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Age of children: 6 (then 7!) and 3 years old.
A short flight to Glasgow and then the train and ferry took us to the Isle of Mull, where we stayed in a remote cottage and spent a week exploring the beautiful Isle of Mull and Iona in a hire car.
Day 1 – Glasgow
We flew the short distance from London Gatwick to Glasgow, landing just before midday. Our son’s first comments were that Glasgow was no different to where we lived, so what was the point of the whole holiday? We had to explain to him that, yes, Glasgow looked no different but we were still in the United Kingdom and that when we went to the Isle of Mull the scenery would be much different! We took the airport shuttle bus to the Grand Central Hotel where we would be staying for a night. Check-in was not available so we left our bags there and went for a walk around the city centre. Later we got a taxi to the Riverside Museum, Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel. This was a great place to keep the children entertained and they spent a lot of time amazed by the old trams, trains and other means of transportation on show. Afterwards we went outside and onto the Tall Ship for a go at mopping the decks and learning about life at sea! That evening we met up with some of Rachel’s friends, Roy and Paula, who she had met while diving in the Red Sea 10 years ago and went for an Italian!
Day 2 – Arrival on Mull
Up early, we checked out of the hotel and took a taxi for the quick ride to Queen Street Station. After a short wait we boarded our train to Oban. The train took us through the very scenic Scottish Highlands. Despite being three hours long the kids entertained themselves well.
On arrival at Oban we walked to the Ferry terminal and didn’t have long to wait to board the ferry to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. We had hired a car from Mull Car Hire, and we picked this up with no problem at all. The drive to Tobermory was spectacular and we were lucky with the weather too, sunny with great views over the Sound of Mull to our right. Most of the Isle of Mull is single track roads and we were soon getting the hang of using the passing points to let oncoming traffic past. In Tobermory we stopped off for some Ice Cream and looked over the harbour before getting some groceries and heading to our accommodation at the edge of the Glengorm Castle Estate – Cnoc Fuar Cottage! The cottage was what we wanted, a remote place to stay – far removed from any town with the only let down being the grounds around the cottage were not suited for the children to run around and play like we thought it would be. We settled in and took a walk up the nearby hill which housed radio masts and admired the view for miles around!
Day 3 – 7th Birthday
Today our son turned 7 and was very happy when we woke him up with a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’. We asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday and he decided he wanted to visit a castle. Since we were on the Glengorm Castle estate we thought we would take a drive to Glengorm Castle itself. The weather was more like we had expected on Mull – raining! We drove to the castle estate and parked by the coffee shop. We then had drinks and cake to celebrate his birthday before setting off for a walk in the rain to find the standing stones situated on the estate.
We walked back and thought we would visit the castle, however on entering the building there didn’t appear to be much in the way of tourist information! There was a bell to ring for assistance so we did just that. It turns out that the castle is actually a residence and not a tourist stop at all!! However our daughter needed the toilet so Rachel and her were let in for a look around the halls at least and use the facilities while we waited outside. We took our son to Tobermory for dinner and had a nice meal at MacGochans pub by the harbour car park which had a very friendly atmosphere.
Day 4 – Castle #2
Not wanting to disappoint our son as he didn’t really get to go in a castle on his birthday, we decided that today would be spent at Duart Castle which dates back to the 13th century. Now this castle is a tourist attraction, and we could explore the inside and learn about the history of the castle and the area of Mull. Afterwards we took a walk around the grounds of the castle and allowed the kids to run around and burn off energy. We explored a little more of the island while taking our time on the scenic route going home, stopping off in the town of Salen and then for a break in a rustic pub in Dervaig.
Day 5 – Cheese!
Another rainy day today didn’t dampen our spirits as we had already decided to visit the Isle of Mull Cheese farm and have a tour of the farm and learn about the cheese making process. Our daughter was a bit too young for it all, but our son showed a keen interest and especially enjoyed tasting the curd. We finished our time at the farm off with a light meal at their coffee shop before heading into Tobermory to look around the shops for the afternoon.
Day 6 – Boat Trip
We had booked an excursion out to sea today with Sea Life Surveys, leaving from Tobermory we would spend five hours on board their Family Whalewatch tour. We were slightly worried how the children would handle this time on the boat but we were pleasantly surprised. Despite not finding much marine life on our trip we did spot a great aerial display as three golden eagles engaged with multiple ravens over a cliff top. The children really loved the experience of being on the boat and were able to see plankton fished from the sea under a microscope too, so we chalked the trip up as a success. The weather was good when we got back to Tobermory so we decided to drive to Calgary Bay. As with most of the driving on Mull, it took longer than we had anticipated to get there. We parked at the nearby coffee shop and took a walk through the nature art trail to get to the beach. Once there we could relax while the children ran around and played in the sea and the sand. We headed back to the cottage that evening tired after a full day!!
Day 7 – Iona
We drove around the island for 2 hours to reach Fionnphort and the ferry crossing over to the Isle of Iona and were not disappointed when we got there.
The sun had come out for us too and the beaches on Iona for that day could have been anywhere in the world. Soft white sand and clear sea welcomed us and the children really had a great time playing. After some beach play we took a walk through the village to the monastery and had a good look around there. The beach was crying out for us again and we walked back, this time to a different spot and relaxed in the sand and let the children just run free, laughing
and smiling. We had fish and chips for dinner before catching the ferry back to Mull and the car, however we were not done yet and took the short drive to another beach. As the sun set we set off on the long drive home and were rewarded by seeing wild deer at the side of the road close to Duart Castle.
Day 8 – Calgary Bay
We knew what we wanted to do today as long as it didn’t rain – a day at the beach at Calgary Bay. We stocked up on items for a picnic lunch from the lovely Tobermory Bakery and that’s exactly what we did as the clouds threatened but the rain held off. Children splashing in the water and building sandcastles brought smiles to our faces. We had ice cream in the coffee shop and then drove back to Tobermory in the evening for a last meal at MacGochans pub , a family favourite by now!
Day 9 – Back to Glasgow
We drove the hire car back to Craignure and left it with keys in ignition for collection before boarding the ferry back to Oban. From Oban it was the 3 hour train trip back to Glasgow and back for 1 night in Grand Central Hotel . The travel took us all day and we were quite tired but we had planned to meet up with old travelling friends in the evening. This time we were meeting Sara, Steve, Lorna, Jackie and Laura who had all been on the same Uluru trip in 2003 with Chris. It had been 10 years since they last met up and now everyone had families of their own. The evening was spent at Sara’s house, where our children played with her daughters long into the night while the adults caught up. We left by taxi late at night and carried the children up to the hotel room at midnight.
Day 10 – Homeward
The alarm went far too early this morning for anyone’s liking, however despite not having enough sleep we all did well to get up, check out and make our way via the shuttle bus to the airport for the short hop to Gatwick and onward home…..