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Places to Go, Eastern Mull


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Beaches

Laggan Sands

[grid ref. NM622242 • View WildMap]

Looking north across Laggan Sands towards Ben Buie (March 2010) [Photo by Andy Waddington, used under Creative Commons]

This long stretch of sand at the head of Loch Buie is a beautiful setting: Moy Castle perches away to the right and the wilderness of Laggan Deer Forest - an open area of hills, glens and moorland, with two villages abandoned during the Highland Clearances - sweeps round to the left. Voted 9th best UK beach for wildlife spotting in The Guardian in 2006, Laggan is a superb place to watch Red-throated Divers in summer and other ducks and wildfowl in winter.

Nearby: Lochbuie stone circle

 

Coastline

Craignure Bay

[grid ref. NM7237 • View WildMap]

Craignure is the arrival point on Mull for the majority of visitors and the bay is a good seawatching point for seabirds, dolphins and Otters.

The best vantage point is in the south, near The Shielings campsite, from any rocky outcrop alogn the shore and especially the Rubha na Sroine headland. Here, Otters come in close amongst the seaweed and superb views are possible of Grey Herons, Shags, Eiders, Black Guillemots and, occasionally, Red-throated Divers. Rock Pipits flit along the shore, and Buzzards and the odd White-tailed Eagle cruise overhead.

More info: Craignure village

 

Killean Peninsula & Grass Point

[grid ref. NM7127 • View WildMap]

This peninsula between Loch Spelve and Loch Don is almost all designated SSSI, for its habitat transition from saltmarsh to wet grassland and the invertebrate life that resides here. Grass Point, at the north-east of the peninsula, is excellent for viewing Red Deer and birds.

Wildlife: The saltmarsh shows a transition from pioneer marsh to upper marsh and is notable for the very extensive transition from upper marsh to wet grassland and stream-flushed vegetation in An Gleannan. Within this transition, extensive areas of acidic marshy grassland occur with calcareous flushes supporting important communities of invertebrates including populations of two Scottish rarities – the Marsh Fritillary butterfly and the Forester moth.

More info: SSSI citationSSSI Site Management StatementView across Loch Spelve to Killean Peninsula

 

Grass Point [grid ref. NM7531 • View WildMap]

Once the main landing point on the island, Grass Point is today a wild but oddly intimate place. Reached by a narrow and, in places, steep lane (not suitable for large vehicles) which begins by crossing the upper reaches of Loch Don via a humpback bridge, you wind through rough open ground and scrubby woodland which eventually opens out onto a more fertile coastal plain. From the small car park you can walk onwards to the rocky coast and take in the views across the mouth of Loch Don and out to the mainland. The small quay here was used to transfer cattle well into the 20th century.

Wildlife: This may well be the best place on the island to get good views of Red Deer - a large herd inhabits the area, and small numbers may be visible at any point along the lane, but the best place is the large field below Auchnacraig Lodge, approximately 2 miles (3.2km) from the bridge. The deer are viewable from the car and there is little traffic so stop a while to watch them at close quarters; please do not park on the soft verges. You can also use the small parking area and walk back to view.

The open ground is also an excellent place for birds of prey. This area is Buzzard central, with a bird seemingly on every telegraph pole. Hen Harriers also hunt here throughout the year, with the Loch Don roost not far away. Kestrels, Barn Owls and Short-eared Owl can also be seen hunting and White-tailed Eagles are also regular overhead.

At the coast, look for commoner seabirds - Shag, Black Guillemot, gulls, Fulmar, Kiitiwake, Gannet and possibly Great Skua. Winter viewing of the mouth of Loch Don can be productive, with all three divers and waders such as Greenshank, Whimbrel and Turnstone; in autumn, occasionally large number of waders and terns congregate here before migrating.

Nearby: take the next side road to the north and view Loch Don.


Loch Buie

[grid ref. NM6124 • View WildMap]

This large sea loch is reached by a 12.4km (7.7 miles) drive along a single track road that leaves the A849 at Strathcoil and winds past the beautiful scenery of Loch Spelve and Loch Uisg. The small village of Lochbuie is scattered around the head of the loch, in the shadow of Ben Buie mountain, with the scaffold-shrouded structure of Moy Castle against the moody backdrop of this stunning section of coast perhaps the focal point for most visitors.

The public road comes to a turning point right on the beach, with a grass car park just down to the left. The beach here - much of it strewn with boulders of gabbro rock, eroded by the last glaciers - is a superb spot to stroll or sit and watch the sea. The 15th century Moy Castle is just 15 minute walk away. Lochbuie stone circle can be reached from the small car park approximately 1km before the turning point, by the bridge over the river.

Wildlife: Otters are frequent at the head of the loch. Look for divers in winter and seabirds - including Gannets, shearwaters and gulls - in the bay throughout the year. Golden Eagles are commonly seen around the peaks and White-tailed Eagles may cruise over the loch. Keep an eye seaward for cetaceans too.

More info: more on local history, including Lochbuie stone circle and Moy CastleLochbuie village

Nearby: Laggan Sands beach • Ben Buie

 

Loch Don

[grid ref. NM7332 • View WildMap]

A large tidal sea loch between the Killean and Duart peninsulas and an excellent, varied site for birdwatching. The quiet village of Lochdon is strung along the edge of the north-western bay; the road has places to stop and a parking spot for two cars at the entrance to Gorten Farm with good viewing over the loch.

Wildlife: Loch Don is good all year for birds. The mudflats are an important feeding point for waders at low tide and several species can be seen on any visit, most commonly Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Snipe plus other species depending on the season: Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwits, Bar-tailed Godwits, Greenshank and Whimbrel occur on passage, Common Sandpiper are common on the shoreline in summer. Grey Plover, Sanderling, Knot and Spotted Redshank are more uncommon passage species but probably under-recorded. Waterfowl such as Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Mute Swan and Eider can be found here throughout the year, supplemented by Goldeneye, Goosander, Wigeon and Teal in autumn and winter and Whooper Swans on passage.

Loch Don is superb for birds of prey and there is a large raptor roost near the loch. A local pair of White-tailed Eagle and their offspring are regularly seen, as are Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Short-eared Owl and Hen Harrier; Merlin, Barn Owl, Peregrine Falcon and Sparrowhawk are possibilities and Osprey are regular on passage.

The ruderals, scrub and copses surrounding the loch are one of the best spots for the passerines on the island. Look and listen for a range of warblers, including Grasshopper Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and even Wood Warbler. Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Treecreeper, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Cuckoo and more common birds such as Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush and Blackbird can also be seen. Sand Martins from the nearby colony at Gorten can be seen feeding over the loch.

 

Loch Spelve

[grid ref. NM62 • View WildMap]

This large sea loch is connected to the ocean by a narrow neck and the Strathcoil to Lochbuie road runs right alongside its western and southern shores, giving superb views without the need to walk a step! The quiet village of Croggan can be found on the southern shore, not far from the neck of the lock, 12.8km (8 miles) from Strathcoil.

Burns tumble down the hillsides into the loch along the roadside, making for some pretty waterfalls. Allt nan Clar on the southern shore is our favourite (grid ref. NM675259); you can follow the stream's course up to see more falls and, if you're more adventurous, eventually come out on top of Maol Ban, a 338m (1106ft) peak with a good view out to Scarba, the Garvellachs and Jura.

Wildlife: Otters can be found along the length of the loch, often swimming in the seaweedy margins. The loch is good for waterfowl in winter, especially at the sheltered south-west end: look for all three Divers as well as Eider and Red-breasted Merganser. Check around the fish farm in winter for unusual gulls - Glaucous and Iceland Gulls are often to be found. Waders such as Turnstone and Golden Plover can be found along the shore and in adjacent fields.

In summer, many birds breed along the shore here: Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Meadow and Rock Pipits, Wheatear, Pied and Grey Wagtails. Also watch for seabirds feeding offshore, including Razorbull, Guillemot and Black Guillemot.

Nearby: the protected woodlands at Ardura are adjacent to the loch.


Freshwater: lochs, lochans & rivers

Loch Uisg

This freshwater loch lies in the valley that connects Loch Spelve and Loch Buie together, with much of its sides swathed in forest and rhododendron - making it quite a sight when the rhodies are in flower, though this is a lovely section of the Lochbuie road to drive at any time of year.

Wildlife: In its sheltered location, it can turn up some interesting birds, such as Osprey on passage or Goldeneye and Pochard in winter. Look for Little Grebe all year round and piping Common Sandpipers along the shore in summer.

 

Hills & Mountains

This area holds the eastern part of the Ben More massif and all the other significant peaks on the island.

Ben Buie • 2352ft (717m)

[grid ref. NM604270 • View WildMap]

The beautiful Ben Buie dominates the landscape around Lochbuie. The most common ascent is from the highest point along the A849 in Glen More (grid ref. NM615302) via a long ridge and the Graham Top summit of Cnap nan Gobhar, only 3m lower than Ben Buie itself. However, you can also climb from sea level at Lochbuie.

Routes: Ben Buie and Creach Beinn from Lochbuie ()•Ben Buie and Creach Beinn from Glen More via Cnap nan Gobhar ().

 

Beinn Talaidh • 2499ft (761m)

[grid ref. NM625347 • View WildMap]

An outlier on the eastern edge of the island's central mountain range, Beinn Talaidh was previously classified as a Corbett and was downgraded in height to 2499ft and Graham status. However, this does not diminish the excellent views from the summit nor the pleasant long walk in from the north via Glen Forsa. The peak can also be tackled more directly - and steeply - from the south.

RoutesBeinn Talaidh via Glen Forsa () • Beinn Talaidh from Glen More ( - walk #1 on page) • Beinn Talaidh and Sgurr Dearg from Glen More ().

 

Corra-bheinn • 2310ft (704m)

[grid ref. NM573321 • View WildMap]

Along with Cruach Choireadail, Corra-bhein is at the heart of the island's central upland massif. Cruachan Dearg, just to the north, is the same height but lacks the height differential from the surrounding land, making Corra-bheinn the main summit with its Graham status. The peak is perhaps best tackled via the route up Allt Teanga Brideig (grid ref. NM563306), taking the walker up on to Cruachan Dearg via Torr na h-Uamha, and then along the ridge to Corra-bheinn's summit. For the more adventurous, this route can be connected to Cruach Choireadail via the shoulder above Coir' a' Mhaim and Beinn Mheadhoin.

Routes: Corra-bheinn and Cruach Choireadail from Glen More ( - walk #4 on page) • Cruach Choireadail and Corra-bheinn from Glen More () • Corra-bheinn and Cruach Choireadail from Glen More ().

 

Creach Beinn • 2290ft (698m)

[grid ref. NM642276 • View WildMap]

Another Graham peak, Creach Beinn is a craggy, rocky hill with views across Loch Uisg and Loch Buie. A common approach is via the track along Gleann a' Chaiginn Mhoir (starts at grid ref. NM615255) before cutting east towards the top via a long ridge which stretches north-west to the summit via Creach Beinn Bheag. It can be combined with Ben Buie for a longer walk with 1350m of ascent.

Creach Beinn is the hill that you can see on clear days straight ahead when travelling south out of Fort William.

RoutesBen Buie and Creach Beinn from Glen More via Cnap nan Gobhar () • Creach Beinn from Lochbuie ( - walk #2 on page).

 

Cruach Choireadail • 2028ft (618m)

[grid ref. NM594304 • View WildMap]

A rugged peak overlooking Glen More, Cruach Choireadail is another Graham peak but one that can be summited with a shorter route than others in the area. The direct, short but steep route up the short slopes from the A849 can be achieved in around an hour.

RoutesCruach Choireadail from Glen More () • also see routes under Corra-bheinn.

More info: Geological Conservation Review

 

Dun da Ghaoithe • 2513ft (766m)

[grid ref. NM672362 • View WildMap]

The only Corbett and the second highest peak on the island behind Ben More, Dun da Ghaoithe - meaning 'fort of two winds' in gaelic - has fantastic views of the island and back to the mainland. The easiest ascent is from Upper Achnacroish, between Craignure and Lochdon, via a good track to the prominent radio masts and the Graham Top summit of Mainnir nam Faidh. There are two other subsidiary Graham Tops on the ridge, Beinn Thunicaraidh and Beinn Mheadhan.

Routes: Dun da Ghaoithe from Upper Achnacroish, ascent and descent via Mainnir nam Faidh () • Dun da Ghaoithe via Mainnir nam Faidh, descent via Scallastle forest () • Dun da Ghaoithe via Naol nan Damh, descent via Mainnir nam Faidh ()

 

Laggan Deer Forest

[grid ref. NM62 • View WildMap]

This craggy, relatively inaccessible upland area stretches east of Lochbuie and south of both Loch Uisg and Loch Spelve, along the south-east coast of Mull.

There is a string of low (314ft - 405ft) peaks along the peninsula's spine, with the moorland and tumbling burns falling away down to the lochs and the rocky coast. Small marshy lochans, rocky knolls and birch woodland break up this interesting and generally quiet landscape. There are fabulous views to be had from the peaks.

The area is best accessed on foot from the Croggan road - walking up alongside one of the many streams with glorious waterfalls - or walking south-east from Lochbuie towards Laggan Lodge. There are just a handful of landing spots for boats and kayaks and only in absolutely perfect conditions with minimal swell.

More info: See Loch Spelve's entry for a route to walk up to Maol Ban (338ft).

 

Sgurr Dearg • 2431ft (741m)

[grid ref. NM604270 • View WildMap]

The summit of Sgurr Dearg is at the crux of three ridges with steep, scree-sided slopes, but can easily be reached via Coire nan Each from Glen More.

RoutesSgurr Dearg via Coire nan Each ( - walk #3 on page) • also see route under Beinn Talaidh.

 

Woods & forests

Ardura

[grid ref. NM6873 • View WildMap]

Along Loch Spelve and the Lussa River valley stands the largest remaining example of native upland oak woodland in the Hebrides, supporting a rich assemblage of oceanic lichens, bryophytes, flowering plants and ferns. As well as being designated SSSI, the area has been identified as an Important Plant Area: one of the UK's most important 150 areas for botanical importance.

Wildlife: The woodland changes composition according to the soil. On the better-draining hill slopes, old Sessile Oaks combine with Silver Birch and an understorey of Rowan, Bird Cherry, Hazel and Holly, with Hard Fern also found here. In the valleys and wet flushes, Ash and hazel dominate; along stream courses, Alder takes over.

The woodland is home to some very rare bryophytes: mosses, hornworts and liverworts. The liverwort Carrington's Scalewort is found in only 11 10km grid squares in the UK and another 19 on the west coast of Ireland, and can be found at a handful of locations in Ardura, whilst the lichen Pyrenula hibernica - also found here - can be located in only 5 other UK 10km squares. The UK also has a high internal responsibility for the lichen Pseudocyphellaria norvegic, one of the large, leafy 'specklebelly' lichens, found in 117 UK 10km grid squares, almost all in Scotland. All three species are UK BAP priorities.

Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and Wood Warbler all nest annually in the woodland and there is hope of attracting Pied Flycatcher.

More info: SSSI citationSSSI Site Management StatementPlantlife IPA info

 

Fishnish & Garmony

[grid ref. NM6674 • View WildMap]

These woodlands cover the Fishnish peninsula and down to Garmony Point, north and south of the A849 main road, although all the interesting features are in the northern part from either the Fishnish or Garmony car parks.

Between the Fishnish car park and the Lochaline ferry port lies the old harbour of Ceadha Leth Torcail. The slip was used to load cattle which were shipped across the sound to join cattle droves from Ardnamurchan heading to Falkirk in the central lowlands, between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Walking: There are two main routes through the forest (see section 1 of the Forests of Mull leaflet): a coastal route (4km one way) connects the Fishnish and Garmony car parks, giving fine views over the Sound of Mull to the basalt cliffs of Morvern and hopefully of giving sight of the marine wildlife; there is also a circular walk (5.25km) through the forest from Fishnish, taking in the old harbour slip and some of the ruined buildings of the four villages that were previously found on the peninsula.

 

Scallastle

[grid re. NM7137 • View WildMap]

This Forestry Commission woodland stretches out behind Craignure towards the beautiful Scallastle River and the lower slopes of Dun da Ghaoithe, and the existing conifer plantation is being cleared and native species such as Silver Birch are being encouraged. There is a car park at the main entrance on the western outskirts of Craignure, opposite the Isle of Mull hotel.

Walking: There is a quite strenuous walk which takes you out through the mixed woodland to a loop over the Scallastle River (section 2 of the Forests of Mull leaflet). The river can be spectacular when in spate, with safe views from the footbridges above. Uphill, you can see rugged ridge of Mainnir nam Fiadh and summit of Dun da Ghaoithe; downhill, you look across the forest and green fields of Scallastle to the Sound of Mull and the Morvern pennsula.

 

Places to go, Northern Mull

Places to go, Western Mull

Places to go, Ross of Mull

Places to go, Isle of Mull

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