Keswick sits in the heart of the Lake District National Park and is considered the gate way to the northern fells.
The Isle of Mull | Explore this beautiful Scottish Island
Why visit Mull?
The Isle of Mull is one of the most picturesque of the inner Hebridean islands of Scotland. It has a bounty of fantastic wildlife, secluded white sand beaches, waterfalls to die for and character filled villages that are welcoming and full of the most amazing people. Oh and the food, well being an island the food, especially the seafood, is stunning.
When is best to visit Mull?
There is no ideal time to visit Mull however the weather sometimes makes some months better than others. April to June is a good time to visit as it’s statistically drier at this time and you’re less likely to be plagued with the dreaded Scottish midge. Mull can be very wet so its sometimes luck of the draw when is best to visit. Autumn time is glorious with the changing of the seasons and the trees showing off their autumn splendour but I can guarantee one thing, if you’re prepared for all weathers it won’t matter what time you visit the island, you’ll have an amazing time.
How to get to Mull?
There are three ferry routes linking mainland Scotland with the Isle of Mull, operated by operated by Caledonian McBrayne. Calmac, as they’re now know have a long history servicing the offshore Scottish islands for 160 years and they are the UK’s largest ferry operator. They operate 22 routes to over 50 destinations and provide a lifeline to the resident islanders as well as ferrying eager travellers. Buses operate from each of the ferry terminals on Mull carrying passengers all over the island.
Oban to Craignure – this is the most popular route for vehicles and foot passengers and ferry operates regularly throughout the day from early morning to late evening. Oban is approx 2 hours 30 minutes if driving from Glasgow, 3 hours from Edinburgh, 4 hours from Aberdeen, and 2 hours 45 minutes from Inverness. There are also good train routes from all UK cities to Glasgow and then onwards to Oban. The ferry crossing to Mull takes approx 45 mins and if you’re lucky you’ll see some harbour porpoise following the boat.
Lochaline – Fishnish / Kilochan – Tobermory – These are also a popular routes especially if you’ve already been touring Scotland. These ferries are not bookable in advance, just turn up and jump on the next available sailing. These routes only run in the summer from March to October and the crossing is approx 30 mins. Both of these ferries are for vehicles and foot passengers.
Where to stay on Mull ?
This definitely depends on what you intend to do whilst on the island. Here are my top 3 favourite places to stay.
Tobermory – The capital of the island and is best known for its distinctive little coloured houses and used as the backdrop for the Children’s TV series Balamory. Tobermory is a beautiful harbour and is the busiest of the towns on Mull. It has a few great restaurants from steakhouses to the most delicious fish restaurant. Chinese & Indian restaurants with takeaway facilities and some great pubs serving good food, oh and the best fish and chips from the van which comes to the harbour area and is absolutely delicious. Tobermory also is home to the Tobermory distillery and many other island craft making workshops where you can wander and see some local craft being made. One of these is the place where the Tobermory cheese is made, slightly outside of the town to the north but they have a fabulous shop, so make sure you get some to take home. Tobermory also has various hotels and B & B’s to suit every style and purse. Tobermory is also the harbour where many of the offshore island tours start from and there are a couple of good hikes from here up and down the coast.
Dervaig – This lovely little village is smack bang in the centre of the island and is a place that would suit someone who is looking for some peace and tranquility. Dervaig is home to the Mull little theatre and has a couple of bars/restaurants which serves amazing food. There are plenty of walks from Dervaig which take in the surrounding woodland, lakes and rivers and you’re only a hop skip and a jump away from Calgary Bay which is the. most beautiful sweeping white sand beach. Dervaig also has a little church in the shape of a pencil and the village itself is a pleasure to wander around.
Fionnphort – This village is the gateway to Iona. If visiting Iona is top of your to-do list then a few days in Fionnphort or Bunessan would be better for you. Both of these villages are small and have limited facilities with a couple of pubs/restaurants, a post office and a general store. The views make up for the lack of amenities and from Fionnphort you get the gorgeous views over to Iona and surrounding islands and from Bunessan you get the views over Loch Sciridan which is a great hunting ground for the Golden Eagles.
There are some other towns such as Salen & Craignure that you may want to check out for accommodation. The island isn’t too large and there’s a bus service that can get you from town to town.
Things to see and do on Mull
Check out the Wildlife
Mull is famous for and abundance of wildlife such as White Tailed Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, otters, seals, migrating and native birds, red deer, red squirrels and so much more. The lush forests are home to a variety of little creatures and the lochs and sea hosts a hoard of wading birds and other seabirds. On one of our previous trips to Mull we decided to do a wildlife tour and this was really a great way to see all the island has to offer. The wildlife guides are knowledgeable and know where the best vantage points are for viewing the beautiful wildlife on Mull. On the tour we saw the eagles and nests, red deer, a hen harrier, an osprey, wading birds that were quite rare, seals and so much more. We toured the island in a landrover and had some delicious home made soup and cake for lunch. It was a fantastic trip and I would definitely recommend it if you’re keen on wildlife.
Get out walking
Mull has numerous walking and trekking routes throughout the island and I’m going to highlight 3 that we’ve done that were pretty special.
Tobermory Lighthouse – This walk is suitable for most walkers and is approx 3 miles. Follow the path down by the ferry terminal and you’ll follow a well maintained path (muddy in places and can be very overgrown in the summer) which brings you to the lighthouse at Rubha-nan Gail on the small headland at Bloody Bay. Just before the lighthouse there is a memorial on the right which identifies all the landmarks from Bloody Bay to Calve Island. The lighthouse was first manned in 1897 and then in 1960 saw the last keepers leave and the light automated. Keep a keen eye out for otters as you walk along the causeway as you can often see them playing about there but do keep your distance as they’re sensitive wee creatures and don’t like being disturbed.
Fossil Tree & Burg Hike – This is a particularly spectacular walk and I would have loved to have done it on a day where the sun shone but no, we got rain, wind and mist but it was still a great adventure. The walk starts near the banks of Loch Scridian and there is a small official parking area beyond Tiroran. The walk is fairly straightforward to the Burg but then becomes a bit more tricky after you descend a metal ladder that takes. You then make your way along the seashore through the rocks, past the first of two waterfalls you’ll see on the walk. Just past the second waterfall, around the next bluff, is MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree, with a cave immediately on its right. The tree, which is huge, is thought to be 50 million years old; it was engulfed by the lava flows from the Ben More volcano and the cooling effect of the trunk has caused the basalt columns around it to curve. The fossil is mostly an imprint, but in the bottom few feet the fossil of the tree itself survives; once this was full of the original charcoal but countless visitors have meant that little now remains. After enjoying this unique spot, return the same way. Here are a few things to watch out for on this walk:
- If damp the rocks on the shore can be very slippy with moss and both Chris and I found this out the hard way.
- Check the tide times as you don’t want to be stranded on the shore if the tide starts to come in. It’s a fair walk back to the ladder past the two waterfalls and you don’t want the tide to catch you out. We were aware of this on our visit and were surprised at how quickly the tide came in.
Walk up a mountain – Ben More stands at 3169ft and is a former volcano situated in the centre of the island. It’s part of the Munro group and is the most remote of the Scottish Munro mountains. There are several ways to climb the mountain and we chose one with a tasty ridge walk which was indeed the highlight of the day. Another path is a more traditional path, clearly marked and although steep, its well marked out and used by most people wishing to summit Ben More. We chose to come back down on this path and I must say the views were spectacular. Both of these routes start from the Gruline road and a more comprehensive walk guide can be found here, including GPX co-ordinate.
There are many more walking routes throughout Mull on the coast, in the forests and up the hills. The local tourist information centre at Craignure has all the information you’ll need.
Take a visit to the Isle of Iona
Iona is a small Island off the south wester tip of Mull and is only 1.5 miles wide and 3 miles long with a population of around 170 permanent residents. The island and the famous Abbey has been a focal point of the Christian world for 14 centuries and people flock from far and wide to come to this quiet peaceful place.
How do you get to Iona?
The first thing you should know about getting to Iona is that there are no cars on the island as general vehicles are prohibited. There is a ferry that runs regularly throughout the day from Fionnphort to Iona and there are regular buses to Fionnphort from Tobermory and Craignure. If you are driving to Fionnphort then there is a large carpark where you can leave your car and travel to Iona as a foot passenger on the ferry. The ticket office for the ferry is just before the slipway. If you look up to your right from the slipway you can see the islands of Staffa and the Treshnish Isles.
What is there to do on Iona?
The Abbey is the main draw on Iona and people generally flock there first. The main abbey and surrounding chapels and grave yards tell a story of religion through the ages and has some spectacular artefacts.
As well as the Abbey there are some beautiful beaches on Iona, so if the weather is good then bring your swimming costume and a towel, as the water is clear and the white sand beaches are stunning.
Although its a small island you there are a few walks on Iona. There is a small hill in the middle of the island with a cairn on top and it give you some spectacular views of Mull and the surrounding islands.
If you’re staying on Iona then there is a small supermarket, boat trips, a small selection of cafe’s and both the hotels on the island have restaurants and bars open to non residents.
Other cool things to see & do on the Island
Loch Buie – Along the road a good few miles from Craignure you will come across the sign post for Loch Buie which is noted to be one of the most beautiful places on the island. This wonderful sea loch is backed by the large and towering hill of Ben Buie and the area is just awash with spectacular scenery. If you have your binoculars or have a keen eye you can sometimes see porpoise or dolphin playing in the bay
Calgary Bay – This unspoiled and beautiful beach is perfect for those who want a dip in the sea. Its an ideal place for family outings as the car parking places are really close to the sand. There are limited facilities at Calgary bay so make sure you pack a good picnic. Legend tells us that Calgary, Canada was founded by people from Calgary, Mull.
Salen and Aros – Salen is a lovely little village with a few shops, cafe’s, restaurants and a hotel but if you walk north out of the village, along the bay, past the famous Salen Boats, known to every photographer who’s ever visited the island, you’ll reach the small village of Aros. Here you will see the ruined Aros Castle which is even more ancient that the more famous Duart Castle. Aros castle was home to many events which saw visits from James 6th of Scotland/1st of England.
Carsaig Arches & the Nuns cave – The Carsaig Arches are natural rock formations cut by the power of the sea and about 2 miles west along the coast from Carsaig Bay on the south west of the island. The basalt column of an ancient raised beach are pretty spectacular. Also, a mile or so west of Carsaig Bay is the Nuns cave which is reputed to have sheltered nuts who had been driven from Iona by over zealous reformers. Both the arches and the cave are definitely worth a visit.
Duart Castle – Duart Castle has been a fortification site since around 1250 and was first recorded as a castle of the Clan Maclean in 1390. Twice in its history the castle suffered near fatal blows but in 1912 the castle was completely restored by the current chief of the Maclean and it remains the Maclean home to this day. It is open to the public and is one of the best historical sites on the island.
Food and Drink
I mentioned briefly above that there is an abundance of great food on Mull and here’s a few of the restaurants that we’ve visited and would definitely recommend.
Cafe Fish – Tobermory. This is one of the best restaurants on Mull. Sitting alongside Tobermory harbour the fish comes straight in from the boats, up the stairs to the restaurant and onto the diners plates. So fresh and delicious. This restaurant is extremely popular so make sure you book in advance.
The Galleon Grill – Tobermory. This is another great restaurant specialising in steaks and grills. The couple that run it have worked all over the world and the quality of food is outstanding.
The Bellachroy Inn – Dervaig. This is the oldest Inn on Mull and has the most amazing menu which is absolutely delicious. Again, like Cafe Fish its best to book in advance so not to be disappointed.
In Tobermory you also have a couple of good pubs which serve food. The Mishnish which serves traditional pub food but also has an Italian restaurant upstairs and MacGochan’s which serves traditional pub food and its really good.
There are a few other restaurants in Craignure, Salen which are definitely worth a visit if you’re passing.
Our view of Mull
The Isle of Mull has been a treasure of mine since childhood and the island has remained pretty much the same which is part of its charm. If you’re a wildlife lover, a walker, a foodie or just someone who loves the great outdoors then you’ll fall in love with Mull. The people who live there are friendly and welcoming. Please remember that if you are driving, 70% of the roads on Mull are single track with passing places every few 100yds, be mindful not to park in these and wander off and to be courteous to other drivers on the road.
Booking resources for your trip
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
Some of the links on this page contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or services we write about. You will never be charged a fee for shopping through one of our affiliate links. You may even get a discounted rate and we will make a small commission. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships.
Festa Italiana staged in Manchesters Cathedral Gardens is a free weekend long festival that celebrates everything Italian, Food drink and culture