We’ve just returned from a brilliant week of camping on the Isle of Mull, Scotland with a fabulous group of friends. Neither of us have visited this part of Scotland before and we were amazed at the huge range of activities available. We were also amazed at the perfect weather… during the second week of May we had 4 days of unbroken sunshine and deep blue sky… perfect camping weather. And none of the famous Scottish midges.
The Isle of Mull is part of the Inner Hebrides, about 3 hours drive north of Glasgow. We split our journey to Mull across two days and stayed the first night in the Bridge House Moffat a lovely bed & breakfast, just across the Scottish border.
We continued to Mull the following day, making our way through Glasgow, the spectacular scenery through the Loch Lomond national park and to Oban where we had pre-booked the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Craignure. We drove our car onto the ferry and the crossing took about an hour.
The drive through Mull was incredibly scenic with mountains, lochs and the sea. Most of the roads on Mull are single lane however there are many passing bay’s for occasions when you meet oncoming traffic.
We met our friends Mark, Russell, Flo, Mike, Lorna, Neil and Alison at the Fidden Farm campsite where we stayed for 6 nights. There is no need to pre-book especially in the low season. The campsite overlooks a splendid white sand beach and comes complete with decent showers and facilities.
Isle of Mull activities
As mentioned, there are many activities on the Isle of Mull and we had a fun packed week doing the following:
- Trekking Iona island
- Climbing Ben More
- Staffa Island and Fingals Cave
- Road trip to Calgary Bay and Tobermory
- Trekking Ulva island
- Mull coastal trek
Credit to our friend Mark who put this itinerary together and organised the whole trip for us.
The small island of Iona is a short ferry crossing from Mull. The ferry departs from Fionnphort which was about a mile from our campsite. We had a full day on Iona and have a separate Iona blog post for more details.
We spent another day climbing Ben More, the highest mountain on the Isle of Mull. Again we have a separate Ben More blog post.
Staffa Island and Fingals Cave
We enjoyed a 3 hour boat trip to Staffa Island and Fingals Cave. The boat departed from Fionnphort and the cost was a rather pricey £30 each. This cost included the one boat ride to Staffa, one hour on Staffa and an hour back again.
If you are fortunate (and patient) you might be able to see puffins at close range. On this day we were neither fortunate or indeed patient… some of our friends did manage to see some puffins, by which time we had given up and wandered off to see Fingals Cave! For the best chance of seeing puffins (who spend much of their time floating around on the sea) you need to sit and just wait on the cliff edge…
Road trip to Calgary Bay and Tobermory
Mull is a relatively small island but while it is only about 30 odd miles across, driving along the single track roads which by-pass the mountains, it takes couple of hours to get anywhere!
All 9 of us participated in a 3 car road trip which started with a two hour drive from Fionnphort to Calgary Bay. We had a coffee shop stop at the half way point in Craignure before continuing to the tiny Calgary Bay hamlet. Even on a cloudy day, the scenery is impressive… we walked for a mile or so along the clifftop and had lunch overlooking the bay.
Around Calgary there are several tea rooms, a cheese farm, a castle, and Calgary Art in Nature which consists of a woodland walk through carvings and sculptures!
Following a visit to Calgary Art in Nature and the Isle of Mull Cheese farm (where we tried delicious Hebridean Blue Cheese) in its quirky artisan barn conversion coffee shop, we continued on to Tobermory.
Tobermory is the capital of the Isle of Mull and has a population of around 1000. As a small fishing village it had a quiet peaceful feel which reminded us of Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. We enjoyed scampi and chips from a fish & chip van on the harbour front.
Mull coastal walk
For our last day we stayed closer to the campsite. With the weather forecast being rain for our final day we (Chris and I) decided to duck out of camping, pack up our tent and check in to a nearby *B & B. We all spent the morning milling around the campsite, taking the big group tent down and then having a delicious and leisurely lunch in the nearby Blackbird Bistro.
*A quick note on the B & B… we stayed in the awesome little Caol Ithe guesthouse. We highly recommend a stay here; we had a warm welcome, comfortable room, fantastic breakfast and even complimentary home made fudge and liquor in the room!
During the afternoon five of us had a trek around the jagged coastline of Mull, close to Bunessan. We didn’t take any kind of easy coast path… err no… we scrambled over rocks, climbed up cliff edges and trudged around in bogs and heather…
Thanks to Mark and Mike for providing group cooking facilities we cooked at the campsite for the first three nights when the weather was at its best. We had scampi and chips in Tobermory on another night and dinner in the local pub restaurant for the other three nights.
One of our best and most idyllic evenings was when we had a beach barbecue… the backdrop was a fabulous sunset, we had beer and wine flowing, music playing and we chilled on the beach… as darkness fell upon us we finished off the evening by eating cake and custard around the fire!
All in all we had an excellent week on the Isle of Mull and enjoyed a range of contrasts from trekking, scrambling, exploring, road tripping’, restaurants, barbecue’s, camping, luxury B & B, spectacular scenery and a lot of laughs.
What did we learn?
- Scotland has some stunning scenery with mountains and lakes to rival New Zealand and Caribbean-esq beaches (although maybe not Caribbean temperatures…)
- Climbing a tough mountain such as Ben More requires as much mental determination as it does physical fitness.
- Modern comms is difficult… you can get wifi in countries like Cambodia and Bolivia but not much in Mull… and not much in way of 4G either… you really can ‘switch off’ from the outside world…
- When you camp for nearly a week you lose stuff… things constantly go missing and reappear a few days later…