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Scott Smyth March 24 2016

Transporting yourself from an urban environment to a Scottish island can require a little bit of a transition. My first thoughts – why is everybody chatting to each other? Does everybody know each other?

It isn’t until people begin chatting to you with a genuine warmth that you realise that this is the norm. Instead of hurrying down the street with faces buried in smartphones – locals (and tourists who’ve got into the swing of things!) make an effort to engage with each other. It’s refreshing and doesn’t take long to embrace.

The above could explain why Scotland’s islands were recently named the happiest place in the UK, but there’s much more to these fabulous islands than friendly locals. Here are my top five reasons why the Isle of Mull should be included on your self-drive holiday in Scotland.

 

A Pilgrimage to Iona

Just off the southwest tip of Mull is the tiny island of Iona – a must-visit for history lovers. A ten-minute ferry journey will transport you to a gorgeous island dotted with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a warm, sunny day it can feel like the Caribbean!

The real draw of the island is Iona Abbey – a place of pilgrimage for Europe’s Christians since St Columba set up his monastery here 1,500 years ago. Learn about Viking raids at the newly refurbished museum and explore the burial place of 48 Scottish kings – including the legendary Macbeth.

 

What’s The Story In Tobermory?

Mull’s colourful capital is recognisable as being the setting of Balamory – a phenomenally popular children’s TV show, but it’s also home to the Mull Museum, crammed with information about the history of the island and its people, and Tobermory Distillery where you can sample the local “water of life”.

Tobermory’s restaurants serve some of the freshest seafood in Scotland, but you can’t get much fresher than the produce at Cafe Fish where the restaurant’s own fishing boat – The Highlander – delivers langoustines and lobsters daily at 4pm.

 

A Wildlife Wonderland

Mull is a wildlife lover’s dream. The waters are home to a range of incredible sea life, from the diminutive harbour porpoise to the majestic minke whale. With the UK population only around 300 – this is also one of the best locations in the British Isles to see bottlenose dolphins.

Britain’s largest and most impressive bird of prey – the white-tailed eagle – is also thriving on the island. It is 40 years since a revolutionary reintroduction programme began to return the white-tailed eagle to Scotland and, this year, the number of nesting pairs is expected to exceed 100 for the first time.

 

Staffa & Fingal’s Cave

Staffa is the stuff of legend – an enchanting island best known for its magnificent basalt columns and spectacular sea caves. The most famous of these is Fingal’s Cave, also known as An Uamh Binn (Cave of Melody). It has a unique, cathedral-like structure and its hexagonal columns are similar to those of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

German composer Felix Mendelssohn visited Fingal’s Cave in 1830, where the motion of the crashing waves inspired him to write his Hebrides Overture. He was so inspired by his experience that he scribbled the opening lines on the spot.

 

Duart Castle: 800 Years of History

Scotland is home to some impressively-located castles – Edinburgh and Stirling spring immediately to mind, but in many ways both are outshone by Duart Castle. Perched on top of a rocky outcrop at the end of a peninsula near the easternmost corner of Mull, it stands guard over one of the most important marine crossroads in western Scotland.

Built in the 13th century, the castle treasures 800 years of history of one of Scotland’s oldest clans – the Macleans. Take a wander around the castle ramparts for magnificent views, then relax in the old byre which has been converted into a fantastic tearoom.

 

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Discover the Isle of Mull

With some of the best scenery, historical sites, wildlife, and food and drink in Scotland – is it any wonder the locals are so happy?!

Scott Smyth

P.S Why not visit the Isle of Mull as part of our Magical Islands of Mull, Iona & Skye self-drive itinerary?

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