Journey to The Isle of Mull, Scotland August 2015

by Emma Bumpus on August 28, 2015

Snow-white fleecy clouds that dance amongst a panoramic palette of blue and green hues are a cinematic introduction to the Hebrides, the type that lures careertraveller and family to a unique island adventure.

Glasgow Queen Street Station activates our highland railway quest, but not before a sighting of the famous replica ‘Kelpies’, sculptures that proudly tribute Scotland’s past equine heritage, which in the words of sculptor Andy Scott represent ‘the powerhouses of the early industrial revolution, the tractors of early agriculture”.

Platform 7 radiates west highland charm with our ScotRail chariot, which promising an auspicious itinerary of tantalising glens, lochs and rich fertile green terrain, reveals 3 hours and 20 minutes of Glasgow- Oban movie-making scenery. Glittering waterfalls amidst tiers of mountainous peaks and fells bring a star like quality to rail travel and nomadic window gazing as we journey through the Scottish Rockies!

Traversing Greater Glasgow to Argyll and Bute pinewoods reveals an intoxicating mass of mixed woodland beauties including oak, Hazel, Birch and Scots Pine native conifers, where timber, wildlife and landscape unite Scotland as a land of quality trees, woods and forests.

Crianlarich, recently voted the most scenic railway in the world, marks the crossroads to the famous West Highland Way and ramps up our lowlands to northwest highlands journey under towering mountains Ben More and Glen Falloch. Sensational!

Oban railway station is a rapturous Atlantic Ocean vista with it’s quaint bustling harbour and colourful buildings that sparkle with seafood and flocks of tourists. As our Hebridean Caledonian MacBrayne goddess of a ferry (commonly known as CalMac) docks, we board this majestic vessel whose regal exterior exudes mystery island appeal and set sail for the unknown.

On board is an informal and unexpected 45-minute Oban-Craignure cruise-like crossing that manages to mix the best of atmospheric misty mountains on deck with inside Observation Lounge, The Still offering whisky tastings and Mariners Cafeteria boasting more than 50% local Scottish produce. From Argyll smoked salmon to artisan Island Bakery organic shortbread biscuits, Calmac justifiably celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015 ‘Taste our Best’ award.

Craignure is a jubilant welcome of Highland Mull and Iona Pipers amidst flocks of travellers, day-trippers, island hoppers and holidaymakers seeking the “full monty” wild Scotland intimacy. Ashore brings rocky coastline, verdant mountains and a planet of clouds in the restless air that shapes our interest in the natural world.

A hop on the island’s Tobermory Topper eastern route exposes diverse wildlife and rugged wilderness from the top of a double decker bus, where shipwrecks and clear diving water shimmers in the shelter of the Sound of Mull Atlantic.

Baliscate is a surprise of craft workshops, pottery and Tobermory Fish Company smokehouse, where cold smoking smacks of Scottish tradition and pure Highland taste.

Across the road awaits Gamekeeper’s Cottage, our luxury island haven that purrs with airy, contemporary rooms watching tranquil sea and grassy hilltop panorama. Mod con touches à la bathroom underfloor heating, sumptuous bed linen (the feather down kind) amongst family friendly Wi-Fi and colour TV’s make this 4 star awarded pad a superior nest from which to explore, regenerate and relax amongst the elements!

A scenic 10-minute walk down to the island’s capital Tobermory is a rainbow of multi coloured buildings brimming with treasure that sparkles with island craft handmade jewellery, customary cold press essential oils soap and a bakery whose homemade bread and pastries bring food alive. Thanks to fish, this pretty little harbour is a thriving community of fresh local produce, from home made chocolate shop and cheese farm to commercial whisky distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest.

Variety presents itself in the form of Indian and Chinese restaurants, waterfront fish n’ chip van and renowned Café Fish and Galleon Grill that specialise in seafood and steak. Sprinkled between a smidgen of pubs and hotels, including the delectable boutique Tobermory Hotel whose tartan carpets and nautical inspired rooms exude Highland tradition, we discover Scottish flavours steeped in labour and love.

Across the lobster pot lined pier, that once welcomed Queen Victoria and Mendelssohn, is a romance of bobbing boats that extend across the Ardnamurchan Peninsula which peacefully harbours munro Ben Hiant, all 528 metres high.

Dewy mountain air brings a restlessness that calls for some Mother Nature exploration on sea and land, aka Surf & Turf Cruise with the award winning Sea Life Surveys. Time evaporates as we board the Bold Ranger, where intact with skipper and guide we dig deep into the world of cetaceans and geology. An intoxicating sail past the famous Sput Dubh waterfall uncovers craggy rocks that play refuge to goose-sized shags in search of oceanic molluscs and crustaceans.

Our sea safari is a voyage of sea faring cormorants and bottlenose dolphins that flip and splash with a natural grace, that leaves the hot chocolate simmering below on deck! Surf becomes turf with a fun rowing boat jaunt to the Glengorm Castle estate where volcanic crater rocks house common seals who lounge beautifully as nature intended. Wildlife guide Stephanie escorts us on a flora and fauna trail of sheep grazed meadows strewn with meadowsweet, bracken and bog myrtle, which amongst highland cattle and Neolithic standing stones puts Glengorm Castle firmly on the careertraveller map.

Homeward bound we board the wondrous CalMac ferry and seize Duart Castle, recognising that Mull is a journey, the epitome of nature and a reason to travel.

Further information:
ScotRail
Caledonian MacBrayne
Island Holiday Cottages
Sea Life Surveys
Glengorm Castle

Duart Castle

Further details of Mull can be found on the official national tourist information website Visit Scotland.

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