The Isle of Mull, situated on the west coast of Scotland, is full of geological wonders, amazing wildlife, and outdoor activities. It is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, after the Isle of Skye, and the fourth largest Scottish island. With endless beautiful natural landscapes, diverse wildlife, and quaint villages to see, the Isle of Mull is the perfect place to grab your girlfriends, rent a car, and explore. Here are five reasons why you should road trip around the Isle of Mull, Scotland.
GETTING TO THE ISLE OF MULL
The most popular ferry route connects Oban on mainland Scotland, with Craignure on the Isle of Mull. Caledonian MacBrayne operates three car ferry services to the Isle of Mull. The port at Craignure is Mull’s main port, located on its eastern coast. The service runs throughout the day, usually every couple of hours, but if you are planning to take the car or camper van, its best to book your place in advance.
ISLE OF MULL LANDSCAPES AND CLIMATE
The island itself, which was once a part of Greenland, is mostly made of lava from fissure volcanoes, estimated around 50-60 million years ago. These rocks are often described as resembling a multi-tiered wedding cake or steps.
Large glaciers have also shaped Mull during the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago. These glaciers have left very visible ‘U’ shaped valleys in the mountains as well as tons of marine and freshwater lochs. Much of the island’s roads are single track, with plenty of passing places and areas to stop and take in the scenery or take photos.
If you have been to Scotland before, you will know that just because it’s summer, it won’t necessarily be warm or dry. In winter, it is also common to experience four seasons in one day, so always come prepared with layers and a rain jacket. However, don’t let that deter you. What Scotland lacks in weather it makes up for in scenery and so much more.
1) SPOT INCREDIBLE WILDLIFE
Assuming you’re starting your road trip in Craignure, you’ll go past Salen before reaching Tobermory. From Tobermory, you will be picked up by Sea Life Surveys next to the pontoons. These trips sell out fast, so it’s best to book in advance. You might see a few otters on the drive up if you keep an eye out when the tide comes in or out.
We went on the 6-hour cruise and saw basking sharks, white-tailed eagles, minke whales, peregrine falcons, and common dolphins, just to name a few. Orcas also are known to come on their holidays to the west coast of Scotland during the summer months, and are spotted about twice a year.
2) EXPLORE THE PICTURESQUE VILLAGES
The largest village in Mull is Tobermory, originally a fishing village and now a tourist favourite. The beautifully coloured buildings make it an ideal place for a seaside picture. Attractions in and around the village include the Mull Museum, Comar (formerly known as the An Tobars Arts Centre) and the Tobermory Distillery, which I recommend if you want to try some Scotch whiskey.
After Tobermory, comes the twisty drive to Dervaig where you could stop for a bit to eat or drink at The Bellachroy Hotel.
Fun fact: Until 2005, Tobermory was the filming location for the BBC children’s series Balamory.
3) CLIMB THE ISLANDS BIGGEST MUNRO
Stay on the B8073 to head towards Ben More, the only munro (the name given to a Scottish mountain over 3000 feet in height) not on mainland Scotland or the Isle of Skye. On the way, be sure to stop at Calgary, which is arguably, the best beach on the island. Taking this detour takes a little bit more time, but it’s worth it.
Mull is a mountainous island, especially in the south where Ben More, the island’s remnant volcano, is located. If you’re a keen walker or looking for something different to do on a clear day, take a walk up to the summit. It reaches 3169ft above sea level with views overlooking many more of Scotland’s islands.
4) VISIT THE OTHER NEARBY ISLANDS
On the southwestern tip of the Mull is where you can hop on a 10-minute ferry to the Isle of Iona, only 1 mile away. Iona is a peaceful harbour, known for its tranquillity and beautiful natural environment. The beaches on a summer’s day can be mistaken for a tropical paradise, just a bit colder of course. Iona is also home to the Iona Abbey.
Ulva, another nearby island, is separated from Mull by a narrow strait. It has fewer than 10 inhabitants and can also be accessed via ferry.
Staffa is situated between Iona and Ulva. It got its name from the Vikings that once inhabited the Inner Hebrides, otherwise known as Pillar Island in Old Norse. Staffa is distinguished by its hexagonal basalt columns and is home to Fingal’s Cave, a natural cathedral-like structure. If you’re on a boat trip in the summer months, you might even get up close to a puffin or two. To visit Staffa, there are boat trips departing from Tobermory and Iona. You can book here.
5) GET SOME PEACE AND QUIET
Most of us are guilty of spending too much time on our phones, so if you’re looking to disconnect from your phone for a couple of days, Mull is the place to go. While road tripping through the island, you’ll often find you don’t actually have mobile phone signal.
The island is home to fewer than 3000 people, so hopefully you can embrace the disconnectedness while there. Even in the middle of summer, the island itself is very peaceful and quiet, with only a small influx of tourists. Sometimes the only traffic is some sheep and cows. A Saturday afternoon in Tobermory is probably the busiest it’s going to get.
I hope this has inspired you to think about visiting the lesser-known Isle of Mull if you’re ever visiting Scotland. I might have to return for the Mull Music Festival, which is every year in April. But whether it’s for the music festival, the scenic views, the wildlife, or to knock one of Scotland’s 700 islands off your bucket list, the Isle of Mull is the perfect place for a scenic and peaceful road trip.
Have you ever been to Scotland? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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Melanie Chadd says
One of my favourite places in Scotland. Infact the ferry trip back across to Oban was where we made the decision to move to Scotland from England. Needless to say, we haven’t looked back.
Hi Just read your story about the Isle of Mull. I’m a wood sculptor/tree surgeon/wood worker. I’ve just finished a few months long joinery project in Edinburgh. Was looking for outdoor job and found one on Isle of Mull. It’s described as ground work job, just to experience beauty of the island and some wild weather I don’t mind doing a bit of ground work. Hope I’ll get my Cross Country Volvo over to the island soon.
Thank You for your beautiful article about this place.