This blog and trip to Isle of Mull was sponsored by Calmac Ferries. If you are thinking of visiting the island soon, here is what I got up to and my hints and tips. If you weren't planning to visit Isle of Mull, I hope this blog will inspire you to add it to your must see Scottish island.
Hotel Perle Oban
After 3 hours of driving from Edinburgh in heavy rain, we arrived at the newly opened luxury hotel Perle Oban located in the harbour town of Oban on the west coast of Scotland. It was starting to get dark and the cosy room at the hotel offered a welcomed shelter for the night. The room faced the beautiful harbour and I could see our ferry for next day through the neon shimmering raindrops on the window. We dropped our bags off and decided to walk the harbour to soak in the atmosphere. Although Oban is the gateway to many Scottish islands, the small town itself can be a holiday destination where there are plenty of activities you can do. As the rain started to get heavier and the darkness of the night got deeper, we decided to go for couple of cocktails at the Perle hotel.
In the morning, we checked out and headed towards the ferry terminal which was about 5 minutes drive from the hotel. We took the 8:40 Ferry from Oban Terminal to Criagnure in Isle of Mull.
Sightings on the Ferry to Isle of Mull: Lighthouse, Castle, Seagulls and Garnets
Although Isle of Mull is one the closer islands to get to via ferry from the mainland, landing on Isle of Mull instantly transports you to the slow island living where time runs twice as slow and you feel your body preserving and your life prolonging the minute you step in it. We headed towards Ulva Ferry Terminal looking for our next island hopping adventures.
The Drive to Ulva Ferry takes about 1 hour from Criagnure where we took a local boat operator Turus Mara. The Ferry is run by the owner Iain Morrison and his son Colin who were both very knowledgeable and welcoming.
On the day the boat was fully booked so I would recommend if you are planning to take the boat to the the wonderful Treshnish Isles to book early. The tour leaves at 11:30 am and returns to Ulva Ferry Terminal for approx 6pm. I wasn't surprised that tour was fully booked as these islands are stocked with a number of wildlife unique to the mysterious Treshnish Isles.
First stop off the boat was the unusually formed volcanic island Staffa which is an island owned and looked after by National Trust of Scotland. We were lucky when we arrived in Staffa the weather was glorious and sun was shinning.
We had couple of hours in Staffa to explore so these are the things we did on the island:
Walk on the striking Hexagon rock columns formed thousands of years ago by volcanic eruptions to Fingal's Cave (to my surprise the columns weren't slippery and walking on each one felt like a stepping stone to the next).
Listen to the astonishing acoustics of Fingal’s Cave, which inspired Mendelssohn to compose his Hebrides Overture
Hike to the highest point of the island and spot few Puffins along the way
Look at the haunting caves from above the cliffs
The final island stop was to the largest of the Treshnish Isles - Isle of Lunga. We were promised a Puffin Therapy when we got on the boat from Staffa and it was time we experienced this unusual therapy. When you arrive at the island and walk to the top of the cliffs, you can see why the island is often described as "a green jewel in a Peacock sea". The number of endangered wildlife inhabited in the island is also mind blogging. There was an abundance of Puffins and I couldn't believe how close we got to them.
Bird watching wasn't the only fun thing to do on the island but watching tourists lying on the grass to get their selfies taken with the Puffins was just as comical! Everyone was totally Puffinised and it was the most relaxing therapy I have ever had!
On the way back to Mull, Iain, the boat owner, pointed out a White Tailed Sea Eagle nest on top of the trees with the Sea Eagle soaring above it. Just when the day couldn't get any better, a group of Bottlenose Dolphins decided to chase our boat and put on a show. Their performance continued for half an hour while everyone in the boat cheered and smirked at their luck!
Sightings on the Ferry to Isle of Ulva - Grey Seals, Dolphins, Puffins, Sea Eagle, Razorbills, Guillemot, Kittiwakes and Seagulls
Buzzing with excitement at the number of wildlife seen and starting to feel peckish, we headed towards our hotel in Tobermory. Tobermory Hotel wasn't hard to find as its the pink building on the main street. It is a small boutique style family run hotel with a restaurant and a bar, ideal location as it is close to the shops and the main attractions in the village. We checked in and headed towards the restaurant for dinner, If you happen to find yourself in the restaurant, I would recommend the scallops which is locally sourced melt in the mouth goodness.
When I woke up the next morning in Tobermory Hotel first thing I did was peek out the window but it was pouring down with rain. The view of the harbour and boats out the window looked blurry with raindrops spitting on the window. The colourful village looked very different from the sunning day before. I was initially feeling disheartened that that my usual Holiday early morning walk was ruined but it was soon forgotten by the lure of delicious Full Scottish breakfast, perfect for a long day ahead.
After breakfast we checked out and drove to Craignure where we called into the Visit Scotland Visitor Information Centre to pick up details on getting to the Eagle Hide (South) later that afternoon. There were some local roadworks in place en route to the Eagle Hide and we got the latest information on the route at the Visitor Centre.