The Isle of Mull
From the ridges of Ben More, the inky crags of Burg lead to white sand beaches. Pink granite cliffs ring the turquoise waters of the bay…this gorgeous Inner Hebrides Island is close to perfect. It also boasts two striking castles, a narrow-gauge railway, festivals, the nearby sacred island of Iona, plus easy access to Oban. It’s clear why the Isle of Mull is a magnet for travelers.
The waters west of Mull provide some of the best whale-watching in Scotland. And, there are pros who offer whale-watching cruises. There are also day trips from Oban to Mull, Staffa and Iona by ferry and bus. If you head inland on Mull, you can take yourself on a walking tour of the countryside or enjoy a customized walking experience.
Most people in Mull live in and around Tobermory, the island’s capital, in the north. The main ferry terminal is in the southeast at Craignure, and it’s where most people arrive. Fionnphort, at the far western end of the Ross of Mull peninsula, is where the ferry to Iona takes off.
Festivals on the Isle of MullMull loves a good time. Here are some of her best festivals:
Mishnish Music Festival:The last weekend of April, this festival involves three days of foot-stomping traditional Scottish and Irish folk music at Tobermory’s favorite pub.
Mendelssohn on Mull:A week-long festival of classical music in early July.
Mull Highland Games:The Third Thursday in July. It’s an all-out bash!
Mull and Iona Food Festival:Five days of food and drink tastings, chef demonstrations, farm tours, produce markets, restaurant visits and loads of other events. Early September.
Tour of Mull Rally:Part of the Scotland Rally Championship. Around 150 cars are involved, and public roads are closed for parts of the weekend in early October. A perfect time.
Mull’s landscape and natural habitat are quite varied. Within a small area there are high mountains, moors, wild sea cliffs and blindingly-white sandy beaches. All give you the opportunity to see a variety of Scotland’s rare and unique wildlife. This includes eagles, otters, dolphins and whales. Also keep a look out for red deer, peregrine falcons, white-tailed sea eagles, and hen harriers. Take an excursion from Central Mull to Staffa and Treshnish Isles, spending an hour ashore on Staffa and two hours on Lunga. You’ll see seals, puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills, and a boatload of other seabirds.
If it’s a rainy day head on Mull, no problem. There are plenty of places for lively pub food and music, a chocolate factory, and a first-rate theater company. Or, take in one of the many exhibits. You can discover the story of crofting, or a ship from the Spanish Armada that sank in 1588. (The ship is still the focus of treasure hunters!) There’s also “An Tobar Arts Center” and an art gallery with its changing exhibitions. Don’t forget the Marine Discovery Exhibit.
Finally, we have the Tobermory Distillery. They welcome you with tours and tastings. This tiny distillery, established in 1798, produces two award-winning whiskies—Tobermory 10-year-old and Ledaig 10-year-old.
For further exploration, head north of Tobermory four miles on a one-lane road. You’ll come upon the awesome Glengorm Castle. With views to the sea and to the outer Hebrices Islands, this castle is a true gem. Beside the usual, there’s a gallery inside and pottery made by locals. Also a store that sells local produce and a coffee shop serving up fresh food.
Close by, and 12 miles from Mull, you’ll find Mull’s famed silvery beach with more views than seem imaginable. (On your way, stop in Central Mull. Explore Mackinnon’s Cave, an eerie fissure in the cliffs that was used as a hideaway by Celtic monks. There’s a large, flat rock inside called Fingal’s Table. This may have been their altar.)
The wild country on the peninsula is called Ross of Mull. Black cliffs slip into white beaches at the base of pink granite cliffs. At the western end of Ross, you can take the ferry to Iona. The Columba Center has intriguing displays about the life of St. Columba, the Celts, and the history of Iona.
Mull, the largest of the Inner Hebrides islands, features moorlands, Ben More and a splendid beach. Most roads follow the coastline, and have fantastic views. Many visitors take the paths from Craignure to Iona or Tobermory, returning to Oban in the evening. But, there are plenty of hidden corners where you can get away from the crowds, spend a few nights, and enjoy the magic that is Mull.