24 hours on the Isle of Mull

24 hours on the Isle of Mull

I recently took my folks on a ferry hopping road-trip to film my alternative road trips in Scotland video for BBC Scotland – and I’m finally got round to writing up what we got up to on our trip! We spent four days road tripping from Mallaig to the Isle of Mull – including driving through Glencoe, watching the Harry Potter train at Glenfinnan,and staying at the Glenuig Inn on the Moidart Peninsula. We then explored Ardnamurchan, before catching the ferry to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.

As it was my first visit to the island (although my Dad actually has family on Mull) we really wanted to make the most of our 24 hours we had there. So here is my mini guide to things to do on Mull.

Things to do on Mull

Get the story in Tobermory

things to do on Mull

With colourful seaside cottages, this tiny wee fishing town is one famous the world over – and not just for the kids TV show Balamory! If you are short on time you can sail directly into Tobermory from Kilchoan, rather than the crossing from Oban. Tobermory is around a 40 minute drive from the main ferry terminal at Craignure.

Tobermory is a great place to base yourself for a short visit to the island as it is a bustling and lively place, with lots of busy harbour bars (in one there was a disco being advertised until 3am!) and restaurants – we opted for dinner at the excellent Macgochans.  Beyond the bars there is plenty to do around the town, whisky fans will want to visit the Tobermory Distillerylocated right on the waterfront – no need for a designated driver here.

History buffs should also read up on Glengorm Castle (once known as Castle Sorn) once the home of James Forsyth of Quinish who cleared a whole township to build his Disney style palace. Was he cursed? He was told by an elderly local that he would never live in the castle – and he never did, dying just after it was finished. You can now stay in Castle Glengorm.

things to do on Mull

Discover Calgary Bay

On the north coast of the island, and around 35 minutes drive from Tobermory is beautiful Calgary Bay. The beach is stunning – you can see why it is one of the most photographed beaches in Scotland. Framed by dramatic land formations ‘the meadow beside the bay’ is surrounded by a huge sweep of meadow grass which takes you down to the most perfect white sand.

There is a summer beach cafe on site, a waterfront camping spot and in the nearby pretty village of Dervaig, a pub for lunch and pints of real ale. Worth heading up on the single track road to the north of the island for!

Climb Ben More – an extinct volcano

The only Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft) on an island (after from the Cullin on Skye) Ben More stands 966m above Loch Na Keal – the ‘loch of the cliffs’. With views across to the Isle of Ulva to Ben Cruachan, Ben More is a great island view point even if you don’t climb to the very top!

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Ben More is actually an extinct volcano, and the geology is fascinating – and makes for a very slippery ‘scree’ type path up at the top. The mountain was formed around the same time as the cliffs on Staffa. It will take you 5-6 hours to climb Ben More and the walk is around 6 miles from the shore of the Loch. We managed to get to the top, but met a lot of people just climbing up half way for the amazing view.

Walk Highlands has the Ben More route.

things to do on Mull

Photograph the Salen Boats

There are shipwrecked and decaying boats all over Scotland, but I think those to be found close to the village of Salen are the most photogenic! The boats can be found about halfway between Tobermory and the ferry terminal at Craignure. Beautiful…

things to do on Mull

Sail the Sound of Mull

Ok, to get to Mull you have to cross the water, but what a sail it is. We sailed from Ardnamurchan -Kilchoan to Tobermory and then back from Craignure to Oban.

The trip to Oban takes about 45 minutes, which leaves you plenty of time to soak up the views of Lismore and its lighthouse, the mountains of Glencoe in the distance and Duart Castle sitting out on the headland. Crossing the Sound of Mull has to be one of my favourite ferry journeys in the world…

things to do on Mull

things to do on Mull

More things to do on Mull

(Or the things we missed as we only had 24 hours!)

Visit Duart Castle the home of Clan MacLean, and drive to Gruline where there is a Mausoleum dedicated to Lachlan MacQuarrie who was the Governor General of Australia.

The most popular trip from Mull might be to cross to the Isle of Iona, but why not sail to the island of Inch Kenneth with Mull Charters where many of the early Scottish kings are buried, and once home to the famous Mitford family.

Where to stay on Mull

Our base for the night was the Park Lodge Inn in Tobermory, a basic but comfortable and clean 3 star hotel well situated to walk down into the town. Car parking included in your stay, and the reception was very helpful when we asked for advice on climbing Ben More. Our rooms cost us £110 a night at Easter.

How to get to Mull

Calmac Ferries sail from from Kilchoan to Tobermory (15 minutes) on Ardnamurchan, or from Oban to Craignure (46 minutes). In summer book before you travel. 

Let me know what your favourite things to do on Mull are below!

Love, from Scotland x

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Things to do on the Isle of Mull

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3 Comments

  1. 21/08/2017 / 11:13 pm

    I doubt I’d be able to pull so much in in 24 hours – if I even walked part way up Ben More, I’d need to spend the remaining time recovering (though maybe I could do that at Calgary beach!) Assuming I wasn’t limited to 24 hours … yes, I’d start at Calgary, then Tobormory, pull in a visit to Torosay Castle, arriving by miniature train from Craignure (it’s about 10 years since I visited so that might not be there these days), go round to the west coast to see the Eas Fors waterfalls, and maybe take the ferry over to Ulva. Something I’ve always wanted to do is take the trip to Staffa, but I’m not very good on smaller boats so I’ve never attempted it. Maybe something for my bucket list!

  2. 22/08/2017 / 9:39 pm

    Mull is our destination for every vacation we take in Scotland, and we don’t willingly vacation anywhere else. We got married at Glengorm Castle and always return there to stay in a self-catering flat. We couldn’t imagine staying for only 24 hours! Even one week is not enough for us.

    If our relative, who was a frequent visitor on Mull, is to be believed, we know the story behind the Salen boats. Apparently a “mad Irishman” bought them to fix up and then sail around the world. Clearly, his plan took another path; they were so much more colorful in 2007. We surely recommend a visit to Duart castle – and don’t miss the story of “Lady’s Rock”, but Torosay is now privately owned and no longer open to the public – except sometimes the gardens. The train doesn’t run anymore.

    I enjoyed your post – I always love reading about Mull and others’ experiences there!

    • 23/08/2017 / 10:18 am

      Oh that’s shame about Torosay, and particularly the train. It IS a while since we went though, certainly back when our youngest was small enough to enjoy Balamory, so maybe ten years or so!

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