We are heading north from our week on the Isle of Mull. The second largest of the Inner Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland.
The Isle of Mull is famous for the multi coloured houses in Tobermory, white tailed eagles and golden eagles and it is a very short ferry ride across to the holy isle of Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland.
We caught the ferry from Lochaline which meant we passed the holiday cottage on Loch Sunart we rented a couple of years ago. This is the shortest crossing to Mull and you don’t leave your car.
We stayed in a small cottage called Shieling on Treshnish Farm. This is in the north west of the island.
They have 8 holiday rental homes on the farm of different sizes and the location is lovely. They use all eco friendly products and have their own solar panels and wind turbines, excellent recycling facilities and the welcome pack including half a dozen of the eggs from the farm chickens. They have some Herdwick sheep and another breed I wasn’t sure on. The farm track takes you eventually to the sea and on the way there’s wildlife to spot and a noisy cuckoo calling.
Calgary Bay is not too far away and one of the best beaches on Mull. Calgary in Canada is named after this Calgary. There is a small place for tents and small campervans nearby and some holiday rentals. There’s a gallery, coffee shop and art in nature walk and coastal walk nearby and it is worth coping with all the tiny single track roads at this end of the island for being near this beautiful beach.
Most roads on Mull are single track with passing places, there are sheep and lambs on the roadsides and we saw a fair amount of deer too so life moves pretty slow on the island which is nice. Also there are Highland Cows to see as well!
We saw a white tailed eagle perching on a large tree and saw a couple of other eagles flying overhead and also some hen harriers (a very agile bird of prey). It is a little early to see basking sharks off the coast but we saw quite a few bird varieties that were new to us and we could tick off in our bird book. We hoped to see an otter but with a smelly dog in toe its tricky.
On Saturday we drove up to Glengorm Castle and ate lunch outside at their cafe and had a walk around. We also stopped at the Isle of Mull cheese shop that operates an honesty box system at the weekends when the shop and cafe are shut. So we got some cheese, crackers, chutney and biscuits (cookies).
On Sunday we headed south on the west side of Mull and stopped at Eas Fors waterfalls and saw some Highland cows and a white tailed eagle. We bought cakes in Salen and went back to the bird watching point to look for otters and another glimpse of the eagle.
On Monday we went to a few places, including The Old Byre near Dervaig where we shared a scone and stopped again in Tobermory and bought chocolate. We bought some smoked trout, salmon and cheese from the local smokery so it was a very food orientated day!
On Tuesday we stayed at the farm and just walked the farm track to the sea cliffs. You can walk down to the sea but it was quite steep and our dog is old and it was a long enough walk there and back from our cottage. (4 of the 8 cottages are much closer to the sea).
On Wednesday we were going to head to the south west of the island but in a passing place a driver told us there were major roadworks ahead and 1.5 hrs delay so he recommended we turn round. To get to the south the opposite way round the island would have taken a couple of hours extra so instead we turned back and caught the tiny wee ferry to the isle of Ulva.
Ulva is actually bigger than Iona, but it has a smaller feel as it has only 11 residents and just a pub and 6 houses that are currently being renovated. It’s a community owned island and they have put multiple walking track routes around and it’s all dirt tracks and no vehicles. (Well there were some diggers there but not usually any vehicles.) There is a church that was designed by Thomas Telford and it was interesting to read that before the Highland clearances (where the English kicked the Scots off the land to replace them with sheep and burnt their homes 😒) there had been hundreds living on Ulva. The vikings named it Ulva and our dog Ylva also has an old Norse name and they both relate to wolves. So I enjoyed posting that Ylva was on Ulva.
We walked the farm circuit and took the path up minister’s walk which gave us a nice view. We had a nice sandwich at the pub and then caught the wee ferry back.
We were back from Ulva around 2pm so we cautiously headed further south and found they had finished for the day and we had a gorgeous new smooth road to drive on part of the way. We cut across to the east side and stopped for…yep more cake at a cafe near the main ferry port and then drove to a place called Grasspoint. We saw loads of deer and it had some great views of the mountains on the mainland. We couldn’t see Ben Nevis (Scotland’s highest mountain) as it was under cloud but plenty of others.
On Thursday we thought about going to the south of the island but it was wet and windy and we decided to have a more chilled out day. A walk on Calgary Beach was followed by a trip to Tobermory for fish and chips and buying…cake!
We were incredibly fortunate with the weather. The forecast had said rain all week but other than one downpour when we were in the car and a couple of light showers, again when we happened to be in the car, it was lovely a sunny for the first 6 days but the cold wind meant it was only 10⁰C – 14⁰C. On Ulva it felt very warm, the garden by the pub had vegetables outside well in advance of where mine are in the greenhouse so the island seems to have its own microclimate.
So all in all it was a lovely week. We stayed on the south coast for a long weekend 8 years ago and did trips to the isles of Iona and Staffa, so it was nice to explore more of Mull and tick Ulva off our list of Scottish Isles to visit.