Places of interest to suit all types of traveller in and around the area of Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull Tourism
Mull is the third-largest island in the Hebrides with spectacular mountain scenery and over 300 miles of rugged coastline. It measures roughly 24 miles from north to south and 26 miles from east to west.
(Scottish Gaelic: Tobar Mhoire)
Tobermory is the capital of and the only burgh on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. It is located in the northeastern part of that island, near the northern entrance of the Sound of Mull. Its population is approximately 700 people. The town was founded as a fishing port in 1788 on a layout designed by Dumfriesshire engineer Thomas Telford.
A treasure ship of the Spanish Armada, the Galeon de Florencia, is said to have sunk in what is now the town's harbour in 1588, and the legend further states that this was due to the witch known as Dòideag. The composer Felix Mendelssohn visited in 1829 and is commemorated in an annual festival. The town also has an annual folk music festival.
Many buildings in Tobermory, mostly shops and restaurants, are painted in assorted bright colours, making it a popular location for television programmes, including the children's show Balamory. Notable buildings in the town include Tobermory Clock Tower, while the burgh also boasts a museum, the Tobermory Scotch whisky distillery, the Isle of Mull Brewery, and An Tobar, an arts centre. Ferries sail between Tobermory and the mainland to Kilchoan on the peninsula of Ardnamurchan.
Tobermory's many famous sons and daughters include Duncan MacGilp and Janet MacDonald, both past Gold Medal winners at Scotland's Royal National Mod.
During World War II, Tobermory was the home of HMS Western Isles which was a training base of the Royal Navy. Richard Baker studied there and has written a biography of the Commodore Vice Admiral Sir Gilbert Stephenson.
One of the Wombles was named Tobermory after the town.
Throughout 2006 and into early 2007 Mull Theatre will build its new home just outside Tobermory. The new facility will be at Druimfin which lies within Aros Park, a former country estate which is now a much loved and easily accessible public park owned and run by the Forestry Commission.
This soon to be built Production Centre (or Theatre Factory) will allow Mull Theatre to create a new model for theatre practice in the Highlands. We hope this will be a hub of creative opportunity where work will be produced, new shows tried out, great projects conceived, skills acquired and nurtured, creativity encouraged, ideas developed, collaborations fostered and careers launched.
Mull Theatre can be contacted on 01688 302 828.
Dervaig is nine miles from Aros Mains through Glen Bellart. The Main Street of Dervaig you see today was another planned village, this time by McLean of Coll the land owner. As Salen the village was designed with houses and crofts in 1799. The Bellachroy hotel at the entrance to the village street was originally a drove Inn. The drovers passing through with cattle from Coll and Tiree on their way to the sales on Mull [at Druimtighvicghillechattan in Glen Bellart] and further afield in Falkirk and England via Fishnish.
The parish church in Dervaig is well worth a visit to see the beautiful stained glass windows by Steven Adam, Glasgow School of Art c.1905.
Travelling west you will pass Calgary and its white sands. You can stay and walk along out towards the old pier, or further along that coast. You can travel on towards Torloisk up the hill past Haun. At the summit stop and take in another of Mulls breathtaking views... the panorama of Loch Tuath, Ulva and Gometra to your right and the Mountains of Mull dominated by Ben More in front of you. Drive on through Kilninian [Cell of St Ninian] Ballygowan [town of the blacksmith] Kilbrennan [Cell of St Brennan].
Turn the corner at Acharonnich into Loch na Keal with Inch Kenneth and Eorsa guarding the entrance, and so completing a full circle back to Salen and Aros Mains.
Supplied by Meg Douglass, local Mull historian and genealogist
(Scottish Gaelic: Creag an Iubhair)
Duart is the oldest lived in castle on Mull and stands proudly on a clifftop guarding the Sound of Mull, for over 400 years it has been the base for the Clan Maclean's formidable sea-borne power. One of the most spectacular and unique sites on the West Coast of Scotland, the position of Duart was well chosen.
The castle is sited on a crag at the end of the peninsular jutting out into the Sound of Mull at the intersection of the sound of Mull, Loch Linne and the Firth of Lorne and within view of the neighbouring castles of Dunstaffnage, Dunollie, Aros and Ardtornish, part of a chain of castles up the Sound of Mull to Mingary Castle.
Today the castle is open to the public, for which there is an entrance charge. Visitors may walk through the dungeons and state rooms at their leisure, ending on the top of the keep where it is easy to appreciate the strategic site of the castle.
Ferries run every two hours (3 to 5 times per day during the winter, 6 times per day during the summer) between Craignure and Oban (on the mainland) by CalMac. Tourist sites include the two castles of Duart and Torosay and the Isle of Mull Railway.
Across the bay from Aros Mains, Salen is central to the whole Island of Mull. The village has a close association with Lachlan McQuarrie, Governor of New South Wales who developed plans and built a model village Salen... 16 houses with crofts, the basis of the present day Salen.
There is still to be seen an original house with byre attached and built for the tailor alongside the new road. Three miles from Salen at Gruline is the Mausoleum to Lachlan McQuarrie. Beyond Gruline the scenic route to Iona takes in the spectacular rocks of Gribun and seaward views of Staffa and the Treshnish Isles down Glen Seilisdir [Glen of the yellow Iris] to Kinloch Cross road. Then one can return via Graignure to Salen.
Within walking distance of Aros Mains is Croc na Sroine a ruined hill fort. From that vantage point you have a 360' vista of mountain and loch before you. In August Salen's Horticultural Show is held in the field by Aros Bridge. Livestock is exhibited, produce and craft tents, pony club events and a dog show are among a few of the things to see.
Should you wish to go further afield for a day you can travel by Fishnish Ferry to Loch Aline then to Fort William, or go to Tobermory and cross to Kilchoan by ferry and explore Ardnamurchan.
Supplied by Meg Douglass, local Mull historian and genealogist
Iona lies approximately one mile (1.6 km) from the coast of Mull. The island is 1 mile wide (1.6 km) and 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long with a resident population of 125.
Iona's highest point is Dun I (101 m), an Iron Age hill fort dating from 100BC-AD200. Its geographical features include the Bay at the Back of the Ocean and Càrn Cùl ri Éirinn (the Hill with His Back to Ireland), said to be adjacent to the beach where Saint Columba first landed.
In 563 Saint Columba, exiled from his native Ireland, founded a monastery here with 12 companions. From here they set about the conversion of pagan Scotland and much of northern England to Christianity. Iona's fame as a place of learning and Christian mission spread throughout Europe and it became a major site of pilgrimage. Iona became a holy island where several kings of Scotland, Ireland and Norway came to be buried.
Many believe that the Book of Kells was produced, in whole or in part, on Iona towards the end of the 8th century. A series of Viking raids on the monastery on Iona began in 794, and after its treasures had been plundered many times, Columba’s relics were removed and divided two ways between Scotland and Ireland in 849 as the monastery was abandoned. A convent for the Order of Benedictine Nuns was established in 1203, with Beathag, daughter of Somerled, as first prioress. The present Benedictine abbey was built in the same period. The monastery itself flourished until the Reformation when buildings were demolished and all but three of the 360 carved crosses destroyed.
In 1549 an inventory of 48 Scottish, 8 Norwegian and 4 Irish kings was recorded. None of these graves are now identifiable (their inscriptions were reported to have worn away at the end of the 17th century).
The graveyard is also the final resting place of John Smith, the former Labour Party leader, who loved Iona. His grave is marked with an epitaph quoting Alexander Pope: "An honest man's the noblest work of God".
Other early Christian and medieval monuments have been removed for preservation to the cloister arcade of the Abbey, and the Abbey museum (in the medieval infirmary).
The ancient buildings of Iona Abbey are now cared for by Historic Scotland (entrance charge).
In 1938 George MacLeod founded the Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Christian church committed to seeking new ways of living the gospel of Jesus in today's world. This community is a leading force in the present Celtic Christianity revival.
The Iona Community runs 3 residential centres on the Isle of Iona and on Mull. These are places of welcome and engagement giving a unique opportunity to live together in community with people of every background from all over the world. Weeks at the centres often follow a programme related to the concerns of the Iona Community.
Visitors can reach Iona by the 10-minute ferry trip across the Sound of Iona from Fionnphort on Mull.
There are very few cars on the island, as they are tightly regulated and access with vehicles is not allowed for non-residents, who have to leave their car in Fionnphort. The island is small enough that one generally doesn't need a car. A horse-drawn carriage can be hired at the pier. Bike hire is available at the pier, and on Mull.
Iona Nunnery is a site of beautiful 12th-13th century ruins of the church and cloister, and a colourful and peaceful garden. Unlike the rest of the Abbey buildings, the nunnery has not been restored and is the most complete survival of a medieval nunnery in Scotland.
Iona is home to the Monastery Of Sound, a club night in the Iona Village Hall, which is held every Friday from June until September. The Monastery Of Sound also sponsors the Iona Beach Party, which is held in Mid-July and is now in its third year.