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12 things to know about the Isle of Mull

The Isle of Mull is one of the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. We went on holiday for 2 weeks at the end of August and beginning of September. We stayed in Shieling at Treshnish, it was a really lovely place to stay for my husband and I, we enjoyed a mixture of relaxing in the cottage and going out and about.

  1. As soon as you disembark the ferry, look out for wildlife – we saw a sea eagle within minutes, a breathtaking sight! We also went on a boat trip to “whale watch”, no whales this time but the crew were fantastically helpful at pointing out all sorts of sea birds and we did see harbor porpoises, basking shark and a rare sunfish! There are multiple tour operators offering all sorts of trips, all seem to have good reviews so just pick what you like the look of but remember you can’t book wildlife!
  2. While driving keep a look out for passing places – 90% of the roads are single track, the only way to pass vehicles is using bulges in the road called passing places, some are well marked with black and white posts are signs, others are more “informal”. Also, you know you’re being followed by a local if they want to drive a lot faster than you! Pull into a passing place, let them overtake and everyone’s happy! Everyone is really polite, just be nice and all’s good!
  3. Journeys may take longer than you think – single track windy roads are just slower, enjoy taking your time! (Google Maps does estimate times fairly accurately.)
  4. East Mull, The Sound of Mull, Tobermory, Salem and Craignure is where the action happens. Tobermory is the capital, you’ll find plenty of lovely gift shops and the distillery. The lady in Tobermory Information Centre, situated in the main car park, is really helpful, she gave us lots of information and helpful tips.
  5. West Mull, Calgary, Ulva and Iona are remote but beautiful and definitely worth the journey. We highly recommend Iona, although it feels like it’s at the back of beyond, once you’re there, there’s a lovely community feel with numerous boutique-style shops, a few places to eat and, of course, The Abbey. At Calgary there’s a lovely beach and Art in Nature sculpture trail.
  6. Everywhere accepts card, but just like small places on the mainland, some asked for the bill to be over £5 or £10. If you’re given Scottish bank notes as change, these are legal tender in England (don’t let any shop assistant etc tell you otherwise!).
  7. Scenery is breathtaking – if you’re an award winning photographer, maybe you would be able to capture the beauty on film but otherwise photographs just don’t do it justice! Around every corner, there’s a fantastic panorama of lush purples and mossy greens – even in the bad weather we had it was stunning!
  8. Do not count on the weather – it’s Scotland!
  9. If you need medical assistance, they have NHS24 (111) – they can give you advice about where to go for appropriate help. If it’s an emergency, it’s 999. While we were there our landlord was involved transporting a lady with a badly broken leg in his pickup because a lot of Mull is inaccessible to normal vehicles! She then needed airlifting because Mull only has a “Community Casualty”. This was where I was sent when I had a mishap with a drone (i.e. my husband flew it into my face!). They were absolutely wonderful and perfectly professional but obviously resources are very limited! For example, x-ray was Wednesday and Friday only! Islanders are familiar with What 3 Words so make sure you have the app downloaded just in case you need rescuing!
  10. If you’re self catering your choice is Spar, or, um, Spar! There was a Co-op in Tobermory but my point is, there’s no big supermarket so unless you’ve taken food from the mainland don’t expect to be cooking anything exotic. There are plenty of places to buy local produce, cheeses, meats, eggs etc so expect to be eating simple food but really good quality.
  11. Mobile phone signal is patchy, to say the least – some cafes etc and most accommodations (but not all) have WiFi. If you’re like us, you’ll enjoy the time to be a bit less connected, sit back and relax without being at the beck and call of your phone!
  12. Pronunciation of towns/villages may not be quite as you’re expecting – our closest grocers was in Dervaig, pronounced Devig. It’s helpful to be aware if you’re being given directions, perhaps have a map handy to be clear which places they’re describing!

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to live on soup (for example, when your jaw is swollen from having had a drone flown into it!) I’d highly recommend Glengorm Castle coffee shop – they had four, yes FOUR soups to choose from, I was so excited after having had tomato soup for lunch and dinner for too many days in a row!! My husband also thorough enjoyed a decadent pork and black pudding burger, if that’s your thing! Everything was from their estate and very reasonable priced, just lovely!

If you’re wanting to be out and about exploring the island daily, we’d recommend staying somewhere central. We do not have children so we’re not aware of any family friendly attractions. The island is perfect for walkers, nature lovers and anyone wanting to escape!

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