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A winter walk up Ben More, Mull’s Munro

A winter ascent of Ben More

As the highest point on the Isle of Mull, and Scotland’s only Munro that is accessible only by boat, a walk up Ben More is often on the ‘to do’ list for visitors to the island.

Ben More on the Isle of Mull with a covering of snow

Looking across Loch na Keal and Eorsa at Ben More on Mull

At 966 meters in height, Ben More towers over the island’s other hills.  Not only do you get a stunning, 360-degree view, but you also get the acute sense of altitude that this sort of elevation creates. With no neighbouring mountains of comparable height, Ben More really does feel like the highest point around!

The simplest route to the summit starts on the shore of Loch na Keal at Dhiseig.  From here a marked path leads up the broad flank of the hill to the circular summit cairn.  Simple.  To experience our island Munro at its most dramatic though, arguably the best route is a circular traverse of Beinn Fhada to A’Chioch and then along the ridge to Ben More. This route involves some scrambling (see the map below).  Let’s take a look at this route as it was on a fine winter’s day!

Beinn Fhada ridge with a person walking

Walking along the Bheinn Fhada ridge with Gribun and Ulva in the distance

Ben More on Mull's north face and snowdirfts

Hiker walking through snow drifts with the north face of Ben More in the distance

Having parked the car off the road along the shore of Loch na Keal, we began the walk by following the burn (Abhainn na h-Uamha), which has a series of spectacular waterfalls along its course. Feeling lucky that we had chosen such a clear, crisp day, we then headed uphill to crest the ridge of Beinn Fhada. At this point the views are just incredible. Looking back you can see the curve of the Gribun cliffs, the islands of Ulva and Eorsa, Staffa, and the Treshnish Isles. Up ahead, Ben More and the ridge look really inviting.

The Ben More circuit walk on the Isle of Mull

Frozen lochan on Beinn Fhada with walker surveying the scene

Walker climbs A'Chioch on Mull

Climbing A’Chioch with Glen Clachaig below and to the right

A'Chioch on Mull in winter with the sun

Winter sun blazing as a walker climbs the A’Chioch ridge on Mull

After a short sharp climb to the summit of Beinn Fhada (702m), with jelly babies providing the extra fuel we needed, we headed west and began the climb of A’Chioch (867m).  The views here are superb, and picking our way up towards the summit through snow drifts was great fun!  We were lucky that the winds weren’t strong at this point, so we were able to enjoy settled conditions and sunshine.

The final traverse over the ridge to Ben More was relatively straightforward, though the final section involves some scrambling. Just at the point where your legs are starting to ask for a rest, the ridge narrows to just a few meters wide and has significant drops on both sides, which help sharpen the senses!

View over Mull's interior

Looking west over the Isle of Mull with the mainland mountains visible in the distance

Ben More ridge on Mull in winter

Surveying the way ahead to the summit of Ben More

Walker heads towards the Ben More ridge

Starting to traverse the Ben More ridge

A'Chioch on Mull

Looking back along the ridge to A’Chioch

wind-blowing-snow-mull

Wind swirls snow into the air on Ben More

descending-ben-more-mull

Beginning the descent

From the summit of Ben More we followed the line of cairns that descend the hill back towards Loch na Keal.  After the rugged drama of the east face of the hill, this side seems very rounded and gentle, and the walking easy.  The wind picked up at this point for us, blowing ice around and creating some spectacular conditions:

ben-more-winter-mull

Ice and snow blows across the hill during the descent

walker-mull-cairns

Following the cairns with the Treshnish Isles in the distance

We finished the walk feeling battered but not broken. No matter which time of year or by which route you choose to climb Ben More, it is always a memorable experience and well worth the effort.

www.isleofmullcottages.com/isle-of-mull-walking.html

ben-more-map

Ben More OS map route

 

Note: Hill walking has inherent risks and dangers.  Conditions change quickly and navigation can be difficult.  Always make sure you are well prepared for any conditions and have the correct level of experience for your chosen route.

 

 

 

Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter

What do you do on Mull in winter?

What is it like on Mull in winter and what is there to see?  Whether aspiring for adventure or searching for solitude, the Isle of Mull has something for everyone. I am going to share with you some of my memorable adventures and encounters that I’ve had on Mull in winter…

 

A time travelling geo-adventure!

I’ve always been curious about the origin of our landscapes and the rocks themselves. Observing the magnificent, diverse topography on Mull can inspire a life-long interest in the subject of geology and severely enhance any outdoor adventure of the natural world.

On a wet day on Mull in winter you don’t need to put on the DVD of Jurassic Park to travel back to the age of the dinosaurs. Small parts of our exposed sedimentary coastline date back 183 – 197 million years to the Jurassic period. When the tide ebbs to low water it reveals a time machine, transporting you back to the mesozoic era. Immerse yourself and explore ancient fossilised species.

One memorable winter geo-excursion I had on the south coast of Mull was exploring the mudstone dominated Jurassic coast to see what fossils I could find. I tried to visualise what the planet would have been like during that time period. The key thing I wanted to see was large congregations of Belemnite fossils, which I noticed last time I was there. After discovering why they’re embedded in big concentrations, I wanted to see the fossils again with a fresh understanding.

Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter  Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter  Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter

As you can see from the photo, these bullet shaped, ancient squid died in large numbers and in tight groups. Geologists think that this was not due to a catastrophic climatic event but a species orientated natural fatality after a sexual gathering had taken place, in the same way present day squid do. They shared the same fate as the dinosaurs, marine and flying reptiles, and ammonites at this time. There is no fossil evidence of these animals beyond the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago.

One of the great things about enjoying rocks and minerals is that the weather conditions aren’t a problem. The rocks have been there for millions of years, and they’re not going anywhere in a hurry. So whatever the weather on Mull in winter, get out and explore the cornerstone of life on our wonderful planet!

 

Photography – capturing the motion

Due to the dynamic weather systems often experienced on the island, the photography opportunities are endless. There are angry seas, moody skies and constantly changing light patterns… A later sunrise and earlier sunset also makes the ‘golden hour’ more accessible.

Just last month we had a fresh autumnal easterly wind blowing at force five, which provided a great opportunity to photograph the power of the ocean continuously crashing into Mull’s easterly coastline, which is usually more sheltered. I checked the tide table and planned out the areas that I would cover, enhancing photography opportunities. It was a cool breeze so I wrapped up warm and headed out with my camera gear, excited about capturing images out in the wilds!

I arrived at my intended location in mid-afternoon so that the position of the sun was more suitable and the state of tide exposed some good photography subjects in the beautifully coloured seaweed. I watched the dramatic surge crash in to the shoreline a number of times in admiration. Then I planned out how I would compress that time into a single frame to capture the power of the motion.

I found a location with Duart Castle showing distantly in the backdrop and a nice varied shoreline of rocky outcrops and seaweed. Using a dark filter to slow down the amount of light reaching my camera’s sensor, I was able to shoot frames consisting of a few seconds. Once I was happy with my composition I attempted to time the pressing of the shutter button in sync with a stronger wave crashing against the shore. After about half an hour persevering I managed to get a frame that I went home happy with!

Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter

Duart Bay waves

 

A ‘Natural Treasure’ hunt

Winter time in the Hebrides brings a number of Atlantic storms, which is to be expected with islands located on the edge of one the world’s youngest oceans. These storms bring an increased chance of natural treasures being brought in with the seas. The best place to look is in the strand lines at low tide. They are long lengths of seaweed stretched across the coast, potentially full of natural wonders!

One winter walk with my family (who were staying in one of the Isle of Mull Cottages on the south coast of the island) produced an exciting find when I was looking for shark egg cases in the strand lines. I ended up finding a ‘Sea Heart’ on the beach!

I since discovered that they’re large, heart-shaped seeds that drop from their tropical vines in Costa Rica and ride the ocean currents of the world. Sea Heart vines are locally known as ‘monkey ladders’, because they actually provide arboreal thoroughfares for monkeys high in the rainforest canopy.

Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter      Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter

See what you can find on Mull in winter. Whether it’s Mermaid’s Purses (egg cases), Sea Beans or absolutely any other tidal treasures, the wonderful unpredictability of nature makes it hugely exciting every time.

 

The dark side of Mull

I’ve had some unbelievable nights out under the dark skies of Mull over the years. Once I finish guiding on a wildlife tour during the day, I am always curious to see what else mother nature has to offer me, providing never ending beauty, wonder and learnings. Mull lies under some of the darkest skies in Europe, due to minimal light pollution.

One of those many nights was in the late winter of 2014/15 when I was out in the field with a friend monitoring owls at dusk. The early evening was very productive as we heard Long-eared Owls vocalising as they prepared for the breeding season. We looked to the north and noticed a pale green glow on the horizon, an auroral arc commonly known as the Northern Lights!

Our perseverance out in the wilds paid off throughout the night as we were treated to dancing columns rippling throughout the northern sky at 40 degrees high! The spectacle of the Aurora Borealis was improved with the accompanying soundscapes of Barn Owls screeching and the odd shooting star overhead!

Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter

Isle of Mull aurora borealis

Top Tips for Stargazing and Treasure Hunting on Mull in Winter

Northern Lights over Mull

Like geology and any natural history subject, if you know more about the origins of the topic, it greatly improves your all round experience. With the Aurora Borealis, when you’ve been waiting for many years to see it, it is worth considering how long a single display really has been in the making.

We need to go to the centre of our solar system to understand where the Aurora was truly born. Fifteen million degrees celsius and crushing gravitational pressure – these are the conditions required in the core of our sun to generate the energy to seed the Aurora Borealis. It can take thousands of years for these electrically charged particles to reach the cooler outer parts of the sun. From there, they are released into outer space through moderate solar winds or a more explosive mass ejection. It can take 48 hours for these solar winds to reach our planet. When drawn towards our magnetic poles they can trigger the wonderful showing.

In this modern age we have more accurate space weather reports and also increased networking of local aurora sightings. With Mull’s higher latitude and unpolluted skies, if you put yourself in a position to be lucky, just maybe, you’ll get rewarded with a sighting of the greatest show on earth, thousands of years in the making!

I hope these stories exemplify how exciting it can be out in wild areas on Mull in winter. There is so much to admire, explore and discover on the island of Mull in winter and we would be delighted to share it with you.

 

Kick start your winter exploration of Mull with stargazing experiences, wildlife and photography tours provided by Nature Scotland who operate year round on the island: info@naturescotland.com

Browse our range of winter breaks with short stays and special deals available on holiday cottages throughout Mull: Winter Breaks

 

Top 10 Things to do with Children on the Isle of Mull

The outdoors is certainly one of the Isle of Mull’s greatest attractions.  With miles of unspoilt coastline and stunning views around every corner, you’re never short of things to see.  So if you are in the midst of planning your next family holiday and are thinking about days out and activities to do with the kids, you might find this list of our top 10 things to do with children on the Isle of Mull a helpful starting point.  We’ve put together this little list to help entertain your little ones no matter what the weather.

 

1.Explore life from the seas around Mull at the Isle of Mull Aquarium

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

The Isle of Mull Aquarium in Tobermory

Located in Tobermory, the Mull Aquarium is a ‘catch and release’ Aquarium.  This means the species on display are ‘resident’ for a maximum of four weeks before being returned to the water.  As a result there is always something new to see on each visit.  Kids will love the interactive touch pool sessions. There are a good selection of toys and souvenirs too, not to mention the mesmerising contour sand pit!  Contact 01688 302 876

2. Mull Pony Trekking

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Kids will love seeing Mull from the saddle!

Catering to both experienced and first time riders, Mull Pony Trekking offers a superb opportunity for kids to gain experience with the ponies whilst seeing some of Mull’s finest scenery.  Taster sessions can also be booked, ideal for the very youngest riders and those who are a bit unsure.  Perfect for toddlers are the shetland pony rides. After a quick brush and pat you can lead your children out on a short ride.  The more experienced riders will love cantering along the shore on the beach trek.  Contact Liz: 07748807447

 

3. Rainydays indoor soft play and cafe

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Located within Aros Hall on Tobermory’s Main Street, Rainydays soft play will let children burn off that excess energy no matter what the weather!  There are a range of ‘climbing blocks’, slides and a ball pit.  Drinks and snacks can also be purchased and there are a selection of books and magazines too.  Contact:  rainydaysaroshall@gmail.com

 

4. Visit Duart Castle and Tearoom

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull as viewed from across the bay

Kids will love a visit to Mull’s Duart castle.  The castle is the seat of clan MacLean and dates back to the 13th century.  You explore the inside of Duart, where there are exhibits and displays detailing the castle’s history.   Steps lead right up to the roof terrace, where the are outstanding views.  After looking around the castle you can enjoy a sit down and some delicious food and drinks in the tearoom.  Walking trails lead around Duart point.  There is a millennium woodland walk and even a small sandy beach to find!  Duart Castle also hosts a range of events and attractions that take place throughout the summer.  Contact: 01680 812 309

 

5. Explore the stunning gardens at Lip na Cloiche

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Paths weave through the stunning gardens at Lip na Cloiche

Situated on the Isle of Mull’s west coast, Lip na Cloiche gardens will be a firm favourite with children and adults alike.  Entry is by donation and a maze of footpaths let you explore this stunning hillside garden.  The gardens are densely planted with a wide range of plants that thrive in the warm sea air.  The gardens feature a mix of beach-combed and ‘found’ items that are beautifully incorporated into the planting in a way that will surprise and engage children and adults too.  You can also purchase craft items and plants and a proportion of the proceeds are donated back to local charities.  Contact: 01688 500 257

 

6. Take a family friendly walk

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Aros Park is perfect for a family walk

Walks on the Isle of Mull for kids don’t have to involve climbing Ben More, the island’s Munro. You can see some great views at lower levels and with little effort.  Aros Park is a great option for walking with children on Mull. Located just south of Tobermory, Aros Park has a network of maintained tracks, including some that are suitable for pushchairs too.  In sunny weather children will enjoy ball games on the grass where there is also a climbing frame and picnic areas.  In heavy rain the park is stunning with its many impressive waterfalls that thunder into the sea of Tobermory harbour.  There are trails into the woods with adventure courses to complete and stunning views over the harbour to Tobermory.  See details and maps on our walking page.

 

7. Make waves at the Isle of Mull Swimming Pool

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Kids enjoying the Mull swimming pool

The Isle of Mull Swimming Pool is centrally located in Craignure at the Isle of Mull Hotel.  This 17m long pool is great for children because the depth is 1.2m. There is a shallower toddler/learner pool too.  Adults can also enjoy use of the spa, which has a sauna, steam room and outdoor Jacuzzi.  A range of beauty treatments are available and there is a Rasul Mud room.  After everyone has enjoyed the pool you can head over for a bite to eat in the hotel lounge bar.

 

8. Discover the Isle of Mull’s past at The Old Byre

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

The Old Byre heritage centre near Dervaig, Mull

The Old Byre heritage centre is located just outside of Dervaig in north Mull.  Children can play in the covered play area, which has a selection of toys and games.  There are picnic benches where you can enjoy food and drinks from the cafe.  The heritage centre has a excellent display of models that show life like scenes from Mull’s past.  There are also informative films you can watch and a gift shop too.  Contact: 01688 400 229

 

9. Hit the beach for sandcastles and paddling!

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Kids playing on the beach at Calgary on Mull

A trip to a beach is also a good bet and Mull has some of the finest beaches you could wish for.  Whether it’s picnics or sandcastle building, paddling or fishing, children always seem to have a way of making their own fun and games given an expanse of sand to do it on!  Mull has such a beautiful range of beaches and coastline to enjoy with sands of every colour.  Kick start your next beach day with our guide to beaches on the Isle of Mull.

 

10. Become an island explorer and take a boat trip!

Plan a family holiday to the Isle of Mull and your children are guaranteed a great adventure, from swimming to beaches, aquariums, castles and more...

Staffa and basalt columns

Mull offers some amazing boat trips exploring the waters and small islands around its coast.  The trip to Staffa is an ideal short trip to do with children.  The sail takes around 40 minutes from Mull and you have a chance of see wildlife along the way.  Landing on Staffa you get an hour ashore to explore the island on foot (taking care!).  You can guide kids around to the impressive Fingal’s cave, and watch waves crash inside making a tremendous noise!  In spring and summer, puffins arrive on Staffa and young children will enjoy watching these colourful birds.  This is an ideal first boat trip, being shorter in length but big in drama!  See more about Staffa and a list of Mull boat trip operators to contact.

 

These are just a sample of some things to do with kids on the Isle of Mull but you’ll find plenty more.  You’ll also see we have a brilliant range of holiday cottages that our great for families.  See our full range at Isle of Mull Cottages and do get in touch if you’d like any help or advice: 01688 400 682 or mail@isleofmullcottages.com

 

What are your favourite activities to do with your children on Mull?

A Quick Guide To Exploring Iona & Iona Abbey

When you visit the Isle of Mull you can also visit the other islands that are situated off Mull’s coast.  Iona is undoubtedly the most popular of them all and it’s easy to see why, not least because of the stunning Iona Abbey.

Iona from St Ronan

Arriving at Iona and the waters of St Ronan’s Bay

The journey starts in Fionnphort, Mull’s most south westerly village.  You can tuck into fresh seafood on the slipway whilst you wait for the ferry.  The return ticket will set you back a very reasonable £3.30 for an adult or £1.70 for a child.

The crossing takes ten minutes and you will arrive at Iona’s largest settlement, Baile Mor.   The sea in St Ronan’s bay is such a striking blue colour, the white sandy beaches and stone cottages couldn’t be any more picturesque.

Watch our video guide to visiting Iona:

Most visitors make a bee line for the Abbey, a short walk that takes in some of the sights of Iona on the way.

Iona Abbey as you arrive on the ferry

Iona Abbey as seen across St Ronan’s Bay

Iona bench

A bench on Iona encourages visitors to absorb the peace

Iona post office and ferry

Iona post office with the ferry turning in the distance

The site of Iona Abbey dates from 563, when St Columba established a monastery on the island.  Tickets to enter the Abbey are purchased at the Historic Scotland ticket office.

There’s lots to see in the abbey including the impressive cloisters, which have undergone restoration and feature many impressive stone carvings:

Iona abbey cloiseters

The cloisters in Iona Abbey

Abbey Iona cloisters

A face carved in stone in the cloisters of Iona Abbey

stone carving on iona

One of the corner carvings of Iona Abbey cloisters

Abbey cloisters columns Iona

Detail of the stone columns of Iona Abbey’s cloisters

After you have looked around the Abbey you can enjoy lunch at one of Iona’s eateries before exploring other areas of the island.

Iona from above

The whole of Iona from south to north

Many visitors climb Dun I, the island’s highest point.  North beach at Iona’s northern most tip is a stunning beach too, with great views back to Mull.

Dun I sign on Iona

A sign points the way to Dun I, the highest point on Iona

Iona north beach Mull

The white sands of North beach on Iona with Mull in the distance

 

On Iona’s west and southern coast you can enjoy relative peace and quiet as most visitors stick to the island’s east coast and the area around Abbey.

Iona makes a great day out from Mull and is on most visitors ‘to do’ list.

 

Have you visited Iona Abbey? What’s your favourite spot on the island?

Pet Friendly Holiday Cottages on the Isle of Mull

Some people base their holidays around their dogs, so they set out with pet friendly holiday cottages in mind.  ‘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 who are outdoor enthusiasts, in one form or another, and are therefore quite likely to have a dog they would like to bring with them.

Leaving your pets on holiday can be both expensive and sad, so why not bring them with you? Your dogs are welcome here in our pet friendly holiday cottages

Looking for a holiday cottage…

So today we’re looking at our pet friendly holiday cottages to stay in from 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 for pet friendly holiday cottages…

Calgary Cottage

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

Leaving your pets on holiday can be both expensive and sad, so why not bring them with you? Your dogs are welcome here in our pet friendly holiday cottages

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.

Leaving your pets on holiday can be both expensive and sad, so why not bring them with you? Your dogs are welcome here in our pet friendly holiday cottages

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.

Leaving your pets on holiday can be both expensive and sad, so why not bring them with you? Your dogs are welcome here in our pet friendly holiday cottages

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 pet friendly holiday cottages 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!

 

What is top of your dog’s wish list for pet friendly holiday cottages?

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons to 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 the Isle of Mull apart in this variety of beautiful Hebridean offerings?

The Isle of Mull is blissfully peaceful

Less populated than Islay or Skye, with the vast majority of roads being single track (and okay, a little bumpy), Mull retains a wonderfully laid-back, peaceful atmosphere. There’s just enough in the way of infrastructure to give you a list of attractions to keep you busy, from Duart Castle to a wildlife tour.

From wildlife like otters to golden and white-tailed sea eagles, the charming town of Tobermory, a munro to climb and more, the Isle of Mull offers a lot...

Stunning scenery

Picture-postcard Tobermory

The Isle of 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, watching 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. Tobermory bustles in the summer months and becomes a sleepy haven in the quieter winter.

From wildlife like otters to golden and white-tailed sea eagles, the charming town of Tobermory, a munro to climb and more, the Isle of Mull offers a lot...

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.

From wildlife like otters to golden and white-tailed sea eagles, the charming town of Tobermory, a munro to climb and more, the Isle of Mull offers a lot...

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 eagles reside on Mull. Red deer are an impressive sight too and the charming Highland cows are often photographed extensively. 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 birdlife here is prolific. 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 yourself. Make one of our hand-picked holiday cottages your base for the perfect island holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, and features the grand phenomenon of columnar basalt. 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 it was that they were studying.

The rocks of Mull have played an enormous part in the advancement of the science of Igneous Petrology. Earth Scientists from all over the world come to study the amazing geology of this place. But 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 columnar basalt 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 on 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. The columnar form, which is easily the most visually spectacular, can be seen in lots of locations on Mull. 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 Norse and means “Pillar Island”. Very well named! Staffa is easy to access on foot but requires a boat trip to get to it. Find out more about how you can visit Staffa here.

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.

Columnar Basalt is an incredible geological feature to behold and, if you visit the Isle of Mull, you can! Get the best sights with our guide...

Columnar 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 views. Beyond the headland of Rubha na h-Uamha (Point of the Cave, and well-named so), there is more columnar basalt to be seen. Great care is needed as it can only be easily accessed when the tide is out.

Columnar Basalt is an incredible geological feature to behold and, if you visit the Isle of Mull, you can! Get the best sights with our guide...

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.

Columnar Basalt is an incredible geological feature to behold and, if you visit the Isle of Mull, you can! Get the best sights with our guide...

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.

Columnar Basalt is an incredible geological feature to behold and, if you visit the Isle of Mull, you can! Get the best sights with our guide...

Columnar basalt at Ardtun

There is 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 offers a great introduction.

Author: James Westland

All images copyright James Westland, 2016

 

If you’re intrigued by Mull’s magnificent landscapes, don’t miss our guide to visiting MacKinnon’s Cave.

 

If you’ve been to see the columnar basalt on Mull, what did you think?

How to Have the Perfect Romantic Break for Two on Mull

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 wind their 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.

Whether celebrating an anniversary or looking for a weekend away, the Isle of Mull makes the perfect setting for a romantic break. Let us tell you why...

Enjoy a romantic break surrounded by the stunning 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 cosied up, soaking up the environment and re-charging your batteries. If you want somewhere with peace and quiet on tap, the Isle of Mull should be top of your list for a romantic break for two.

Whether celebrating an anniversary or looking for a weekend away, the Isle of Mull makes the perfect setting for a romantic break. Let us tell you why...

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 to your 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 a romantic break.

Whether celebrating an anniversary or looking for a weekend away, the Isle of Mull makes the perfect setting for a romantic break. Let us tell you why...

One of the beautiful stretches of coastline

 

Where on Mull would you choose for the ultimate romantic break?

Top 5 Cottages by the Sea on the Isle of Mull

‘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. Here are some cracking options to get you excited for your next Mull getaway…

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 five-star accommodation, but it is a five-star experience. We’d highly recommend booking Grasspoint Cottage for those wanting to get cosy by the sea.

We all dream of going on holiday and staying in cottages by the sea on the Isle of Mull, a rugged and wildly beautiful Scottish island. With these, you can!

Grasspoint Cottage on Mull

2.  The Old Church

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

We all dream of going on holiday and staying in cottages by the sea on the Isle of Mull, a rugged and wildly beautiful Scottish island. With these, you can!

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, making it an ideal options for cottages by the sea. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, there is a gravel track that leads around the coastline through mature woodland, past pebble and sandy beaches. It’s idyllic (and that word gets used a lot, but it really is). 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.

We all dream of going on holiday and staying in cottages by the sea on the Isle of Mull, a rugged and wildly beautiful Scottish island. With these, you can!

The Old School House at Croggan

4. The Bothy

You’d have thought by now we would be getting onto lesser options for cottages by the sea, but we haven’t. 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 cosy cottage for two, then The Bothy is for you. This little area of Mull is divine with a capital ‘D’; you will not want to leave. You will also love more of our remote holiday cottages – take a look for some wild inspiration for your next stay.

We all dream of going on holiday and staying in cottages by the sea on the Isle of Mull, a rugged and wildly beautiful Scottish island. With these, you can!

The Bothy at Lochbuie

5. Sands Cottage

If you want to stay in Sands Cottage, heed this 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 Sands Cottage.

We all dream of going on holiday and staying in cottages by the sea on the Isle of Mull, a rugged and wildly beautiful Scottish island. With these, you can!

Sands Cottage at Calgary

 

For more tips for booking the perfect holiday cottage on Mull, use this guide.

 

Have you got a favourite of our cottages by the sea on Mull?