do what you feel like doing, it feels “normal.” nothing to make a fuss about. Funny how you can overlook your own courage.

The amazing contrast of land and sea on the Isle of Muck

I realized if I hadn’t dared to confront my seasickness, if I hadn’t traded ease for something unknown and not guaranteed, I would have missed out on an amazing experience – the echo of my own adventure.

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