ISLE OF MULL TRAIN TO TOROSAY CASTLEClick for larger photos.
The Isle of Mull Train
Our tour director promised a fantastic demonstration of Britain's prototype for future rapid transit in the UK. We were guaranteed a ride on a compact and energy-efficient train, which boasted a cost-effective operation with utmost consideration of safety standards and comfort for the passengers. The Isle of Mull train was advertised as a non-stop trip from the Craignure station to its destination (the Torosay station), except for one mandatory mid-journey stop at Tarmstedt. With these statements, our bus came to a halt near the old ferry pier at Craignure and waited while Gordon obtained tickets at the railway station office.
As advertised, the train stopped at Tarmstedt. This is where Victoria (the engine) required a drink. No kidding! Well, the journey is 1.25 mi. (2 km) long and the track is narrow gage (10.24 in. or 260 mm) wide.
We were met at the Torosay terminal by Chris James, the 5th Laird of Torosay, who led the tour group up a path to his Scottish Baronial Castle of Torosay. James' great-great-great-uncle was Arbuthnot Charles Guthrie, who died childless and left the property to his great-grandfather. Although Chris James does not normally give guided tours, he gave us a thorough tour of the entire estate (after pausing in the great Central Hall to offer everyone a taste of a local Scotch whisky . . . very tasty indeed). He made everyone feel welcome by inviting them to sit on the chairs and couches. [Chris readily agreed to Doug's request for permission to give a photo of the Guthrie portrait of Sir William Wallace to David R Ross, the author of On the Trail of William Wallace and For Freedom - The Last Days of William Wallace . . . among others.]
From the Dining Room window, there was an excellent view of Duart Castle, once Guthrie property, but sold to the 26th Chief of Clan Maclean in 1911. Over the fireplace is the head of an Irish Elk, extinct for over 10,000 years, from Co. Monaghan, with a span of 7 feet 4 inches (but Chris remarks that there is one in a house near Dublin which is 14 feet).
Torosay Castle Gardens
Torosay Castle has 12 acres of ornamental gardens. The featured Statue Walk is lined with 19 life-size limestone figures which were sculptured by Antonio Bonazza near Padua, Italy. Chris James mentioned that many of the trees in the garden are cared for by Torosay on behalf of the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh.
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