Wullie Davidson: Bus Pass Rambles – Tobermory


Thursday, 22 June 2023

I first visited Tobermory in the summer of 2019. It was the day of the Wimbledon ladies’ final, when Simona Halep beat Serena Williams 6-2 6-2, and I spent much of the little time I had in a bar watching the match. So, I didn’t really do it justice. I decided on another trip, as Thursday was predicted to be very sunny, but not too hot, which is what you want. 20-22 C is about ideal.

Kerrera from Ferry

Kerrera from Ferry

The ferry from Oban to Craignure, on Mull, departed at 1215, about 37 minutes after the bus arrived from Glasgow. There were a lot of Australian tourists in the ferry terminal lounge, which was unusual. From listening to the tourists, I’ve gathered that Americans, Chinese, Italians and Germans make up a large percentage, but that’s a fairly subjective impression. Maybe they just talk more. There was a large party of Australians, but there were also quite a few that didn’t seem to be associated with the party. The cost of a return ticket was just £7.80, so it’s good to see that ticket prices haven’t been caught up in the galloping inflation that we’re currently dealing with.


The ferry took 50 minutes to arrive at Craignure, and the bus for Tobermory departed 25 minutes later at 1330, taking 45 minutes to make the trip. I could only spend 1 hour and 35 minutes in Tobermory, before I’d have to get the bus back to Craignure, to get the 1705 ferry back to Oban, arriving at 1755, 20 minutes before the last bus back to Glasgow at 1815.

Oban from Ferry

Oban from Ferry to Craignure

Tobermory has a population of just 1,000, but punches well above its weight as a tourist destination. There’s a small aquarium, which describes itself as ‘Europe’s first catch and release’ aquarium, meaning that exhibits are released back to the sea after their ‘term of service’. There’s an even smaller museum, which is nevertheless fascinating, and home to a range of displays about the history, geology, geography, culture and people of Mull. Plenty of restaurants, bars, art and craft shops and ice cream shops, and a distillery which welcomes visitors. Just what you’d expect really, but still quite impressive for such a small and remote settlement.

There are some good walks, but with just 1 hr 35 mins in town, there wasn’t the time to do them. The most popular is a walk out to a lighthouse, about 1.5 miles from town. You can then return via an inland path, but this is pretty rough, and can get boggy, so returning back on the excellent coastal path may be the best option. I walked about halfway along the path to the lighthouse, looking for a good photo of the harbour, but it was wall to wall trees, without a gap, so didn’t get one.

I like to keep an eye out for wildlife on bus trips. Mull is famous for its wildlife, particularly its otters, seals, red deer, golden eagles, and white tailed sea eagles. I’ve yet to see eagles, otters and seals, but saw five deer on my trip. On my previous trip, in 2019, I saw what I’m sure was a family group of two adult roe deer and two fawns in a field of sheep. Yet, according to wildlife websites, roe deer are absent from Scottish west coast islands, including Mull, although they are known to be on Kerrera. One of the deer was a red deer hind which ran across the road in front of the bus, before leaping a fence into a field. I’m pretty certain that the other four were roe deer, despite the prevailing wisdom that they are absent from the island. Red deer hinds are 260-370 lbs, while roe deer are 35-75 lbs, so it should not be an easy mistake to make, although distance is a complicating factor. I suppose it’s just possible that some of the roe deer I believe I saw were immature red deer hinds, but that doesn’t square with the 2019 family group. I think Mull wildlife websites may need to be updated.

Wullie Davidson, 22 June, 2023

Cruinneachadh, Scottish Writers Centre
Farewell Festival at Tchai Ovna House of Tea

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