Relocating, a tough decision

Skydancer Day 2022
15th May 2022

I've loved Mull since revisiting the island in 2011, and for years wanted to move here. The abundance of wildlife, especially birds of prey really appealed to me, as did the landscapes and peace. It still does, and I want that love for the island to continue for the remainder of my time on this world.

But I don't want the downsides of living here to sour that feeling. I want to keep Mull as a special place to visit, for holidays and workshops. I think I can do that, but it means I need to relocate, probably to the Highlands.

Admittedly, the time I've lived here on Mull has been somewhat unusual. We arrived in a lockdown, and nothing was open for weeks. No one was allowed to visit, and I couldn't work. It was strange, wonderful and isolated all at the same time. I got to see Mull in a different way, with few people around, the wildlife could relax and get on with life without interruptions; to see otters curled up asleep on the shoreline was refreshing and amazing.

My work has since picked up, and I've been in the fortunate position to have to turn away clients, simply because of being so busy. I've learned so much more about the wildlife here, what can be seen and when, throughout the seasons, when migrant birds arrive and leave, and found some hidden gems where I can be away from people, and immerse myself in nature.

I've ticked off some amazing encounters and experiences; watching hen harriers sky-dancing over my head, seen golden eagles hunting high on the hills, watched otters playing, fighting and raising their next generations, and gasped at dolphins pursuing shoals of mackerel at night, glowing in the dark as they swam through bioluminescent creatures. I've even sat in the wheelhouse of the Lady Jayne boat, and steered her down lochs in search of white-tailed eagles.

But I knew when I moved here with my brother, that it might be a temporary arrangement. His heart lies in Cornwall, or at least in the southwest of England, a place we holidayed at many times with our parents. A place with so many happy memories. He has admitted to me that he isn't happy here anymore, and wants to move away. And his comments and feelings echo some of what I'm feeling too. As wonderful as Mull is for a place to immerse myself in nature, it is cut off from the mainland, and I do miss my friends and family, every day. A recent visit from my lifelong friend really brought it home to me.

There are of course other reasons, feelings, issues for leaving, and also similar reasons for staying. I'm still not entirely at peace with the idea of leaving Mull. But when I consider the options for staying, it would only be for a short while longer, so why delay the inevitable.

The Highlands offers me perhaps a wider and certainly different array of wildlife for workshops. I would be close to friends I've made over the years of being a photographer, and that appeals greatly. Being next to a city (Inverness, probably) provides me with facilities I've been missing here on Mull, and of course, transport links back to the Midlands. It's also only a few hours away from Mull, so I can drive back here for a few days at a time, if necessary.

Why am I posting this now?

Well, I have mentioned the move on Social Media recently, and had a great deal of positive feedback, which I'm grateful for. It's a tough, heart-wrenching decision to have to make, but I need to make clients aware of my plans, as soon as possible.

It doesn't affect any workshops already in place for this year, or next year's tours based on Mull.

But it does affect bookings for 2023, as right now, I don't know where I will be living, and offering workshops. I have plans for new workshops of course, and together with Andy Howard, we're hoping to offer some new tours soon too. So stay tuned for announcements on those.

As soon as I have more news, I'll add it to my website. If you have any comments, please email them to me, as I'd be happy to hear your opinion. (petewalkdenphoto@gmail.com)