Call us on 01688 400682

Travel and Transport Archive

The Sound of Mull

Make the most of your journey alongside the Sound

Stretching along the Isle of Mull’s eastern shore, the Sound of Mull is the strip of water that divides the island from the west coast of mainland Britain. Visitors will cross it on either the Oban or Lochaline CalMac ferry and set off for their accommodation around the island, but there are lots of places to visit along the Sound, and plenty lying within too! So take a bit of time to explore the Sound and all of its interesting sights along the way.

Summer view over Grasspoint on Mull

Looking over Grasspoint at the southern end of the Sound of Mull

At the southern end of the Sound is Grasspoint, at the mouth of beautiful Loch Don, where in the 18th century, cattle drovers who had grazed their cattle on Mull’s abundant grass would ship their cattle to the small island of Kerrera. From there, the cattle would swim the narrow channel of water to Oban and continue their journey further south to the Lowlands and England. These days, Grasspoint offers some wonderful views of the mainland and the mouth of Loch Linnhe, and wildlife such as otters are regularly seen in the shallow waters. The small quay here is a remainder  from the days when cattle were shipped to the mainland.

Those interested in Mull’s abundant birdlife will also enjoy visiting Fishnish, just north past Craignure, where White Tailed Eagle can be spotted from the timber built hide. Those with a spring in their step and the energy for a day’s hike might like to take off up Glen Forsa with the uniquely-shaped hill Ben Talaidh in their sights, also located along the double-track road which leads north along the Sound. At 748 metres high, Ben Talaidh it is by no means Mull’s highest hill (this acclaim goes to Ben More, a Munro standing at 966 metres) but it is a steep and challenging climb and gives views on a sunny day of the peaks of Mull, the Sound itself, and beyond the Sound, to the peaks of the Nevis range.

There is just one settlement of any size along the stretch of road that borders the Sound, the pretty village of Salen, which is about half way between Craignure (where the ferry arrives from Oban) to Tobermory, the only town on the island. A couple of miles to the north of Salen lie the ruins of Aros Castle, built around the same time as Duart Castle, its better known neighbour, in the 1200s. But while Duart is a day out in itself, with tea rooms and tours, the remains of Aros Castle, perched on a spit of land at the mouth of the Aros River, are perfect for leisurely outdoor exploring (though be careful of its steep sides). From the promontory, there are fantastic views up and down the Sound, and over to Morvern on the other side.

At the north end of the Sound lies Tobermory, a pretty fishing harbour and home to many good restaurants and pubs, as well as an excellent Mull Aquarium a catch and release aquarium, and An Tobar a fine arts centre run by the organisation Comar. From here, during the spring/summer boat trips go out to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles, where sharp-eyes visitors can see puffins and whales. For those looking for a bit of underwater adventure, the Sound of Mull has some of the best wreck diving in the British Isles, as the stretch of water has a rich history of shipwrecks, including the SS Hispania, a Swedish merchant vessel which went down in 1954, well-known for being a well-preserved and interesting dive-site. There is a dive centre in Lochaline, on the mainland, which specialises in wreck diving.

Mull’s “motorway” – the road that travels the length of the Sound is the only double-track road on the island – is a lot faster moving than the rest of the roads on the island, but don’t be tempted to overlook its many treasures along the way. At almost any point along its route, otters, seals, birds and deer can be spotted (sometimes in the road, so take care!), as well as birds overhead, so take some time to enjoy it and all that it offers.

Cars journey along the Sound of Mull on a late summer evening

How to get to the Isle of Mull?

Travelling to Mull

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, 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 a journey to Mull is now easier than ever.

Isle of Mull Location Map

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

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.

Oban and fishing boats at night

Oban from where the ferry departs to the Isle of Mull

And 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, where with a couple of hours to spare before the ferry 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, and with the new scheme, a ticket is now around half the usual price for a car journey, making trip 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 over to the Isle of Mull.

Lismore lighthouse with the mainland mountains in the distance

Lismore lighthouse with the mainland mountains in the distance

Around half way through the 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, which 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 which in winter are white-peaked and make for a beautiful back-drop 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, loom into view, you know you’ve nearly arrived on the island.

Duart Castle, a key landmark on the Isle of Mull

Duart Castle, a key landmark on the Isle of Mull

It’s just a 45 minute journey 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 cozy 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

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

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 it is worth booking in advance.  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.

Bus on the Isle of Mull

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.