Iona Abbey was originally built in around 563AD from wood, wattle and daub by St Columba and his followers after they fled Ireland. Later in 1200AD the Columban Monastery was transformed into a Benedictine Abbey. The Abbey and grounds house one of the most comprehensive collections of Christian carved stones in Scotland.
Throughout the history of Iona, the isle, monastery were pillaged by viking invaders.
Walk around the beautifully kept Nunnery and Abbey cloisters. Visit the Abbey church itself and you can feel the history washing over you.
The Scottish government are subsidising travel to Mull with their RET scheme.
The cost of travel for islanders to the mainland was getting out of hand and also affecting the tourism trade, making people holidaying think twice. The RET scheme subsidises everyone’s ferry fares drastically. By our estimate the discount is around 60% for foot passengers and vehicles, which you will hopefully agree is pretty significant. The best thing is you don’t have to jump through any hoops to take advantage of this, the travel prices on the CalMac site already include the RET subsidy.
Check the Mull fares on https://www.calmac.co.uk/ret/about, with Oban / Craignure probably being the route most visitors to Tigh-na-acha will want to take.
Thank to the Scottish government for this gesture, it has made everyone on the islands a bit happier, though consider booking your ferry a bit earlier than normal because they may be a bit busier.
Duart Castle hails from around 1350 but has been built up since then and is still being renovated today. This imposing building has been used as a back drop for films such as When Eight Bells Toll starring Anthony Hopkins and Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. With a dungeon, state rooms and tales of piracy and sunken treasure there is enough to keep an inquisitive mind occupied for a full day. Take a pack lunch or enjoy local fare in the restaurant. Entrance is to the castle is £3.50 and there is no charge to walk around the grounds so it shouldn’t break the bank.
Fresh fish & chips cooked to order in Tobermory
The FISH & CHIP VAN on the Fishermans Pier in Tobermory is owned by Jeanette in partnership with her friend Jane.
The ladies use only the best fish which is supplied on a daily basis. One of their specialities is fresh king scallops ‘’seared’’ to order while you wait. In fact everything on the menu is cooked to order and the wait of a few minutes is a small price to pay for such fresh quality food. Your freshly cooked meal can be devoured in a setting that is second to none, in the heart of Tobermory overlooking it’s famous bay.
The Fisherman’s Pier FISH & CHIP VAN was honoured with a prestigious “Les Routiers” award and, being the first establishment of its kind to be included, the European food bible had to create a category especially for it. The guide insists it does not include premises which are just fashionable, they have to be “chic” and “with the best food.” If you think that’s good read what Prince Charles thought.
The FISH & CHIP VAN attracts customers from all over the world, many arriving by yacht. It has a strong local clientèle as well as visitors from all over the UK. The van is open all year round so next time you’re on Mull why not visit us for an “al fresco” meal on the seafront? Sorry but reservations cannot be taken for seating at the Clock Tower or on the lobster/prawn creels on the Pier !
The 3 mile beat from Dervaig, past the Old Byrne until it emerges from the forest area is a lovely place to fish. The river meanders through peat flats and into the bay at Dervaig.
Use a spoon, fly or fresh worms to catch silver seatrout or salmon.
From £5 per day, all the information from Tackle and Books in Tobermory, 01688 302336 or email@example.com
The Tobermory Golf Club is just a 10 minute walk from Tigh-na-acha, the Tobermory Golf Club is a challenging 9 hole course sculpted from the side of the hill rising behind Tobermory Harbour.
Don’t let the fact that this is 9 holes put you off, this is a challenging course. the first hole presents you with a heather covered hill you must play over, only a marker showing you the direction of the hole. The course gets better, every hole is a new adventure. Situated high above Tobermory harbour the amazing views down the Sound of Mull, Morvern, Ardnamurchan and the mountains of the islands of Rum and Eigg
Voted “Best 9 hole golf course in Scotland” in The Scotsman 16/01/2008, some accolade indeed.
From the club website “Where man and nature conspired to create the perfect golf course. This 9 hole course is a gem set on the beautiful isle of Mull. Beware, the scenery can seriously affect your game.”
One of the beauties, of a course like Tobermory, is that there is no booking system. The course is available for play just about any time. Green fees are £20 per day for adults. Visitors are always welcome.
See http://www.tobermorygolfclub.com/ for more details.
Highland Cattle you don’t see every day. You will find these wonderful looking creatures dotted around the island. Sometimes fenced in, but don’t be surprised if you find some sitting on the road. These shaggy beasts look very ferocious with their enormous horns, but a quick look at their eyes peeping out from under their shaggy fringe will tell you all you need to know. They are one of Britain’s oldest breeds and love the craggy mountainous terrain that Mull provides. These two were just outside “Wings Over Mull”, the birds of prey centre near Craignure.
Located in the beautiful setting of Aros Park which you can see from Tigh-na-acha across the harbour. Access is either a 2k walk from Tobermory Harbour or by car from the Salen Road. Stocked with Rainbow Trout, this loch is well sheltered so a better place to be if the weather is wet / windy.
Full details and permits are available from Browns in Tobermory – 01688 302020.
Sheep are another familiar sight, often found clinging to the mountainsides with gravity defying skill. Most are not penned, but allowed to roam wherever they choose. Be careful when driving, although most are well behaved you can never really tell what is going through their minds and they have been known to bolt. If you hit one it will cost you, both to refund the farmer and to fix your car, they will do significant damage. This lamb and its protective mother (we didn’t get any closer) were photographed just round from Calgary Bay.
Tobermory is the capital of Mull, it was built around a natural harbour protecting the many boats from the rough weather. Often filled with moored pleasure boats and working fishing boats, the main pier is also a CalMac ferry port where you can get excursions to other parts of Mull and the surrounding area. The range of shops should cater for all needs, including clothes, toys, books, fishing tackle, restaurants and cafe’s, locally made jewellery, pottery, locally painted pictures and supermarket.
Calgary Bay is a popular sandy beach, around 40 minutes drive from Tobermory. Around half a mile wide with easy parking and easy access to the beach, it is a good place for all. Walk up the track on the right hand side of the bay to the granite pier for an alternative view of the bay.
Visit the tea rooms and art gallery for refreshments.
There is also a very enjoyable guided walk starting from the tea rooms which is great for kids and adults alike. Called the Art in Nature Sculpture trail, you are taken through the forest past some fantastic nature inspired sculptures, many integrated into the woodland itself.
Going a little further afield from Tobermory, about a 20 minute drive from Tigh-na-acha on the Dervaig Road. This loch is the largest and deepest freshwater loch on Mull being 8km by 800m and 60m deep. Brown Trout of 5lb+, Salmon average 6lb and Sea Trout 2lb can be taken from the loch and the River Aros which flows from Loch Frisa.
Permits from £4 per day available from Tackle & Books in Tobermory – 01688 302336 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A 10 minute drive from Tigh-na-acha. Sitting above Tobermory on the Dervaig Road, these three connected lochs are stocked with 4″ Brown Trout every two years. We use size 10 Claret and ‘Teal and Green’ flies and have caught 4lb fish, but also hear that Butcher and Grouse work well in size 12 too. Fishing from the bank and from a boat is available.
The season is from 1st April through to the 31st September.
All details including permits and boat hire available from Browns in Tobermory – 01688 302020.
Sandy Coves can be found all around the coast of Mull, these are normally very secluded. This is one of the reasons we love Mull so much. You can make a picnic lunch, go out for the day, find a lovely sandy beach and not see anyone else. Some of our favourite places in the North of Mull are past Croig (Port na Ba), Langamull (Port Langamull), Kilninian (Port an t-sruthain). Then on the South coast between Ardalanish and the now deserted township of Shiaba there are many caves and sandy coves, like this one at Uisken.
Ruined Houses are another sight you will find dotted all over Mull, some seemingly on their own, but many in small communities, probably crofters using the land to generate income. The main reason for these buildings being left was down to the Highland Clearances which took place between 1770 and 1850. This was a cruel time and the landowners realising that they could make more money by leasing their land to a single sheep farmer simply kicked people out of their houses, normally with significant force. The strange ash that fell over the highlands in 1846 caused the potato famine which was the nail in the coffin for many people quite literally. During this time tens of thousands of people in the Western Isles were displaced, died or emigrated to America, Canada and even as far away as Australia. This ruin is just north of Tobermory overlooking Bloody Bay.
Iona is a lovely peaceful place and just seems more refined somehow than the rest of Mull. If you do manage to get to the Abbey and have some time, try to visit the rest of the Island. Iona is a stones throw off the South West corner of Mull and some say that it gets the very best of Mull’s weather, probably when the wind is south westerly that is true. If you have time, strike out for the South and West coast where you will find yet more beaches and coves. Some say that from the West coast on a good day you can see Ireland, though we remain unconvinced.
Boats and other sea-going vessels that moor in Tobermory harbour are just as colourful and interesting as the shops, houses and inns that give the front it’s identity. All kinds of vessel can be seen in the harbour. The CalMac passenger ferry can be seen chugging up and down the sound of Mull on its long journey to Barra. Moored in the bay you will see two and three mast Schooners, Luxury yachts, the odd Ketch and most other type of boat you can think of. If you frequent the bars along the sea front you will no doubt pick up on many discussions of a nautical nature.
The roads on Mull are mostly single track with passing spaces so keep your wits about you. This road goes from Dervaig to Torloisk and is not well travelled as most tourists take the coast road past Calgary Bay. You may see grass growing down the middle of some roads. The waterfall and views over Ulva make this route worth taking once in a while. Getting used to driving on single track roads can take a while but just keep a note of where the last passing place was and slow down whilst going round blind corners. Once you have the hang of it the roads are a lot of fun, hence the Mull Rally which takes place on public roads over a weekend in October.
Rainbows on Mull are not unusual. Due to the breezy conditions on Mull the weather can be a little more changeable than some other places in the world. Yes, it does rain and sometimes it can persist it down for days. We relish the rainy days, it gives us a chance to catch up with our reading, visit Browns to pick a nice malt whiskey to keep us amused, or spend a little more time sampling the 80′ in the Mishnish. With this in mind there are some board games and puzzles in the cupboard in the lounge and some books, but it would be wise to pack a waterproof and something to keep you entertained whilst exploring Mull is out of the question.
The Fishing on Mull is terrific. For most fishing you will need a permit, though you can just get your rod out and fish for bass and Pollock off the cliffs just past Calgary Bay (as Claire is doing here). For licenses and boats, head down to either Brown’s or Tackle and Books on the Tobermory seafront for more information. Good options are to hire a boat and fish on the Mishnish Loch’s for brown trout. Fish from the bank of Loch Frisa for brown & sea trout, plus salmon. Fish for Sea trout and Salmon in River Bellart or River Aros. Or get yourself a place on a boat for easy Mackerel or Pollock.
Ben More comes from the Gaelic, Big Hill, and they weren’t kidding, standing 966m above sea level this is the tallest mountain on the island. Most of Mull was created when lava spewed out through faults around 60 million years ago. Climbing is possible and relatively easy on a good day. The reward is spectacular views over Mull and surrounding Islands, even as far as Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Britain. If you want to climb, set aside a full day and start early. Make sure the good weather will last. Start on the south side of Loch na Keal and don’t rely on a compass because the magnetic rock rules out an accurate reading. We would seriously recommend spending more time getting aquainted with Ben More before attempting an ascent. Best of luck..
The Lighthouse Walk is a nice easy excursion from Tobermory Harbour. Head towards the Calmac ferry port and take the path heading up hill into the trees. You can just keep on this path for an hour or so, until you reach the lighthouse. On the way you should have fantastic views of Ardnamurchan. On the way back you could try walking back over the golf course for some lovely views down the Sound of Mull. Watch out for stray golf balls though.
For 45 years the Mull Rally has roared around the roads of Mull over the 2nd weekend in October.
Sponsored by Tunnock’s, the Mull Rally is a closed public road race using the exciting roads on the Isle of Mull.
Still only one of two in the UK, this event was the first to close the public roads for rallying over.
The Western Isles Hotel is a great place to go after a day exploring the Island. We love to take a stroll down the hill, stopping off for a couple at the Western Isles where the atmosphere is relaxing and the views from the Conservatory Bar over the harbour stunning. When ready, keep on down the hill turn left at the bottom and pop into the Mishnish where there is live folk music most nights of the week. Perhaps finish the evening off with a meal Upstairs, or in one of the many excellent restaurants along the sea front.
The waters around Mull have yielded a number of record catches from a boat. common skate, plaice, grey, streaked and red gurnard, scale rayed wrasse, angler fish and turbot are all in the record books. Tackle and Books have a sea fishing boat trip for the whole family. You may see any of the following in the Mull waters; mackerel, giant skate, pollock, codling, flatfish, tope, spurdog, rays, coalfish, conger eels and flatfish.
Some of the coastline of Mull is inaccessible due to staggering cliffs making shore access hard. However you will still find under-fished marks to set up and pull amazing fish out of the water.
The sea lochs and estuaries will produce sea trout from late April onwards along with grey mullet and flounders.
Rocky marks will turn up dogfish, wrasse and conger eals with fresh bait like mackerel. With a spinner you should attract mackerel, pollock and coalfish.
The sand of Calgary bay, neighbouring Langamull and the other white sand beaches in the South (Ross) of Mull and Iona will produce rays, flatfish and codling.
Best time of year for sea fishing on Mull is June to November. Sea fishing around Mull is free, no permit or license is required.
Otters normally keep well away from humans, but if you are lucky, and not too noisy you may see one of these playful creatures messing around in the seaweed – or like this one, basking in the sun. Ok, it’s not a very good picture but that really is an Otter in the middle of the view. This was taken at Kilninian (Port an t-sruthain). We have seen Otters at Croig, Langamull (and Mink here), the cliffs just past Calgary, here at Kilninian and Croggan on the East coast. We imagine that they could be found anywhere on Mull which is quiet, remote and has seaweed cover.
The breeze on Mull is in the main probably a bit stronger than most other places. Although most of the pictures you will see of Mull show lovely blue skies and relatively calm conditions, it is not always like this. Between Spring and October you should have mainly good weather, but like the weather anywhere in Britain there are no guarantees. Without all the buildings and trees there is less to break up the wind. So, be prepared and take wind cheaters and some warm, windproof clothes to be on the safe side.
Lambing season is between April and June on Mull. This is a wonderous sight with thousands of gorgeous lambs prancing around without a care in the world. Extra care should be taken when driving around during this time. Also, try not to get too close to the lambs, the mothers are very protective and by getting too close you will put un-needed pressure on the mother.