Meteor on camera!

Meteor on Camera

Wow, I never expected to catch a Meteor on camera when I set up my camera and tripod!   I had to check with the Facebook page Aurora Research Scotland as I hadn’t photographed a green bolt of light like this before.  They verified that it was indeed a meteor.  The green glow is caused by it having a lot of copper in it.  Someone on the Isle of Lewis photographed a meteor at roughly the same time which we think may be the same one..

Treshnish Cottages Mull dark skies meteor

Seeing the Aurora?

Please remember that the camera will capture much more than the eye sees.   It is rare, in this part of the world, to ‘see’ wonderful Aurora colours with the naked eye.   More common is to be able to catch them on camera.

Recent clear skies

As is typical when wanting to catch the Aurora, we often have cloudy sky!  I watch the Aurora Facebook pages fill with wonderful strong, seen with the naked eye, images from other parts of Scotland!   I look outside. It is still cloudy!

Every evening if there is a clear sky forecast, I will check the skies for the aurora.  I don’t mean that I just go outside and look – I set up my camera and tripod and take some test shots.    Two nights ago, we didn’t have a very strong aurora forecast but I caught the Airglow.  It is difficult to describe but if you look at the photograph below, you can just make out blotchy pale cloud in the layers of colour?  This is an Airglow.  It is more rare than an Aurora Borealis, so I am always excited to catch it on camera.   Again with the naked eye I can sense the light, but not see the cloud effect.

Treshnish Cottages Dark Skies Mull airglow meteor

What can you see with the naked eye?

This green streak of the Aurora Borealis looked bright to me, but I could not see the colours.   In relation to the horizon, and compared to the photograph below this one, the colours were not extending very high above the skyline.  This was not a strong aurora.  It is also worth bearing in mind that some people see more colour in an aurora than others. Annoyingly Somerset can see more of the colour than I can!

Treshnish Cottages dark skies Mull Aurora meteor

This Aurora (below) taken a week or so ago was very strong but thick cloud descended 5 minutes later and remained all night!!  You can see the colour is much higher above the skyline here. I could just make out greens in this glow.  The moon was up that night too, and that make it more difficult to see the colours, and to catch them on camera.

Mull dark skies Treshnish Cottages aurora meteor

Isle of Mull Oysters

Isle of Mull Oysters

Isle of Mull Oysters are locally grown in the clear tidal waters of Loch Cuin, near Croig.  Just a few miles from Treshnish!  You can try them for yourselves whilst on the island – they are delicious!  The Mull and Iona Food Trail Map will be in the cottage when you arrive. This will help you find places which sell or serve island produce.

isle of mull oysters tour rum

Oyster Tour

We were lucky enough to go on a tour round the oyster farm last weekend.  We walked from nearby Am Birlinn, down to the shore where the oysters are grown.    The landscape is ancient and unspoilt with hazel woodland, open grass pasture divided by crumbling stone dykes.

Our guide was Nick Turnbull who with his fishing partner started growing oysters 25 years ago.  His son Gordon has taken over now, and they have stock of nearly 4 million oysters!  What a lovely spot it is, with wonderful views across to the other side of the sea loch, and northwards to the Isle of Rum.  The trestle tables are situated in the shallow waters of the sea loch.  Oyster farming has minimal visual impact on the environment.  It is only at low tide do the trestles stand out.

isle mull oysters tour tractor

Tractors and trestles

What a lot of hard physical labour goes in to rearing oysters!  We came away with huge admiration for those who farm oysters.  They work in all weathers, and standing in cold sea water humping bags of oysters around cannot be much fun.

Growing oysters starts with tiny 2mm seed oysters (Pacific oysters).  The oysters grow in bags. As the oysters grow they have to be graded and put into bags with different sized mesh, according to their size.   They lie on the trestles, so have to be picked up one by one and moved using the tractors and trailers.  In between the grading and sorting, the bags have to be turned so that the growing oyster does not grow into the plastic mesh. Each bag has four clips which have to be opened before the bag is turned over.  And then closed again once the bag is turned.  This keeps the bags from slipping off as the tides flow around them.

isle of mull oysters tour red tractor

Rows and rows

At low tide you can see rows and rows of trestles with the bags of oysters laid out on them.

It takes 3 to 4 years to grow them from 2mm to the size required by the supermarkets.  Native oysters are not grown commercially as they take too long – about 10 years.  Pacific oysters do not naturally breed in UK waters so there is no risk of contaminating the native oyster.

 

Isle mull oyster tour gordon turnbull

Friend of The Sea

Mull Oysters are sold to a co-operative on the mainland so you may well be buying them, without realising, in your local supermarket.  Isle of Mull Oysters are accredited as a sustainable seafood by an organisation called Friend of the Sea.  So you can enjoy eating them safe in the knowledge that they are being sustainably grown!

Buying oysters

If you want to enjoy these delicious oysters back in the cottage, rather than in a restaurant, you can usually buy them at  The Tobermory Fish Company at Baliscate just on the edge of Tobermory.

Mull in autumn

Mull in autumn

The Isle of Mull in autumn begins to slow down. It can be a lovely time of year to be here.  Once the schools go back at the beginning of September, the roads become quieter and the wild camping site at Calgary Beach visibly empties!   The weather can be fantastic – in every sense of the word…. sunny and bright, or wild and wet!   However our cottages are warm and cosy, perfect for relaxing when you get back after a bracing day out walking or exploring!

Mull in autumn Treshnish cottages headland light

Open or closed

We are open all year round but the main season on the island when you are more or less guaranteed that places will be open runs from the middle of March to the middle or end of October.  Most visitor attractions are open from Easter until the middle or end of October.  The Mull Museum in Tobermory stays open until the end of October.  Duart Castle is open until the 18th October 2017.  The island art centre, An Tobar, in upper Tobermory, stays open until the end of the year – as well as putting on exhibitions they have a great cafe serving delicious vegetarian food. 

Eating out

Most places will stay open until at least the middle of October.  Have a look at the Mull and Iona Food Trail for places that support local producers and use island produce.  Ballygown and Am Birlinn are the two closest restaurants to us recommended by many of our guests and ourselves!  Calgary Tearoom near the beach is open during the day for teas/coffees, lunches.

Boat trips

As you can imagine, boat trips are subject to the weather!  Turus Mara run trips to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles from Ulva Ferry, and offer a 10% discount if you are staying with us.  Contact them for advice about their autumn trips.  We had 2 lots of very happy guests go out to Staffa with Turus Mara yesterday. They had fantastic dolphin, porpoise sightings as well as seals – and White tailed eagles.  

Mull in autumn Treshnish cottages farm view

Mull Aquarium

The Mull Aquarium in Tobermory is open through the October holidays and is planning a host of events for kids and adults.  It is Europe’s first Catch and Release Aquarium, community owned and managed too. Have a look at their website for further information closer to the time.  I like the sound of the Cocktails film night for adults showing Jaws!  There is a great sounding Halloween event which will be on either the 27th or 28th, and lots of other kids activities during the school holidays including a Sleepover night! The final event will be when they release all the creatures back into the wild on the 29th October.

Mull in autumn Treshnish cottages rowan sunset

What wildlife might you see?

Our cottages sit on the low ground of the farm.  In late September and early October you will hear Red deer stags roaring from the hill, as it is the rutting season when stags fight over the hinds in great plays of power and manliness.   We had a magical walk whilst checking the sheep a couple of Octobers ago. We were up above East, Middle and West and came across this group of deer.   Quite dramatic, to say the least!

For an idea of what else you might encounter here at Treshnish have a look at Prasad’s Treshnish Wildlife Diary.  He has been recording wildlife here since 2006.

Wildlife tours

The nearest wildlife tour operator to us is Nature Scotland, based near Calgary.  Ewan Miles who runs the company is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic – and has an imaginative selection of tours including a trip to Ardnamurchan… and a Stargazing trip giving you a chance to look at the stars and photograph an Aurora Borealis if the conditions are right.  Have a look at their website for details.

Mull in autumn Haunn Cottages sea views

Availability

September is fully booked now but we have space in October.  Please have a look at our Make a Booking page, and please get in touch if you have any queries!

Iona day trip

Iona Day Trip

A busy Sunday in August may not feel like the ideal day to choose for an Iona day trip, but actually we went yesterday and it was great!  We went to visit cousins who were spending the weekend there.  I recommend to all our guests that they go to Iona if they haven’t already been.  It is a long drive, but the scenery is unrivalled and to my mind, the effort well rewarded!

Iona Abbey grey sky Treshnish Cottages Mull day trip Iona

Getting there

I always suggest that guests drive via Dervaig, Aros Bridge and Salen to Craignure and down to Fionnphort through Glen More.   Depending on the traffic, it can take about 2 hours to get there.  Look at the ferry timetable so you can aim for a particular boat.  The road through the glen from Ardura to Pennyghael is starkly beautiful – look out for the Three Lochs, there is a place to stop there and take in the view.

Pennyghael

At Pennyghael, the little Post Office offers teas and coffees and local produce.  Not many post offices have a view that lovely, across Loch Scridain to Ben More.

Fionnphort

You catch the passenger ferry from Fionnphort.  There is free parking available.  You turn left once you arrive in the village, it is signposted to Knockvologan/Fidden.  You can buy seafood salads and sandwiches at the Creel Seafood Bar.  There is also a cafe in the waiting room, and the Keel Row pub.  The Ferry Shop sells local produce too, and books, crafts et cetera.

Treshnish Cottages Mull day trip Iona Fionnphort

The Ferry

The crossing takes 10 minutes.  Foot passengers only.  The colour of the water surprises me every time I cross, the turquoise is almost Caribbean.  At the moment the Abbey is scaffold free!  The views in all directions are wonderful!

Treshnish Cottages Mull day trip Iona Gardens

Iona

It is a wonderful feeling being a pedestrian.   The only vehicles belong to residents.   Walking is a pleasure in each direction.  Up to the Abbey and on to the North end, or in the opposite direction to the Back of the Ocean or Columba’s Bay.    There are plenty of places to eat on Iona in the main season. The Iona Craft Shop and the Low Door do really good take away coffees in Vegware compostable cups if you haven’t got your own Keep Cup. The Argyll and the St. Columba do lunches and afternoon tea.  The Heritage Museum has a cafe attached too.

Treshnish Cottages Mull day trip Iona Argyll Hotel

Walking to the Abbey

Walk up through the Nunnery and along to the Abbey past the prolific and colourful kitchen gardens belonging to the Argyll and St Columba Hotels.  Stop on your way at the Heritage Museum, and learn about life on the island.  It is a fantastic small museum, one of my favourites.  On the way back you can come through the fields and along the little street of houses along past the Argyll Hotel. It is bordered with pretty gardens leading to the white sandy shoreline.  The eye is drawn to the turquoise sea again and again.

The last boat

Don’t miss the last boat!

Treshnish Cottages Mull day trip Iona ferry

Mull and Iona Food Trail

All the places I have linked to are on the Mull and Iona Food Trail.  There are several other Food Trail listings in the Ross of Mull and Iona who produce and supply local produce so please have a look at their website or pick up a Food Trail Map!

Getting Home

Driving home I recommend taking the left turning at the head of Loch Scridain and going home via the spectacular Gribun cliffs and Ulva Ferry.  The late afternoon, early evening light from Balmeanoch looking over to Inch Kenneth, Ulva and the Treshnish Isles is magical, and if you are much later you might catch the sun setting over the water too. It is about 15 miles shorter than the Craignure route and takes about the same length of time.

Land based wildlife trips on Mull

Land based wildlife trips on Mull

Visitors to Mull and Iona have a lot of choice for land based wildlife trips on Mull.  Spending a day or half day on a wildlife tour at the start of your holiday is a great way to discover more about local wildlife.  The tour operators are very knowledgeable, both of the island itself and of its wildlife.  There are no guarantees but tour guides know where to go to ensure the best chance to see key species.

land based wildlife tours on mull treshnish cottages walks

Nature Scotland

Nature Scotland is based near us at Calgary, and is run by Ewan Miles.  Ewan is an extremely knowledgeable guide.  He offers a range of tours, including one to Ardnamurchan and highly popular evening tours.  Some guests of ours did one in June and had the most wonderful experience – a sunset to die for, and great wildlife viewings.

land based wildlife trips on mull calgary beach treshnish cottages

Discover Mull

Discover Mull is based in Dervaig and run by Pam and Arthur Brown.  Both are extremely keen birders and very knowledgeable.  Pam packs a picnic lunch and she is a very good cook!   If you are staying with us without a car, it is worth talking to them to see if they can pick you up from Treshnish.  Lots of our guests over the years have been out with Pam and Arthur – they return again and again!

land based wildlife trips on mull heath spotted orchids Treshnish

Mull Magic

Mull Magic offers the chance to explore Mull and Iona on foot.  Ruth Fleming is a very knowledgeable guide and her groups always look very happy!   She offers a Corncrake walk on Iona, as well as a walk on Ulva and several on Mull itself.   It is worth talking to her too, if you are staying here without a car, about alternative pick up points.

land based wildlife trips Ulva walks

Other tour operators

I have concentrated in this blog on tour operators in our immediate area between here and Tobermory! Have a look at Holiday Mull website for a list of tour operators based further afield from here.

Exploring Mull coastline

Exploring Mull coastline

There are many ways of exploring Mull coastline.  Both on land and by sea!    I will apologise right at the start of this blog, I don’t have a lot of kayaking, boating or canoeing photographs!

Exploring Mull coastline Calgary bay near Treshnish cottages

Canoeing and kayaking

We have several guests who bring their own kayaks and canoes with them to Mull.  They either set off from Calgary beach or walk down below the Treshnish Cottages to the shore and get into the water there.  I think it was early last season when someone staying in Shian Cottage went off to Lunga in the morning and in the afternoon went round to Langamull.  He had the most amazing encounter with a small pod of Dolphins!

Guided Kayaking

It is possible to do some guided kayaking on Mull, with Nick Ray from Clearwater Paddling. Nick is an experienced kayaker who kayaked round Scotland visiting all the Scottish RNLI stations in 2015 to raise money for the RNLI. He is based on Mull and works with Clearwater Paddling. Contact them for more details of what he can offer.

exploring mull coastline Calgary bay boats near Treshnish cottages

Boating

We had a little boat called the Janet for a long time. We bought her from a crofter in the Ross of Mull. He gave me some beautiful old individual wooden cow troughs, their edges softened by decades of cow tongues licking them.  A precious memento, but one which brought woodworm to the farm steading roof timbers…. 20 years ago we seemed to have more time to spend in a boat than we do now!  We had some lovely trips round the coast, not very far, but a lovely way to spend an evening.

If you do want to bring a boat with you, as some of our guests do, there are various places where it is possible to put a boat in to the water.  Calgary beach is a popular place and very close to Treshnish.  There are wonderful community-owned pontoons at Ulva Ferry too. From there you can explore Ulva and both Loch na Keal and Loch Tuath. Don’t forget the Ulva Boathouse for the freshest seafood!

exploring Mull coastline picnic near Treshnish Cottages otter

Chartered trips

Mull has a good selection of boat trips through the summer season without having to go to Tobermory.  Most of them are focussed on wildlife.   Mull Charters do specific timetabled trips, very popular with photographers wanting to photograph White tailed eagles.

Turus Mara operate from Ulva Ferry for trips to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa.   They do photography trips as well as timetabled trips.   We had a wonderful day out with them last June.  Unforgettable.  I posted lots of photographs on the farm blog.  Don’t forget you are eligible to a discount with Turus Mara by staying here!

Alternatively you could go out with Alternative Boat Hire from Iona. Under sail.  On a beautiful wooden boat.  This is a trip I would LOVE to do.  Sometimes they moor their boat at Ulva so it might be possible to join them from there.

Exploring Mull coastline sunset Treshnish Cottages Mull

Last but not least

You can walk along the coast, exploring Mull coastline as you go.   The Treshnish Headland walk is a great way to start.

National Meadows Day

National Meadows Day

National Meadows Day was on July 1st, and as Treshnish has such lovely wild flower meadows we couldn’t not take part! We hosted a guided walk here at Treshnish, supported by the Mull Eagle Watch & Mull and Iona Ranger Service. We ended the walk with a delicious Mull and Iona Food Trail Moveable Feast!  We didn’t charge for the walk but asked for donations to the RNLI and to Mull and Iona Ranger Service, two local organisations close to our hearts!

Moth trap National meadows day

Hedgehog Treshnish Cottages Mull

Moths

Rachel who is the Ranger at the Mull Eagle Watch hide near Dervaig came over on Friday evening and set three traps.  Sadly only one of them worked overnight and actually didn’t attract very many.   The idea was to spend an hour identifying the moths before setting off for the walk.    In the shelter of the barn (it was gently but persistently raining), cups of tea in hand, we learned about moths from Rachel and she showed us the four that had come to the trap set in the farmhouse garden. It was great to see a Poplar hawkmoth up close and the pretty White Ermine.

Guided walk

Quite a large group of 35 set off, all kitted out in full waterproofs against the weather.  We walked along the track down to the Haunn field, the Coronation Meadow, looking at the flowers along the way.  The first stretch of the walk is through the Amongst others, we saw Wood sage, Fragrant orchid, Northern marsh orchid, Lady’s Bedstraw, Thyme, Milkwort, Heath bedstraw, Wood bitter vetch, Heath pea vetch, Meadow vetchling, Yellow rattle, Knapweed (not in flower), Red bartsia, Eyebright, Red clover, White clover, Buttercup, Field daisy, Tufted vetch, Small white orchid, Greater butterfly orchid, Forget-me-not, Self-heal, Marsh lousewort, Lousewort, Stonecrop, Pignut and lots of the yellow Hawkbit/Hawkweed ones I always get mixed up about!  The weather was miserable but the enthusiasm was undampened and we even found a Large orange Underwing near the Haunn Cottages.

Moveable Feast

As we walked back towards the farm the weather began to lift, and Jeanette from Ballygown Restaurant was waiting in the barn with a wonderful Moveable Feast – we had a delicious home made Scotch egg and the tastiest salad to accompany it you can imagine, with Jeanette’s own elderflower cordial and an exotic Eton Mess to finish with.

Thanks

We are very grateful to Rachel whose interest, knowledge and enthusiasm was inspiring talking about moths, moth trapping and wildlife in general; to Meryl (from the Mull Eagle Watch hide at Tiroran) for coming along to support; to Jeanette for providing the wonderful Picnic and finally to everyone who braved the weather and came along.

National Meadows Day Treshnish Mull angelica

Knock Bridge

Knock Bridge

The Knock Bridge on the B8035 just east of Salen is a very important structure in keeping the island connected and flowing.   It has been shut for substantial repairs for a few weeks. During this time we realised how much we take it for granted.  Not least the families and farmers who lived on the ‘other side’ of the bridge.  They were looking at a huge detour to get to Salen, usually only a couple of miles from the bridge.   For us, the inconvenience was a very minor one.  It meant we could not recommend our guests drive back from Iona via the ‘scenic route’.  But now it is open again!  Thankfully!  This stunning road takes you along Loch Scridain, through Glen Seilisdeir, under the dramatic cliffs at Gribun to Gruline.

Knock bridge view Gribun Treshnish cottages Mull

Half day trip

I am having an exhibition of my photographs at Calgary in July. I had photographs needing to be framed.   The framer is in Fionnphort!   I decided to go late afternoon and come home in the evening.  It was a beautiful, bright sunny day, about 21 degrees (according to the car).   I drove down to Fionnphort via Craignure, dropping a couple of things off at Castaways on my way.  I stopped at Pennyghael Stores for a moment.  The tide was low, the air so still, the colours intense.  The marker posts stood proud below the tide line.  I was reminded of my father driving across the bay at low tide following the posts. My mother was not very happy at our precious Citroen DS being driven across a salty low tide!

Ardalanish

I dropped the photographs off in Fionnphort.  The Iona ferry had just come in and lots of people were walking back to their cars.   I decided to go to Ardalanish on my way home.  It is a few miles off the main road, signposted to Uisken. The views out to Jura are wonderful.

Treshnish Mull cottages Knock bridge Jura view

Coming home

The view from the edge of the Gribun cliffs looking down over Balmeanach and Inch Kenneth are amazing.  I always suggest our guests come home this way – because of this!  The light can be magical!

Treshnish Mull cottages Knock bridge Staffa view

At Ulva Ferry looking up Loch Tuath, the wonderful light continues.  The water was so still.  Difficult to believe there is any tide movement at all on a night like this.

Lagganulva sunset Mull Treshnish Cottages Knock bridge

And finally the rewarding view over the Treshnish woodland, from the top of the hill.  Look at the hills of the Uists in the distance beyond Coll!  To the left, not in this picture, we could see the hills of Barra and Vatersay too.  Stunning!

Treshnish Mull cottages sunset view Uists

National Meadows Day 2017

National Meadows Day 2017

We are taking part in National Meadows Days 2017, on the 1st of July.  Please join us!   The meadows at Treshnish are really important habitats for a huge number of species.  One of the fields is a Coronation Meadow – part of the Coronation Meadows Project started in 2013. Although the project has finished now, we continue to look after the meadows to enhance wild flowers and support biodiversity. We will talk about that as we walk!

National Meadows Day 2017 Treshnish Mull Cottages greater butterfly orchid

What will happen that day?

It is great to have the support of the Mull and Iona Ranger Service for this event.  Rachel, this summer’s Ranger at Mull Eagle Watch at Dervaig, is going to set some moth traps overnight the night before.  She is joined by Meryl, the RSPB Ranger from the Glen Seilisdeir hide. At 11am the event will start off with identifying the moths Rachel has trapped.  At midday we take a guided walk along from the farm to the Coronation Meadow at Haunn.   With 2 Rangers and members of Mull Bird Club it should be a very knowledgable walk!  We will see quite a variety of flowers, including Fragrant and Greater butterfly orchids and Wood bitter vetch.

National Meadows Day 2017 cows Treshnish Mull cottagesMull & Iona Food Trail’s Moveable Feasts

This is the second year of the Moveable Feasts.  Last year Ballygown Restaurant brought Tiffins to Treshnish.  It was too wet to eat outside so we ate in the steading, sitting on cattle feed tubs and sheltering from the rain.  Everyone had a lovely time despite the weather!!  This year, Ballygown is doing another picnic but this time the theme is different!   If the weather is inclement this year, we will picnic in the steading again.

National Meadows Day 2017 Treshnish Mull cottages pignut

Details

There is no need to book to take part in the guided walk.  If you want to order a Picnic from Ballygown, please contact Jeanette on 01688 500113, or via the restaurant website.  You are welcome to take part in the walk but bring your own picnic.

Moth ID starts at 11am.

Guided Walk starts at about 12 midday. The walk is along the farm track and through the fields. Please prepare for all weathers, and ground conditions!

Picnic starts at about 1.30pm, or thereabouts!

Finish by 4pm.

There is no charge for the Guided walk but donations please to Mull and Iona Ranger Service and Tobermory RNLI.

Please contact me with any queries about the walk.  Details on our Contact page.

National Meadows Day 2017 Treshnish Mull cottages common spotted orchid

Birds of Treshnish and North Mull

Birds of Treshnish and North Mull

Over the last 12 years Anand Prasad has been recording the birds of  Treshnish and North Mull.  He also records the flora and fauna.

Book or Magazine

We have put all his records into a printed book called Birds of Treshnish and North Mull.  It is available for sale either as a hardback or in a magazine format.   Originally printed in 2013, it is an amazing record of what he has seen.  And gives a good indication of what birds to look out for!

Photographs

There are several pages of Prasad’s beautiful bird photographs in the book/magazine.    The photographs below were all taken last night, 7th June 2017, of the wonderful evening light near the Treshnish Cottages.

Treshnish Birdlog

To keep up to date with the bird life and wildlife sightings at Treshnish it is worth looking at Prasad’s blog.   It is wonderful having records now going back over 10 years.  Long tailed tits have been seen over the last few years in the woodland along the track.  This year Prasad has seen adults feeding chicks for the first time.  Proof of them breeding here for the first time.  (Shockingly I still haven’t seen one!)

Wildlife at Treshnish

Have you had a look at our wildlife page?   It gives you a brief idea of the variety of wildlife you might see during a stay here.   We are happy to advise where to go to increase your chances of seeing things. We can also recommend local guides to go out with.

BIrds Treshnish North Mull cottages comfrey

BIrds Treshnish Cottages North Mull cows sunset

Birds of Treshnish And North Mull cottages sunset

Birds Treshnish North Mull sunset cottages