Walking Guide: MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree
It’s easy to see how the headland dubbed Mull’s wilderness peninsula earned its name. Venture out on the tidal walk to MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree and you’ll experience the wilds first hand, for while the route is for much of the way straight forward, the views are ruggedly magnificent.
Then, upon reaching the final leg of the outwards journey, the lower level scramble over rocks along the shore and the descent of the metal ladder to get there certainly add to the challenge. One made well worth it by the spectacular waterfalls and 55 million year old fossil tree.
Reaching the start
The walk to MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree begins just beyond Tiroran in south west Mull, so Gardener’s Cottage, Woodland Cottage and The Old Byre make excellent bases from which to begin the hike.
Coming from the Ross of Mull, turn left onto the ‘Scenic Route to Salen’, then a few miles on, take another left signposted to Tiroran and Burg. Continue along the lane until you reach the parking area. Coming from the north, follow the coast road along Loch na Keal heading south. Pass the Gribun cliffs and later, the Tiroran Community Forest before turning right at the signpost for Tiroran and Burg.
The walk to MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree
The walk to MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree follows the southern coastline of the Ardmeanach peninsula for much of the way, before rounding the headland as you approach the tree. Cast your gaze in the direction of loch Scridain, which sits at your side all the way out, and take in the beautiful Ross of Mull scenery beyond. There are eagles to watch, wildlife to spot and – if you’re very lucky – perhaps even a passing pod of dolphins.
The route is easy going to start with, both for the navigator and for the feet. Simply follow the track towards the farm at Burg and then onwards through the woodland and the memorial to Daisy Cheape.
Bearing north to follow the coast round the peninsula, you enter the final stage of the walk to MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree. It’s here that the journey begins to feel more like a hike. Waterfalls punctuate the sea and wilderness views, being all the more atmospheric after a period of rain. When you reach the metal ladder, descend carefully to the rock-strewn shoreline below before reaching the fossil tree.
As you’ll be on the shore, this walk is best planned carefully with the tides to ensure you can actually reach the rocky beach below to explore. Turn away from the sea to face the cliff you just descended and take in the majesty of the fossil tree remnants, dramatically displayed within their basalt lava cast, before returning the way you came.
The walk to MacCulloch’s Fossil Tree will take the best part of the day. Prepare to enjoy some of the most staggering Isle of Mull scenery as you venture there and back.
If you plan to enjoy some of Mull’s best walks, don’t miss our guide to the hike to Carsaig Arches too.