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Places to Go, Ross of Mull


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Beaches

Ardalanish beach

[grid ref. NM375188 • view WildMap]

A 300m walk from the car park brings you to a gorgeous white sandy beach in a large bay. To reach it from the main road, follow the signs for Uisken and then turn right to Ardalanish village after 1.5 miles.

Wildlife: This is a superb spot for wildlife. The farmland, beach and bay are great for birds. In spring and summer, look out for Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Stonechat, Whinchat, Skylark, Meadow Pipit  and Rock Doves along the road on the way down. On the beach, look for breeding Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper and Curlew; Sanderling, Dunlin and Whimbrel are here on passage. Offshore, Common and Arctic Terns feed, Gannets plunge and each species of diver can be found in different seasons. Recently Chough abandoned attempting to breed in the area after ten unsuccessful years, but keep an eye out...they still breed on nearby islands.

Do be careful of the breeding Ringed Plovers if on the beach in spring: the adults will sit quite still unless you are within a few feet of the nest, and they are so well camouflaged you still may not see them!

The farmland here has been very well managed in recent years, with organic methods and traditional livestock used to enhance the habitat. Highland cattle and Hebridean Sheep grazed the rough pasture, improving the flora: there is a wet meadow full of beautiful Grass of Parnassus (not really a grass!) flowering in July and August and several species of orchid can be found here. The farm changed hands in 2011 but hopefully this will continue.

More info: standing stones and a cliff fort are just two aspects of the area's history.

 

Fidden beach

[grid ref. NM300214 • view WildMap]

Sunset over Iona from Fidden (April 2011) [Photo © Dave Thomas]

Fidden is simply stunning and one of our favourite places on Mull. The secluded sandy bay, clear waters and surrounding moors are broken by rocky outcrops of pink granite. The area is never busy, even with the adjacent camp site. The sunsets over Iona are spectacular.

Wildlife: The scenery isn't the only thing worth looking at here. A small population of Corncrake have been re-establishing themselves and a still summer's evening is the perfect time to listen for their rasping call whilst at the same time keeping an eye open for Mountain Hares - although spread across Mull, this appears the most reliable site for them.

Lapwing, Snipe, Oystercatcher and Redshank and Common Sandpiper all breed in the area and flocks of Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Curlew can be seen on passage. Farmland bird numbers are good and, in winter, the pasture here hosts good geese populations, with up to 30 Greenland White-fronted Geese joining the resident Greylags, plus perhaps a small group of Barnacle Geese or the odd Pink-footed or Brent Goose. Flocks of Twite and the occasional Snow Bunting can be seen on the beach in autumn and winter.

More info: there is climbing and bouldering on the granite outcrops behind the beach and visit the tidal island of Erraid for more climbing or to enjoy the scenery and tranquillity.

 

Traigh Gheal (via Tireragan estate)

[grid ref. NM339173 • view WildMap]

This remote and beautiful beach is a stretch of white sand with black igneous rock outcrops, hidden away at the end of a 4.75km walk from Knockvolgan across the Tireragan estate, managed as a site for conservation and education by Highland Renewal. The wet heathland and regenerating woodland are home to much wildlife and a wealth of flowering and lower plants.

The path is overgrown and very wet, and the return journey is by the same route. Best in summer when the heath is at its peak for colour and wildlife, the views and the beach do compensate for the walk.

Wildlife: look out for Otters, seals, Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover from the beach. Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Kestrel and Merlin can be seen hunting, whilst orchids, Common Butterwort and sundews can be found on the heath.

More infoEstate leaflet

 

Uisken beach

[grid ref. NM390187 • view WildMap]

This beautiful white sandy beach is a popular spot, with parking directly adjacent. Through the rocky bay, on a clear day, there are amazing views across to the Isles of Colonsay and Jura, with the Paps of Jura visible on the skyline.

Wildlife: The road down to the beach is good for farmland and scrubs birds, and raptors such as Hen Harrier, Merlin or Short-eared Owl hunt the moors. Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover breed on the beach and Rock Pipits flit around; in winter, look offshore for Eider, divers and other sea ducks.

Please take care if visiting in spring as Ringed Plover nest on the beach; adults will sit quite still unless you are within a few feet of the nest, and they are so well camouflaged you still may not see them!

 

Coastline

Carsaig Bay to Malcolm's Point & Carsaig Arches

Vibrant autumn colours at Carsaig Bay (November 2003) [Photo by Anne Burgess under Creative Commons]

This stretch of coastline is one of the highlights of the whole island, a beautiful and dramatic place with high cliffs, rocky outcrops and tumbling burns. Carsaig Bay is at the centre of a 20km stretch of coast designated SSSI for its geology and flora.

The volcanic and sedimentary rocks here are of major international importance, with several unique features of Mull's volcanic history 60 million years ago. The sequences of lava and sediments give evidence of a varied climate here and two volcanic sills cut through the pre-existing rocks: one, of syenite, is found nowhere else on Mull and forms the island offshore in the bay, Gamhnach Mhor, and the other occurs at Nun's Pass, a steep and dangerous path to the clifftops near Nun's Cave.

 

Carsaig Bay [grid ref. NM537215 • view WildMap]

Reached by a road that is equally dramatic as the scenery - it's not for the faint of heart), Carsaig Bay is a tiny, green glen surrounded by cliffs. Waterfalls tumble down the steep cliffs of different layers, minerals and formations. This is the starting point for the difficult walk west to the Carsaig Arches or just take an hour to stroll along the rocky beach and back again; it is also possible to walk east to Lochbuie.

Nun's Cave is located approximately 2km along the coast to the south-west, an hour or so along the route to the Arches. The cave measures about 20m wide at the entrance and is 30m deep; the height at the entrance is 5m, sloping lower towards the back. The western wall is smooth and has numerous carvings, most between 0.4m and 1.3m; these low heights apparently indicate that floor-level has probably risen since they were made. Many of the carvings are crosses, some dating back as far as the late 6th century.

For a different adventure, you can climb to the clifftops above Carsaig above the western cliffs. From the road, take the path south-west at grid ref. NM532229 and follow the path toward the cliffs or take in the summit of Beinn Chreagach. The clifftop grasslands and bog pools have interesting flora.

For a shorter and slightly less strenuous stroll, head east from Carsaig. Just over a kilometre from the end of the road is the stunning waterfall at Carraig Mhor, which has a handy cave behind that it's possible to get into at the side without getting too wet! See the excellent pictures on this Island Blogging post. Or, for a more expansive view, park and follow the track that leaves the road at grid ref. NM532231 and continue on to the 1473ft (449m) summit of Beinn Charsaig to look out to Loch Buie and Laggan Deer Forest.

 

Malcolm's Point & Carsaig Arches [grid ref. NM493185 • view WildMap]

Moving south-west along the coast from Carsaig, the stunning cliffs continue for 5km to Malcolm's Point and beyond. The path along the bottom of the cliffs is extremely rocky and slow-going even for experienced walkers. It takes around 2.5 - 3 hours to reach Malcolm's Point and the impressive sea arches. The scenery and destination make the effort worthwhile, although it takes a great deal of experience, a head for heights and good weather to be able to reach the second arch. The walk is described here.

The pictures below show the approach to the arches and describe some of the geological aspects of the cliffs.

 

Wildlife: perhaps unsurprisingly, the cliffs make this a superb area for Peregrine Falcon, Buzzard, Golden Eagle and Raven. Fulmer also nest in the area and Black Guillemot and Gannet can be seen offshore. All three divers can be found in Carsaig Bay through winter and into spring. Also look out for the wild goats that inhabit this area - although you may smell their pungent aroma before you see them! They often use Nun's Cave as a shelter. Seals can often be seen from the old pier on the beach.

The cliffs are partially vegetated with species rich grasslands, scattered areas of coastal heathland and plants adapted to rocky ledges. The nationally scarce Thyme Broomrape occurs here in association with Wild Thyme. The clifftops are covered with a typical maritime grassland of Red Fescue and various plantains, with patches of Bluebells in sheltered areas. Boggy areas contain Bog Asphodel.

More infoSSSI citation • SSSI Site Management Statement

 

Loch Scridain

[grid ref. NM463262view WildMap]

This huge sea loch is a spectacular place, whatever the island's mood: with some sun there are stunning views across to Ben More, but perhaps it is at its best in Mull's often dramatic weather changes. The A849 runs almost along the loch's entire length and stopping places are plentiful.

Wildlife: Its open waters and rocky shores are excellent for birds, with a little patience needed due to its size. In winter it is excellent for ducks and divers: Eider, Goldeneye, Teal and Wigeon are common and Slavonian Grebe not infrequent. All three diver species can be seen here through to the spring, latterly in breeding plumage, with up to 30 Great Northern Divers recorded in the evenings. Auks, including Black Guillemot, can be seen all year. In summer, the scrubby shores offer good habitat for warblers and chats along its length and Common Terns and Gannets can be seen offshore.

The loch's seaweedy margins are also superb for Otters, anywhere along it's length. Keep an eye open along the edges of the seaweed. Pennyghael is a particularly good spot.

 

Freshwater: lochs, lochans & rivers

Coladoir River & Bog

[grid ref. NM546291view WildMap]

This well-known sea trout river makes its decent from Glen More into Loch Beg at the head of Loch Scridain, forming a long section of rapids either side of the A849 bridge over the river. With the 18th century Old Kinloch Bridge still standing just downstream and parking provided adjacent, it makes a perfect point to stop off on your journey along The Ross.

The area east of the A849 and south of the meandering river holds Coladoir Bog SSSI, the largest and least disturbed peat bog on the island. Predominantly oceanic blanket bog with parts more typical of a raised bog, the peat is in isolated areas on undulating ground at the foot of Glen More and there are a good examples of patterned mire - a globally scarce habitat. The vegetation includes two Sphagnum species, hummocks of Woolly Fringe-moss which reach up to 80cm, Bog Rosemary that grows here at the northerly limit of its British range, and the nationally scarce Brown Beak-sedge. Oceanic indicators occur, such as Mud Sedge, Lesser Bladderwort and White-beak Sedge. All three British sundews - Round-leaved, Oblong and Great - can be found here.

The site supports a typical peatland invertebrate fauna. Curlew, Dunlin and Skylark hjave been recorded as breeding and Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle all hunt here. Otters are known to pass along the river.

 

Loch Assapol

[grid ref. NM403207view WildMap]

This freshwater loch can hold interesting duck and waterfowl in winter; Whooper Swan, geese and divers can be found here. Greenland White-fronted Geese used the site regularly in the 1980s and 90s but use has dropped off significantly since (although numbers have held up at Fidden). It's especially worth checking for sheltering rarer birds after storms.

 

Loch Poit na h-l

[grid ref. NM314229view WildMap]

This small loch on the road near Fionnphort, known as Loch Pottie, is always worth a stop as you pass by. Whooper Swan and geese can be found here in winter, alongside Tufted Duck, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard and Little Grebe.

 

Hills & Mountains

Beinn Charsaig • 1479ft (449m)

[grid ref. NM551225 • View WildMap]

The stunning views over Carsaig and Loch Buie are more than worth the climb of this elongated moorland hill, the rocky summit of which is formed from a lava flow.

 

Beinn Chreagach • 1237ft (377m)

[grid ref. NM445217 • View WildMap]

Another Marilyn peak, offering excellent views over the Carsaig moors. From here, you can also explore along the cliffs towards Malcolm's Point.

 

Cruachan Min • 1234ft (376m)

[grid ref. NM519217View WildMap]

Whilst no giant, the prominence of Cruachan Min over the surrounding area gives superb views across the Ross and northwards to Burg. The summit - a Marilyn - is approximately a 2km walk from the roadside.

 

Islands

Enjoy some excellent days out by boat from Iona or Fionnphort.

Historic and enchanting Iona, with its world famous abbey, elusive Corncrakes and wild western Atlantic coast, is just a few minutes ferry trip away.

You can even walk to the tidal island of Erraid for a couple of hours around low tide.

Staffa, and its famous Fingal's Cave, and the scattered, windswept Treshnish Isles make good day trips.

Coming in to land on Iona (June 2008) [Photo by Croila under Creative Commons]

 

Natural sights

Carsaig Arches, Malcolm's Point

Please see the section for Carsaig Arches & Malcolm's Point above.

 

Nun's Cave, Carsaig

Please see the section for Carsaig above.

 

Woods & forests

There are some areas of native woodland along the very south-west coast of The Ross and commercial coniferous plantations on the Scoor and Pennyghael Estates. Whilst not worthwhile destinations in their own right, a number of our walk and cycle routes pass through these areas.

 

Places to go, Northern Mull

Places to go, Western Mull

Places to go, Eastern Mull

Places to go, Isle of Mull

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