Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Isle of Mull – waterfalls, woolly beasties and wild weather

Having survived a soaking of epic proportion on our first day on the Isle of Mull we weren’t quite so inclined to embark on another drookit trek the following day.  Instead, we decided to enjoy a drier tour of the island by car. Casper donned his smart, cable-knit sweater while we opted for that good old Scottish weather survival kit – waterproof wear.

A rainy day drive on the Isle of Mull

The 55 mile drive between Tobermory in North Mull and Fionnphort in the south west, is one of the most beautiful drives in Scotland. It’s my favourite.


Our first stop of the day was to admire the ruins of Aros Castle by Aros Mains. Mull looked stunning despite the horrible weather.

An Isle of Mull reminder of the passing of time

Next a favourite of mine – these old boats sit beached just outside the pretty village of Salen.  I have a really strong tie to them, as they’re one of the things I remember from my first visit to Mull on a school trip in the 1980s. We camped in a field near Salen, and that’s when my long love affair with the island began. The same can’t be said for camping though.  Having to eat spaghetti bolognese full of midgies by the camp fire and no en-suite facilities – I’ve yet to be convinced that’s fun.

Anyway, back to the boats – when I first saw them they were brightly painted. As each year passes they deteriorate a little more. I dread the day they succumb to old age entirely. They remind me that time doesn’t stand still, life’s to be lived, as like the boats we won’t get any younger.

This is an excellent place for spotting wildlife. There are often seals basking nearby and it’s the only place I’ve ever managed to spot an otter on Mull. I’ve also spotted sea eagles soaring nearby.

Passing places, traffic jams and russet tones

The boy loves a good road trip. Here he is admiring the view of The Three Lochs through pea soup like mist. As we drove into the mountains the mist thickened making our tour atmospheric – not the best for taking photos though.

  

I love the rich, russet colours of the mountains on Mull. It looks so different to Skye, which is bright green, and looks cold and inhospitable in rain and mist.

Mull has a rally each year in October. The road above is fairly standard throughout much of the Island.  Fancy racing around a hairpin bend on that?

It’s an island best enjoyed at a more leisurely pace as you rarely travel far before encountering a traffic jam of some sort. Highland cattle and sheep rule the roads on this island.

  

An odd, Isle of Mull telephone box

When we reached Pennyghael we decided to take a wee detour to Carsaig. There are three terrifying roads on Mull – this is one of them. Steep, winding, narrow, first skirting a gorge with thundering waterfall, then a wooded cliff with little or no barrier. Throw in heavy rain and no passing places and what you have is my idea of hell.

It is kind of worth it though as you get to see this.


Only in Scotland would a phone-box in the middle of nowhere, next to a thundering waterfall seem like a good idea.

In the photos above you can see the white of the water thundering down the hill behind the tree. Surely the only phone-box in Britain that comes with a free but compulsory shower.

The avid movie buff amongst you may know this spot from the 1945 movie ‘I know where I’m going!’ which was shot on the Isle of Mull.

It’s definitely worth the scary drive to get to Carsaig it’s a gorgeous, remote part of the island. It feels a million miles away from the rat race.

We suffered a minor soaking and wind blasting to enjoy this spot for a while after the Wee White Dug kindly alerted us to something interesting.  He’d been banging on about sea dogs for a couple of minutes before we realised what he meant. The sea in front of us was full of curious watchers. Lots of little black heads and peeping eyes were observing us – the sea dogs were seals. I’m a sucker for the wild beasties of Scotland and love seals. I saw my first ever seal on Mull whilst canoing on that school trip, many moons ago. Growing up in an Edinburgh housing estate, I didn’t even know we had such exotic creatures living on Scottish shores.

What goes down must come up, so I had to endure the road of terror once more as we continued our driving tour of the Isle of Mull.

We met this guy or gal at the end of the road of terror and stopped to watch for a while. It’s awful but the first thing I think when I see a turkey is Christmas. May you live in Narnia buddy, where it’s always winter but never Christmas.

A pit stop for lunch in Bunessan

We decided we’d eat an al fresco lunch of sorts in the car, so headed to the Bakehouse in Bunessan after finding a perfect parking spot, with uninterrupted views across the bay.

Yet again we hit the good food jackpot. I had a delicious potato tortilla which Casper enjoyed as much as I did. I’ve seen Popeye eat spinach slower. We also had some lovely home made soup, piping hot coffee and a ten minute bicker about whether our sweet treats were German Biscuits or Empire Biscuits. I grew up calling them German biscuits, Mr G Empire. Turns out we were both right. They were German until the First World War when just like the Royal Family their name changed to something more suitably patriotic. What we did agree on was that whatever they were called they were the tastiest we’d ever eaten.

Fionnphort, Fingal and Fidden

I’ve been to Fionnphort many times over the years, mostly to hop on the ferry to Iona, but it’s worth a visit in its own right. The views across to the tiny island of Iona are gorgeous. The rock at the beach here is the most amazing pink colour too. You’ll also find Fingal’s Rock on the beach. It’s a huge split rock said to have been hewn in two by Fingal the giant of Fingal’s Cave fame.

Being compulsive road trippers we managed one last detour, even though we’d reached the supposed final destination of our road trip for the day.

Fidden where apparently the camping is so good the sheep are willing to queue round the block in the rain for the best pitch.

The beaches aren’t bad either.

  

A great day out, and proof that poor weather doesn’t mean staying indoors.

Meanwhile, back in Tobermory we toasted another wonderful trip to the fabulous Isle of Mull.

And no, the boy wasn’t allowed to toast the trip with a Baileys.

Until next time …


30 thoughts on “Isle of Mull – waterfalls, woolly beasties and wild weather”

  1. I keep looking for the “Like” button as I so enjoy reading your blog and seeing the photos. We spent a month in Scotland back in 2009 and had rain every single day. But, that didn’t stop us from having a fabulous trip and taking many (10,000 between three cameras) pictures. It was a huge job to weed them out to a manageable amount. We are overdue for another trip over and hope to make it in 2018. Keep on travelling!

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Samantha Grant says:

      Thank you, so glad you enjoy the blog. At least you managed t capture lots of memories on your last trip. Just make sure you buy a nice big memory card if you do return next year. At the bottom of the page there’s a link to follow the blog via e-mail. You’ll get an alert when a new post is published. 😊

  2. authorstephanieparkermckean – Fortrose, Scotland – While I am blessed to now live in Scotland with my wonderful husband, Alan, I'm a Texas girl and proud of Texas. I'm a writer--from birth--I think. Sunpenny Publishing has just released Bridge to Nowhere, the first in a Miz Mike series--and yes--Miz Mike is from Texas! Three Prongs where the misfits fit. Sounds a bit like Bandera, Texas!
    authorstephanieparkermckean says:

    Brilliant! Fantastic blog! The photos & the great stories. And I am amazed by one thing: I’ve been in Scotland for four years now and I had no idea they had wild turkeys here! I’m from the Texas Hill Country where they pop up around every bend in the road.

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      Thank you – I think they were free range farm turkeys sadly so probably destined for the Christmas dinner plate.

  3. Tanja – HI!I'm Tanja. I blog about my travels around Europe and my love for London. I'm a chocoholic who enjoys reading and planning new trips all the time. I've got two kids.
    Tanja says:

    aaaa the red phone box in the forest!:)

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      Love that phonebox. Such a stunning spot. 😍

  4. We are leaving Scotland in a few days as our tour of the UK is now taking us to England but I can’t wait to go to Mull!
    Will keep reading your blog for more ideas in the meantime 🙂
    I know what you mean about the weather, we’ve been hiking on the Berwickshire Coastal Path yesterday and it was raining all day but we still loved it! I wish the path hadn’t been so muddy but I didn’t mind the rain.
    Hope my pictures will be as good as yours, lots of post editing to do… 😉

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      Looking forward to following you for the rest of your tour. I’m with you on the mud. Rain I can handle but I hate mud and bog. Yuck

  5. Jo Woolf – Scotland – Writing about history and landscape at The Hazel Tree (www.thehazeltree.co.uk) Writer in Residence at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
    Jo Woolf says:

    Superb photos of one of my favourite parts of the world! I know those roads well. Beautiful in any weather! I understand why you didn’t want to leave. Thank you for sharing your memories!

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      Thank you for reading. Mull is my favourite place in Scotland. 💕

      1. Jo Woolf – Scotland – Writing about history and landscape at The Hazel Tree (www.thehazeltree.co.uk) Writer in Residence at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
        Jo Woolf says:

        I think it may be mine, too! (If Iona is included as well, that would be my idea of heaven!)

      2. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
        Sam says:

        Iona for sure and let’s throw in Ulva for good measure. 😍

      3. Jo Woolf – Scotland – Writing about history and landscape at The Hazel Tree (www.thehazeltree.co.uk) Writer in Residence at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
        Jo Woolf says:

        Ah! Yet to make it to Ulva. You’re making me want to get on the next ferry! 😀

  6. Marcelle & George – Bourgogne, France – German see bottom | Deutsch unten: We are Travel Journalists and Photographers with focus on wildlife, wild places and the wild life as world nomads. We show the beauty of the world's nature refuges in words and photography, to arouse the desire for conservation and protection. Free to travel around the world and to live the wild life as world nomads for many years, we share travel tips and hidden gems off the beaten path from our personal experiences. .... Wir sind Reisejournalisten und Fotografen mit Schwerpunkt auf Wildtiere, Nationalparks und das wilde Leben als Weltnomaden. Mit Wort und Bild zeigen wir die Schönheit der Naturschutzgebiete der Welt, um den Wunsch nach Erhaltung und Schutz zu wecken. Für viele Jahre genossen wir die Freiheit um die Welt zu reisen und das wilde Leben als Aussteiger und Weltnomaden zu leben. Wir teilen vorwiegend unsere Erfahrungen und Geheimtipps von Reisen in die Natur abseits der ausgetretenen Touristenpfade.
    Grey World Nomads says:

    Will read your blog to get inspiration for our travels in Scotland. We start of in Dunoon. Say hallo to Sam from Vlou @TravelingBeagle

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      Great I look forward to following your Scottish adventures via the blog. So much to see and do. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Hello Vlou another hiking doggy 🐶

  7. tannachtonfarm – North central Missouri – A 13- year homeschooling mom (youngest graduated in May 2015!) who is also a cattle and sheep farmer married to a cattle farmer. My three children and I enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends. While this blog will chronicle our journey of Faith, Family, and Farm, opinionated articles on frugal living, traveling, recipes, and homeschooling experiences may be found sprinkled throughout!
    tannachtonfarm says:

    So you picked up a car in Oban (or somewhere else), then ferried it across to Mull? i don’t mind driving in Scotland, even though meeting those potato hauling semis on blind corners with a mountain on one side and a stone wall on the other made me feel like we cheated death more than once. Even though we live in a very rural part of Missouri, the minor highways in Scotland often seem like one-way roads in places. However, after 800 miles and four different cars, i managed it with narry a scrape (although i did turn the wrong direction once!) Mull looks challenging – is there a lot of traffic? do you recommend taking the car? or taking the bus with the goals of exploring the island and going to Iona?

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      We took our own car into the island on the Oban ferry. It’s only a 3 hour drive from our Edinburgh home. Mull is a large island and although it has a bus service it’s not frequent so it’s best explored by car or with an organised tour group to make sure you reach all of the little off road and remote gems. The traffic is on the whole quiet and there are lots of passing places on the roads so if you see a car behind, you should stop and let it overtake. If it’s coming towards you then generally whoever is closest to a passing place waits to let the other pass. It’s a system that works well. It’s a beautiful island to drive on. Iona which is a 10 minute ferry trip from Mull doesn’t require a car. Only locals can take a car onto the island anyway and with one short road there’s little point having one. It’s stunning and unspoiled. The food is out of this world too. It’s one of my favourite places. The history is mind blowing. The real king Macbeth is buried there. The Medieval gravestones are amazing. 😍

      1. tannachtonfarm – North central Missouri – A 13- year homeschooling mom (youngest graduated in May 2015!) who is also a cattle and sheep farmer married to a cattle farmer. My three children and I enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends. While this blog will chronicle our journey of Faith, Family, and Farm, opinionated articles on frugal living, traveling, recipes, and homeschooling experiences may be found sprinkled throughout!
        tannachtonfarm says:

        Ah, yes, then that is very similar to Shetland and Orkney – i can handle that! thank you. We had hoped to do that Oban, Mull, Iona last time, but simply too much to do in only a month – we plan to get back summer 2017

  8. Good wee travelogue Sam! One of my best memories of Islay was being storm stayed an extra night. My cousin and I went out in the gale and were blown into Laphroaig where we were gifted a free dram for looking so forlorn. When we used to go canoeing after high school, I became known as Chief Dryfoot for my penchant for not getting wet. ( well that and my aversion to leeches) So yeah, don’t let the weather get you down, you might miss something!

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      Ha ha I love that story Andrew. I loved Islay. Such a beautiful Island and a whisky lovers dream. Not being a whisky drinker myself I developed a fondness for The Botanist Gin made by Bruichladdich. Heaven in a glass.

  9. Sonia Malysz – Photography has always been my passion. I grew up with a German Praktica hanging around my neck and taking black and white photographs. I like photographing the tranquility of nature where the colors, however extravagant, always seem in agreement with each other. I enjoy finding things hidden away in unexpected places and beauty in ordinary life. I enjoy the creativity of people in all its diverse forms and find it fascinating to capture it on photographs. Join me on the road to visit the old, familiar places and discover the unknown.
    Sonia Malysz says:

    Your last post made me dream of spending one whole year in Scotland, as a grand adventure of enduring wet and cold weather and seeing past its unpleasantness. If you can find such beauty even in the nasty weather, how breathtaking it must be in the sunshine. My next family trip may well be to Scotland, since it is number 1 on my list. I may apply to you then for suggestions of what to see in the time we have 🙂

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      That’s so nice of you to say so. I wanted my Mull posts to show how poor weather doesn’t have to ruin a trip and sometimes it can even enhance the beauty of the land. Luckily we get lots of lovely blue sky days too. I’d be more than happy to help you with Scotland travel tips. Hopefully you’ll make it here soon with your family. 😊

      1. Sonia Malysz – Photography has always been my passion. I grew up with a German Praktica hanging around my neck and taking black and white photographs. I like photographing the tranquility of nature where the colors, however extravagant, always seem in agreement with each other. I enjoy finding things hidden away in unexpected places and beauty in ordinary life. I enjoy the creativity of people in all its diverse forms and find it fascinating to capture it on photographs. Join me on the road to visit the old, familiar places and discover the unknown.
        Sonia Malysz says:

        I am hoping for next year. This summer we are going to Rome, which is exciting too 🙂 But Scotland’s landscape is what really speaks to me.

  10. greenmackenzie – Scotland – Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
    greenmackenzie says:

    It’s a lovely island even in the rain!

    1. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
      Sam says:

      Absolutely – I wanted to share photos and some info about the trip so people can see that awful weather doesn’t have to ruin a trip. Saying that we’re back early September and I’d like sunshine morning till night. ☀️

      1. greenmackenzie – Scotland – Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
        greenmackenzie says:

        Sunshine does increase photographic possibility and joy…..but there is a wild drama about the whole west coast….whatever the weather! We’re off the Skye again next week…and I am hoping for some sunshine✨😊✨

      2. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
        Sam says:

        I’ll cross my fingers for a fabulous sunny Skye trip. We’re staying on Raasay in September for a short break. Such a lovely part of the country.

      3. greenmackenzie – Scotland – Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
        greenmackenzie says:

        You’ll find lots of west coast photography on my blog….we go up to Plockton and Skye several times a year….it’s where my Mums from😆💕

      4. Samantha Grant – A Scottish travel blogger and digital influencer, exploring Scotland with my Westie Casper and husband Alex, to bring you the very best of scotland.
        Sam says:

        I’ll need to delve in. I love Plockton. The west coast is stunning.

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