If you’ve visited Beach House before you might have found the Friday changeovers a bit of a pain. That’s understandable as, usually, most people like to arrive and depart on the weekend.
Previously it was impossible for us to do the changeovers on a Saturday or Sunday. But as of now that’s all changed. If you were put off because of the Friday changeover, that’s now a thing of the past.
So if you liked the idea of our self catering former farmhouse but didn’t like the Friday to Friday week, it’s from Saturdays from now on. Just go check out our availability calendar and see for yourself.
Contrary to received wisdom, it’s not always the case that the Isle of Mull is off limits in the winter months. It’s true that the weather gets a whole lot chillier as we move towards the end of the year. But, thanks to being in the path of the Gulf stream, the island is bathed in warmer waters which usually keeps the harsher cold, often endured by Scotland’s east coast, at bay.
Proving this point was an up-to-the-minute blog I discovered this morning by Nigel Cole. He’s on Mull outside of what might traditionally be considered the holiday season, yet is enjoying some excellent weather… the proverbial Indian summer no doubt.
As he explains, “Today was magic. We had a dream combination of no wind, sunshine, blue skies and low volume of tourists.” He then recounts a day spent traversing the whole of Mull; from Tobermory, all the way to Iona and the Abbey, where he says, “After completing our tour of the Abbey we strolled back to the ferry for our return trip to Mull and then embarked on a return drive, this time along the west coast of Mull which proved very pleasant in the afternoon sunshine. The single track road with poor surface provided an additional dimension to the trip which, overall, proved quite exhilarating.”
This, I think, helps to confound those who would say that Mull is best enjoyed in the summer. It’s an all year round island that can offer an all-round experience. Just think twice, perhaps, about skinny-dipping in the sea at this time of year!
Beach House, Isle of Mull Self-Catering
Here’s another local business (based out of Oban) with some rather interesting snippets of information on its blog and facebook page. Called Coastal Connections it has quite a lot of attractive pictures taken on past charter trips around the coast and islands on its blog. Just click on the blog archive to see an overview.
Coastal Connections has a rather beautiful website featuring a map of the west coast of Scotland pin-pointing its location and, presumably, the area it services with two boats. “We aim to make your journey to the islands as enjoyable as possible. Both our Redbay 11 metre cabined RIBs provide a safe, dry and comfortable environment in which to relax and take in the scenery and wildlife along the west coast. Cruising at an average speed of 30 knots you will reach your destination in no time at all. Our services range from commercial exercises to scenic tours of the Western Isles as well as private charters.”
Apart from using smaller boats to ferry myself to dive sites up the Sound of Mull, a past-time I can no longer do these days, it’s never occurred to me to charter a boat for a cruise around the islands. But, if you are a large group or have extended family members on Mull for a holiday, it could be a great way to spend a day.
There really is nothing quite like being able to take a view of the land from the sea. It’s more akin to how our ancestors would have seen the world, when the seas were our highways and venturing inland was a dangerous prospect.
That’s also why our forebears would have not seen the national distinctions we recognise today. Peoples from modern Ireland and Northern Ireland would have been ferrying back and forth between Scotland’s Islands and mainland in much the same way we take a car on the M6, to or from the south.
Anyway, if the idea of hiring a private boat to flit you around the islands holds some appeal, you should go check out what they have to offer.
Beach House Self-Catering
I learnt something new after watching Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland on the BBC’s iPlayer. Seems that the whole Thomas Cook travel empire started life thanks to the said Mr Cook, a baptist and worker for the temperance movement, sending the working classes to bonnie Scotland. He apparently thought that taking people on tours of Scotland would keep them sober and away from the gin palaces.
Another little gem was that Cook was so shocked at the poverty which he found Iona locals living under that he set up a fund to which his tourists could contribute. This raised enough funds to buy 24 fishing boats for islanders. So Thomas Cook must rank as one of the very first eco-tourists, wanting to help the community he was visiting.
Anyway, these interesting historical snippets were recounted as Paul spoke to transport historian Nikki Macleod from the University of Greenwich, whilst they sat on the last ocean-going paddle steamer the Waverley, on its way to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull after leaving from Oban. This all starts about 15 minutes into the half hour programme, so it’s a good place to start if your main interest in this episode is his travels to the inner hebrides of Mull, Iona and Staffa.
A few other interesting pieces of information on the presenter include Paul’s connections with Mull. Seems he also has family on the island which he mentions as the Waverley steams into Tobermory harbour … in his opinion the most beautiful in Scotland. And, much like myself, he also chose to get married on Mull. Good call. Worked for us!
I should mention that, unless the programme gets re-broadcast at a later date, you’ll only be able to view this online if you’re somewhere in the UK up until the 17th of November.
We’ve only recently been renting Beach House as a self-catering location on the Isle of Mull. We’re in our third year and it’s been a learning experience.
But, from a holiday-maker’s perspective, trying to find the right piece of advice or information about good self catering properties and locations on the island can be quite a challenge. Without doubt there are a load of middling websites which are pumped up with paid-for property listings that are being touted on the basis of quantity over quality. For the poor person trawling through these it can be down-right drudgery.
Fact is, there really are only a few places on the web where you can get something approaching an independent, credible idea of what to expect.
Now, as someone on the rental side of the equation, I think I can give a view on which are the best places for any families or groups looking to rent a self-catering property on the Isle of Mull.
I plan to list a few I think will make life easier for people wanting to book their own holiday accommodation. But I’m starting with what I believe is probably the best resource of all if you’re looking, not just for self-catering on Mull, but anywhere else in the UK. I’m talking about Google’s very own Maps service. You can see it in action here with a map we created ourselves.
But it’s also an excellent way to visually pinpoint places all across the island — from Tobermory at the top to Fionnphort just next to Iona and everywhere in-between. It’s also much more than a mapping service. Listings on there can offer a wealth of additional information put up by property owners and independent reviews from former holidaymakers.
Here’s my run-though on how easy it is to use Maps to quickly find what you’re looking for:
At this time of year the BBC trots out its usual gaggle of over-enthusiastic wildlife presenters to coo over all sorts of soft and cuddly creatures in Autumnwatch. It’s just started a new run, “for an eight week celebration of UK wildlife”.
But I am not meaning to belittle overly-keen TV wildlife presenters. It’s great that our national broadcaster makes a big deal out of the country’s wildlife and tries to educate a predominantly urban population about the nature that’s all around us.
In his own small way, that’s also what landscape painter, and more recently, film-maker Angus Stewart is trying to do. I recently discovered his film, made over two years, of a local otter living in amongst the people of Mull and specifically the town of Tobermory. Aptly called ‘Tobermory and the Otter’, it recounts the tale of wild otters which become bold enough to live and interact with Tobermory’s local characters going about their daily lives.
As Angus explains, “This film is a rare insight into the usually secretive life of wild otters. You will see how an otter makes use of a community, its ingenuity and strategies, how it went about stealing… from fishing boats and the range of fish it caught as well as showing the remarkable interactions it chose to have with the town’s residents.”
The film reflects the changing nature of Mull weather throughout the year, with the ever-familiar backdrop of Tobermory’s painted facade completing the background of footage showing the extrovert otter in action.
It’s certainly a far cry from our all too camera-shy otters at our self-catering holiday home, Beach House. We have otters that live in and around the mouth of the local river, also called Beach. The Beach river flows into a crescent-shaped pebble-strewn beach which has large beds of seaweed towards the eastern tip of the bay. This is a perfect playground where the otters like to potter, most likely looking for tasty morsels of shellfish and unfortunate crab.
By contrast, the otters in Angus’s film seem far more relaxed in the hustle and bustle of life in and around Tobermory. So, if you rather like otters you might want to check out the movie clips of the full 50 minute presentation on his website and YouTube page. Though not currently available on DVD, it may be in the future.
Britain’s Best Buildings is a website that pretty much does what it says on the tin. A variety of commercial, industrial, public and domestic buildings are listed on the site and you can select the number of stars you want to give to each.
I spotted that the pool that was built in Craignure and opened in 2008, just next to the Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry Terminal, is now listed on the Britain’s Best Buildings website. Go take a peek and click some stars — it’s currently at 3 out of 5.
There’s a lot of history behind this project. Islanders spent nearly three decades trying to raise funds to make the idea of a public pool a reality. They raised many thousands but it just wasn’t quite enough. The Pool cost £1.8 million to build and quite probably would never have happened if there hadn’t been financial support from the Argyll and Bute Council, Argyll and the Islands Enterprise, SportScotland and a hotel group which also uses the pool’s facilities as an amenity for guests.
Perhaps because it is a shared use facility with the hotel, it’s of a very high standard. It’s not just a pool but also has spa facilities, hair salon, steam rooms and more. It’s definitely not your typical council-style affair. That said, it’s only 16 metres in length so if you’re a serious swimmer you might find it a little frustrating compared to a standard 25m pool.
But, that criticism aside, it’s in an ideal spot, pretty much exactly half way between Bunessan and Fionnphort to the south and Tobermory and Dervaig to the north of the island. And with the weather never a certainty on Mull, it’s a great fall-back plan if you are on holiday with kids and at a loose end.
You can see exactly where Isle of Mull Community Swimming Pool is located on our map.
Nigel Cooke, aka monkeyleader, is an Irishman currently living in Cambridge who happens to be on holiday on Mull right now. He may just be one of the best real-time bloggers I’ve come across of late. He’s written an engaging entry in his blog about a quick return trip to Mull after a visit earlier in the year, which made him and partner Nicola fall in love with the place.
As he’s only just recounted on his blog (he’s writing this as it happens whilst on Mull… not like days of yore when you’d be lucky to get a picture on the telly!) “Highlights for us included a pair of Golden Eagles, a pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles, Buzzards, Hen Harriers, Osprey, Otters, Kestrel, Northern Gannet, Shags, Great Cormorant, Common Seals, Grey Heron, Curlew, Rock Dove, Rock Pipit, Hooded Crows, Ravens, Red Deer and a Little Grebe.”
Seems Nigel’s a bit of a polymath, not only having a rather good writing style but also some excellent photography skills to boot.
Just 40 minutes from Beach House, we’ve had some fun times with the kids at Torosay Castle over the years. The kids always love the railway and the Shetland Ponies. That’s why the Guardian’s mini-feature on the house in it’s Snooping Around section caught my eye. It’s a beautiful building but you can imagine it would take some effort to maintain the sprawling house and gardens which are just a short mini-steam engine ride from Craignure ferry terminal.
Then there’s the 880 acres that go with it. That’s possibly why anyone who has been on holiday on Mull and has a hankering to lay down some roots, might think twice about forking out the seemingly modest £2.8 million asking price the current owners are seeking. That probably doesn’t tell the bigger story of trying to maintain a property like this, built to the needs of a very different era.
It was completed in 1858 with some 60 odd rooms in a building built in the Scottish Barionial Style. The current owner’s family has lived there since 1865. Now in the 21st century, Torosay needs to pay for its upkeep and that’s been through providing tourist access to the Castle, grounds and steam railway for many years.
Still, if you relish a challenge, rather like the many unique things that Mull has to offer and you happen to be loaded, then check out the sales particulars.
Here’s an interesting find. I hadn’t come across this Mull business before. But, thanks to a permanent Twitter search I have on the term ‘Isle of Mull’ up popped ellenbarone tweeting about her recent day photographing with Sam Jones of Islandscape Photography.
Mull offers a wealth of fantastic subjects for any enthusiastic landscape or wildlife photographer. Half the problem is deciding what you want to focus your attention on when there are so many things competing for time and attention. That’s where the local knowledge of an island resident could be indispensible if your time is limited.
Islandscape Photography has a studio located at Taigh Solais in Tobermory. Taigh Solais (meaning ‘the lighthouse’ in Gaelic) is on Tobermory’s recently developed waterfront and belongs to the Tobermory Harbour Association. We’ve got family connections with this building as a cousin played a role in it being built.
Anyway, if you’re a photographer with an interest in what Mull has to offer up in terms of great subject material, you ought to check out Islandscape Photography. Former legal eagle Sam has a wealth of useful information on her site and suggestions on how to make a photographer’s visit to Mull a truly successful one.
Don’t forget to check out some of Sam’s own recent material on her blog. There are some excellent shots of a day photographing the local RNLI boat in action.
A spacious self catering house on the Isle of Mull with spectacular views and superb visitor reviews, Beach House is a must for your holiday in Scotland.