A Visit to the Isle of Mull in February. Mull is just off the west coast of Scotland and has always been on our list of places to visit.
Mull has been inhabited since around 6000 BC, creating a rich history. Ranging from the Lochbuie Standing Stone Circle, Duart Castle, Whisky, the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th centuries and playing its part in the second world war.
If you were to look at a map of Mull and its immediate surroundings, you will appreciate its interesting landmass. With coves, lochs, mountains and beaches. Then there’s the array of surrounding islands. Iona, Ulva, the Treshnish Isles and Staffa with Fingal’s Cave.
Finally, in February 2018, we were able to see Mull for ourselves. Or at least some of the top half.
Mull is the second-largest island of the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland and is the fourth largest Scottish island. Tobermory is its capital and this is where most of Mull’s population live and it would be Tobermory that we would also be staying.
Unfortunately, this would be a whistle-stop tour as we were only staying for one night and had booked into the Western Isles hotel. Built in1883 by a 21-year-old! Theophilus Caldwell Sandeman 1862 – 1935, it was a grand looking building. Perfectly situated above the town with amazing views across the waters of the Sound of Mull towards the small island of Calve Island.
So, time was not on our side, a bit of planning was required.
How to get to Mull
There are several ferries from the mainland to Mull;
Oban to Craignure Mull (45 minutes)
Kilchoan to Tobermory Mull (15 minutes)
Lochaline to Fishnish Mull (15 minutes)
We opted for the Oban to Craignure route as Oban is closer to our home plus we planned to start our tour of Mull from the moment we drove off the ferry.
Duart Castle is uniquely positioned on a clifftop, guarding the Sound of Mull, it is a spectacularly atmospheric looking castle and has been the base of the Clan Maclean’s for over 400 years.
Once off the ferry, we turned right onto the A849. The plan was to continue along the A849 and then turn left onto the B8035 at the village of Aros. We both enjoy our coffee and thought that Aros would be a good spot to get a coffee and cake, as you do when you’re out and about. Unfortunately, Aros had other ideas. The coffee shop was closed as it was off-season and the local pub wasn’t open yet. Oh well, we probably didn’t need that cake anyway!
As you travel along the B8035, you quickly appreciate Mull’s beauty and remoteness. This is a single-track road that meanders its way from the east of Mull to the west. Hugging the coastline with views out over Loch Na Keal and the tantalisingly close islands of Eorsa, Ulva and Gometra – this link is kindly provided by fellow bloggers Expedition from the Backdoor
The B8035 demands that the tourist should slow down. It invites you to stop, step out of your car and attempt to take it all in. This road is an unsung hero, ensuring visitors actually appreciate their journey.
Now that this road has got your attention, you might see some amazing sights. Such as a white-tailed Eagle, Minke whales, porpoises and dolphins. Or the peaks of Ben More, the highest mountain and only Munro on the Isle of Mull, can be seen when you look over and beyond Loch Na Keal. On this particular trip, we were going in the opposite direction but we will return to Mull and this stunning mountain will be on our list.
Another great aspect of this road is its horseshoe-shaped route that eventually to the outskirts of Tobermory, then it’s a short drive along the B822 into Tobermory. The B8035 is only 34 miles long but it packs a lot in. Some highlights include –
- Loch Na Keal with the views across to Eorsa and Ben More
- A short side track, turning left at Ulva primary school, to the small passenger ferry which takes you across the water to the island of Ulva. Where you can have a refreshment at The Boathouse
- Laggan Sands. Perfect for stretching your legs along a lovely sandy beach.
- Eas Fors Waterfall. There is a small parking area before the bridge and it’s worth walking up the track to the Upper Falls where there is a safe viewing point.
- You might get a glimpse of Torloisk House. A striking Georgian country house in stunning surroundings.
- Then there’s Calgary beach. One of the most photographed beaches in Mull. Calgary Bay is regularly described as outstanding. The bay faces west towards Coll and Tiree with broad and sandy beach. The sea is a stunning blue when seen in perfect weather conditions. We were not so lucky with our conditions due to the time of year and the wind was biting but we could still appreciate its beauty.
- Langamull Beach is only a few miles further along the coast. The car park is off the B8073 midway between Dervaig and Calgary. This straightforward walk leads to a wild sandy beach with great views over to the Small Isles and Skye. The return walk visits the ruined settlement of Kildavie. To be honest, Aileen and I much preferred this beach, with its hidden coves and stunning views. Made all the more enjoyable by the walk to get there, giving the beach a greater feeling of being secluded.
Unfortunately, due to the time of year, there wasn’t much daylight hours remaining and we were keen to get to Tobermory. So, unfortunately, the remainder of our trip along the B8073 was a combination of sight-seeing from our car or quickly jumping out for a better view and photo opportunities.
That said, even though this wasn’t a camping trip, we were keen to take notes of any campsites we cam across. We have included links to some brief video footage of 3 campsites, which may help you visualise them better.
2 Killiechronan campsite. Camping on the shore of Loch Na Keal with some basic facilities at the farm nearby.
3 Tobermory Campsite & Caravan Holidays. The main part of the site, which includes statics, is nice and has facilities but the part for tents and motor homes looked pretty basic. It is also about 1 mile outside Tobermory.
We finally reached Tobermory late afternoon and headed straight to our accommodation, the Western Isles hotel. There is a lovely relaxed feel to the hotel, with one of the owners making himself available for a chat and happy to talk about his plans for the place. With high ceilings, creaky floorboards, a roaring fire and large comfortable chairs, it’s easy to relax and enjoy your stay.
The hotel is perfectly situated so within minutes, you are wandering around Tobermory and admiring the brightly coloured houses. Founded as a fishing port in 1788, the name Tobermory is from the Gaelic Tobar Mhoire. Legend has it that the wreck of a Spanish galleon, laden with gold, lies somewhere at the bottom of Tobermory Bay. There is a Music Festival held each year in the last week of April and amongst other events, traditional Mull Highland Games held every summer. I was once a regular competitor in the highland games circuit but never competed in Mull.
Some other Tobermory highlights –
- The old distillery is the only one on Mull. It markets two products – Tobermory the Malt Scotch Whisky and a blend.
- It was chosen by the BBC as the location of the popular children’s television series Balamory.
- A walk to Rubha nan Gall lighthouse
- A walk to the end of the harbour for that photo opportunity.
- The Aros Park Walk
Our condensed trip to the Isle of Mull was now coming to an end and we loved every second of it. It was a straight forward drive back along the main A849 back to Craignure for the return ferry to Oban.
We knew that we would be back and were already making plans for a future camping trip. We didn’t know it at the time but our future plans to visit Mull would involve a campervan. Our journey from camping to campervan was soon coming to a conclusion.