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January, 2017 Archive

Winter Wildlife You Could See On The Isle of Mull

A winter wildlife wonderland on the Isle of Mull    

With Dave Sexton RSPB Mull Officer

There can’t be many places on the planet that are better to visit to view wildlife in the depths of winter than they are in high summer, but Mull might just be one of them. Don’t get me wrong. Summer, spring and autumn are all lovely and the wildlife is here throughout the year. But a winter’s day on Mull can be magical.

Loch na keal on the Isle of Mull, winter wildlife

With shorter days, the island’s wildlife has to pack a lot in and the longer evenings mean more time for you to pull the chair up by the fire in your Isle of Mull Cottage. Pour yourself a dram of Tobermory malt and open a good book to plan your next day spotting the winter wildlife that is here.

Mull and Iona birdwatching after a day of winter wildlife spotting on Mull

Reading “Birdwatching on Mull and Iona” while relaxing at your cottage

White-Tailed and Golden Eagles

Winter is so good because all the young eagles that fledged last autumn are now confident on the wing and will be joining up with other young eagles. White-tailed eagle immatures and sub-adults in particular are very sociable. They will often cruise around together in small, loose groups. It’s not unusual to see 4 or 5 young sea eagles out on an off-shore skerry at this time of year, but bigger gatherings of 10 or more have been reported.

Young golden eagles will often join these youngsters, especially at roost time. Meanwhile the adult eagles will be busy visiting old eyries, preparing for next spring and re-establishing their territorial boundaries through dramatic displays and calling.

Eagle on Mull skerry - incredible winter wildlife awaits


Otters seem easier to see in the winter months. With fewer cars and people about they appear more ‘relaxed’. Mull’s big sea lochs of Loch Scridain and Loch na Keal are prime hunting grounds for them. As ever, keep your distance. Sit hidden somewhere downwind and wait patiently along a lonely stretch of coast and sooner or later, an otter will appear.  You can watch us getting a great otter sighting on a winter’s day in our seasonal review:

Red Deer and Fallow Deer

The red deer are now long past the rut and have settled into their winter routine. They’re often down off the hills. With them being lower in the glens, they are easier to find. Stags will have forgotten the testosterone charged battles of the autumn and ‘buddy up’ with each other in small herds. The hinds and this year’s calves will do the same.

It’s a harsh existence for winter wildlife, the deer included, but the most testing time of late winter is yet to come. Meanwhile the island’s fallow deer herds at Loch Buie and Gruline are also often glimpsed from the roadside or as they skip across the road in front of you. Deer are often near the roads at night especially, so beware.

Harbour Seals and Grey Seals

Offshore, harbour and grey seals are all around Mull’s 300 miles of coastline. Pupping for the greys on the Treshnish Isles is over now, so they can pop up anywhere. Salen Bay is still your best bet to spot the harbour seals.

Salen Bay on Mull, a winter wildlife haven for harbour seals


Winter thrushes have largely moved through, stripping out berries as they go, but many remain. Winter wildlife also heralds new arrivals, with rare Greenland white-fronted geese on the Ross of Mull and barnacle geese on Inch Kenneth. It’s always worth a scan of the native, resident greylag geese flocks in case a rare vagrant has joined them.

Person with telescope on Mull, looking out for winter wildlife

So whatever the weather this winter, Mull has it all. From spectacular wildlife and scenery to wonderful places to stay cosy and warm on the days that look less inviting to venture out… my advice? Go out anyway. The weather will change and the winter wildlife is all there, just waiting to be discovered. Enjoy!

Browse the rest of our website for more information about things to do, and places to stay on the Isle of Mull


Getting to Mull by Ferry, Plane, Car and More!

Getting to Mull

Getting to Mull rewards you with a picturesque drive to your cottage

Road along Loch na Keal on Mull

The wild and rugged Isle of Mull is one of the most accessible of the Inner Hebridean islands. It lies only a short ferry ride away from the pretty port town of Oban on the west of Scotland. Even though the island, with its craggy shores, inland lochs and high peaks, has managed to keep a remote charm about it, cheaper and more frequent ferries mean that getting to Mull is now easier than ever.

Isle of Mull Location Map - getting to Mull couldn't be easier

Map showing the Isle of Mull’s location off the west coast of Scotland

Getting to Mull from Glasgow Airport

For overseas visitors, the international airport at Glasgow is just a couple of hours’ drive away from Oban, meaning you can make the hop to the Isle of Mull for a relaxing break in no time at all.

Getting to Mull usually starts with the ferry from Oban

Oban from where the ferry departs to the Isle of Mull

Taking the ferry to Mull from Oban

The journey to the Isle of Mull is all part of the fun. It begins in Oban, a small port town perched on the west coast of Scotland. Arrive with a couple of hours to spare before the ferry and you can visit the legendary Oban whisky distillery, have a dish of delicious, locally caught shellfish on the pier, and watch the fishing boats bobbing in the bay.

In the summer, the ferries to Mull leave around every hour. With the new scheme, a ticket is now around half the usual price for a car journey, making trips more affordable than ever. Hop on the ferry, take in the views and the fresh sea air from the top deck and enjoy the cruise through the islands as you travel to the Isle of Mull.

Lismore lighthouse with the mainland mountains in the distance - getting to Mull is a scenic experience

Lismore lighthouse with the mainland mountains in the distance

Wildlife and landmarks to look out for from the ferry

Around half way through the ferry journey to Craignure on the Isle of Mull, you’ll pass on the right hand side the beautiful lighthouse at Lismore, one of the smaller islands in the Inner Hebrides. This island lies long and narrow in the waters of Loch Linhe.

Beyond the island, and on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, surrounded by the rest of the Grampians. In winter, these are white-peaked and make for a beautiful backdrop as you cruise towards Mull.

Travelling onwards, the rocky ridges of Morvern, the most westerly part of mainland Britain, come into view as the ferry travels up the Sound of Mull towards Craignure. In summer, whales, dolphins and porpoises swim these waters, so be sure to take a boat trip out to see if you can catch a glimpse of them. When the stone edifice of Duart Castle, a 13th-century castle perched on the rocky shores of Mull, looms into view, you know you’ve nearly arrived on the island.

Getting to Mull will be a treat as you spot Duart Castle, a key landmark on the Isle of Mull

Duart Castle, a key landmark on the Isle of Mull

Getting to Mull takes just 45 minutes from Oban to Craignure, but whether you’ve been taking in the view and sunning yourself on the top deck or watching the landscape pass by from within the cosy ferry bar (if the weather is being particularly Scottish!), you’ll already have started to enjoy your holiday.

The Isle of Mull Ferry passing Lismore on the sailing to Mull, a tranquil way of getting to Mull

The Isle of Mull Ferry passing Lismore on the sailing to Mull

Mull’s single track roads

Once you arrive on Mull, it’s just a few minutes before you’ll be heading toward your chosen Holiday Cottage   The majority of the roads on the island are single track and offer a great way to see the landscapes and wildlife of Mull. Just remember to allow cars behind to pass using the passing places provided. Car hire is available on the Isle of Mull, though with limited availability, so it is worth booking in advance.

Buses, taxis and bikes on Mull

West Coast Motors operate the island’s main bus services and there are taxi services here too. Bicycle is another good option for exploring Mull once you are here. Mull Electric Bikes offer electric bikes for hire and can deliver them to your cottage. A range of mountain and road bikes can also be hired from On Yer Bike in Salen.

One of the most accessible inner Hebridean islands, getting to Mull is simple, whether from Glasgow airport, public transport or the ferry to Mull from Oban

West Coast Motors bus heads past Ben More on the Isle of Mull

You can also find more information and contact details for getting to and travelling around the Isle of Mull on this page.