Bedtime stories

Bedtime stories

Possibly an usual heading for a blog about holiday cottages on the Isle of Mull?  But the beds in Middle and West Cottages have a story which goes back hundreds of years.

Haunn Mull cottages bedtime stories West

Back in October 1987 there was a hurricane in the south of England. Farmer was living and working on a farm in Surrey at the time, and tragically about 50% of the magnificent oak woods on the farm were flattened in this terrible storm.  These were mature oak woods with fragrant carpets of bluebells underfoot in the spring. They were beautiful – valuable habitats supporting masses of wildlife – dating back hundreds of years.  Over the next year or so, the devastation in the woods was slowly cleared up, replanting began, and the salvageable timber was stored carefully.

Woodland management

In 1988 Farmer got married – to me!  I did a woodland management course locally aimed at helping land managers manage their woodland.   One of my jobs was to sell the fallen timber.  Talk about dropping me in at the deep end!  Timber merchants were notorious for promising the earth and disappearing without paying.  Thankfully I did manage to sell most of it – and get paid!

bedtime stories Mull cottages Haunn West

From tree-trunk to bed

Farmer wanted to commemorate the oak trees the farm had lost – to have something made from some of the oak.  We met a carpenter called Rob and bartered a load of oak trunks in exchange for an oak bed.   It was a beautiful bed, but when we moved to Mull, there was no way it would fit in the house!   It sat in the steading gathering dust for a couple of years whilst we tried to work out how to utilise the talented craftsmanship.

bedtime stories West Haunn Mull cottages

Local solutions

Eventually we decided to cut it down into sections and do different things with it.  A local carpenter called Andrew and an artist who at the time worked with metal called Andy turned bits of the old bed into 2 beautiful double beds.  One for Middle Cottage and one for West!   That was in 1997.  Studio guests will find windowsills made of bits of the original bed too.

Upcycled at last

Here we are 20 years later… Middle and West are crying out for kingsize beds, however I don’t want to lose the lovely oak headboards.  But Andy no longer works with metal, and Andrew has retired.  We want to give our guests improved comfort in having kingsize beds rather than double beds.  But we want to use the hurricane oak.   Finally we found a man who could help, and on Wednesday we collected the upcycled beds.  They had been carefully widened to a kingsize width, and fitted again to the beautiful oak headboards.  The photograph at the top shows you the finished kingsize bed in the West bedroom.   The alcove in the living room now has a daybed instead (below).

West Haunn Mull cottages bedtime stories

Treshnish Green Policy 2017

Treshnish Green Policy 2017

We update the Treshnish Green Policy every year to ensure that we continue to improve on our environmental performance and it reflects a changing world.   We manage an environmentally aware sustainable tourism business on a family run High Nature Value farm here at Treshnish.  We have been members of the Green Tourism Business Scheme since 1997, and Gold Award holders since 2002.

Treshnish Green Policy 2016 cottages Mull

What this means is:

 

  • We comply with the relevant environmental legislation as a minimum level of performance.

 

  • We have a strong commitment to continuous improvement.

 

  • We are committed to raising awareness of green issues with everyone we work with, both on the farm and in the cottages.

 

  • We review our performance regularly and are audited by GTBS every 2 years.

 

  • We monitor energy usage and energy generation, striving towards being ‘energy neutral’.

 

  • We work to reduce our carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. We carbon offset through ClimateCare.

 

  • We are careful to minimize use of hazardous and toxic substances.

 

  • We promote the use of public transport.

 

  • We are involved with our local community on projects including the Mull and Iona Food Trail, sustainable transport, the Mull and Iona Ranger Service and local housing.

 

  • We are continuing to improve our energy efficiency and water usage.

 

  • We use natural and environmentally friendly products and services, as routine.

 

  • We strive to minimise waste. (Bulk ordering, reusing, recycling).

 

  • We source Fairtrade, ethical products and services wherever we can.   We support socially responsible practice.

 

To find out more about the Treshnish Green Policy 2017, please go to our Environment Page, and if you have any questions which aren’t answered there, please feel welcome to email us.

Treshnish Mull cottages Green Policy 2016

Winter storms at Calgary

Winter storms at Calgary

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to dress up warm and watch the winter storms at Calgary. Storm force wind speeds rose 36 hours ago. The storm came from the north west and battered our bedroom windows with a vengeance!  I took this photograph through an open window as the sun was rising. I still managed to get a wet camera lens!

Treshnish Mull Cottages winter storms sunrise

Ice creams anyone?

During the day in the height of the storm I wasn’t able to walk on the beach but I made up for it and walked today.  The winds were much calmer but there was still lots to see.  It may be a little cold for ice creams however it won’t be long before this ice cream shop is open again.  In the summer months selling the wonderful Isle of Mull ice cream made in Tobermory!

Treshnish Mull cottages winter storms ice cream beach

Velella velella

Velella velella or By-the-wind Sailors occasionally wash up in large numbers on west coast beaches.  Sometimes in ‘rafts’ kilometres long.  It is more common to find them on the west coast of Canada or California, but they are seen here sometimes.   There were thousands washed up on Calgary Beach two days ago.  With the ferocity of the winter storms at Calgary this week, I did not expect to find any at all.   When alive they are a beautiful almost iridescent blue.

Treshnish Mull cottages velella velella Calgary

Goose neck barnacles

Another victim of winter storms at Calgary are Goose neck barnacles which live deep in the ocean.  These have come ashore on a driftwood log raft.   Sometimes we find them attached to old buoys or plastic cans.  It was nice to find them on something a bit more natural today.  A lot of places in the UK are experiencing snow storms today.  We have had hail showers which you can see on the sand.  It gives the beach a very wintery look, and makes the sands feel much darker.  Normally in the summer they are dazzlingly white.

Treshnish Mull cottages goose neck barnacles

Treshnish Mull cottages winter storms seaweed

Staffa and the Treshnish Isles

Staffa and the Treshnish Isles

On June the 3rd we went to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles with Turus Mara *.  My two brothers and their boys came with us making it a real family day out. It was a day I will always remember. Totally and wonderfully magical.

I have put dozens more photographs of Staffa and Lunga on the Farm blog here.

Staffa Treshnish trips Turus Mara blue skies

10% discount in 2017

Turus Mara are offering our guests a 10% discount on their trips from Ulva Ferry to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles.   Once you have made a booking to stay with us, we will forward you the details of how to take up your 10% discount – either if you want to book well in advance or when you get here!

Depart from Ulva Ferry

We left Ulva Ferry just after 11.30am and went along the south side of Ulva and out to Staffa first.  After an hour here, long enough to have our picnic, marvel at the wonderful views (and sense of space you get from being out there, looking back at Mull in all its beauty, and being that bit closer to Iona and the Ross of Mull too). You can walk into Fingals Cave before getting back onto the boat.  I stayed on the edge of the cave but the kids and their dads almost ran in…!  We were the only boat in at that time, though another boat arrived just as we were gathering ourselves to leave.

Treshnish cottages family day out Lunga

Puffins galore!

25 minutes took us from Staffa to Lunga, where Turus Mara have their own pontoons for visitors to step on to, and then walk up the rocky beach to the well worn path.  It was hot by now, and quite timely to have the excuse to drop to the ground and lie on ones belly watching the Puffins. Iain Morrison, who started Turus Mara about 40 years ago, coined the phrase ‘Puffin Therapy’ – and it is very apt.   There is something about being able to be so close to the Puffins – their trust of us – that is very therapeutic.

Lunga Puffin therapy Treshnish cottages

Harp Rock is a bit noisier but equally magical.  Again you can lie out on your belly and look over at the rock crammed with Guillemots and Razorbills, all fighting for their inch of space.

Treshnish Isles Harp Rock trip from cottage

On the walk back to the boat it was lovely to see the Isle of Rum in the distance, with Muck faintly to the right of Rum.

Treshnish cottages Lunga puffins Rum

Our journey back to Ulva Ferry gave us a wonderful view of the south side of the farm, from Treshnish Point, to Port Haunn and all the way down to our march (boundary) with Torloisk.  A different perspective!  All in all, it was a completely wonderful day, which I highly recommend everyone to do – once in their lifetime!  Yes, we were extremely lucky with the weather – but even in not such good weather, the Puffins will be there to give out a bit of Puffin Therapy.

*Don’t forget to use your Turus Mara Special Offer – 10% when staying with us.

Family holidays on Mull – our top tips

Our top tips for family holidays on Mull

If you are planning family holidays on Mull, read on!   I hope this blog with some of our top tips as to what you can do and where to go will help you plan!

We had family staying for Christmas and it reminded me what a wonderful place Treshnish is for a family holiday!  My brother, his wife and their two boys stayed in the Studio just across the farmyard from us.  This meant they could enjoy time to themselves as well as being close to us.  The boys (aged 8 and 9) were outside, whatever the weather, riding around on their bikes and exploring…  They loved sleeping in the box beds and were relieved that Father Christmas managed to find them.  They loved the turkeys, the Herdwicks and the hens too. All sorts of weather didn’t put them off being outside so we had wonderful wintery walks on the beach too.

Choosing the right cottage

We have plenty of choice here for families of 3, 4 or 5 in number!  Studio and Toechtamhor are our largest cottages, comfortably sleeping 4 in 2 bedrooms with 2 bathrooms.  Studio can sleep 4 adults and 2 children as there are lovely built in box beds in the sitting room.  The twin room in Toechtamhor has a day bed meaning this cottage can sleep 2 adults and 3 children.  Shian is smaller but sleeps 2 adults and 2 children, one bathroom and has a spacious sunroom. The sunroom has lovely views out to sea, good for extra play or quiet time space!  Duill (pictured below) sleeps 2 adults and has a tiny second bedroom for a child (or 3rd adult).  If you fancy cosying up 2 adults and one child can be accommodated in both East and West Cottages down at Haunn too.

family holidays on mull cottages duill sunroom sunset

Family friendly places to eat

Mull and Iona have a growing reputation as a good place to source local produce in the shops and in cafes and restaurants.  Close to Treshnish there are several places to eat which not only support the ethos of using local produce but are family friendly too!  Am Birlinn is 6 miles away in the direction of Dervaig. The Bellachroy Pub in Dervaig is 8 miles away. Calgary Tearoom is 3 miles away close to the beach.  In the other direction Ballygown is open in the evenings and does an early sitting suitable for families with small children.  Ulva Boathouse is an exciting boat ride away on the isle of Ulva. Children can play on a ‘pirate’ boat whilst parents enjoy the views, wonderful exploring walks too!  When in Tobermory look out for delicious Isle of Mull Ice Cream too – the Parlour is right on the seafront!

Exploration!

Explore the farm – it is rich in local history and walks in every direction provide wonderful views. Count the islands you see whilst walking along the coast.  Look for the boat carved in stone in the deserted village at Crackaig.  Spend the day on one of the local beaches and walk to the beautiful white sandy one with the ‘secret surprise’.  (We can tell you how to get there).

family holidays on mull cottages coast walks sunsets

Star gazing

Our dark skies are wonderful for star gazing, and Treshnish has no light pollution so if the skies are cloudless the stars can be wonderful and from late August to April there is a chance you might be able to photograph the Aurora Borealis as well.  The photograph below was taken from the farmhouse garden near the 4 Treshnish Cottages on the 5th January 2017.

Geocaching

We haven’t ever done any Geocaching ourselves, however there are several geocaches on the farm.  Follow this link for more information about geocaching on Mull.

family holidays on mull cottages sandy beaches

Things to do in wet weather

There are several places to go and visit on a rainy day.   Duart Castle is well worth the drive beyond Craignure.  It is a world renowned castle in a dramatic location on the Sound of Mull.  The displays are interesting for all ages, and there is a wonderful tearoom also specialising in local produce.  And the Isle of Mull Hotel at Craignure has a swimming pool…

Tobermory Aquarium is a fantastic place to take children (adults).  It is Europe’s first catch and release aquarium.  Why not combine a trip to the Aquarium with a look at how they make cheese at the Mull Cheese farm near Tobermory?  But don’t forget the lovely Mull Museum too!

family holidays on mull treshnish cottages beaches

DVDs, books and games

For quieter times we have a selection of family viewing DVDs in the Phone Room, as well as children’s books and games. You are welcome to borrow them!

 Finally…

I will write a second blog about this soon, as there are many more tips we can give you for a magical family holiday on Mull….

Tobermory Hogmanay Fireworks

Tobermory Fireworks

The Tobermory Fireworks are a lovely way to say goodbye to the old year and bring in the new year!  Last night, we drove up to Tobermory and arrived at about 11.50pm, with loudspeakers blaring out the Proclaimers we walked along the sea front.  Everyone congregates around the Clock and the seconds are counted down to midnight when the bells ring.  Once the bells are finished the fireworks display begins creating a energetic and exciting start to the New Year.   Saying Happy New Year to everyone around you, with a hand shake and a kiss on one cheek is traditional, and creates a warm glow!

Mull Cottages Fireworks Tobermory New Year

Aurora Borealis

We drove home under the stars, watching the sky to the north for signs of the Aurora Borealis – as I always do on a clear night, just in case.  We stopped at the top of the hill before Dervaig and there was a glow!  When I got home I captured this on camera.  I could see the glow but not the colour.   I think catching an aurora on camera (or better still with the naked eye) has to be my favourite way of saying goodbye to the old year and seeing in the new year!   The aurora displays have not been as exciting this winter – so far, so perhaps this heralds the start of a new aurora season.. time will tell!

Tobermory Fireworks Hogmanay Aurora Treshnish Mull

New Year’s Day

Farmer’s day is the same today as any day – it is winter and therefore there are animals to feed.  He headed out to feed the sheep and I went back to Tobermory to collect the teenager from a party.   A day of sunshine and showers, and a refreshing wind.   After a late brunch we headed out to walk along the coast.  The New Year’s Day walk and very refreshing it was too!  The Treshnish Isles looked statuesque as waves rolled in gently on the northerly wind.

Mull New Year Treshnish Isles cottages

It was an easy walk out to Port Haunn with the wind behind us.   We walked beyond to the good otter spotting pools but the tide was a little high and we didn’t see any.   We sat out of the wind and enjoyed the light and the prospects for a good new year ahead.  There was time to make friends with Jan too.

Tobermory Fireworks boy walk dog Haunn Mull cottages

Walking back was more of a battle, into the wind, but the light was dramatic and we had tea and Christmas cake to refresh us when we got home.

New Year Mull Tobermory Fireworks cottages

There is increasingly more for visitors to the island to do at Hogmanay.   Last night, as well as the Tobermory Fireworks, you could have chosen to go to either a ceilidh in Craignure or Salen, and tonight, the 1st, the village hall in Dervaig is hosting its annual New Year’s Dance – with a great ceilidh band called Ho-Ro playing.

 

Aurora borealis time-lapse

Aurora Borealis time-lapse

I made an Aurora borealis time-lapse on the 21st December 2015.   This is my blog post from the following day:

I could see the forecast was quite strong for a display and yet it was cloudy. For some reason I woke up at 5 this morning and checked the camera to find it was beautifully strong. What a lovely start to a Sunday! Farmer had a less enjoyable start as he headed off to do some of the winter chores and misread the weather signs. It looked clear so he didn’t put waterproof leggings on and came back totally drenched from a chilling heavy shower of almost hail.

Aurora borealis time-lapse morning

Aurora borealis time-lapse early

The forecast remained strong all day, and looked good for the evening. We had been invited out for a meal to Am Birlinn so I wasn’t going to be able to spend my evening chasing the gaps in the clouds! Farmer kindly agreed to set off earlier than planned to go to Croig before we met our friends. The cloud was frustrating as was, I hate to say it, the beautiful moon – I can’t imagine what the colours would have been like had there been no moon. Still, as always, it was lovely down there. The house by the fishermen’s jetty looked inviting and cosy with lots of decorations lighting up the windows. The occasional call of a heron and a fright from the pump on the dinghy by the wall.

Aurora borealis time-lapse Mull

A heavy shower of rain took us back to the car, and we started to drive back towards Am Birlinn. Because it was windy, the clouds disappeared again and it was safe to get the camera out again.

Croig aurora borealis time-lapse

island lass aurora borealis time-lapse

I have posted one Aurora borealis time-lapse on YouTube and a second one, also on YouTube here.

We had a lovely meal at Am Birlinn and then headed for home. Only a few more nights before Christmas, and we have something lovely happening every evening – it is starting to feel a lot like Christmas! We sent out a newsletter today, thanking our guests for their continued support during 2015 and wishing them a Happy Christmas.

Mull photography courses

Mull photography courses

If you google ‘Mull photography courses’ you will find businesses offering photography courses on Mull but only one or two of them will be based on Mull and have that particular local knowledge.

mull-cottages-treshnish-photography-courses

Near Treshnish

You can book a day (or more) with Ewan at Nature Scotland who took over Islandscape Photography about a year ago.   Ewan lives near here which means you have less far to travel when you meet up at the start of the day.   Ewan offers a range of workshops as well as an exciting range of wildlife and exploratory trips. He also does a night skies experience, which I am longing to do!

mull-cottages-1-photogrpahy-courses

Further afield

Further afield from here is Tony McLean who runs Photo Mull  based at Carsaig, down on the Ross of Mull. You may be able to arrange a day with him without having to drive all the way to Carsaig. Tony is a walking guide as well as photographer.

mull-photography-courses-treshnish-cottages

All year round

Photography is an activity that can be taken all year round.  In fact the light in winter can be absolutely stunning – very changeable and dramatic. Whether you want to photograph wild stormy seas, dramatic sunrises and sunsets or vast golden hour landscapes..  The photographs on this blogpost were all taken in November, on the farm.

sunsetting-skoma-treshnish

 

Dog friendly cottages

Dogs are very welcome in our dog friendly cottages on Mull. The island is a wonderful place to stay with your dog – there are beautiful walks to be taken and beaches to relax on.

I thought I would write a blog post about bringing your dog to Treshnish, as it struck me that if you live in England or Wales, or beyond, you will not be familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and how to relates to walking with dogs. Across the island you will find sheep (and lambs), and sometimes cows with calves, which are apparently ‘un-fenced in’ grazing alongside walking routes or access paths to historic sites or beaches, so walking your dogs on leads may be the wisest thing to do, and will certainly keep the land managers happy.

Dog friendly cottages Mull

Here is the relevant information directly from the Outdoor Access Scotland website:

“We want you and your dog to enjoy your walk but we ask that you follow a few simple rules to help yourself and others fully benefit from access rights. Access rights apply to you if you’re walking your dog(s) provided they’re kept under proper control.
• FARM ANIMALS: Never let your dog worry or attack farm animals. Don’t take your dog into fields with young farm animals.
• SAFETY AROUND CATTLE: Cattle can act aggressively. Keep yourself and your dog at a safe distance and if necessary let your dog go so that you can both seek safety.
• PLANTED FIELDS: Don’t take your dog into fruit and vegetable fields unless there is a clear path, such as a core path or right of way, and keep your dog to the path.
• GROUND NESTING BIRDS: During the breeding season (April-July) keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel in areas such as moorland, grasslands, loch shores and the sea shore to avoid disturbing birds that nest on the ground.
• PUBLIC PLACES: Keep your dog close at heel and avoid causing concern to others.”

Please look at their website for more detail. We can let you know which fields our cows and calves are in at the time of your stay, and tell you of alternative walks to take avoiding these fields.

As you know Treshnish is carefully managed to encourage wildlife. During the summer months there are lots of ground-nesting birds enjoying the habitats we maintain to encourage them – so we are particularly concerned to protect them during the nesting season (April – August) – so we would ask that you keep your dogs on leads or under close control to avoid disturbing ground-nesting birds. We also have mountain hares, which are becoming increasingly rare elsewhere on the island so it is important not to let your dogs get into a situation where they can chase them.

Dogs Mull

We are very lucky to have a dog trainer living locally who is happy to work with visitors to the island during their holiday. Moira Owens is her name and she has her own website. Please have a look if you think you might enjoy some extra dog training tuition or some dog agility! Below is our Coco learning the long jump!

Dog agiiity Mull

We currently have 3 working sheep dogs on the farm. They are all gentle in nature and used to other dogs being around, although it is naturally their territory, so we ask that guests walk their dogs on leads through the farm yard.

This is Jan. She is quite shy, and tends to hang back out of sight, until called by Farmer or until a car drives up to the farm, when she has a naughty habit of trying to chase them.

Mull dog friendly cottages

These two are the young and enthusiastic high speed Walter (on the left) and Cap, top dog, on the right. They like to watch the lambs.

Walter & Cap watch the lambs

Storm Angus

Storm Angus

It is difficult to imagine that Storm Angus is raging in England.  (I hope it has passed through without too much disruption.)

Here we have had the most beautiful day.  It started off with minus temperatures which made the school bus run interesting, and north facing ground has had frost on it all day.

storm-angus-treshnish-mull-cottages-walkers

Walking through

Farmer had to put the last three tups out with the ewes in the Beyond Haunn field.  I accompanied him as it was such a beautiful morning. What a view!   The walkers walking through the field towards the Haunn gate were taking their time, stopping to watch the tups and look at the view, taking photographs and sitting just gazing at the view – as you do when relaxing on holiday!

storm-angus-treshnish-mull-cottages-rum-snow

Rum with snow on top

Rum’s mountains had a little more snow on them today than yesterday.  It is unusual for us to have snow here at Treshnish but Mull’s Ben More was white this morning too.

storm-angus-treshnish-mull-cottages-sheep-grazing

White tailed eagles

We were treated to the giant sight of a White tailed eagle slowing flying low over the fields on our way round to check the sheep on the way back.  I didn’t get a photograph of it but it was as always an astonishing sight.   In the photograph below the tups are the two on the left.  Just let out in to the field with some of the hill ewes.  It was amusing to watch the ewes run away as if being chased by a pack of wild dogs!   They will settle down..

storm-angus-treshnish-mull-cottages-tups-ewes