The moment we rolled up to Inniemore Cabin, I knew that even if the interior turned out to be less than inspiring, we would only need to look out the window.
Carsaig Bay, on the southern side of Isle of Mull, Scotland, stretches out below Inniemore’s porch, forming a crescent amongst the dramatic cliffs that envelope it. It’s make-your-mouth-drop scenery and sometimes you can’t look away, trying to convince yourself you’re actually there, these places actually exist, and someone actually owns this cabin. You wish it could be you, but, a week will have to do.
I found Inniemore Cabin on Unique Cottages’s website. I eyed it for nearly a year until it was available. We stayed Oct 30-Nov 6th, a bit later in the year than we had originally hoped for, but we didn’t let unsettled fall weather damper our spirits. Once we knew we’d be on Isle of Mull for a week, I started researching locations that could inspire us for a narrative short film that we wanted to write (“we” being myself and my better half TJ Dalrymple).
Isle of Mull has no shortage of that, but what it does challenge you on is how to get to those ridiculous epic locations when lugging camera equipment across boggy and/or rocky shoreline for a 40+ min hike, maybe in the rain, maybe in hail, maybe during medium tide with the risk of it becoming high tide on your way back, maybe racing the winter sun that sets around 4p.
The week went by too quickly. Isle of Mull is a large isle, and you’ll drive for 1hr 20mins from Carsaig to Tobermory if you run out of something, but Salen is closer. Not that the drive is a bad thing, because it’s absolutely not. It’s stunning, no matter if you go the west or east route. The wonderful thing about Mull, and the whole of Scotland, is that when you’re driving these distances, even if you’ve driven the same route over and over, is that it looks and feels different every time you drive through it. I blame Scotland’s fantastically unpredictable and fast changing light. If you see the perfect ray of light: snap the photo NOW. It won’t be the same again.
One of my biggest pet peeves is there’s never enough interior shots posted of these amazing cottages and bothies (cottage owners take note). Often times in Scotland, you spend just as much time indoors as you do out, so as lovely as it is to see photos of a nearby beach, really I need to know how I’m going to feel when hanging out during a rain storm. I will scour the internet for a good idea of what I’m going to expect (to avoid disappointment when we travel 5,000 miles to get there), right down to finding the property on google maps and doing street views. I will spy the shit out of any location. And I haven’t been disappointed or unpleasantly surprised yet, always just the opposite. So, I’m going to over post photos.
So, here’s the wonderful Inniemore cabin:
Book through Unique Cottages:
I suspected this before we arrived, based off the google aerial view (told you I spy), that there was a cabin next to Inniemore. But, because there was no mention of it, I figured it wouldn’t be an issue. It wasn’t. There wasn’t a soul around, except for a neighbor who came up one morning from the farmhouse on the bay to search for a lost kitten.
There is a charge for electricity past the first £10. We had the heaters going in the evenings and mornings, but supplemented with the fireplace. We owed about £13 at the end of the week. The first starter kit of wood/kindling is including. We bought additional kindling in Salen.
This is the type of fairy tale you can expect to wake up to:
And go to bed to:
Just up the road, there’s a lovely red phone booth that actually still works, or so it seems. It was getting repaired when we arrived, but by the next day it was working. The red booth was in a 1945 film “I Know Where I’m Going!”
Meanwhile, you’ve got standing stones on either side of the island, so take your pick. We went to Lochbuie standing stones on the east coast to film a scene for our short.
There’s a small “walk to stones” sign off the road and enough room for a couple cars. We were the only ones when we arrived early in the morning. We spent a couple of hours there uninterrupted right up until the very end when a couple with their dog came passing through. The walk is less than half a mile one way, but wellies are recommended as it’s quite wet after a good rain. The stone circle isn’t visible from the road, it’s bordered by a farm and cottage with a hedge to protect it from view. http://stonesofwonder.com/lochbuic.htm
You’ll see some of the most dramatic roads you’ll ever drive:
And some of the most perfect cottages and faux cottages (cleverly disguised powerhouse in the last image):
And here are some other amazing things you might see:
MacKinnon’s Cave: surely the most epic cave we’ve seen. It’ll take your breath away, make you smile the biggest smile you’ve had in a long time because it’s something out of a tall tale, and then creep you out once you get inside and turn your torch off because it’s so dark and the air is heavy. You can just see the sea creeping in on you from the sliver of the opening, which is exciting and daunting all at the same time. We had rain that day, so the sounds of the waves crashing and the rain splattering down the rocks were almost too atmospheric to take in fully. Perfect for our short film.
It’s claimed to be the longest sea cave in the Hebrides. We didn’t have time to go all the way back, although TJ poked around for a few minutes long enough to see what he described as a “pulpit rock” in the back “room.” But, no time to waste. We had a movie to film, people! And the tide was coming in!
The first time we hiked out to inspect the cave, high-tide kept us from the last approach to the opening. We could see it, but couldn’t get in. It took maybe 45 minutes the first time, meandering around the farm and following the signs. The second time, it was maybe 25-30 mins because a) we knew exactly where we were going and b) we were at low-tide and c) we were on a mission.
Wellies recommended/required. Sturdy wellies, that is. Terrain varies from wet boggy farmland, to scrambling over slippery rocky shoreline, to slippery seaweed.
You can find general info here:
And walking info here:
Trail map once you arrive at the parking lot, which is between the farm and cottages at Balnahard and Balmeanach on the west coast:
Oh, just to show you the massive scale once again:
On the walk back:
Another cave is called Nun’s Cave and is a walk we took from Carsaig Bay at the cabin. It’s the same trail that goes out to Carsaig Arches, which we didn’t have time to do. The arches are a fair walk of about 13 kilometers/8.25 miles from the pier at Carsaig. Info on that is here: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/mull/carsaig-arches.shtml
We actually preferred the MacKinnon’s cave walk, but Nun’s cave has amazing carvings inside and you don’t need to worry about high-tide.
No torch needed. There is legend of some feral goats, and although the floor was blanketed in their droppings, we didn’t see a single one of them.
Accordingly to Wiki: One of the well known caves here [Mull] is known as the Nun’s Cave where nuns from the Iona Abbey used to escape from the rigours of reformation and hide. The use of some of these caves reportedly dates back to the 6th century. It is also reported that during the 15th century, the monks (1500 of them) of the Iona Abbey used to visit the shores and caves here to collect sea washed stones and carve them into artifacts and grave stones.
Here’s that cave to scale:
The rest of the images are from around Mull.
This is the largest town on Isle of Mull: Tobermory. It’s lined with little shops and cafes. We especially like the casual vibe and service at Macgochan’s.
I wish I could report on going over to Iona, but although it’s only a 10 minute ferry ride from Fionnphort, high-winds caused the ferries to cancel throughout the entire weekend we were planning on going. Check the ferry status online at Cal-Mac’s site before you come and go from any isle (we took the earlier ferry off of Mull on our last morning because of chances of it getting cancelled). https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status
I grew up outside a little town called Iona on the rural outskirts of Idaho Falls, Idaho. I went to Iona Elementary. I was looking forward to setting foot on the “real” Iona, but alas, hopefully next time.
Some of the most dramatic and varied landscapes are on Mull. It’s like a large bite-size of everything one could love about Scotland.
Ferry info: We took the ferry from Oban to Craignure and booked our tickets in advance. We took the rental car over and the process is always super easy, just arrive early like they tell you to. https://www.calmac.co.uk/
Shops, Petrol, services: Craignure, Salen, and Tobermory have the most services. We preferred Salen over Craignure, just personal preference (the Spar has great selection there, too, and better hours). Tobermory was fantastic, but a little out of everyday reach for us staying in Carsaig Bay. Salen turned out to be a great alternative.
Everything will be a little more spread out than you originally plan for. This isn’t a negative statement, it’s simply what we found as reality once we started driving from one spot to the next. Just plan to enjoy your drives, that in itself is all part of the journey (literally and figuratively), as most of the photos I’ve posted are straight off the road. You’ll have limited daylight in the winter once the clocks turn back. Because we were filming our short film, we didn’t make it over to Calgary Bay and a few other areas.
Roads: And as always: single-track roads are the norm in most of rural Scotland. Give way to faster traffic using the passing places and watch for on-coming traffic. Always stay on your side of the road (the left!), even in passing places. Be prepared to back up into a passing place if need be. The sides (or verges) of most of the roads are soft due to rain, so it’s not smart to drive off. If this seems daunting, you’ll get used to it. Here’s more information: https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usfeatures/singletrack/index.html
Accommodation: I definitely recommend Unique Cottages (not sponsored): https://www.unique-cottages.co.uk and search under West Coast & The Isles < Argyll & the Isles.
And Airbnb is always a good idea, too.
Rental car: We always rent from Europcar via Auto Europe when we fly into Edinburgh (also not sponsored). We pay for the full coverage because you just never know with single-track rural roads of Scotland (this trip, TJ backed into a jagged rock and put a hole in the bumper….and we weren’t charged an extra dime). Our Scotland trips are the only time I ever pay for full coverage with no deductible, because the rates are so affordable anyway, it’s just better to have piece of mind while you’re tromping around. We never had any damages during our other trips, but it only takes one occurrence to be thanking yourself that you got the coverage. https://www.autoeurope.com
As you can see, I was sad to leave: