Visiting the Isle of Mull in Winter

I am not even going to try and describe to you a whole weeks worth of “mini adventures” in one post there is just too much to fit in. Yes that’s right, visiting the Isle of Mull in winter there is still so much to see. You will be rewarded for venturing out (even if it is just in the car) every single time you step outside the door.

During our most recent visit we were based at Fishnish Bay with stunning views and only fifteen minutes from the ferry terminal at Craignure. Perfect. Over the past couple of years we have stayed in the same cottage and have created our own little routine around the island and I wish to share this with you over a small series of winter posts.

If you’ve read the post about Poppies Cottage you will know that once we had arrived and unpacked (in about forty minutes) we made the most of the afternoon to do drive along Loch na Keal. It had been snowing on the crossing over from Oban and still snowing when we went back out. Everything looks so pretty covered in snow and the low cloud made it so dramatic.

View of loch na keal, mountains on the one side shrouded in cloud

Wildlife at Loch na Keal

Our first sighting on the Ben More estate was of several roe deer in amongst the trees just at the side of the road. We slowed down but did not stop, not wishing to disturb them grazing so we continued driving and scanning the sky and the shoreline. The sun started to make an appearance but it was still bitterly cold and windy. No reason not to get out and take photographs though!

A roe deer in a field

As we drove further along the loch Dude very excitedly says “otter.” I didn’t see a thing but he is adamant, even now, that he saw what he thinks was a dog otter. As we laugh about this out of nowhere a white tailed sea eagle sweeps in very low on the shoreline, fighting against the wind, just thirty or so metres from us. Welcome to Mull. Absolutely bloody amazing. We then watch him (or her) fly off across the loch.

White tailed sea eagle perched on the side of a loch

We continue and the light is changing continually and by now the time is getting on but just as we decide to turn around we spot a common seal “bottling,” just bobbing up and down. We watch each other for a few minutes and then turn back.

Still scanning sky and shore we both at the same time see an otter. It’s about the place as Dude reckons he saw “his” otter and as we watch it dive down under water we get out of the car and make it to the rocks in time before it re-surfaces. We watch it patrol along the coast for a good twenty minutes – seeing him (definitely a dog otter) mooch around the rocks and have a bit of a clean was rather brilliant.

By now we are quite cold, in fact I was freezing but I had a smile on my face and had remembered why visiting the Isle of Mull in Winter is quite special. Before we head off back to the cottage to thaw out the wildlife wanted to put on just one more display in the form of a pair of golden eagles soaring along a ridge line.

We must have been out for a maximum of three hours. That is three hours of pure Mull magic.

Exploring the Isle of Iona

From our cottage in Fishnish Bay the drive to Fionnphort takes over an hour. Don’t be fooled by seeing it is “only” 40 miles away. Most of the journey is single track road and if you get caught in traffic (other people on their way to the ferry) then it can take much longer.

We like to catch a fairly early ferry across to Iona which gives us more daylight to explore the island. The passenger ferry is on a first come, first served basis. Just turn up, buy a ticket and board the next available sailing. In winter there won’t be a problem with getting a space.

Armed with packed lunches, a flask of coffee, extra layers and our map we are eager to get going.

Saint Columba settled on the island in 563AD to build Iona Abbey and it has since withstood many Viking raids. I’m not religious at all but there is no denying how special it feels stepping in to so much history.

Photo of the coastline of the Isle of Iona. Houses and the Abbey overlooking the seaPhoto of Saint Columba shrine at Iona Abbey

We had previously visited the Abbey and more popular beach to the north of the island so this time we opted for something different. Whilst everyone else on the ferry turned right we were heading south (left) to Port na Curaich where Saint Columba first landed. A more secluded bay on the south tip of Iona that definitely takes a bit of effort getting to but the rewards are worth it. After eating lunch and skimming stones we decided to turn our linear route into a circular walk. Skirting the rugged coastline, clambering over rocks and following sheep tracks!

Photo of rugged coastline on the Isle of Iona.

We found ourselves on a stunning and deserted beach drinking hot coffee and watching sea water spray out of the Spouting Cave. The weather was even good enough so that we could take our jackets off for while too. We walked through the golf course and back toward the ferry with enough time to spare for a quick mooch in the gift shop too.

No time for climbing up Iona’s highest point, Dun I (at 101 metres) on this occasion but we love it here so we’ll definitely be back.

The island is also blessed with plenty of bird life. Home to oyster catchers, plovers, redshanks and even the endangered corncrake.

Photo of a man walking across the beach. The sun is shining and the waves are crashing on the rocks

Another amazing week on Mull

Although many people wouldn’t dream of heading to the Inner Hebrides during winter, I hope I’ve shown that it can be incredible. Especially for those who enjoy being outdoors and watching wildlife. The lives of animals continue even when it is freezing cold and windy all you have to do is put yourself out there. For us, visiting the Isle of Mull in winter is absolute magic.

If you would like to see more of our winter adventures head on over to my Instagram for more inspiration.

Photo of a car beside a sea loch on the Isle of Mull. Large cliffs in the background

Snow capped mountain on the isle of mull. A vehicle track down the centre of the photo going off in to the distance Calgary beach in Mull. Tide is out and the reflection on the wet sand

*For those new to my blog the Dude is my partner, best friend and imagines seeing otters!*

5 Comments

  1. Melanie February 3, 2016 at 17:08

    Ahhhh thank you. I do agree that it looks amazing at any time and the mountains are just beautiful

    Reply
  2. Teresa Bowen February 4, 2016 at 13:25

    I love visiting places outside of the normal tourist season. Your photos illustrate just how beautiful a place can be when most other people are tucked up warm at home.

    Reply
    1. Melanie February 4, 2016 at 17:07

      Me too. I felt like we had the island to ourselves. Fabulous.

      Reply
  3. Amy Hunt February 5, 2016 at 12:17

    Those photos are spectacular, you can almost smell the fresh air! I need to get out of the city!

    -Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    1. Melanie February 5, 2016 at 12:26

      Ahhhh thank you Amy. Take a look at part two that I have just posted. Calgary beach really putting on a gorgeous display

      Reply

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