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June, 2016 Archive

Pet friendly cottages on the Isle of Mull

Some people base their holidays around their dogs.  ‘We’re visiting the island because we think Jake is going to like it’ was the start of a recent telephone conversation.  It just took me a couple of minutes to figure out who Jake was.  As it happens, we are on the dog’s side at Isle of Mull Cottages.  We encourage owners to make their holiday cottages available to those bringing their pooches with them.  After all, it’s fair to say that there might be a few visitors to this part of Scotland, that are outdoor enthusiasts, in one form or another, and are therefore quite likely to have a dog they would like to bring with them.

Looking for a cottage..

So today we’re looking at our pet friendly cottages to stay in through the canine perspective.  Is there an enclosed garden?  Are there walks from the doorstep?  Can I get to a beach quite quickly?  Here are our top three doggy destinations…

Calgary Cottage

Yes, there is a lovely garden and yes, there is a fantastic beach within walking distance.  Happy days.

Great garden to explore

Shepherd’s Cottage

Again, a great garden at this little cottage which stands proudly on the hillside above the river Aros, looking out over the Sound of Mull.  There is a great little circular route around Aros castle that will delight your dog’s senses.

Great walking territory from Shepherd’s Cottage

Craig Ben Cottage

Truly beautiful scenery, a freshwater loch on the doorstep (plenty of sticks too) and a beach just down the road, Craig Ben Cottage is a fabulous, dog friendly option.

Short walk to the loch from Craig Ben Cottage for a quick dip

To be honest, you can’t go too far wrong when choosing a pet friendly cottage from our host of dog friendly options.   Your dog is likely to be quite pleased with your holiday choice.  They will know they are going somewhere special as soon as they board the Calmac boat to get to Mull, and I’m afraid they are likely to be disappointed to leave too.  You might just have to come again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose the Isle of Mull

The Isle of Mull is part of the Inner Hebrides; an archipelago consisting of 77 islands, including some of the more well known inhabited islands such as Islay, Jura and Skye.  So what sets Mull apart in this variety of beautiful Hebridean offerings?

Blissfully peaceful

Less populated than Islay or Skye, with the vast majority of roads being single track (and okay, a little bumpy) means that Mull retains a wonderfully laid back, peaceful atmosphere, with just enough in the way of infrastructure to give you a list of attractions to keep you busy if you like a selection of ‘things to do’ in your holiday itinerary, from Duart Castle to a Wildlife Tour.

Stunning scenery

Tobermory

Mull’s capital has to be one of the most picturesque harbour towns in the United Kingdom.  On a calm day, with a high tide, you can wander the gift shops, or enjoy a cup of coffee at one of the well placed cafes on the seafront and watch the boats come and go from the sheltered bay.  Wooded hillsides at either end of the harbour, and the steep streets behind the main shopping area add to the character of this lovely little town which bustles in the summer months and becomes a sleepy haven in the quieter winter.

Tobermory is a picture postcard town

Outdoor Adventure

The south of Mull has a cluster of impressive mountains.  Ben More, being the highest on the island and one of Scotland’s Munros, is the most popular choice for a mountain walk with visitors, but there are many more hidden beauties.  Cyclists will be in their absolute element with Mull boasting some excellent cycling routes past stunning sea lochs and captivating glens as well as some shorter forestry tracks for families wanting to get in on the action.  And finally, the coastline of Mull is just staggeringly varied and beautiful.  There are white sandy bays that look like they are out of a Mediterranean travel brochure as well as the drama of steep coastal cliffs around Gribun or Carsaig.

Kilvickeon Beach

Wildlife and Birdwatching

Most visitors to Mull are keen to see the sea eagles during their stay – both golden eagles and white tailed eageles reside in Mull.   Red deer are an impressive sight too and Highland cows are often photographed extensively too.  Then along the coastline there are the sea otters to spot, and if you are really lucky, dolphins, porpoises and even basking sharks.  The rich marine environment that laps at the 300 miles of coast, coupled with the variety of habitats on land, mean that the bird life here is prolific and the flora and fauna are worth finding out about too.  So make sure you pack your camera and binoculars for a trip to the Isle of Mull.

What really sets the Isle of Mull apart is hard to put into words.  You’ll only find that out for yourself by coming and discovering its beauty for your yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Locations for Columnar Basalt!

The Isle of Mull and its neighbouring islands are rightly famous for their geology.  These islands have a richness and complexity in their geological make up that is quite remarkable. When the Survey officers were carrying out the geological survey of Mull and surrounding islands, in the early part of the 20th century, they quickly realised how complex an area that they were studying.  The rocks of Mull have played an enormous part in the advancement of the science of Igneous Petrology and Earth Scientists from all over the world come to study the amazing geology of this place, however, you do not need to be a scientist to appreciate one of the truly remarkable geological wonders – the rock known as Columnar Basalt, which is on display in several places in these islands.

Most people will be familiar with pictures of Fingals Cave on Staffa or the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.  These are both excellent examples of this strange rock formation which almost does not look ‘natural’.  The mainly six sided columns have a symmetry which is fascinating.  So what is it and where can it be seen on Mull?

Basalt is a type of lava that is very common throughout the world. Look at pictures of Hawaii and you will see lava pouring into the sea and forming great clouds of steam. That is basalt.  The volcanoes in Iceland that caused such disruption to air traffic a few years ago were mainly basaltic.  In fact Iceland today is very like how Mull would have looked 60 million years ago!  Not all basalt lava forms columns however – much of it is massive and uniform, lacking the pillar-like structure.  There is a  lot of variation in the basalt lava seen in Mull and the other islands – some of it is very crumbly, a lot of it contains white crystals of a group of minerals called zeolites, and sometimes it can appear reddish in colour.  But the columnar form, which is easily the most visually spectacular, can be seen in lots of locations on Mull, so here are five areas for you to see some impressive examples of it during a visit.

1. Staffa:
The Island of Staffa is the prime location for seeing basalt columns. No other location really matches it for grandeur. Whether seen from the boat or from the shore, it looks spectacular. The name Staffa comes from the Norse and means “Pillar Island”. Very well named!  Staffa is easy to access on foot but requires a boat trip to get to it.

Staffa Basalt

Basalt columns on Staffa

2. Ulva:
Ulva is an island just to the west of Mull and is accessible from Ulva Ferry by a small regular boat service. The columns are on the south coast of the island, approximately 45 minutes from the slipway. The walking is easy and the columns are well sign-posted.

Ulva Basalt

Basalt on Ulva

3. Macculloch’s Tree (The Fossil Tree):
The famous Fossil Tree lies at the very western extremity of the Ardmeanach peninsula. It involves a long walk over rough terrain and the descent of a ladder to reach the shore. The scenery is spectacular and basalt columns can be seen near the tree and on the shore leading up to it. This is wild country where the rewards for the effort are great scenery and spectacular coastal scenery. Beyond the headland of Rubha na h-Uamha (Point of the Cave, and well-named) there is more columnar basalt to be seen but great care is needed as it can only be easily accessed when the tide is out.

Fossil Tree

The Fossil Tree

4. Carsaig Arches:
This is another difficult to reach location, with a lot of rough walking and a need for a steady gait and a good head for heights. The Arches are at Malcolm’s Point, west of Carsaig itself. One of them forms a sea-stack. The other is a cave. Both are spectacular.

arches1

Carsaig Arches

5. Ardtun:
Ardtun, near Bunessan is famous for another geological find – fossil leaves, dating back 60 million years. The leaves are found in between lava flows, some of which are beautifully columnar. This is dramatic coastal scenery with ravines, a sea stack, caves and other delights. Many of the columns are curved or even horizontal. The approach is over extremely boggy ground, straightforward to walk but very wet underfoot. Care is required at the gorge of Slochd nan Uruisg (the defile of the goblin) where the leaf beds and the basalt columns are best seen.

Ardtun

Ardtun

There are lots of further reading available on the subject, should you wish to find out more about Mull’s geology.  Mull in the Making by Ros Jones being  a great introduction.

Author: James Westland

All images copyright James Westland, 2016

Romantic break for two?

Removing yourself from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, and boarding a boat to get to your holiday destination, makes staying on a Scottish island that little bit more of an adventure.   The excitement of disembarking and setting off on single track roads that winds its way along the coastline, adds to the excitement and enchanting nature of this part of the world and makes it an ideal location, we think, for a romantic break.

Isle of Mull landscape

The islands of the Hebrides all have something a little bit different to offer.  Mull has a small population, little in the way of infrastructure, much in the way of wildlife and retains that olde world charm that somehow lends itself to a good place to retreat to and spend a week cozied up, soaking up the environment and re-charging the batteries. If you want somewhere with peace and quiet on tap, the Isle of Mull should be top of your list for a romantic setting for two.

Glenraille at Lochdon

The landscape is varied and the geology is so unique that some of the structures here are found nowhere else in the world.  There are stepped tablelands in the north, a rugged range of mountains in the central and southern parts of the island, and the outcrops of pink granite give the south western peninsula a flavour of its own.

At Isle of Mull Cottages, we give you a select range of properties, many of which have special features that are ideal for those looking for that elusive, luxurious ‘somewhere special to stay’.   Want a balcony leading off your bedroom with views of a beautiful loch?  Yes, we can tick that box.  Looking for a picture postcard cottage for two, a stone’s throw from the sea?  Check.  Or how about an artist’s retreat with sauna and steam room in the master suite.  Again, we have it covered.

So if you are looking to add romance into the holiday tick list, pick one of our beautiful holiday cottages, mix it in with the white sandy beaches, fantastic local produce to sample and amazing sunsets and wildlife, and you can’t go wrong with our recipe for romance.

One of the beautiful stretches of coastline

Top 5 Cottages by the Sea

‘I’d like a cottage by the sea please.’  A simple request you might think?  But actually, how many houses are really beside the sea?  A sea view, yes, that we can accommodate in lots of properties, but a stone’s throw is a different matter.  Luckily we’re as obsessed with cottages by the sea as you are, and we’ve got some cracking examples..

1. Grasspoint Cottage
If you want to smell the sea air when you step out the door and be able to take less than two dozen steps before you are submersed in sea water, Grasspoint Cottage is what you are looking for.  On top of that the furnishings give it a lovely, quirky, rustic vibe.  The cosy accommodation with wood burning stove and bed in the the living room add to the ambience in the evenings.  It might not be 5 star accommodation, but it is a 5 star experience which we would highly recommend for those wanting to get cozy by the sea.

Grasspoint Cottage on Mull

2.  The Old Church
How does a historical building, converted into a luxurious pad, with sea views and a garden path leading to the water’s edge sound?  Quite good?  The Old Church is better than you are imagining.  The interior is fabulous, the views are amazing and you can sit on the garden bench and watch for seals, otters or even dolphins passing by.  It’s that good.

The Old Church at Pennyghael

3. The Old School House
Again, we’re not messing around here, the sea is literally a stone’s throw away from the Old School House.  Surrounded by beautiful countryside, there is a gravel track that leads around the coastline through mature woodland, past pebble, and then sandy beaches.  It’s idyllic (and that word gets used a lot, but it really is idyllic).  The Old School house has an olde world charm and the sort of stunning mountainous scenery surrounding it that makes you want to come back again and again.

The Old School House at Croggan

4. The Bothy
You’d have thought by now we would be getting onto lesser options, but no, The Bothy is ultra special.  If you want to feel like you have reached the end of the earth and to have your mind blown by a huge, sweeping expanse of beach in front of your cozy cottage for two, then yes, The Bothy is for you.   This little area of Mull is divine with a capital ‘D’; you will not want to leave.

The Bothy at Lochbuie

5. Sands Cottage
If you want to stay in Sands Cottage, a word of warning, you have to book well in advance.  Take one of the best known beaches on the island (because it is truly beautiful), add a lovely stone built cottage with a stylish interior and buckets of character and you get a hot cake of a property that everyone wants to stay in.  Sandy toes in the ocean can be achieved just across the road from this stunning property.

Sands Cottage at Calgary