Our trip to the Isle of Mull was short but glorious and, I dare say, one that should be added to your Scottish bucket list.
From the rainbow trimmed harbour of Tobermory to the white sands and turquoise waters of Calgary Bay and the majestic views… Mull is a real treat. We were kindly hosted for our day and a half on the island by Tobermory Distillery and, whilst we only toured the north of the island, it was magical and I suspect Mull has even more to offer if you have the time to explore…
Scroll down to discover my tips for how to get there, where to stay, where to eat and what to do…
HOW TO GET THERE
As far as I can tell there are two ways to arrive on Mull but I shall assume you, like me, do not have a private plane… so you will be coming by sea. We drove to Oban to board the ferry to Craignure (book here) and the crossing was an absolute dream – forty-six blissful minutes of on deck sunshine, tucking into an excellent cinnamon bun and coffee we picked up from Hinba in Oban, and the calmest, bluest waters you ever did see. For those on a looser time schedule, drive to Fishnish for a shorter crossing on a first come first served basis.
WHERE TO STAY
THE SPA HOTEL
We spent two nights at the Isle Of Mull Hotel & Spa (photos below) and, whilst the hotel was lovely, the view was the real showstopper. Floor to ceiling windows in the lounge, bar and restaurant to soak in every sunset across the water and over the distant hills. The food was very good (oysters for breakfast – why the heck not?) and the spa element, although basic, was a treat. The hotel is just a few minutes from the Craignure ferry dock and they will kindly collect you in their minibus. Thereafter, a car would probably be beneficial for getting around unless, like us, you are booked onto a bus tour.
It might only be a B&B and it might be four miles from anything but it is a flippin’ castle. Whilst I cannot vouch first hand for Glengorm Castle, the reviews are great and it does look pretty special.
GO IT ALONE
If a rental is more up your street then there are plenty to choose from – I will be adding these secluded, luxury homes to my list as well as, for a more ‘back to nature’ experience, the IslandPods.
WHERE TO EAT
I would like to make a deal with you here ok? If you make it to Mull, or perhaps have already been, please share your top eats in the comments and I will add them in right here… because we ate almost exclusively in the hotel.
ORAN NA MARA BISTRO, CRAIGNURE
The restaurant in the Isle of Mull Hotel, Oran Na Mara Bistro, was pretty special all round – the views, the decor and, most importantly, the food. I might not have many places to recommend to you but I can give this place a gold star.
THE GLASS BARN, NR TOBERMORY
Sadly we did not have time to stop in at the Isle of Mull Cheese shop and its famous cafe, The Glass Barn, but it is on my list for next time. Of course for the cheese but also for the architecture – this place looks breathtaking.
CAFE FISH, TOBERMORY
Nope, I have not been but a very good friend of ours, who also happens to be an incredible chef, vouches for Cafe Fish (he should know, he used to be their head chef).
Thanks to a lovely reader Jane for tipping me off about Am Birlinn – up market seafood in a standalone wooden lodge near Dervaig. It looks wonderful.
WHAT TO DO
Where to begin? As I mentioned, we only toured some of the north of the island but we crammed a lot into our day and yet it did not feel overly stuffed (perhaps the Tobermory Gin cocktails at each stop aided the relaxed atmosphere)…
You simply cannot visit the Isle of Mull and not see Tobermory with her colourful spectrum of houses nestled along the water’s edge. Here you will also find a selection of sweet, independent, local shops including Mull chocolate and Mull soap and the Tobermory Distillery where you can take a tour or indulge in some samples. As we arrived the September sun beat down illuminating that rainbow of buildings, the boats bobbed gently up and down in the marina, a local artist painted on the pier, fishermen dragged in their hauls and it felt very much like we had stepped into a postcard but also completely authentic at the same time.
As I understand it, there is no shortage of breathtaking beaches on Mull but Calgary Bay is perhaps the most renowned and was on our hit list. No matter the time of year I suggest putting your toes in that white shell sand, sheltering by the grassy dunes and looking out over those turquoise waters. There is car parking for easy access and an ice cream shack, Robin’s Boat, nestled in the dunes. For more spectacular beaches take a look here.
WATERFALL WATERFALL WATERFALL
Eos Fors Waterfall is possibly the most spectacular waterfall I have ever seen. Spanning both sides of the road, the upper falls have a lot of drama, looming high overhead, then the water pauses briefly in a small but beautiful clearing framed by ancient, gnarly trees, forming a small pool if you happen to be brave enough for a spot of wild swimming, before eventually the lower falls tumble down the cliff side to the sea. Literally translating to ‘waterfall waterfall waterfall’, Eos Fors Waterfall, brings all the drama.
TAKE IN THE VIEWS
When we made a viewpoint pitstop our guide was disappointed because Ben More was shrouded in cloud. Scroll down and have a look though – to me, it was utterly breathtaking. Undoubtedly, there are countless picture perfect moments to discover on Mull; she is wild and historic and beautiful and filled with wildlife and I urge you to explore this wonderful island.
VISIT IONA OR FINGAL’S CAVE
I have had the pleasure of visiting Iona many moons ago – a small but perfectly formed island only accessible by foot via a tiny ferry from Mull. The abbey is pretty spectacular and the beaches are so pure and white. Fingal’s Cave is another that will have to be added to my list for next time though – if you have time and it happens to be puffin season the this cave is a true wonder – a miracle of nature that has to be seen to be believed.
With special thanks to Tobermory Distillery for sharing your beautiful island home with us. You may well know that the Mountain Gin is my favourite and the cocktails on this trip truly complemented the setting and the island botanicals in the gin perfectly; now, every time I sip one at home I will be taken back here and that is something really wonderful – what an experience it was.
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