Old and decaying boats

Published 18 October 2015

Decaying boats near Salen, on the Isle of Mull

One of the more interesting walking books in my collection is Scottish Hill Tracks. Published by the Scottish Rights of Way & Access Society (or Scotways as they generally call themselves), the book details a raft of old drovers roads and rights of ways across (funnily enough) Scotland.

Every now and then I look at it and think you could easily piece together your own long distance walk by connecting the routes documented in it.

One that’s especially easy to do is a tour of the Isle of Mull. There’s a couple of different routes listed in the book, and they all pretty much connect together and take you around the island.

Mull’s a lovely island and one worth exploring, along with its close neighbour, Iona. I was there in 2012 with my partner Catherine, then five months pregnant with our son. And whilst there we whisked Scottish Hill Tracks out and we walked a section from the village of Dervaig to a place called Salen.

Much of it went through forests, woods and moorland, but as we approached the end of our walk we came along the coast where several fishing boats lay rotting in the sands, not far from the side of the road.

There was something stunning beautiful about the decayed state of the boats, with their paint peeling and the windows smashed and broken. Once these would have been the source of someone’s livelihood, but now they stood in a de-facto graveyard. Some people would say they’re an eyesore, yet the views of those boats inspire photographers.

One day, no doubt, those boats will go. It probably just needs a strong storm or something to destroy them for good. Nothing ever lasts for ever after all. But here’s hoping they last just a little longer.

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