Winter breaks on Mull – how to best prepare
Read on for ‘Winter breaks on Mull – how to best prepare’…
The other day I read a comment on Instagram about how Mull was closed in winter. This made me realise that the person who posted that comment didn’t have realistic expectations for their trip. And were quite possibly disappointed. As one of the three thousand full time residents on the island I don’t feel the island is closed, it is just that the choice of what is open (activities, shops, restaurants and cafes) is reduced.
Island tourism does tend to be seasonal. The number of visitors plummets in the autumn and winter compared to summer. Staff costs and overheads remain the same, but if there isn’t the footfall, small businesses cannot afford to stay open. A lot of businesses on the islands (of Mull, Iona and Ulva) are small family businesses, run by owner operators who work extremely hard in the summer – often working 7 days a week without a break. They deserve their time off too.
Some of our guests actually prefer to come and stay in the autumn and winter. The cottages are cheaper to rent at this time of year, the light can be dramatic and the variety in the weather unpredictable!
Okay so the Mull Museum, the Mull Aquarium and Duart Castle close in the winter. Instead why not discover the castles that are not ‘open to the public’ but are always there? Like the ruins of Aros Castle in its brooding position at the mouth of the River Aros. There is a lovely circular walk past the castle and down along the shore.
Or Moy Castle, dramatically positioned at the head of Loch Buie. Combine that with a walk along the shore looking for Otters. Or Dun Nan Gall Broch on Loch Tuath, near Lip na Cloiche garden (which is open during the winter).
Without getting in the car you can explore the history in the landscape here at Treshnish too, like the turf walls and ruined buildings of Scoma, near Haunn – in the photograph below.
What will be open?
There are places to eat in Tobermory – cafes that remain open and hotels and pubs where you can get an evening meal. The difference between summer and winter is that there is not such a big choice. So please come expecting to find somewhere to eat, rather than expecting to have a huge choice of places to eat.
I am writing this blog in November and at the moment the shops in Tobermory are open, as they are in the summer – just operating shorter opening hours.
Live like a local
Think of being on Mull in the winter as a way of seeing the bare bones of the island. Look on our local community noticeboard in Dervaig. Pick up a copy of Round and About, the monthly island paper.
There is still plenty of wildlife around. Just yesterday Somerset alerted me to a pair of White tailed eagles flying near the farmhouse – spotted without trying!
You could take a land based tour with the award winning Nature Scotland. They are based near by. Boat trips do not run at this time of year – but you can sea watch from along the coast.
Winter weather can be wild but it can also be wonderful calm. Whilst it doesn’t snow that often, it can still be very cold. So it is important to take the right precautions, wear the right clothing and footwear, check the weather forecasts. Don’t take risks. Let someone know where you are going.