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.

Birds Treshnish North Mull sunset cottages

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!

BIrds Treshnish Cottages North Mull cows sunset

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!)

BIrds Treshnish North Mull cottages comfrey

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 of Treshnish And North Mull cottages sunset

Favourite places to watch the sunset

Favourite places to watch the sunset

My favourite places to watch the sunset are all on the farm at Treshnish or within a few miles! I prefer not to get in the car, but if I time my return home carefully I sometimes detour to Croig or Calgary!

Sunsets all year round

It never occurred to us when we decided to come and live at Treshnish to think about sunsets.  So we are very lucky that actually we can enjoy sunsets all year round.  Sunsets can be enjoyed from the cottages themselves but I enjoy finding a nice spot to sit and watch the sunset along the shore, either below the Treshnish Cottages or along at Haunn.

Autumn and winter sunsets

In the autumn the sunsets are sliding back towards the Treshnish Isles so the coast along from the Haunn Cottages makes a great viewing point.  You might even see some migrating Whooper swans!  In the middle of winter the sun sets due west so Duill Cottage has wonderful views from its sitooterie. Over the field and woodland towards Tiree in the distance. From the farmhouse I enjoy the silhouettes of the trees and the rich colours beyond.

favourite places to watch Sunset Shian and Duill Treshnish Cottages Mull winter

As summer progresses

As the longer summer days begin to approach mid summer, the sunsets roll up the low island of Coll on our horizon towards the north end, and can be enjoyed from all four Treshnish Cottages.  I love to walk down in to the fields below and watch it from the edge of the raised beach field, with the sunset colours reflecting on the sea.  Just now, at the end of May, the bluebells are wonderful and glow in the evening light.  The scent is quite magical too!  This photograph of the Treshnish Isles with the Bog cotton in the foreground is taken on Treshnish Point.  A short walk from the Haunn Cottages, it makes a stunning vantage point.

favourite places to watch sunset Treshnish cottages Mull bog cotton

Croig harbour

Croig harbour is one of my very favourite places to watch the sunset.  Especially when the tide is high.  It is about 5 miles drive from Treshnish, and there are wonderful walks from there at other times of day!

Treshnish Cottages Mull Croig favourite places to watch sunset

Calgary Beach

This photograph was taken in the autumn.  I was driving home and realised the sun was setting quite dramatically so I decided to stop for a look! A group of photographers out with their tripods making the most of the wonderful sunset sky.  There is nothing nicer than walking along the beach, listening to the tide gently rolling in and out, and watching the colours of the sunset light up the sea and the sky.

Treshnish Mull cottages favourite places to watch sunset Calgary

 

Mountain everlasting

Mountain everlasting

Treshnish Mull cottages Mountain Everlasting

Mountain everlasting could be described as insignificant I suppose.  It is a small and pale flower so initially it can be difficult to spot!   However I recommend really looking for it, and in the right place, you should find it.

Where to look

These tiny alpine plants can be found in little clumps on the rocky edges of the raised beaches near the Haunn Cottages.  Lie down (taking care not to crush nearby orchids or other delicacies) and really look at it!  There are male and female flowers, and they can grow in separate or mixed clumps.   Living up to its name, everlasting, it can be seen all summer if you look carefully!

It is very easy when out walking to concentrate so much on the variety of wildlife in the skies, that you miss what is growing at your feet!  The fields at Treshnish are just beginning to flower nicely.  I have seen the first Wood Bitter-vetch!  There are plenty of Primrose still flowering as well as Wood Anemone, Tormentil, and Heath pea, to name but a few.

Latin names..

I really should be using the Latin names and perhaps that should be my challenge for 30 Days Wild this year? For example…. the Latin name for Heath pea is Lathyrus linifolius.  However Heath pea is sometimes called Bitter vetch, and this could confuse it with the rare Wood bitter vetch, Vicia Oribus.  This grows in quantity at Treshnish, flowering in May and June.

Treshnish Mull Cottages Mountain Everlasting habitat

Early purple orchids

Early purple orchids flower at the same time as Mountain everlasting. They cling to the edges of the cliffs in the field beyond the Haunn Cottages in the photograph above.  Strong colours make them easier to see!

Treshnish Mull cottages Early purple orchid

Dog violets

Dog violets are also found in great number on the farm too. They often grow amongst the Primroses, and they seem to love these cliffs too.

Dog violet Treshnish Mull Cottages Treshnish Isles

 

 

The best beaches on Mull

Best beaches on Mull

We are often asked what the best beaches on Mull are.  It is a difficult one to answer of course because it all depends what you want from your beach.

best beaches on mull treshnish cottages marram grasses

Near Treshnish

Calgary Beach is our nearest beach.  It is considered not just one of the best beaches on Mull but in Scotland!    The shallow slope of the beach and the sandy seabed make it this wonderful wonderful turquoise, whatever the weather.  Even on the darkest day in the winter, with wild storms raging, the bay is turquoise – although perhaps a little duller than these photographs.

best beaches on mull treshnish cottages blue skies

The shallow beach makes it popular with families – for picnicking, swimming, paddling, mucking about in boats, playing beach games at low tide.  And lots more besides.  Early in the morning it is peaceful and quiet – share it with the oystercatchers and the sand martins.  On sunny days, even when ‘busy’ there always seems to be room for everyone!

best beaches on Mull treshnish cottages calgary beach

At Treshnish

Treshnish has four miles of coastline with several ‘beaches’ and coves where you can access the sea shore.   The beaches are rocky and shaley rather than sandy.   Just beyond Haunn at the bottom of the old track is the beach where Donald Sutherland gets shot in the film ‘Eye of a Needle’ filmed here (and at Loch Buie) in 1981.  People still talk about the filming and how much locals were paid for standing by a gate all day. They had to open and close them when anyone needed to get through!  The shepherd here at the time said he had cutting peats up by the roadside and some of the film crew left a box of beers for them by the peat stack.

Why do I think this is one of the best beaches?  It is in a beautiful location, miles off the main road. Wonderful views in every direction and plenty of interest, in rock pools and natural geological features.

Friends of Calgary Bay

Friends of Calgary Bay is a group which was set up a few years ago, to try and protect the bay area.   Recently they have been fundraising to fence of the machair.  Machair is a shell sand grassland found in only a few places on the island.  This site is a SSSI (site of special scientific interest) however it needs protecting.  If you would like to support the work of FOCB please look at their Facebook page.

Shieling review

Shieling review

To read the Shieling review written by Visit Scotland Ambassador Ellis O’Connor, please click on the link here.   One of the lovely things about running a self catering business is meeting the guests, and Ellis was no exception! We had come across each other on Instagram and it was great to meet her face to face.  She made the most of her few days here, managing to get across to Iona and down to Carsaig in the one day! Thank you Ellis for coming to stay with us, we will look forward to seeing you again.

In other news

The weather has continued to be amazing!   Perhaps I should apologise for posting too many sunsets but they have been wonderful and it seems a shame not to.

Shieling Review Treshnish Mull cottages sunset

Wild flowers

The wild flowers are coming… this evening I went along the shore below the Treshnish Cottages and found lots of Thrift (sea pinks) on the rocks, Bluebells growing along the cliffs, and Marsh Marigolds in the boggy areas.   Spring is so worth waiting for! I have put some photographs up on the farm blog.

Sundog

It was lovely to see a Sundog last night as the sun was beginning to set.

Sundog Treshnish Mull cottages review Shieling

How’s the lambing going?

Well I think it is beginning to slow down now.  We think about 90% of the ewes have lambed now,  and the strain is beginning to show on Farmer.  All the very early starts and energetic days checking the fields and walking out along the coast and on the hill.  I was in Oban yesterday and when I got back I discovered that he and Daughter had put up 2 hammocks down in the birch trees below the house.  In fact we spent down half an hour there late afternoon today, relaxing in the sun, away from work.  It was completely blissful.

Review Shieling Treshnish Cottages Mull hammock

Looking ahead

As I was walking this evening I was thinking about the blogs I have written and what I really enjoy.  I started the farm blog in 2009 and just wrote whatever I felt like writing.  Guests would mention it and say they enjoyed it, which was very kind. And I just kept doing it.  If I had lots to share I would write almost every day.  If not then more sporadically.  I had a daily photo blog too, and I have just posted my last photograph on that, because I do Instagram instead.

Since starting the blog on the website I have done a few blog writing courses and been taught different ways of doing it, to maximise SEO and so on. To be honest, I think it has spoiled the art, for me, of just honestly sharing our story.    I think I have decided to go back to just telling the story, and hope the keywords come of their own accord!  So watch this space!

Treshnish Mull cottages sunset Shieling review