Mull’s hidden beaches

Mull’s hidden beaches are one of the delights of the island. There are the obvious ones like Calgary near Treshnish, and Knockvologan and Ardalanish in the Ross of Mull, but there are so many more, if you know where to look. And that is before you get to Iona! Any scale Ordnance Survey map will reveal those little tell tale yellow sand areas, and that is where to head for. Today we went to one of our favourites, only a few miles from the farm. It was Sunday after all! (A perfect excuse to stop at Am Birlinn restaurant for a delicious lunch on the way…)

Mull collie dog

The only human being we encountered was the crofter whose ewes were mothers to the huge healthy lambs we admired as we walked to the beach.

Mull Croig lambs

Tiree ferry Croig Mull

Someone had been stealing eggs. Farmer thought this might be a pheasant egg.

Mull egg thief

There is something very magical about being the first one on the beach, the sand pristine and free of footprints, recently washed by the tide. The white sands and turquoise waters make you feel as if you have left reality behind you. Oystercatchers call, sand martins fly over head, the occasional sheep watches. Seals on the rocks, and the occasional boat passing in the distance.

Mull's hidden beaches

We soon made our mark on the sands.

Mull footprints

The views from this part of the island are wonderful. In the winter, and when I was outside taking photographs of the Aurora Borealis, I felt I got to know the rhythm of the Ardnamurchan lighthouse quite well!

Mull Tiree ferry Ardnamurchan

Quinish across the water Mull

And then, the perfect end to the day.

Mull Coll sunset cottage

Mull cottage sunset

The Treshnish Isles

You get a wonderful view of the Treshnish Isles from just beyond the Haunn Cottages. If you want to get some puffin therapy then a trip to the Treshnish Isles is highly recommended. There are several tours who will take you there. The nearest place from here is the trip which goes out from Ulva Ferry run by Turus Mara. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Ulva Ferry from here.

The view from Haunn across open sea at the head of Loch Tuath is quite magical. This was taken early this evening. On our way down there we met some guests who had just enjoyed a prolonged encounter with an otter and her cub. They sat near the whisky cave watching them for nearly 2 hours. Needless to say they were very happy!

Mull boat trips

The view of the Treshnish Isles never fails to enchant, and tonight the skylarks were singing and there was warmth in the sun. It was wonderful to find dozens of Mountain Everlastings in the field beyond the Haunn cottages too. Many more than last year and their pink colour more vivid too. (perhaps because it is fresher..)

Mull everlasting

Mull wild flower walks

A book is soon to be published about Mull wild flower walks, and although we haven’t seen a copy yet, I understand Treshnish gets a mention! The person who is writing the book is extremely knowledgable and we are looking forward to adding it to our library. My current favourite identification book is “Wild flowers of Coll and Tiree”, as so many flowers found on Coll and Tiree are also found here, and it saves you wading through pages and pages of flowers which don’t grow here!

heath pea vetch Mull

Heath spotted orchid Mull

Mull farm cottages

At the end of the day I headed off for a walk with my camera. The light looked promising for photographing the wild flowers along the shore below the house. I found lots of heath pea, my first heath spotted orchid, lots of early purple orchids, sun dazzled sea pinks, water avens, tiny milkwort and lousewort.

Mull sea cottages

There are more photographs from today here.

Mull Sea Eagle Hide

We went to the Mull Sea Eagle Hide today. They held an open day for local businesses, and as so many of our guests ask us about it, we thought we should go.

Does that sound convincing? I hope so.. It was a great excuse for a half day out. We had our lovely friend N with us, the others having opted for a climb up Ben More, Mull’s only Munro.

The Hide is in Glen Seilisdeir which is about an hour and a half away from here, so it is a reasonable length drive, but the scenery is so beautiful, even on a cloudy day like we had today. We had to drop something off at Ulva Ferry Primary School on our way past, so took the ‘scenic’ route both ways.

Driving along Loch na Keal we saw ferns in amongst the rocks under Ben More.

Ferns Mull

And beneath the Gribun cliffs, we saw Moss Campion, which is only found in this area of Mull. It must like the basalt. How beautiful it is. I had not seen it before.

Moss campion Mull

Unfortunately we saw bracken fronds beginning to open up in lots of places during the course of the day. It is too successful a plant, marching as it does across the Mull hills. At Treshnish we do all we can to keep it under control, and have just bought a wand so we can spot treat the plant in amongst more treasured species.

Mull bracken

Leaving the beauty of the Gribun road with its intense views out to the Treshnish Isles behind us, and driving down towards Loch Scridain, we parked the car in the small Forestry Commission car park off the main road. It is only a short walk this year from the car park up to the actual hide.

Mull eagle viewing

John and Rachel, rangers for the Mull Sea Eagle Hide, were extremely knowledgeable, helpful and welcoming hosts. They were quick to point out any activity at the nest, and to move the telescopes so we could all see. They even demonstrated the size of the Mull Sea Eagle Nest! Iona and Fingal, the pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles nesting here, hatched their first egg yesterday, and from where we were standing we could just see one of them on the nest. It was very well hidden though! This year there has been mention of possible disturbance to the sea eagles from wildlife photographers and enthusiasts getting too close, so the hide is a good place to go – and view them knowing that your presence is not disturbing them.

Mull ranger service

I got quite a good close up of a sea eagle.

Mull sea eagle hide

There is a good information display and a webcam trained on the nest within the Hide. We were lucky with the weather, it was dry all the time we were there, but it can be wet. The scopes are under cover and there is room inside the viewing hide as well, but best to take wet weather gear just in case!

Mull sea eagle info

The bird feeders were very popular with the siskins.

Mull sea eagle siskins

Mull sea eagles hide

Siskins Mull

On the way home, we stopped at the foot of Ben More just as our friends arrived back at their car. They had a wonderful walk, but it was cloudy when they got to the top, though the cloud had lifted by the time they got back to sea level! We shared our picnic and the Farmer brewed up some tea on the camping gas stove – the first beach brew-up of the summer!

Mull Gribun cottages

We saw shelduck – as well as lots of other wildlife along the loch. We passed 4 different wildlife tour operators.. so we knew we were in the right place!

Mull shelduck

We saw a lovely bit of rowan regeneration, on a fallen tree.

Rowan regrowth Mull

It was lovely to look back across the loch at where we had driven earlier. Our friends stopped off on Ulva for tea and cake on the way home to Treshnish. We had some errands to run, which included Calgary so we had tea and cake there!

Mull looking at Gribun

All in all, a wonderful day out. The Mull Sea Eagle Hide is definitely worth a visit. Details on how to book are here. There is a charge for entry and the funds raised from visitors entrance fees contribute to a Mull Sea Eagle Fund which has distributed £58,000 since 2003 to local projects, including to the Treshnish Headland Walk Interpretation Board last year!

Mull seafood

My favourite shopping experience on Mull, after Dougie’s PO and Stores in Dervaig, is buying shellfish from the Croig boys. Local Mull seafood straight out of the sea. The best definition of local!

Croig fisherman

Croig shellfish landing

Croig shellfisherman

Mull crab escape

Mull crab

Mull lobster

Mull oysters

Weighing Mull crab1

Mull shellfish catch

Mull shellfish landing Croig

Mull velvet crab

Green hairstreak butterfly

I hadn’t knowingly seen a green hairstreak butterfly before but there were two of them flying and landing near where I sat this afternoon (at dog training) and for once I had the right lens on.

Mull butterflies

We have a couple of late calving cows in the field in front of the house, and it was quite magical yesterday to see that this dun one had given birth, on her own away from the others. I didn’t want to disturb her by going any closer, so please excuse the distant photograph.

She sat looking at the calf for some time, in the same place on their own. She stood up when some guests walked into the field to look at the view, some distance away, watching them intently but not moving away from the calf or in their direction. Later, when I next looked out, the rest of the cows and calves had come over to have a look. There was something quite special about a new born being introduced into the family group. Today they are all grazing together as one unit again.

Mull cattle

I am really enjoying the woodland trees flowering. The willows are particularly beautiful and it is great to see the extent of the natural regeneration away from the seed source beginning to thicken up the hill.

Mull cottages willow

Mull wild

Mull willows

Mull woodland

Lambing continues…the thrills and spills, and long days for the farmer. These ewes and lambs are on their way back to the hill.

Mull sheep lambs

Sunsets on Mull

The sunsets on Mull are pretty spectacular, wherever you are. Here at Treshnish I think we are incredibly lucky as we see them all year round. We just have to look in a slightly different direction depending what time of year it is. In the winter the sunset moves towards the Treshnish Isles, but at this time of year they roll up the horizon with the lengthening days to the northern tip of the Isle of Coll. This week has seen some wonderful examples. Here is last night’s,

Mull sunsets cottages

sunset cottage Mull

and this evening’s.

Mull cottage sunset

Mull cottages sunset

I hope you enjoy them.

Lambs everywhere

Tonight we went to the last check of the day, and there seemed to be lambs everywhere. The evening sun was beautiful. So were the lambs!

Mull Lambs

Floppy_ears_Mull

Newborn_Lamb_Mull

T'mhor_Mull

A primrose carpet

The Primroses are in their prime just now, and this morning I went out to the Point to photograph a primrose carpet! It was beautiful out there. Skylarks, Buzzards, Ravens, Wheatear for company. Views up past Rum to Skye and beyond.

Primrose_Mull_cottage

Loch Tuath

We had to drive along Loch Tuath this afternoon to collect a new (to us) livestock trailer that we bought from a neighbouring farmer. What a good excuse to take the camera with me! The sun was glorious. For 7 years we drove this road taking our daughter to meet the school car. At this time of year it was always a highlight to watch the trees come into leaf, and to see whether the ash had come out before the oak (sign of a soak) or whether the oak had come out before the ash (sign of a splash). Today it looked to us like the oak was out before the ash, but only just. So much to celebrate in the tree.

Mull_loch_tuath

Mull_pheasant

Mull_Trees1

Mull_Trees2

Mull_trees3

Mull_trees4

We came home to another beautiful evening. Farmer did the rounds checking the lambing fields again. He brought one lamb home from a set of triplets to give them all a better chance of survival. The sunset developed into something very special. The cat did some sunset cat pose yoga.

Treshnish_Mull_cat

Mull_sitooterie

Mull_sunset2

And just as I am about to go to bed.. the sky changes again.

CM3_5537

Mull_night_aurora