Quicker to travel to from the Central Belt than Skye and much larger than any of the Clyde islands, the Inner Hebridean Isle of Mull is somewhere that is often unfairly overlooked. I always find this surprising given that the second largest of Inner Hebrides boasts world class beaches, the only island Munro outside Skye, perhaps the finest wildlife viewing in Europe and some of Scotland’s finest seafood too. Not to mention a big chunk of the brand new Stevenson Way, which I recently nipped over to Mull to tackle.
The Stevenson Way only kicked off earlier this year, but already this 230 mile themed wilderness walk is winning both plaudits and devotees. I was quickly a fan after sailing into a sandy cove on the islet of Erraid to be dramatically landed in the literary footsteps of David Balfour. Balfour was Robert Louis Stevenson’s protagonist in his rip roaring adventure novel ‘Kidnapped’. The Way re-creates his epic trek from being shipwrecked on Mull all the way to Edinburgh in spectacular style taking in some of Scotland wildest and most wildly beautiful scenery as it goes. It is a serious self-guided non-waymarked walk, not for the fainthearted or the under-equipped.
On Mull the Stevenson Way moves on from Erraid and skirts in and around the Ross of Mull coast and its tragically ruined villages before cutting north at Lochbuie to slice open the island’s interior on a final march to the Sound of Mull at Fishnish. It is here that Balfour caught a ferry to Morvern. On my guided Kidnapped adventure (the Way organisers run various guided trips) the walking was tough with few paths to speak off and navigational skills essential. The effort was more than worthwhile though. In a week I saw dozens of golden eagles, a majestic sea eagle, dozens of red deer, an otter, numerous seals, a porpoise and a pod of bottlenose dolphins, who skipped right by the shore on the Stevenson Way.
Mull these days is indeed famous for its wildlife viewing and you don’t need to walk fifty miles like me to savour it. You can see a lot of it yourself, but there are great operators on hand too. In the water Sea Life Surveys take delighted humans out to meet their mammal cousins, the local whales and dolphins, and well as some of the world’s biggest fish in the form of basking sharks. On land Isle of Mull Wildlife Expeditions are the people to contact. David Woodhouse is the ultra knowledge award winning guide at the helm. He stresses that no matter the weather he will take you out in search of the likes of golden eagles, otters and sea eagles.
I finished my week in the postcard pretty capital of Tobermory. After an obligatory stop to buy some Balamory goodies – my young daughter is, like many kids, a big fan of the Balamory TV series set here – it was time for seafood. Café Fish is one of the best places in Scotland to savour the delights of the west coast. I dined on perfectly salty Croig oysters before moving on to Croig lobster cooked with garlic butter, an ideal end to a week on Mull that reaffirmed exactly why I think it is one seriously underrated island.