Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary: Mull December 2001

The Island of Mull lies off the West Coast of Scotland and is an essential place to visit to bag the only Munro on an island other than Skye. A visit to Mull combines climbing Ben More with a chance to spend time discovering a very beautiful island and seeing the pretty seaside village of Tobermory with its colourfully painted waterfront houses.

It was the usual bunch of nine happy walkers who travelled to Mull by boat from Oban staying at the friendly Hostel in Tobermory right on the seafront. Friday afternoon was spent exploring the little craft shops of Tobermory and preparing for a communal meal where we joined by a further three as some prefer to stay in the luxury of bed and breakfast accomodation where they were spoiled by the landlady.

On Saturday we headed over to Salen and along Loch na Keal for the start of the ascent on Ben More. The wind was already blowing as we left the cars and some of us decided to walk up by the tourist route rather than the more interesting scramble route by A'Chioch. The tourist route was very gradual and one of the easiest ascents of a Munro I have ever done. The path followed the burn (Scottish for stream) and there were many interesting little waterfalls along the way. It was a good path with clear views over Loch na Keal to the mainland and it was a pleasant ambling social walk. However, we soon reached the start of the ridge where the wind gained strength and we had to lean heavily on walking poles to stay upright. Mist was coming and going but it was difficult to look at the view as it was a case of head down and keep battling uphill against the wind. Two of the lighter members of the group had difficulty in staying upright and decided to abandon it and head down where it was less windy to have lunch but three of us kept battling on sometimes wondering why we were doing it! At last, we reached the summit ridge where surprisingly there was no wind and were soon sheltering behind a little wall of stones at the cairn on the summit having lunch. Shortly afterwards a couple arrived with a collie dog. They said the dog had not had any problems in the wind being so near the ground. When I reached the car I felt exhilarated by the wind and winning a battle against nature in managing to the top in such a high wind.

Ben More Mull

After the exertions, four of us decided to relax the following day exploring the beaches on the North East Coast and visited Calgary Beach which is perfect with a curve of golden sand and a magnificent blue/green sea surrounded by grassy hills. We found a sheltered spot out of the wind and enjoyed a picnic and some sunbathing. Later, we walked to a deserted settlement where a herd of Highland Cattle were grazing peacefully. Highland Cattle have red hair, a long fringe covering their eyes, short legs and are very docile so don't mind having photos taken at close range. We walked on to a secluded cove where there was a great deal of flotsam and jetsam on the beach giving an ideal opportunity to make a beach sculpture comprising bits of driftwood and other items. We could see Iona and various uninhabited islands from the cove. It was back to the accomodation at Dervaig Community Hall which was conveniently located across the road from the pub!

On the last day, we walked from Torosay Castle along the coast to Duart Castle which is steeped in history but also has a very good tearoom with home made cakes! Mull is a wonderful weekend retreat with something for everyone from hills to beaches and pretty villages. It is easily accessible by ferry from Oban on the mainland.

Coming Attractions; Weekend at Loch Ossian

E mail me at [email protected] with any comments on the diary or to share mountain experiences.

Thanks to Tom Addie for the photographs.

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