Isle of Mull
Most visitors to Mull arrive on the M.V. Isle of Mull, a modern roll-on-roll-off car ferry which sails from Oban and can bring 1,000 passengers per trip to the island as well as cars, coaches and lorries. The forty minute crossing provides those on board with an enjoyable opportunity of seeing both shorelines of the Firth of Lorn, as well as that of the island of Lismore, as the coast of Mull draws closer.
Craignure to Torosay Castle
Certainly the approach to Craignure pier is dramatic, the slopes of Dun da Ghaoithe (2,512 ft) dwarfing the sheltered, richly wooded bay. Opposite Craignure village is the mouth of Loch Linnhe, which extends north-eastwards for more that forty miles, its upper reach overlooked by the highest mountain in Great Britain – Ben Nevis at 4,406 ft. On a clear day the mountain’s massive shape can be seen from many places on the east coast of Mull.
Leaving the jetty at Craignure, turn westwards to take the romantic road that strikes across southern Mull to Iona in the extreme west. A little more than a mile out of the village is Torosay Castle, an imposing Victorian building set in beautiful grounds. Both the castle and its grounds are open to visitors who may care to travel the short distance from Craignure jetty by steam railway.
A little further on from Craignure is the turning that leads to Duart Castle, home of the Chief of Clan Maclean. Its commanding position, as well as the aura of history that radiates from it, attracts many visitors to its doors. The thirteenth century keep has walls 14 ft thick, and the cannon mounted on them commanded the passage of the Sound of Mull at its narrowest point.
Duart is open to the public in the summer months and many fascinating relics of the clan’s history are on display, as well as a famous exhibition of Scouting.
The Craignure-Fionnphort road next skirts the head of Loch Spelve, a great sea loch unusual in having its access to the sea on its longer eastern shore, so that in effect it is T-shaped. Its origins derive from the cataclysmic earth movements that created Loch Linnhe, the Great Glen and Loch Ness further to the north east. If time allows, pause here for a moment to enjoy the head of Loch Spelve.
The small island that you see to the south is Eilean Armalaig, where evidence remains of fortifications built by the Macleans of Duart to protect the slipways for their galleys, still to be seen on the loch shore opposite. Legend tells how Lachlan Maclean, a sixteenth century chief of the clan, was warned that should he ever take his galleys anti-clockwise round Eilean Armalaig he would suffer evil consequences. A proud and haughty man, Lachlan took little heed of the warning and shortly afterwards met his death during one of the periodic feuds with the Chief of Islay. As he was about to lay the coup de grace on the opposing chief, Lachlan was shot in the back by a hunchback that he had scorned to have in his troop.