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How to Choose the Best Holiday Cottages on Mull

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.

Planning a trip to the Isle of Mull? Experience the freedom, luxury and scenery you desire with a stay at one of our holiday cottages on Mull

A Visit During Autumn On Mull

Autumn on Mull can be spectacular, from its starry, dark skies to the changing colours of the landscape and the wildlife waiting to be discovered...

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.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

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.

Remote Holiday Cottages in Scotland

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.

A Guide To Visiting MacKinnon’s Cave on Mull

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.

MacKinnon's Cave shore at low tide

A Guide to Visiting the Treshnish Isles and Staffa

Boat trip to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa

With Dave Sexton, RSPB Mull Officer

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.

Mull is an island surrounded by many other magical islands, home to seabird colonies and amazing marine sightings en route. We recommend the Treshnish Isles

Where To Visit On The Sound of Mull

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.

Summer view over Grasspoint on the Sound of Mull

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

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

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

Geese

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 www.isleofmullcottages.com


 

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.

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