A scenic drive around the Isle of Mull

by Shirley S

Do you want to find the best sights and places to visit while travelling on the Isle of Mull's winding roads? Read my guide as I take a trip through mountainous terrain and past cascading waterfalls

Arriving in Craignure late from Oban, tired from the journey and not looking forward to pitching a tent in increasing darkness led us to investigate the white structures on the shore seen from the ferry. At £60 per couple for 2 nights (minimum two night stay), cheaper if you share with friends as we did, the Sheilings (01680 812496) proved an interesting accommodation option. These semi permanent tents provide an essence of camping with the added comfort of beds, kitchen with boiler, electric light, gas heater, carpet and optional en suite! Traditional camping and caravan pitches are also available. The site sits on the shore with the Mull Railway between it and the sea and the view stretches across to the mainland - a 45 minute trip across the Sound of Mull. Driving rain overnight convinced us to stay for the remainder of our trip to secure dry nights and a stunning view with our morning coffee. Not that there’s a shortage of views on Mull.

Craignure is small considering its importance as the ferry port. A pub, a bar and a supermarket make up the town which acts as the stepping stone to an island of outstanding beauty. MacGregor’s Road House (01680 812471) serves a tasty, Scottish breakfast and their evening meals are just as delicious.

Our stay took us west to Fionnport to catch the ferry to the Isle of Iona, along a single track road (with plenty of passing places) which winds its way along the coast and through the mountainous terrain. Take a detour on your return journey to Grass Point down a steep twisting road (don’t try it in anything larger than a car). The cove at the end of the track provided us with an hour of rock pooling, seal watching and a view of the most vivid rainbow, the end of which sank into the sand in a cove around the bay.

Driving east from Craignure the road hugs the coast again passing sparkling sea and coves that invite you to stop and revisit the childhood pleasures of rock pooling. Three abandoned boats lean, supporting each other all peeling paint and rust calling from the shore demanding a photo stop.

Tobermory the capital with its colourful buildings and busy harbour has all you need. Sunday sees a small market in the village hall with local produce and crafts. The local fish and chip van boasts awards for its produce and the supermarket occupies a disused church. In addition the public toilets are excellent and also offer clean hot showers. Boat trips leave regularly in search of the abundant wildlife that inhabit the seas around Mull.

Turn left at Salen on the road to Tobermory and follow the road to Calgary, a winding, breathtaking drive affording the best views across the sea lochs, single track again and climbing steeply in parts. We were in search of the waterfall mentioned on the free map picked up in the pub. Isas Fors lived up to its reputation. Water cascaded into deep pools and then tumbled down towards the shore below, the only negative being the midges and their insistent biting. Further towards Calgary we stopped to investigate Kilninian church. An austere interior suggests Presbyterianism but a gilded picture of Our Lady tells a different tale. The church is always open, slip around to the back to view the medieval burial stones that have been moved inside to protect them from the harsh weather.

Winding down into Calgary you see the free wild camping site on the shoreline of this beautiful bay with white sand, resident sheep and scattering of tents. There is a public toilet and a water supply although it isn’t recommended for drinking so bring your own. Climbing the hill you come to the Calgary Hotel (01688400256). The owners have created an art trail that meanders through the woodland which is definitely worth a visit.

There is so much see on Mull - wildlife is abundant with otters, sea eagles, seals and porpoises, the scenery switches from bog to woodland, mountains to loch. The beaches are unspoilt, clean and inviting and importantly the people are welcoming.

Getting there

Getting there is relatively easy. The roads north from my native Manchester are less congested than those heading south, the ferry is easy if a little expensive and make sure that you fill up on the main land as fuel is expensive on Mull. A tip from a local suggests heading a little further north to Lochaline taking the ferry to Fishnish (£29.35 car with two passengers) instead of Oban to Craignure (£69.10).