Apart from the fact that Mull is a stunningly beautiful island, it has at least three unique attractions. The adjacent island of Iona is believed to be the birthplace of Scottish Christianity, Mull itself is full of spectacular wildlife, and the islands biggest town, Tobermory, is better-known to children as Balamory. That covers quite a wide range of interests, but walkers and climbers, food lovers and whisky connoisseurs will also find plenty to please them.
Mull is one of the largest Scottish islands. Situated just off the west coast in the Inner Hebrides, it’s connected to the mainland via ferry services operating from Oban, Lochaline and Kilchoan. But, Mull’s most famous historical figure, Saint Columba, arrived from the other direction, from Ireland. He landed at Iona, to the south west of Mull, and established a monastery in AD563. From there he based his mission to convert Pictish Scotland to his faith. Today, Iona and its Abbey attract thousands of visitors each year. It’s the burial place for many of the Scottish kings, and a wonderfully tranquil place.
The mainland of Mull is a major draw for ecotourists, it’s been held as a prime example of the economic benefits of good wildlife conservation. Nature enthusiasts come to see the marine fauna, whales, dolphins, seals and otters. But its most famous inhabitants are its eagles. Mull has the highest population density of Golden Eagles in Europe, around 30 pairs breed here, but they don’t have the island entirely to themselves. Some 15 pairs of White Tailed Eagles also make Mull their home, and the two species don’t always get along. Golden Eagles range around the high ground and mountains, and White Tailed Eagles live along the coasts. Occasionally they do clash, and the fight is sometimes to the death. It doesn’t often happen, but it’s a battle of titanic scale. The Golden Eagle is a massive bird, but the White Tailed Eagle is even bigger. They’re sometimes called flying barn-doors. The White Tailed Eagle is a relative of the American Bald Eagle, except they’re even bigger than their American cousins. Despite the extraordinary number of eagles on the island, seeing them isn’t always an easy matter, but keep your eyes open and you should get lucky. Failing that, there are observation points such as Loch Frisa, where you’re almost guaranteed to see eagles, especially at breeding time.
Tobermory is instantly recognisable; it’s a very pretty harbour, famous for its multi-coloured houses. Younger visitors will probably call it Balamory, since it was featured in the BBC children’s series of the same name. Tobermory isn’t a film set or a theme park, it’s a real town. But, you can still visit the various houses used in Balamory, even though they’re inhabited by real people. For the grown-ups, Tobermory has the island’s whisky distillery. It’s fascinating to see how the whisky is made, and even better to sample a wee dram afterwards.
Mull is very visitor-friendly, the locals value the importance of tourists and look after them well. There’s a wide range of accommodation, from fine hotels to self-catering cottages. But, as the island becomes increasingly popular, places to stay are limited. The people of Mull would love you to drop in on the off-chance, but you’re strongly advised to make arrangements in advance.
Written by Mike who is a travel blogger who enjoys writing about his trips to London on www.londondaytrip.co.uk and his adventures in France at www.frenchtravelguide.co.uk you can follow him on twitter @payt