Mull Rally 2016

Mull Rally 2016 takes place over the weekend of 14th to 16th October 2016. Regular visitors to Treshnish will know that we manage the farm and cottages as carefully as we possibly can to minimise our impact on the planet so car rallies are not really our cup of tea, but we appreciate that the Mull Rally is a huge part of the island calendar and that it means a massive amount to hundreds if not thousands of people, who regularly come and take part, or visit the island over the weekend of the Rally in order to spectate.

Mull Rally 2016 sunset purple

We do still have some spaces during the week of the Mull Rally 2016, starting on Friday 14th October. Not being a Rally watcher I don’t really know but I am told we are quite well placed for spectating as you can walk over the hill from Treshnish towards Larach Mhor and watch the cars bouncing over the humps and bumps in the stretch between the Ensay Bridge and the summit of Burg.

Mull Rally cottages sailboat

It is the one time of year when we can sometimes hear traffic noise from the extra exhausts at Treshnish, but it is minimal and most people wouldn’t probably notice it – it is only because the silence here is so quiet otherwise.

Mull Rally 2016 Calgary Bay

For those planning an October holiday who haven’t visited the island during the Rally before, it is wise to book your ferry if coming via Oban, as soon as you can – they get very booked up with the extra traffic! If you have kids (young or old) who love cars, it can be (I’m told!) fun to watch all the different cars arrive, and to spot the teams out doing their pace notes during the week before. Don’t worry – the competitors are under strict rules not to exceed the speed limits whilst out beforehand.

Mull Rally 2016 Treshnish cottages

The Mull Rally 2016 starts late on the Friday evening and is finished by the time you wake up on Sunday morning. There are road closures and we email our guests to remind them of the closures before they arrive. It usually affects us twice – as the rally route goes past our road end. It is rather like being snowed in without the snow!

Please don’t let the Rally put you off coming to the island in October – it can b a fabulous time of year to be here, and the Rally is over and done with in a weekend! The weather can be wonderful but it can also be wild, wet and stormy too. The Red deer rut takes place in October, when you can hear stags roaring on the hill and look out for groups of hinds and the fighting stags on the hill. And the night skies can be clear enough at night to try looking for the Aurora Borealis!can be

Heather season

The start of the heather season heralds a gentle slide into autumnal colours and the hills change colour. Roadsides are colourful with Fireweed (rosebay willow herb) and on the woodland edge rowan berries begin to ripen, their huge red clumps of berries so full the branches dip and bow with their weight. I love summer, I think June is my favourite month of all the year, but once I have let it go, I do enjoy the end of the summer and the richness of the beginning of autumn. Some evenings are cool enough to light the fire. Some evenings are warm enough to sit outside watching the sunset. (Some nights are clear enough to watch meteors and look out for the northern lights too!).

Treshnish Mull cottages boathouse

Treshnish Mull cottages fireweed

Treshnish Mull cottages Heather

Treshnish Mull cottages knapweed

Treshnish Mull cottages sunset

On the farm, Farmer is helping make silage. Now that we don’t have our own cows any more, we don’t need silage for winter feed, so another farmer on the island brings his machinery across here to make the silage and he will take it over during the winter to feed his cows. That is another sign of autumn coming! This coming week is also time for gathering in the sheep from the hill as our lambs are booked in for the sales in Oban on the 30th. It takes a lot of time to sort them all out, which females to keep for next year and which ones to sell, and taking out the older ewes. Daughter’s pet lamb Alice will not be sold – we plan for her to live with Brownie (the neutered male pet lamb, a year her joiner) in the field between the veg garden and the Studio! There is a nice shelter in there for them and they will enjoy meeting our guests!

Mull agricultural shows

Both the Mull agricultural shows are held in early August – one in Bunessan and the other at the pretty show ground at Aros Bridge. The Bunessan Show this year was on the 5th of August, and the Salen Show is today, the 11th of August. Farmer has already headed over there to help a friend who is showing his Cheviot sheep. I will follow shortly – the show is not to be missed, whatever the weather! We went to the Bunessan Show last year, and really enjoyed our day out. The Ross of Mull can be considered quite a drive from here, but the landscape you drive through to get there still astonishes me after 20 years.

Agricultural shows Mull Bunessan

Last week we went to Bunessan to see an American singer called Amythyst Kiah and passed the show ground with some of the tents already up in preparation for their show.

Mull agricultural shows

The other night I was driving past the Salen show ground and could see the beginnings of tents going up there too, in advance of today. The evening sun was catching the corrugated iron shed beautifully so I just had to stop and take a photograph or two. Unfortunately the weather forecast for today is not good, it will be full waterproofs and an umbrella for the camera I think! There is always so much to see, plenty of stalls to look at, the horses to watch in the upper fields, delicious Mull produce to sample and a great opportunity for people watching!

Mull cottages Treshnish agricultural shows

We haven’t ever shown our own sheep, though Daughter took Brownie her pet lamb one summer and took part in the young handlers class. If I remember correctly we were second – to last, but it was all good fun! This year because of the rabbit family living in the veg garden we haven’t got anything to show in the fruit and veg section either.

Mull agricultural shows Treshnish cottages

Bookings are steadily coming in now for 2017 which is lovely – so if you think you would like to experience the Mull agricultural shows for yourselves, please have a look at our availability page to see what spaces we have left!

Mull summer

What can you expect of the weather during a typical Mull summer? Well, I suppose the answer is that nothing concerning the weather is typical any more so it is difficult to know – so it is best to come prepared for all kinds!

Mull summer Treshnish holidays

It is impossible to predict the weather in the way that we might have done 20 years ago, when we ‘knew’ that the early summer months of May and June would be more sunny than wet, that July and August would be likely to be mixed, that September and October would often provide an Indian summer… yes, there is a little bit of nostalgic rose tinted spectacles in that last sentence, but there was certainly more of a pattern than there is now.

The cottages are cosy whatever the weather and if your waterproofs are needed and get very wet, you are welcome to hang them in our boiler house.  We have TV in some of the cottages, and those without there are a selection of books and games.  For those with laptops/DVD drives we have a growing selection of DVDs in the Phone Room you are welcome to borrow.

Mull summer ragwort tweed coat

Whatever the weather, there is lots going on on Mull during the summer months. The Highland Games takes place in Tobermory in late July; the agricultural shows take place in the first 2 weeks of August; there are events on at Duart Castle, at Mull Theatre and music at An Tobar. Look at Comar for details for the Theatre and An Tobar.

Mull Treshnish summer holidays hogweed

News from the farm is that the summer chores are well underway. Once shearing is finished, it is time to turn Farmer’s mind towards cutting bracken and topping the pastures. This can seem like a never ending task, but it is an important part of looking after the pastures and keeping the bracken under control.

Mull summer cloud Calgary Point

Come and enjoy the view whatever the Mull summer brings – even when it is cloudy and disappearing into the mist, it is beautiful.  We still have a few spaces left in the holiday cottages here at Treshnish from the end of September and into October. Please get in touch if you have any queries or would like to make a booking.

Sheep shearing

Sheep shearing here at Treshnish takes place at two different times. The first occasion is usually in the middle of June when the hoggs (last year’s ewe lambs). the tups (rams) and the eild (barren) ewes are shorn. The second occasion is the milk clip which is when the ewes that are rearing lambs are shorn, and it has to be warmer to avoid affecting the milk yield. If the milk clip is done too early, when the weather is cooler, it is thought that the ewes lose their milk, which will affect the growth in the lambs.

Today was the milk clip. Farmer had been thinking and planning it since we started our journey back from our family holiday last weekend. It is weather dependant as the fleeces need to be dry.

Mull cottages Treshnish sheep shearing both

In the first photograph you can see the shearing trailer – it is a two stand trailer, meaning that there are two slots for the shearers to use.   The structure on the left is called the race.  The ewes are gathered in a pen at the bottom of the race and pushed up the ramp.   When the shearer wants to start on another ewe, they push down on the ‘door’, which drops away revealing the unsuspecting ewe, and grab it from the race.  Before shearing became common practice, and hand shearing was still being done, there would have been helpers in the pens catching the ewes and presenting them to the men sitting on their clipping stools for them to clip.  Because hand shearing was slower there was time for the ‘crutchers’ to catch the ewes for those clipping.  Machine shearing is so much faster, so these shearing trailers are worth their weight in gold!

Mull Treshnish cottages RM shearing

The atmosphere in the shearing shed is calm, and the shearers are careful with each animal, and as I was watching them I could see the methodical gentleness with which each ewe was handled.

RM Mull cottages Treshnish sheep shearing

All in all, the two shearers did about 450 ewes today. One at a time, steadily from 7am, with a break for breakfast and a break for lunch while Farmer gathered in the 80 or so Cheviot and Zwartble ewes once the Blackface were done. One at a time, at the rate of one every minute. Hard work.

Mull cottages Treshnish sheep shearing EM

E sheep shearing Mull cottages Treshnish

It is a huge relief to know that the sheep shearing is done with for another year – apart from a handful of escapees, who managed not to be gathered in off the hill yesterday – they will be done by hand next time they come in. Farmer had judged the weather forecast correctly and did the gathering and sorting out of the lambs in good time for the arrival of the shearing trailer this morning! There is a mountain of fleece in the shed – we have more wool than wool bags to put it all in, so there is a bit of a wool mountain until we can get more bags.

The Fossilised Tree

There is lots of interesting geology on Mull, and the most unusual is possibly the Fossilised tree, located on the west side of the Ardmeanach Peninsula. It is an energetic but rewarding 5 – 7 hour walk – full directions are available on the Walk Highlands website. There is a section of the walk where it is necessary to have a good head for heights, as there is a steep ladder to climb. Instead of walking all the way from the car park, Farmer and Ben took bicycles and cycled all the way (bone shaking track!) to Tavool where they left their bikes and began to walk. At one point a sign said 2.5 miles to the Fossilised tree but it took them over 2 hours to walk.

Burg fossilised tree Mull ladder

Farmer and a friend staying with us decided to go there today. They checked the tide tables to make sure they arrived on the low tide, just before it got to its lowest. Farmer suffers from vertigo so he wasn’t sure he would manage to get down the ladder and steep approach, but amazingly he did. The ladder is quite wobbly and the old ladder lies to one side of it, in a slightly off-putting way.

Fossilised tree Mull goats

The feral goats were an unexpected pleasure, and they didn’t seem to be that frightened of humans. Lovely views of Staffa and Lunga in the distance.

Goats Mull fossilised tree

Farmer said the rock formations were amazing. He described it as really being a remote place. When he got home he almost felt he had been off island.

Mull fossilised tree rocks

Ben kindly posed for the camera to give the photograph a sense of scale.   The tree is the groved out section slightly to the right of where he is standing.

Fossilised tree Burg Mull scale

On the way back they skinny dipped in this pool, cool and refreshing for the drive home.  All in all a fantastic day out.  They left Treshnish at about 9.30 and got home about 6.30 having gone to collect, and hitch up a livestock trailer in order to deliver it to Salen on the way home.

Mull fossilised tree waterfall

Meadowsday

Meadowsday is Saturday 2nd July. Typical – national celebration of meadows under the banner #Meadowsday and we are not at home to enjoy and celebrate the meadows! However I thought as we were not going to be here, and therefore not able to take part, I would write a blog and create a virtual walk through the fields instead.

The end of June, beginning of July is a wonderful time to explore the fields here. Every day this last week I have been walking through the fields below the farmhouse, enchanted by the wild flowers and abundance of orchids. I am always seeking to capture the wild flower or the meadow photograph and never quite thinking I have succeeded – hence filling the blog with dozens of images.

meadowsday greater butterfly orchid Mull cottages

During the month of June I took part in #30DaysWild and blogged each day about what I saw or did. Sometimes just photographs, but sometimes some words too.

meadowsday mull cottages common spotted orchid

Imagine you are walking through the field below the house, you can hear Skylark and Meadowpipit singing high in the air, you can sense the warm sun lifting the scent of the flowering grasses at your feet and hear the gentle sound of the waves along the shore below. There is an oystercatcher calling, and you spot the seals on the rocks beyond the boathouse. Stop a while and look at the flowers at your feet. Eyebright, Yellow rattle, Buttercup, Speedwell, Red clover, White clover, Common spotted orchid, greater butterfly orchid, Red bartsia, Tufted vetch, Meadow vetchling and Heath pea vetch all in colourful profusion with swaying flowering grasses beyond.

meadowsday Mull cottages orchid

Every day should be a #Meadowsday!

meadowsday common twayblade Mull cottages

Pet friendly

Our pet-friendly cottages are on a working farm near Calgary Beach on the Isle of Mull.

We welcome dogs as long as they are well-behaved and follow a few simple and practical rules. Nothing too onerous, just common sense! As we are a working farm it helps us hugely if visiting dogs are walked on leads. At certain times of year we can tell our guests where they can walk their dogs off a lead, but during the summer when ground nesting birds (and breeding Mountain hares) are breeding, it is important that dogs are walked on a lead so that they are not disturbed.

I would like to introduce our own dogs to you! At the moment we have 3 working dogs – Cap, the senior Border Collie; Jan his able assistant; Walter, who is excellent at gently catching lambs at lambing time – and one pet, Coco who is a very friendly (but quite mad) small labradoodle.

Coco pet friendly cottages Mull

I walk Coco on a lead where there are sheep and where there are likely to be ground nesting birds as she does have intermittent recall issues.

Jan pet friendly cottages Mull

Jan is about 11 now, and beginning to slow down. She will run up the road to the cattle grid when cars arrive at Treshnish, so watch out for her.

Treshnish pet friendly cottages Mull

Here are the four of them – a rare sit and stay exercise that worked! We were down at the ‘boathouse’ on the north shore of the farm, as the sun was setting earlier in May.

Walter Cap pet friendly cottages Mull

Cap is the senior dog sitting in the foreground, with Walter on the window sill of one of the ruins at Crackaig. They both have a wonderfully friendly nature.

I wrote a blog about 2 years ago, regarding dogs and the Outdoor Access Code. Please have a look at it here. You may not be familiar with this legislation if you don’t live in Scotland.

30DaysWild on Mull

We did the #30DaysWild challenge last year – I blogged every day in June, having done something #wild, even if it was just for a few minutes. It was good fun, and made me appreciate more than ever our surroundings again. This year I decided to do it again, though I don’t seem to as much time, it is still good at making me think about the idea of #wildness and doing something special every day.

Last weekend Farmer, Daughter and I had to go down to England to go to a family wedding on the Farmer’s side of the family.  It was south of London – how on earth would we manage to do anything #wild for the #30DaysWild challenge on the 4 days while we were away?    

We did manage to #thinkwild on the train to London – guests had told us to look out for Peregrines nesting at Preston – so we did.   That was the 9th Day sorted.  We spent the day in London on the 10th Day but headed out into the countryside late afternoon.  We walked through a graveyard, looking for ancestors and found suitably wild flowers.

30DaysWild wood butterfly Knepp 

Day 11, Saturday morning and we were lucky to have a guided walk through part of the Knepp Rewilding Project, near Horsham.  It was really interesting to see how fields that have been conventionally farmed previously are changing – scrub woodland encroaching into the open spaces and attracting masses of new and exciting species – including Purple Emperor butterflies. Day 12, we were on our way home again, and I got home in time to spend some time outside enjoying the clouds and colours of a dramatic but cloudy sunset.

Thinking of rewilding, we do sometimes wonder what would happen at Treshnish if we were just to ‘let it go’.  This morning, walking at Treshnish, the conclusion we came to was that Bracken would take over before anything else had a chance to colonise – and because it is so invasive any rewilding would have to be very managed!

So we ‘let it go’ in a controlled way, but managing when our livestock can graze our different habitats and when they can’t.  

30DaysWild bog cotton Treshnish Isles

We were up on the Point, where the banks of the Point are abundant with Fragrant orchid, Burnet rose, Tormentil, Birds foot trefoil, Heath spotted orchid, Bloody cranesbill – to name a few, and on the flat ‘field’ where they grew oats 50 years ago, there is a sea of Cotton grass.  

30DaysWild Mull Treshnish cottages sundew

We won’t let the sheep back on to the Point until this wave of flora have set seed.

30DaysWild thyme Treshnish point Mull

The weather recently has been dry and warm/hot and the orchids are flowering abundantly – and weeks earlier than last year, which is wonderful to see.

30DaysWild butterfly orchid Treshnish Mull

Bank holiday weekend on Mull

Here we are already – the busy Whitsun bank holiday weekend on Mull. Where have the last few months gone! We have a full changeover of guests this weekend. Many of last week’s guests were reluctant to leave, they had had the most wonderful time. One couple booked before they left to come for 2 weeks next year. Another, a keen birdwatcher was delighted to have seen 99 species on the island during their week here, and half of those were whilst out walking here on Treshnish!

Mull cottages Treshnish bearded collie

New guests who arrived last night were excited looking forward to the week ahead. Some were already prepared and had booked various boat trips before they arrived, but we were able to share the Turus Mara 10% discount for Treshnish guests to those who hadn’t arranged anything yet. There have been lots of dolphin/porpoise sightings around the island this last week – visitors to Tobermory were treated to a display of breaching and rolling harbour porpoise right in amongst the boats moored in the bay, and we watched a family slowly make their way along the coast near the Whisky Cave – guests then saw them below the house. Magical!

Mull cottages Treshnish blackhouse sunshine

The forecast for this bank holiday weekend on Mull is pretty good – warm and dry with lots of sunny spells. Farmer is busy getting the last loads of dung (farmyard manure) on to the fields and we are having outdoor painting done on windows and porches whilst the weather is good! The grass is finally growing in the fields, and the wild flowers are beginning to flourish. I saw the first Wood Bitter vetch in the Haunn field which was lovely. I think it might be flowering a bit earlier than last year! There is plenty of Thrift along the rocky shore line all around the headland, flowering like pink pin cushions high up on sheer cliff-faces as well as on rocks at sea level.

Mull Treshnish cottages sunset Coll

The sun is setting over the Isle of Coll at the moment, almost directly opposite the Treshnish Cottages. The Aurora season has finished until August, but I am now on the look-out for Noctilucent clouds! I am planning to sneak aboard a boat trip to the Treshnish Isles soon – so many lovely images of them online, and so many porpoise/dolphin sightings.. too good an opportunity to miss – I might even persuade Farmer to come with me.

Mull Treshnish puffins