An April 2003 trip
to Isle of Mull by EmLa
Quote: This journal gives information about my holiday with Earthwatch UK to the Isle of Mull and my one day trip to the isles of Staffa and Iona.
The Ross of Mull is a much neglected area of the Isle of Mull, where most tourist activity is geared to the north of the island around the main town of Tobermory. However, if you're interested in exploring the landscape, wildlife, and geology of the island, sampling an excellent cream tea, or taking a boat tour to see puffins, seals, and - at the right time of year - dolphins, the south of the island, called the Ross of Mull, is a great place to get away from it all.
On the southern most tip of Mull is the small town of Fionnphort(pronounced "finifut") which has a small shop, a camp site, and several friendly B&Bs, a cafe and a restaurant. From here, catch the boat tour to Staffa, to see some remarkable rock formations, caves and wildlife, and Iona, to visit the old abbey and take a step back in time amongst this small island community.
For the energetic, there are several walks that take you across the island to discover the deserted beaches and ancient woodland. On the southern tip is a particularly lovely walk through Tirergan: a site being maintained and restored by a local conservation charity called Highland Renewal. This site has been fenced off for over 12 years with the deer and sheep removed, allowing the landscape to regenerate and encouraging many species of wildlife to return. Visiting Tirergan, like the excellent cream tea served on Iona, is a real treat.
Because of the variable and unpredictable weather on the island, particularly if you plan to take the boat trip to Staffa and Iona, you need to be ready for anything from hot sunshine and clear skies to cold winds and heavy rain.
A really pleasant time to visit the islands is during the spring, before the midges arrive en masse. During the spring the wildlife is very active, preparing nests and courting potential mates. Hen Harriers, Short Eared Owls, and Eagles can occassionally be seen displaying to one another in the skies above the peaks and ridges of the hills. This time of year is also quieter in terms of the number of tourists visiting the island, so you'll be more likely to get a room in a B&B or space on a campsite. Because the right-to-roam applies to Mull as with mainland Scotland, you can camp pretty much anywhere with permission from the landowner. Just watch out for ticks...
The trip to Staffa is an adventure is itself. There are regular boat trips from the town of Fionnphort, crewed by friendly sailors with a passion for the wildlife and history of the islands. The boats are small, the waters choppy, and the ascent to the island -- up a series of steep, exposed steps -- makes the journey an adventure in itself.
What to see and do:
If you're on the island when the puffins are visiting, they're definitely worth seeking out. If they are around, take a seat just back from the edge of the cliff top and wait . . . They may just fly up and join you on the cliff top. Otherwise, there's an abundance of other sea birds (shags, cormorants, gulls, and terns), skylarks, primroses clinging to rocks. The best thing to do is just wander around and see what you can find. Just don't lose track of time and miss the boat home!
What to take/wear
For the trip to Staffa, wrap up in clothes that'll keep you warm and dry. Don't forget your camera, and -- if you want to see as much of the natural history as possible -- a good pair of binoculars.
Because it really is just a lump of rock in the ocean, there aren't any facilities on the island, so take anything you might need with you.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 16, 2004
Puffins and Pirates
Isle of Mull, Scotland
Manchester, United Kingdom