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A day on Mull

Hello again
I am trying to plan my family's itinerary for one last day of our 10 day trip to Scotland. It is my husband and our three daughters (ages 10,13, and 16). We will be staying in Oban for two nights so that we can have a day on Mull which will be 6/17. We arrive to Craignure at 9:35am and need to be back for return ferry check in by 6:55pm. We aren't trying to go over to Iona even though we'd love to because that seems like too much given we also want to see Tobermory. Places I have read about that we would like to see are

-Duart Castle (but the opening hours are from 10:30am-4pm so this seems tricky given our arrival and departure times)
-Calgary Beach
-Toberymory
-scenic drive along B8073

I read on a blog that Fidden Beach is a must along with Fionnphort and then the scenic drive to Calgary and then on to Tobermory. However, is this too much for the hours we have? Also would love a lunch recommendation.

Thanks so much!
Dabney

Posted by
6778 posts

Duart Castle is only a few miles from Craignure (plus a 4 mile entrance) but I think there are better places to go, given your time frame. Tobermory is approximately a 45 minute drive from Craignure. The first half or so has good double-track roads but you will be going much slower the last third of the drive when it changes to single-track so count on a full 45 minutes at least.

Tobermory is charming and there is a lot you can see and do there. Just park in one of the free car lots on the harbor and walk down through the shops and restaurant that line it. Bring your camera as it's very photogenic. You can visit the Isle of Mull Cheese Shop (Sgriob-ruadh Farm), which is about a mile from the harbor. There are self-guided tours to meet the farm animals and learn about traditional cheese making. There is also a cafe, and a farm shop.

The Tobermory Bakery is wonderful - definitely stop in here for one of their delectable pastries and coffee or tea. Their Millionaire's Shortbread is incredible! There is a shop at the end of the harbor that is farthest from the ferry terminal that sells handmade chocolate with a tea room, and along the way are some very nice gift shops - I bought half my souvenirs in Mull (and I'm picky about stuff like that). Lots of nice restaurants, too. There is also a catch-and-release aquarium that is interesting, too.

After exploring Tobermory, you could head towards Calgary Beach, which is about a 30+ minute drive - probably more like 40 - from Tobermory. It's very narrow and the single track roads run through the mountains with some switchbacks, so you will need to go slow through much of it. I did not make it there because of my fear of heights, but others have been and it's well worth a visit to see the beautiful beach.

I would not even attempt Fionnphort or Iona - it will take you close to 2 hours to get there from Tobermory, and even more time if you add in Fidden Beach and Calgory Beach. You're looking at probably 4 1/2+ hours of driving. The scenery is lovely but the driving will be tiring. I would just skip Fionnphort and Fidden Beach and concentrate on Calgary and Tobermory.

Posted by
6778 posts

Sorry, I forgot you wanted lunch recommendations. I had dinner at the Galleon Bistro, and the meal was one of the best I had in Scotland. It is open for lunch so I would recommend that. Mishnish is another good restaurant that is open for lunch. Thee is also the Gallery Restaurant - it's in an old church and is along the harbor. I ate there the first day and it was fine. Nothing to rave about but certainly a decent meal in an interesting location.

If you want something more casual, there is a fish and chips shack on the harbor, about halfway down on the right. They have excellent fish and chips. You just buy it there and sit on the stone wall of the harbor and eat. And the Tobermorey Bakery also serves toasties and things like that for takeaway.

Posted by
6778 posts

Ha, I just found more of my notes. In Tobermory, there are some nice walks if you are into hiking. There is a short walk from the harbor car park along the wooded hillside to Aros Park with woodland trails, a lochan and really nice waterfalls. A walk from the other end of Main Street leads along a coastal path to the Rubha Nan Gall Lighthouse. There are amazing views out over the Sound of Mull. And another short walk up the hill towards Baliscate leads to the Baliscate Standing Stones. Nearby is the site of the Baliscate Chapel, the subject of a BBC archaeology dig.

You might want to stop at Isle of Mull Pottery, which is just beautiful. They sell some in the shops along the harbor but the main shop is in the town up above Main St. (you will pass it if you go to Calgary). Also there is an ice cream shop along the harbor (past the fish and chips place near the ferry terminal).

Posted by
6778 posts

One last thing and then I promise I'll stop. :) On the way back from Calgary if you have time, you could stop at Glengorm Castle. You can't tour the inside as the owners have converted most of it to self-catering apartments, but you can see it and photograph it, and stop at the outdoor cafe there. There are also some short walks from the cafe that go around the castle grounds. These include a walk to standing stones and a natural pool.

Posted by
4223 posts

I'll 2nd going to Isle of Mull Cheese for lunch. And Calgary Beach is spectacular, blue water and white sand like it got lost on the way to the Caribbean.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks so much for all the awesome tips! We will likely skip Duart but do the Tobermory walks you suggest Mardee as well as the Isle of Mull Cheese. And then drive to Dervaig and Calgary Beach hitting Glengorm Castle on the way back if time. Can't wait!

Posted by
2 posts

This thread is all so helpful! Thanks to everyone who contributed. Curious how the trip turned out - any additional suggestions or feedback? We are about to head to Mull for a day trip with our 14 month old. Planning a similar agenda (Craignure ferry to Tobermory to Calgary Beach). Did the driving seem reasonable? Too much? Also, how much time should we allow from Calgary Beach back to Craignure for the ferry back to Oban?

Posted by
22 posts

Hi there, yes I posted an entire trip report which showed up for a little bit and then I tried to edit it and somehow it all disappeared from the whole site. I tried to repost but then it said I had just posted that so wouldn't let me. Very confusing. Anyway, it was a great day on Mull. I would say that the driving from Craignure to Tobermory was maybe 40 minutes? Not bad at all. Then the drive to Calgary was maybe another 40? And maybe another 30 or so back to Craignure? It really wasn't too bad at all.

Posted by
6778 posts

Sorry about your trip report - glitchy stuff like that happens sometimes, which can be very frustrating. I've taken to drafting my trip reports in Google docs. Then when I have everything written, I copy and paste it into the RS post.

But it sounds like you had a great time - thanks for the update!

Posted by
55 posts

We will be in the area in mid-August. Do you have to buy tickets to the ferry ahead of one's trip? Thank you!

Posted by
6778 posts

We will be in the area in mid-August. Do you have to buy tickets to the ferry ahead of one's trip? Thank you!

Michele, it depends on the route. Which ferries will you be taking? If it's the Oban to Craignure ferry, yes, you must book that ahead of time and the sooner the better. https://calmac.co.uk/summer-timetables/oban-craignure

You do not need to book Tobermory to Kilchoan though. That is a "show up and go" route.

Posted by
4223 posts

It was recommended to us to buy months in advance.

Posted by
6361 posts

Michele,

Looking in the system this morning there is almost no availability for the next 10 days on the Oban to Craignure route, unless sailing very early or very late in the day. But from 15 August (when the Scottish schools go back) there is good availability.

So you need to make that your mission for the day.

If you get the choice of timings, and thus ships, the Isle of Mull is the far larger ship with a full range of facilities including restaurant and bar. The Loch Frisa is a much smaller, more basic ferry- very adequate for the job of transporting you, but few frills- just a 'coffee cabin' for light snacks.

Posted by
55 posts

Hi Mardee & isn31c:

Thank you both for your advice. We are thinking of taking the ferry from Lochaline, where we will be staying after our 1st stay in Dalmally, near Oban.

I just sent an email to the inn owner in Lochaline, to see if he agrees that that is an option. It is a shorter ride.

After he replies, if that doesn't work, we will book the ferry from Oban instead. Thanks for your tip about school kids going back to school! We will most likely be going to Mull on August 23rd.

This is where we're thinking of exploring near Dalmally: St. Conan's Kirk, Kilchurn Castle. Bridge of Orchy, Loch Fyne Oysters.
Oban: Coast restaurant, or more simply Oban Fish & Chips?
Inverary: The castle, and eating at Samphire or Brambles?

We plan to take a lot of moderate hikes...no mountain climbing!

Mardee: Have not heard of Kilchoan...

Any other advice about those areas you might want to chime in on?

Thanks so much! Michele

Posted by
6361 posts

The Lochaline to Fishnish boat is a great idea. Another turn up and go boat. Rarely a busy service unless there is service disruption out of Oban, and sheltered water so rarely weather disrupted.
If crossing to Ardgour (as you are) be aware that one of the two boats (the bigger one) on the Corran ferry is currently out of service. leading to delays. It may be necessary to drive through Fort William and around Loch Eil- you will only know on the day.

On the way from Dalmally you may want to stop firstly at the Cruachan Power Station ('The Hollow Mountain)- a Hydro Electric Station and/or at Taynuilt to see the Bonawe Iron Furnace