The Isle of Mull, situated on the west coast of Scotland, is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, after the Isle of Skye. This makes it the fourth largest Scottish island out of over 700!
The Isle of Mull is full of geological wonders, amazing wildlife and outdoor activities. The island itself is mostly made of lava from fissure volcanoes estimated around 50-60 million years ago and was once a part of Greenland. Large glaciers have also shaped Mull during the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, leaving very visible glens in the mountains as well as marine and freshwater lochs that you will see all over. 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.
The most popular ferry route connects Oban on mainland Scotland, with Craignure on the island. Caledonian MacBraye, otherwise known as CalMac, operates three car ferry services to the island. 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.
If you have been to Scotland before, you will know that just because its summer it likely won’t be warm and there’s no guarantee it will be dry. It’s common to experience 4 seasons in one day, so always come prepared with layers and a rain jacket. However, don’t let that deter you.
Here are some of my top reasons to take a road trip through the Isle of Mull.
SPOT AMAZING WILDLIFE
Assuming you’re starting your road trip in Craignure, you’ll go past Salen before reaching Tobermory, where you will be picked up by Sea Life Surveys, next to the pontoons. These trips sell out fast, its best to book in advance. You might see a few otters on the drive up if you keep an eye out during 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 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.
There’s also many Highland cows to be seen.
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 to stop and explore. Attractions in and around the village include the Mull Museum and the Tobermory Distillery, which I would recommend if you would like to try some Scotch whiskey. Fun fact, until 2005, Tobermory was the filming location for the BBC children’s series Balamory.
After Tobermory, comes the twisty drive to Dervaig where you could stop for a bite to eat or drink at The Bellachroy Hotel.
CLIMB THE ISLANDS BIGGEST MUNRO
Stay on the B8073 to head towards Ben More, the only munro not on mainland Scotland or the Isle of Skye. Of course, after visiting arguably the best beach on the island at Calgary. Taking this detour takes a little bit more time, but it’s worth it.
Mull is a mountainous island and more so in the southern end of the island where Ben More, the islands remnant volcano, is located. If you’re a keen walker or looking for something different to do and it’s 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.
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 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 less 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, meaning 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. If you did want to visit Staffa there are boat trips departing from Tobermory and Iona. You can book here.
I hope this has inspired you to think about visiting Isle of Mull, if you’re ever visiting Scotland. Did you know Scotland has over 700 islands to explore? I have ticked off a few, including the Shetland Islands, Orkney, Isle of a Skye and a few more. Any recommendations on where to visit next? Let me know in the comments below.