10 Places to Visit on the Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull is the beautiful Hebridean Island that inspired the setting for my contemporary romantic fiction series, Scottish Island Escapes.
I first visited Mull in 2001 on a fleeting trip with my sister. She was on a much bigger island-hopping road trip and I tagged along for a couple of days before returning home on public transport – an entertainment in itself!
That trip partially inspired part of Autumn’s story in book 4. Neither my sister nor I had any clue just how big Mull was. For years as children, we’d visited the Isle of Bute, and anyone who knows it will know you can easily drive around the entire island in less than an hour… Eh, not so Mull! Curse our naivety! Still, it made for a great adventure, young as we were.
I clearly remember the look on our faces when the lady at the B&B told us on the phone it would take an hour to drive there from the ferry. An hour? We dismissed it thinking, what nonsense, you can’t drive for an hour on island!! Put it down to youth or whatever. It did take us at least an hour and when we decided to go on a round island drive and didn’t get back until 11pm, we began to understand the size of the place!
When I wrote Autumn, I didn’t want her to come over as silly, just someone like us; people who had a preconceived idea that turned out to be false!
So, the moral is… look at a map!
If you decide to visit, here are 10 places not to miss. (Or maybe I should say the first 10… There are lots more!)
The main village on the island is situated at the north end and famous for its multicoloured houses that once featured in the kid’s TV show Balamory. This village has awesome shops including Tobermory Chocolate and the Mull Soap Company to name a select few.
2. Duart Castle.
Visitors travelling to Mull from Oban get the first view of this iconic castle from the boat and that’s a good place to see it in all its glory. It’s a short drive to get to it from the ferry port in Craignure and if you don’t mind heights, you can climb right to the roof. On a clear day, there is an astonishing view!
3. Calgary Bay and Art in Nature Trail.
This is a magnificent sandy beach with a nearby nature trail into the woods. On the trail there are sculptures and artwork to look for, leading up to the top of the hill where there’s another awesome view.
4. Ulva Ferry.
The hamlet of Ulva Ferry is perhaps a little unremarkable in itself but it is the landing place for the tiny ferry boat which will take you to the walkers’ paradise that is the Isle of Ulva. This beautiful little island has several fantastic walks, an old croft house ‘Sheila’s Cottage’, a Thomas Telford church built in 1828, and a large Manor house where Dr Johnson stayed during his Hebridean travels in 1773. You can also have an enjoyable meal at the Boathouse Café.
Travellers to Mull sometimes overlook Fionnphort because it is the gateway to Iona. Often people are in such a rush to get on the ferry to visit the holy isle they miss Fionnphort completely. It has a special place in my heart as it was here I stayed on my original trip to Mull. In the little B&B which had an en suite bathroom with a sea view… The view was so nice it was easy to forget to draw the blind. But then, as the only passers-by were sheep, it wasn’t really a problem! Fionnphort has a beach near the ferry port but if you walk a little way out there are lots of hidden bays and beaches nearby.
This little fishing village is also sometimes overlooked. At first glance, it’s not the most picturesque of the island villages but it is the home of the 24-hour book shed! This is the most amazing little place behind the charity shop. It’s open all the time and you are free to browse and choose books at whatever time you’re about. Just don’t forget to leave your donation in the box!
7. Eas Fors.
This magical waterfall was a place my husband and I stumbled on quite by accident. In book three of my series, these falls play a big part and they are truly a spectacular sight! If you visit Ulva (see above), you get a fab view of them from across the water. The name is curious as it means both waterfall in Gaelic (Eas) and waterfall in Norse (Fors). So if you happen to call the falls the Eas Fors waterfall you’re technically calling it the waterfall waterfall waterfall!!
8. Uisken Bay.
This out of the way beach is absolutely stunning and (usually) quite quiet. A beautiful place to simply relax.
9. Glengorm Castle.
The castle itself is now luxury self-catering apartments but surrounding it there are some lovely walks and a fabulous little courtyard with artisan shops and a very tasty café and farm shop!
The drive around this sea loch is one of the most breath-taking areas of scenery anywhere! Some parts of the road are narrow and treacherous enough without the distraction of the view… and you will be distracted! At any moment a sea eagle might fly over or you’ll observe the sea looking simply magnificent and begging for its photo to be taken! I love finding a quiet spot, parking up and just sitting. I’ve done it in beautiful weather when the views take you far away and also in a battering storm when the sea was raging and the car shaking like mad! Always glorious.
After my original trip, I invested in a map! Last year when writing my series, I decided to draw my own so I could add all the made-up places too! Check it out if you want to see where the places are.
And seriously, if you’re visiting Mull, it has small single-track roads, sheep and cows which roam free, and unpredictable weather! Drive safely and show respect to other drivers.
All photographs © Margaret Amatt