Mull – eagles, otters and natural history
The spectacular coastal scenery and superb wildlife of the west coast of Scotland.
Mull is renowned as the most beautiful and most varied of the Inner Hebrides, second only in size to Skye, with an indented coastline more than 300 miles long and with its highest point at Ben More, 3,172 feet above sea level.
Mull has a variety and abundance of wildlife hard to match elsewhere. More than 800 species of flowering plants grow on the island, including Sword-leaved Helleborine and Oysterplant. Birds include Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle, Twite and Black Guillemot, together with Corncrake on Iona and several pairs of White-tailed Eagles: a sighting of one of these massive ‘flying barn doors’ would be amongst the highlights of our trip.
As well as exploring Mull itself, we will also spend time on the smaller islands of Iona and Ulva, and there is an optional trip to Staffa and Lunga. Iona is famous for its Abbey and the Christian heritage established by Saint Columba more than 1,400 years ago, while the privately owned ‘wolf island’ of Ulva is the location of ‘Sheila’s Cottage’ and a heritage museum that provides an insight into the history of the island. The highlight of the optional trip to Staffa will no doubt be the magical Fingal’s cave, immortalised by Mendelssohn and an impressive natural wonder. Lunga is home to nesting Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills.
As well as exploring Mull itself, we will also spend time on the smaller islands of Iona and Ulva, and there is an optional trip to Staffa and Lunga. Iona is famous for its Abbey and the Christian heritage established by Saint Columba more than 1,400 years ago, while the privately owned ‘wolf island’ of Ulva is the location of ‘Sheila’s Cottage’ and a heritage museum that provides an insight into the history of the island.
The highlight of the optional trip to Staffa will no doubt be the magical Fingal’s cave, immortalised by Mendelssohn and an impressive natural wonder. Lunga is home to nesting Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills.
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
29 May – 4 June 2018
Mike Symes with local guides
Single Room Supplement – £95
Return ferry from Oban to Craignure, Mull. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary including eagle-watching boat trip and foot ferry to Iona. Six nights’ accommodation, four evening meals.
Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Optional Staffa and Lunga boat trip. Lunches and two dinners. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
Together with the fantastic wildlife, Mull has some spectacular landscapes and we will have time to enjoy the variety of scenery and the pace of island life.
Day 1 – Our holiday starts in Oban, from where we take the ferry across to Mull, keeping our eyes open on the way for Gannets, Black Guillemots and other seabirds. Whenever we are ‘on the water’, there is always the chance of seeing seals or even a porpoise or dolphin. During the afternoon we visit Tobermory to explore this picturesque town, and take a walk through the woods to the lighthouse, our first introduction to the wildlife and scenery of the island.
Day 2 – After an optional early morning walk, we will head to Ulva Ferry to take a boat trip out around the coast, enjoying views of the coastline, with seals, otter and perhaps a late staying Great Northern Diver. The main target is Europe’s largest eagle, the White-tailed Eagle; now a regular site around the west of Scotland thanks to decades of conservation effort. Few places offer the same spectacular views as we hope to get, as the birds swoop down over the boat to feed on fish from the water. Definitely a trip not to miss!
Day 3 – We have the option of spending the day ’out at sea’, exploring the islands of Staffa and Lunga, with highlights including the wonderful basalt columns of Fingal’s Cave, and large numbers of breeding seabirds, including Puffins. This is an optional trip, to be booked in advance. For those who prefer, today can be spent relaxing around Salen, exploring the nearby coastline or revisiting Tobermory on the local bus service.
Day 4 – We visit the scenic west coast villages of Dervaig and Calgary, stopping along the road to look for summer visitors such as Common Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher while also keeping a lookout for Dippers in the fast flowing rivers. On our way home, we will look across and admire the views to the distant islands.
Day 5 – We travel along the shores of Loch Na Keal, enjoying some truly spectacular scenery, including views of Ben More, before travelling the length of the Ross of Mull to Fionnphort, where we will take the ferry across to the lovely island of Iona. We will try and track down one of the island’s most elusive visitors; the breeding Corncrake, whose rasping call can be heard from the arable fields.
Day 6 – We will spend the morning around Grass Point looking for orchids and butterflies including the rare Marsh Fritillary.
Day 7 – We take a relaxed morning walk through the woods near Fishnish before we must bid farewell to the island and take our ferry back to Oban on the mainland, where our holiday finishes.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
Our accommodation will be at Salen Hotel on the eastern coast of the island, overlooking the Sound of Mull. All rooms are en-suite.
We will buy items for picnic lunches at local shops, or get food at local cafes or tea rooms, as appropriate. Costs for these are not included, to allow you flexibility on choice, including price. Evening meals will be taken at Salen Hotel and a nearby restaurant. Requests for special diets can be accommodated.
Transport on Mull is by small bus.
We take the ferry from Oban to Mull. Ferry times based on 2017 (exact times to be confirmed nearer the time)
29 May depart Oban 12.20, arrive Mull 13.10
4 June depart Mull 11.00, arrive Oban 11.50
The Scottish summer is unpredictable. The weather could be hot and sunny on some days and cold and wet on others! We will adapt our itinerary to the weather, although we may be limited by the boat schedules. If the wind is too strong the boats may not run, although they may still run in wet weather. It can be ‘breezy’ or even windy on the coast at times. Evenings can be cold.
We will not walk for long in adverse weather conditions. All excursions are optional.