Overseas2023: Mull


After a family focused weekend and everyone went back to work, our next trip was to the Isle of Mull on the west coast of Scotland. Mull is accessed by a number of ferry routes operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), our most convenient being from Oban to Craignure.

CalMac is currently under a lot of criticism due to the construction in Port Glasgow of a couple of new ferries being five years overdue with a massive threefold budget blow out while four other ferries being built in Turkey are on schedule. In the meantime, routes are being cancelled. Considering Glasgow was the shipbuilding capital of the world, this is highly embarrassing for the company and the Scottish Government. Thankfully, none of our ferries were impacted and our crossings were ‘plain sailing’.

Our accommodation on Mull was a very comfortable B&B. Our room had its own ensuite, and, although forming part of our hosts’ house it was very private. Penny and Mark, our hosts, were very helpful and our breakfasts were fantastic. The first morning, I ate too much, but enjoyed black pudding and haggis with my eggs and bacon (K, of course declined both of these delicacies).

Mull was experiencing a water shortage as it had not rained since Easter. This meant that any idea I had of photographing the occasional waterfall was thwarted as I was led to believe they were all lacking in water flows.

Stirling to Tobermory

Our original intention was to catch a midday ferry to Mull, so we had booked into the hotel at Stirling University campus to take an hour off our journey. However, when we went to book the ferry, we could only get a late afternoon crossing.

Since we had so much time we took as detour through Glencoe, rather than the more direct route to Oban from Tyndrum. This took us across Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe before heading south down the west coast. The weather was showing off Scotland at its best – the scenery on the way was simply stunning.

Rannoch Moor
Glencoe Mountain

Our B&B host let us know that there is a standby queue at the ferry, so we arrived early and managed to catch the ferry on hour before the one we had booked. This had us arriving at our Tobermory B&B at about 19:00, a half hour drive from Craignure where the ferry docks. This allowed us to take a walk down to the harbour area and enjoy a very warm and calm evening, once again listening to the local pipe band entertain the tourist with their practice session.

Lunga and Staffa

Tuesday was the day we had booked a boat trip to Lunga and Staffa. Lunga is an uninhabited island that hosts flocks of various species of seabirds, including the cute Puffin. Staffa features rather unique hexagonal vertical columns of rock formed years ago from volcanic activity in the area.

Our first visit, after a two hour ‘cruise’, was to Staffa to view Fingal’s Cave, which inspired Mendelssohn to compose his Hebrides Overture – it was quite spectacular.

Fingals Cave
One of the rocks

After a 20 minute crossing we arrived at Lunga for a stop of two hours. K was in her element as we were able to get fairly close to the birds. Unfortunately, I had been unable to travel with my telephoto lens due to keep down our baggage weight, but I still managed to get a few shots.

View from Lunga

Mull tour

On Wednesday, we took off for the day to complete a circuit round the north part of the island. Rather than trying to describe the scenery, it is best to leave it to the photos.

Loch Peallach
Castle Stalker

On the drive down the west coast we did find a waterfall with water running, so it was too good a photographic  opportunity to miss (as well as a great spot for a picnic lunch).

By early afternoon we arrived at the very short ferry crossing to Ulva. This is a people only ferry that needs to be called by opening a sliding hatch to expose a red square. Having successfully negotiated the ferry we took a short 2.5 km walk on which we both were attacked by the infamous Scottish ‘Cleg’ (not to be confused with the midgie) before returning to the ferry and driving for a counter meal at a hotel on the way back to Tobermory.

View from Ulva to Mull

The temperature during both our days on Mull reached 30 degrees, continuing the stretch of great weather. However, we did hear that on the Monday evening thunder storms had washed away part of the west coast train line and the road through Glencoe – the same one as we had driven down earlier that day.

Tobermory to Edinburgh

Once again, we tried to catch and earlier ferry by joining the standby queue at Craignure, but this time we were unsuccessful. However, we did manage a walk round the Lochan in Aros Park just out of Tobermory and a quick visit to Duart Castle, the seat of Clan Maclean. At the end of a quite uneventful drive from Oban we met my friend and his wife, with whom we are now staying for four nights, for a meal and then to their home to crash into bed.

Duart Castle

North Berwick

K had booked a Friday boat trip out the Bass Rock, a significant east coast Gannet colony. On the way we walked into the nature reserve at Aberlady, across a very rickety footbridge. It was great to see this being used by so many people enjoying a walk on a beautiful morning.

While K was out on the boat, I went to the local library to catch up on some boring admin. In the evening, I caught up with two of my long standing mates for a ‘couple’ of beers and on Saturday we all went out for lunch in the centre of Edinburgh.

Today is Father’s Day in the UK, so it will be good to catch up with my daughter for lunch and son for a late afternoon beer.

What’s next

Tomorrow, Monday, we are driving to Manchester for two nights to meet up with K’s friends who live on a canal boat and on Friday we fly to Prague. My next post will report on our visit to Prague, so it will be about a week and half before I post it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Sorry, this image is not available for downloading, please contact Martin Leitch for further information.