Highlands and Islands: Magnificent Mull

September 17, 2020

With international travel largely on hold this year, there’s been no better time to explore the British Isles. And having spent almost every weekend of the summer in Wales, we finally made plans to head north to Bonnie Scotland for the August Bank Holiday. Hoping that with slightly cooler weather we would be spared by the midges, we packed the car to bursting point and set off North.

Mull in a Snapshot

The Isle of Mull is the largest island in Argyll and the second largest of the Inner Hebrides, only a few hours North-West from Glasgow. The island boasts over 300 miles of wild coastline and features some of Scotland’s most dramatic coastal scenery and epic driving roads. As well as towering cliffs and rugged coastlines, Mull also has a number of breathtaking beaches with pristine white sand and crystal clear Azul waters. As with many of the Scottish Isles, you have to pinch yourself at times to remember you’re still in the UK. And to top it all off, Mull is a haven for wildlife – you can expect to see White-Tail Eagles, Deer, Puffins, and even Orca at the right time of year. All of this, and only a couple of hours from Glasgow!

Right to Roam – A Camping Dream

Camping or campervanning in Scotland is infinitely better than in England or Wales given that land-use laws are slightly different:

The Land Reform Act 2003 gives everyone rights of access over land and inland water throughout Scotland, subject to specific exclusions set out in the Act and as long as they behave responsibly. These rights are sometimes referred to as ‘freedom to roam’. -Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society

What this essentially means for wild campers is that you can pretty much camp anywhere you want within reason, providing you obey some basic principles: You have to respect the interests of other people, care for the environment, and take responsibility for your own actions.

So, pack up your tent and explore Mull with us over a weekend!

 

Must-Do on Mull

With so much to do and even more to see over the space of a weekend, it’s tough to choose where to begin. You could easily spend a couple of weeks trawling around the island and still have more to see. But if you’re on a tight timescale, be decisive and logical with your planning.

If arriving from Oban, you’ll start your trip from Craignure. From here you can head North or South depending on your itinerary. We decided to head South-West to the Ross of Mull and work our way up the West coast through the finger-like peninsulas.

Exiting the ferry at Craignure we drove an hour across the island, passing through ancient woodlands, over mountain passes, and along stretches of golden beaches. First impressions and everything! The rest of the group had caught the earlier ferry so we were playing catch up, navigating to a vaguely selected point on the map where phone service was non-existent but the landscape was breathtaking.

Knockvologan Beach

Our destination for the night was the beautiful Knockvologan Beach which is hidden amongst rocky outcrops and so is sheltered from the wind. To get to this unspoiled stretch of paradise, drive South across the island to Fionnphort where you take a left towards Fidden. Where the road ends, park your car on the verge – paying attention not to park in front of the locals’ house – and walk over the headland through farmland to the beach. This spot is a popular one so you may find other campers on the beach. Fortunately, there are miles and miles of pristine beach to find your own secluded spot.

We walked across the headland for around 30 mins before settling on a spot to spend the night. Once the tents were erected we enjoyed a perfect evening on the beach around the campfire with good friends!

Ben More – The Munro on Mull

Ben More is the highest point and the only Munro on Mull. Apart from the Isle of Skye, Mull is the only other Scottish Isle to have a Munro (a mountain over 3,000ft). Naturally, we wanted to climb to the highest point on the island so we penciled it in for our second day’s activity.

Situated on the central ‘finger’ of the island, you can see Ben More from almost all over the island, increasing the draw of standing on the top. We decided to camp nearby the night before so as to get an early start on the trails. Luckily, there are lots of places to pitch up along the western coast of the island close to the trailhead.

Once again, spoiled by the weather we enjoyed an incredible sunset around the fire with a few drams of local whiskey.

The following morning – after a less comfortable night’s sleep than the first night – we packed up camp and made our way to the start of the track. As we did so, the cloud rolled in bringing spatterings of rain with it. Fortunately, the rain died off quickly and we enjoyed the hike to the top of mull in near perfect conditions. From the summit you can see for miles across the island and beyond to the mountains of Skye in the North. It’s said that the view from the top of Ben More is one of the best in the Highlands and when the cloud parted to reveal what lay beneath, it was something special.

Eas Fors – Ballygown

On our final day on Mull, we stopped at Eas Fors which cascades from the hillside straight into the ocean. Despite the fact it was only a flying visit, it’s easy to see why this spot is so popular. Midway down the falls, there’s a perfect area to camp if you can get there before the crowds.

For next time..

Given that our time on the island was limited, we didn’t manage to tick everything off the list. Rather than rush from place to place we slowed down and enjoyed our time in each place. I really think this is the best way to do it based on past experience – often I’m guilty of rushing around to see as many things as possible at the expense of the overall experience.

Other spots to visit next time:

Iona – A smaller island accessible by ferry from Fionnphort

Mckinnons Cave – Coastal caves accessible only at low tide

Staffa – Another small island home to Puffins!

Dun Ara Bathing Pool – A sea pool perfect for swimming

Tobermory – The largest town on the island, home to Balamory

Most of our planning for this trip was done through the Wild Guide Scotland book which you can view online here and buy the physical version here.

 

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