The Isle of Mull in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides is a place where life slows down, partly because of its beachy and bucolic charms, and partly because of its system of winding single-lane roads—occasionally blocked by Highland cows. Remote, but easily accessible, Mull is only a 50-minute ferry ride from Oban (a two-and-a-half-hour drive northwest of Glasgow) and is best explored by car and on foot. Make your base in Tobermory, Mull’s picturesque and seaside capital, and start exploring.
Go to Main Street to see the iconic row of colourful buildings, and stop by the Tobermory Bakery & Tea Room for a full Scottish breakfast, which includes eggs, beans, toast, black pudding and square-shaped Lorne sausage. Browse the waterfront shops for local crafts and Hebridean tweed.
The whitewashed Tobermory Distillery at the south end of Main Street has produced single-malt Scotch whisky since 1798. Sign up for one of the hourly tours and taste its famous Ledaig whisky. A two-minute walk down the harbour takes you to the Mull Aquarium, a catch-and-release marine education centre. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet a curled octopus.
Walk to Calmac Pier at the other end of Main Street and get a table at award-winning Café Fish. Start with caviar served with Scottish oatcakes, then treat yourself to the Café Fish Roast Shellfish Platter with langoustines and lobster caught that day.
Drive five minutes from the centre of Tobermory to Isle of Mull Cheese, a working dairy farm with a self-guided tour and a café where you can breakfast on handmade scones. Drive clockwise around Mull to Fionnphort, a scenic hour-and-a-half journey.
Park in Fionnphort and board the 10-minute foot ferry to the Isle of Iona, one of the oldest Christian sites in Western Europe. Walk the pilgrim path to Iona Abbey, founded as a monastery by St. Columba in 563 AD. The Abbey Church of St. Mary is said to be the burial place of Macbeth, a former king of Scotland and inspiration for William Shakespeare.
Drive to Calgary Bay, a two-and-a-half-hour trip. This white-sand beach is a great place to explore rock pools. A 30- to 40-minute drive returns you to Tobermory. Order haddock and chips from the Fisherman’s Pier Fish & Chip Van and eat overlooking the waters of Tobermory Bay.
Breakfast on scrambled eggs and smoked salmon at the Tobermory Scullery on Main Street and grab a ploughman’s lunch to-go. Walk to Tobermory Harbour and board a Staffa Tours boat. Book ahead and don’t be late—this all-day experience almost completely tours Mull’s coastline. Keep your eye out for whales, basking sharks and dolphins.
Picnic at the Isle of Staffa, a volcanic island off Mull’s west coast made from hexagonal basalt columns, and walk the pathway from the mooring to Fingal’s Cave. This geological curiousity was immortalized in a Felix Mendelssohn overture 200 years ago. Continue your boat ride to Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish Isles—a series of islands off the coast of Mull—where a 15-minute hike takes you to a clifftop puffin-nesting site.
Drive southwest of Tobermory for dinner at the Am Birlinn restaurant near Dervaig. Give the haggis rolls a try and don’t miss the locally caught seafood stew.
[This story appears in the April 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine.]
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