The Isle of Mull has an enviable array of habitats, from the Ben More mountain range through woodland, moorland, bog and wet heath to the coastline of rocky outcrops and white sandy beaches. It is no surprise, therefore, that Mull is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream holiday location.
Hills and Forests
Mull’s forests are wonderful places for spotting Scottish wildlife, and with plenty of woodland close to the shore you may well see dolphins and sea birds as well mammals and reptiles. The trees hide intriguing historic features too, from ancient standing stones to forgotten villages and atmospheric graveyards.
The Red Deer is the UK’s largest native mammal and in summer can be found on higher ground as grass and heather are abundant. Although their red-brown coat camouflages them well against the hills, they can often be seen silhouetted against the sky in the early evening.
Ben More (Beinn Mhòr, meaning ‘great mountain’) is the highest mountain and only Munro on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. It is the highest peak in the Inner Hebrides apart from those on the Isle of Skye. The mountain is situated in the south of the island, above the shores of Loch na Keal.
From the summit on a clear day, the view is spectacular – taking in the Sound of Mull, Staffa, Ulva, the Ross of Mull and Iona in the distance. From sea loch to summit is approximately a four-hour walk. It is therefore no surprise that this makes the perfect home for some of our larger birds of prey: The White-tailed Eagle and the Golden Eagle.
White-tailed Eagles, with their wingspan of over 2 metres, are truly impressive birds, however, they were once extinct in Britain. The first successful breeding of the re-introduced White-tailed Eagles took place on Mull in 1985, which is why it is so special to spot them flying high once more here. The eagles move their nests occasionally, so to have the best chance of seeing these magnificent eagles (White-tailed and Golden), why not book a guided visit with Mull Eagle Watch.
Beaches and the Shore
The Isle of Mull has over 300 miles of coastline which is dotted with beautiful, crowd-free sandy beaches lapped by clear turquoise water. In fact, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had been transported to your own private tropical island.
Calgary Bay, at the north of the island, is wonderfully sheltered and its white, soft, shell sand and clear waters are the most photographed on Mull. The beach is easily accessible, with parking, public toilets and a wild camping area, but it still feels wild and remote.
For wildlife, then Laggan Sands at Lochbuie is the place to visit . Voted in previous years as the UK’s best beach for wildlife spotting, it is not unusual to see seals from the shore and eagles flying over head.
To really get up close and personal with our wildlife here on Mull, there are various land-based wildlife tours that you can book from the VisitScotland Tourist Information Centre in Craignure.
Staffa and the Treshnish Isles
No mention of the landscape and wildlife on Mull is complete without also mentioning the Isle of Staffa and the Treshnish Isles.
Staffa is a remarkable little island, located south-west off the Isle of Ulva and halfway between the Ross of Mull and the Treshnish Isles. It is a volcanic island and a geological marvel, with basalt columns and the cathedral-proportioned Fingal’s cave. Wildlife on Staffa are mainly seabirds – a large colony of puffins breed on Staffa every summer and other seabirds that either nest or feed from the island include gannets, guillemots, razorbills, great northern divers, fulmars and great skuas.
The Treshnish Isles, an archipelago of several small islands, can be found off the south west coast of Mull and are best visible near Treshnish Point or Port Haunn, south of Calgary Bay. The Treshnish Isles are exposed to the open ocean, uninhabited and have no good landing sites, hence the presence of breeding colonies of nationally important seabirds – including puffins. During the winter, the islands provide valuable grazing for barnacle geese and, in the autumn, the beaches provide safe haven for nationally important populations of Atlantic grey seals, which give birth to their pups here.
On a trip to Staffa or the Treshnish Isles, there are very often sightings of dolphins, porpoises and, in the summer months, minke and fin whales. In the warmer months you may also see basking shark.
There are a number of wildlife boat trips operating from Mull, all providing different packages and services. Booking is essential for all the trips (especially in the summer months).
Take a tour from a number of pick-up points on Mull and Iona with Staffa Tours – visit Staffa, Treshnish Isles, Iona and Mull. En route you will see spectacular coastal views, breathtaking mountain scenery and the rich wildlife that the Scottish Islands have to offer.
Turus Mara, a family-run business on Mull offers tours that can be joined from Mull and Oban. On Mull they run from Ulva Ferry to Staffa and The Treshnish Isles.
Operating out of Ulva Ferry on Mull’s west coast, Mull Charters offer a range of packages including wildlife watching, fishing trips and a special trip aimed at photographing Mull’s famous White-tailed Eagles. Trips last from 3 hours to a whole day, depending on your itinerary.
Although based in Oban, Basking Shark Scotland can pick visitors up from Mull! Tours can vary from one day to multiple days, meaning activities such as diving and snorkelling can be incorporated into your trip. This is ideal for underwater photographers who wish to capture these beautiful creatures up close.