The Beasts of Mull

I’m posting as the remnants of Hurricane Dorian are pouring down outside on the already wet Island of Mull in the inner Hebrides of the east coast of Scotland. As I was hiking a trail that, as many do here, was crossing through a farm field, the farmer was working on repairing a fence because, as he said, “The beasts were coming through.” Also, much of the land is open grazing, so as challenging as the single track roads are—with blind curves and hills, sharp drops, muddy shoulders, 60 mph speed limits—there are also occasional sheep or cattle on or near the road. So between the roads and hikes, I’ve encounter a few of the beasts of Mull. They are splendid, and it appears the frequent rain has kept them clean for portrait sessions. How about we start with a horse.

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Sheep are everywhere! (Except on the menu. Pork sausage, ham, bacon seems to be on every plate, but I’ve not seen a pig in Scotland. Mutton has never been offered once. Hmmm, what’s in haggis?) The sheep on the trail are pretty shy, and run away easily. And then there was this ram, I named Harold, the guard of the stone circle in Mull.


The white stones more or less made a path that was probably the driest route through the wet, soaked, soft pasture, over streams, through three gates, and near farm animals. Some cattle were grazing nearby and a bull and cow were doing bull and cow things. The final gate opened to pasture, and there were the standing stones in the distance. With a ram nearby who I figured would scamper off. But as I walked close to Harold, he’d walk in circles near me. Then he’d walk in circles around me. Had he been influenced by the circle of stones?


I thought I’d just ignore Harold, and stand and look at the stones that I was getting closer to. And soon Harold was standing next to me and looking at the stones, too. Eventually, we both moved on for a closer look.

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I put my hand on the tallest stone, but had no Outlander moments. Harold had moved on to eating with the ewes, and I returned to my soggy hike back. However, the cattle were now on the path. So I got a shot of the loveliest cow in that crazy green grass.

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Then one of the bulls comes up to me, and starts pushing me with his head. I tell him there is no need for that. He displays great curiosity with my camera backpack. I saw what he did when he got behind a cow and said you’re not getting behind me. I had a few more words with him until I could back away with him not following.

I got back on the road to head to my B&B at the end of the road. Some dramatic skies and impressive loch visitas caused me to look for safe places to pull over on the single track to get some images, and the sky showed promise of great sunset. Then I turned a corner, the sun broke through, and herd of Highland cattle were moving on the road and grazing aside it, and I’d made it to Scottish heaven.

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