The Scottish Isles have always beckoned to me – I love the idea of being shut into a cosy cabin, with a fire blazing, while the waves crash and the wind howls outside. However, both fortunately and unfortunately, the weather was great. I’m talking full sunshine and glass like water. Not a howl nor crash within ear shot – we will have to try our luck in the winter. Luckily a friend invited us for a weekend away on Lismore to stay at their cottage on the island. So on the train we hopped and a mere 8 hours later we ended up in the seaside town of Oban, it was then a short trip on the family boat to the cottage (there is a ferry as well). There are also options to rent homes if you don’t have generous friends to whisk you away.
Lismore is an outdoor enthusiasts playground and you could easily fill your time with hiking alone. There are plenty of trails to explore and you will struggle to get lost on an island this small (ahem ahem). The famous Scottish lochs were in abundance and we even went for a swim in one of them, outrageous I know. Before you imagine how brave I was, please note that I was the only one who failed to go past my knees due to the fear of freezing my privates.
We were not satisfied with merely strolling along the coast, meandering over bright green hills and picking our way down ravines… no, we decided to do our best Bear Grylls impersonation and catch and cook mackerel over a fire on the beach. However, unlike Bear Grylls, we were fully equipped, obviously. Boat, rods, beer and matches. We did show off by foraging for wild thyme, but were blown off course when we almost let the fire go out after a bit too long admiring the view. We got there in the end and enjoyed the freshest fish in one of the most beautiful places I have been.
It was the first time we had been mackerel fishing and I must say that it really is quite the ego boost. They can’t be the brightest bunch in the sea because as many hooks as we were putting down, we were pulling them up. Great for those of us with short attention spans. We were even visited by a pod of porpoises who came within 10 metres of the boat, incredible. We were a bit worried that we would accidentally hook one, however, they proved to be much smarter than their mackerel cousins and disappeared as quickly as they appeared.
We spent the rest of our time eating all the seafood you could imagine – halibut, salmon, mussels – as well as drinking whisky and wine and pretending we knew how to play croquet like the classy people that we are.
It was a dreamy long weekend that we wish we could repeat. Cost wise, when you’re cooking for yourself and have free accommodation it works out to be quite cheap. A big(ish) group could easily rent a house for an affordable price as well. Our biggest expense was getting all the way up to Lismore – so it depends where you’re coming from.
Here is a breakdown of our costs for 2 people for 4 days:
Accommodation – free
Food/Drink – £140 (NZ$275)
Transport – £260 (NZ$510)
Total spent – £400 (NZ$785)