Ask any visitor to Mull to recommend their favourite places to visit, and almost all of them will mention Loch na Keal at some point. This sea loch sweeps inland along the island’s west coast, with the Ardmeanach peninsula and Gribun cliffs hugging the south shore, and the coastline leading round past Killiechronan to the north. Inside the bay lies the uninhabited island of Eorsa, as well as the island of Inch Kenneth.
One of the island’s most beautiful drives
Loch na Keal is easily accessible from most corners of Mull, lying only a couple of miles’ drive across the narrowest part of the island from Salen on the east coast, to the loch on the west. But arriving at Loch na Keal from the south offers perhaps the most spectacular introduction.
First follow the road through Mull’s mountains in Glen More, then turn off. The road follows the northern shore of Loch Scridain, before rising up over the pass at Tiroran and then descending dramatically with spectacular views across Loch na Keal and yet more outlying islands at sea.
As the road reaches sea level, the views remain impressive. Hills rise up to your right, with the sea to your left as the road winds past the Gribun cliffs with pretty dry stone walls.
A wildlife hotspot for Mull’s ‘big five’
Of course, surrounded by pockets of woodland, sweeping hillsides, scree-covered peaks and a tidal sea loch, there’s far more to see than landscapes alone.
Mull’s big five could all be sighted in the local area, so keep your eyes to the skies for sea eagles, scan the hilltops for herds of deer, and choose a spot downwind with a view over the water in the hope of otters, seals and – for the very lucky – perhaps even dolphins too, who have been known to visit.
Explore Loch na Keal and beyond
At the head of the loch, there’s also the opportunity to experience the surrounds from the saddle, with Mull Pony Trekking based at Killiechronan.
Following the north shore round, the single track lane continues for miles following the length of the island’s west coast. Continue on and pass Loch Tuath, opening up views over the islands of Ulva, Gometra and the Treshnish Isles, and you can continue all the way to the white sands of Calgary Bay. A lovely place to pause and take in the west coast sunset, or enjoy an ice cream from the boat shack earlier in the day.
Cottages on Loch na Keal
Loch na Keal feels every bit like true Mull wilderness, with Ben More, the island’s only munro, accessible from the south shore. Cottages are few and far between in this rural corner of the coast, but we do have a couple that will draw you back time and time again.
For couples, Derryguaig Smiddy is the perfect choice, nestled in the foothills of Ben More on the sloping grassland above the loch. For wildlife lovers, Kellan Mill Lodge on Loch na Keal’s north shore is a firm favourite, and for families or large groups, the beautiful Balmeanach Farmhouse at the start of the Ardmeanach peninsula is guaranteed to impress.