The varied and spectacular Isle of Mull wildlife is one of the island’s biggest attractions. Here are some of the most unique Mull wildlife moments spotted in 2017.
The King of our Seas
On Mull we’re fortunate to be able to observe kings of the airwaves on a regular basis: Golden and White-Tailed Eagles. But Mull being an island, it is surrounded by the largest habitat on planet Earth, the ocean. On a rare occasion you may even get to see marine royalty and the ocean’s top predator patrolling the big blue… Orca.
Whether you’ve visited Scotland and its many islands before or not, news of the nation’s frequent spells of wet weather travels fast. But while it’s also no stranger to sunshine, the Isle of Mull is an island borne of exactly such weather systems. The waterfalls, rivers and verdant, green landscapes are in part carved out and created by rainy days on Mull, so the wet conditions could even be something worth celebrating.
If you’d like to make the most of your visit, whatever the weather, then try these five ideas for damper days. With something for everyone, from families to crafters to wildlife enthusiasts, your day will be anything but a wash out.
Self-catering holidays on Mull are arguably the best way to explore the island if you want to balance luxury and flexibility. Our portfolio of 80 hand-picked cottages boast some of the best views on the island, and you can choose the one with an interior to suit your style.
You won’t be tied to your hotel’s restaurant this way, so you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, with the option to eat out any time you fancy it too. To help you make the most of your island getaway, here we round up Mull’s impressive offering of stores, farm shops, produce markets and even homemade ready meals delivered to your door!
Whether you come for the wildlife, the untouched landscapes or the colorful charm of Tobermory, the first step to planning your holiday on Mull is to choose where on the island you actually want to stay.
From beaches to loch shores and remote retreats, there are many idyllic holiday cottages on Mull for you to make your base. And wherever you choose, the beauty of this island is that nowhere is out of reach. Hop in the car and the entire island is within reach (and a few others too, if you don’t mind swapping the car for a boat!).
Here, we share six of our favourite locations for holiday cottages on Mull to help you find the best one for you. And if you know what you want to see but not where to go to see it, get in touch with our family-run business to pick our brains for ten years’ worth of local knowledge. With an exclusive collection of over 80 cottages on the island, choose your destination and your perfect island getaway won’t be far away.
Author looking over Loch na Keal near Kellan Mill Lodge
I was a latecomer to Mull. Shamefully late in fact. Having moved to Scotland in 2003 and consciously making the decision at that point to explore every corner of my adopted home, it was 12 long years before I set foot on the island. It wasn’t until my second visit that I experienced autumn on Mull.
My first obstacle was an earnest but naïve fixation on climbing munros (Scotland’s 282 hills over 3000ft) and ONLY munros. I did so with single-minded determination for the first few years. In so doing I completely overlooked the walking potential of rugged ‘lesser’ hills on the islands or the unique atmosphere and challenges of their wild, convoluted coastlines… two things Mull has in spades. But when that fixation happily abated, a second and unexpected obstacle took its place.
One of the special things about being on an island is that sense of removal from the hustle and bustle of mainland life. With water all around, the peace and quiet and breathtaking views can begin to work their magic! We’ve put together a selection of our most remote holiday cottages on the Isle of Mull. These cottages offer guests a sense of total privacy and solitude in the most stunning of scenery.
MacKinnon’s Cave is situated on the Isle of Mull’s west coast near Gribun. The area is dominated by sheer cliffs and very broken country that affords a great view of several important geological time periods. MacKinnon’s Cave is also said to be the longest sea cave in the Hebrides, at around 500 feet in length. A torch is therefore essential to explore the cave, and as the mouth of the cave is tidal you must consult the tide times before setting off and plan your visit on a low tide.
Stand on a high point and gaze out to sea off Mull’s west coast and you will see them. A chain of mysterious, glistening jewels in the Hebridean sea that will set your pulse racing. The sense of anticipation of the wildlife gems they might hold is palpable. From Staffa in the south, up to the Dutchman’s Cap, onwards to Lunga and Fladda and finally to Cairn na Burgh Beg in the north, the Treshnish Isles archipelago will lure you in.
Luckily for us all, they are not ‘forbidden islands’. We are blessed here on Mull and Iona with a variety of choices of ways to get to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa, with daily boat trips in season leaving from Ulva Ferry, Fionnphort, Iona and Tobermory. Skippers and crews who know these waters intimately will welcome you on board, provide a warming brew en route and set sail for these distant, enticing lands.
Make the most of your journey alongside the Sound of Mull
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. Naturally, many set straight off for their accommodation around the island, but there are lots of places to visit along the Sound on the way, and plenty lying within too! So take a bit of time to explore the Sound of Mull and all of its interesting sights en route with this guide.
Looking over Grasspoint at the southern end of the Sound of Mull
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Mullwww.isleofmullcottages.com