We set off for our fresh air holiday on the Isle of Mull. As we sailed from Oban to Mull two features attracted our attention. Duart Castle stands out on a rock on the coast and close to Craignure sits Mull Shielings looking pristine and inviting. My family and I spent five wonderful days on Mull and surrounding islands based in a Shieling at Craignure.
Our first night was brilliant. As we explored the site we came upon the communal bonfire which was dancing in the breeze and brightening up the families gathered around. We made friends with folk from Liverpool, Brighton and Dundee and Shaggy the seventeen year old dog wrapped in a blanket, all enjoying the fire. A few big pans of fresh mussels from Inverlussa Mussel Farm were cooked in a white wine and onion sauce. We obligingly helped by eating our way through platefuls of very fresh and delicious mussels. Scottish sea food is amazing! Why don’t we eat more? I hope that we will meet our new friends again!
We took a tour with Staffa Tours and visited Staffa and Fingal’s cave which was exciting for Joshua, eight years and Dylan, eleven. The sea boomed when it ran up against the wall at the end of the cave which was quite spectacular. It might have been dreich on Staffa but this did not dampen our spirits. Rain or shine it is a beautiful place to visit. Look out for the hexagonal basalt pillars and stepping stones. The latter match the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland giving rise to the myths about the origination of both places. Fingal, a Scots giant, did battle with Fynn McCoul, an Irish giant. The outcome of these two hurling rocks at each other were Staffa and the Giants Causeway. Bring on the Giants!
We also visited the Island of Lunga on the Treshnish Islands to say hello to the puffins. Thousands of Puffins congregate here to mate and hatch out Pufflings, their chicks. The birds are comical and attractive. They welcome humans in their midst as they feel safer than without them. We keep predators away and the birds come out to enjoy the sun, rain and protection. They are curious, coming towards you when you are watching them. Needless to say Joshua and Dylan loved them!
Back to the Shielings at Craignure for a good night’s rest. The one we had was spacious with a wee kitchen, a stove, a bathroom and toilet … yes an en suite toilet. The sleeping areas were defined by golden inner tents which gave privacy to the children and mum and dad. As I gazed at the bedroom tent glowing gold in the firelight I dreamed of the Far Pavilions of the mysterious East. My dream flickered and flared and when I awoke I realised that I had been watching the pictures in the window of the log burning stove. Too tired to add another log.
Tobermory is the main town on Mull. Some will be familiar with the Balamory of the children’s programme. It is the same place. Well almost. The TV characters are long gone and real people populate the busy wee town. There are lots of eating places in Tobermory. One popular one is the Fish and Chip van by the town clock. Pubs are plentiful and I enjoyed fresh pan seared scallops in Macgochans near the harbour. Delicious! A museum in Main Street has all sorts of interesting exhibits relating to the sea and Mull. Items recovered from the sunken Galleon of the Spanish Armada in Tobermory Bay are on display for example.
We met Tobermory, the Tobermory cat. This is the cat, we discovered later, who is famous for being famous. We sailed from Tobermory to the islands we visited however you can sail from Ulva, Fionophort and Iona if you prefer.
On Mull you are never far from the sea. In our Shieling we watched the ferry boats chug back and forth from Craignure to Oban. The heavier beat of the engines at the other side of the Sound of Mull heralded the bigger boats travelling to and from the Western Isles. We watched them too providing life lines to communities as far away as the islands of Tiree, Coll, Barra and South Uist.
The SHIELING HOLIDAYS site is beautifully situated overlooking the Sound of Mull. It is a good location from which to reach all parts of Mull and also Iona. The accommodation ranges from simple camping pitches to holiday cottages. In between are Shielings of several sizes, pitches for caravans and camper vans. There is plenty for children to do and enjoy simply exploring the site and nearby sea shore. There are many good facilities on site such as a games room and communal room. The staff were very helpful and facilitated a peaceful and comfortable stay. Altogether an excellent place to holiday when on Mull.
My thanks to David Gracie the owner of SHIELING HOLIDAYS for giving me and my family the opportunity to spend five super days on what is becoming my favourite island. Oh yes we did see Eagles on three separate occasions but sadly, look as we did, the shy elusive otters evaded our attention. Next time.