The Isle of Mull might not seem like your first choice for a family vacation, but this quiet island in the Scottish Hebrides is filled with nature, history and a strong culture every child will want to see.
The Isle of Mull went appeared on the travel radar around 1945 when
"I Know Where I'm Going" was released. This black and white film showed off the
Scottish Hebrides and made it a place that film enthusiasts wanted to go.
It isn't widely thought of as a family destination. Most
visitors to the island seemed to be older folks looking for eagles and exploring
the history of the place. But, really, there is no reason it can't be the perfect place to
unwind with your kids. Technology is at a minimum, the food is simple but good and the scenery is like nothing you will find in the States. Did I mention
they have some pretty amazing cows?
Here are some other reasons you and kids will have an amazing trip there:
Fish and chips, meat pies and cider are big on the island,
but it's the scones you don't want to skimp on whenever you are in Scotland. Go
to the local bakery in Tobermory (there is only one) to load up on fresh, hot
scones with jam and butter at breakfast, as an afternoon treat with tea or snacks
for the road as you wander the island. These tasty baked goods are great for
picky eaters, as they are basically biscuits, but 10 times more amazing.
Different shops have different ingredients added to their scones, including
berries, orange, raisins and cranberries. Let your kids find their favorite and
More than one lord and lady lived on the Isle of Mull. Duart
Castle is still run by the same ancestral family who has owned it for centuries.
You can take a little tour of the property, but the grounds are a bit more
exciting for kids as you can spot seals and porpoises off the coast. Moy Castle
is farther south towards the Isle of Iona. This castle was in the movie, but, right now, the owners will only let you step on the land since it is in such disrepair due to lack of funds. The
location on a rocky beach where you can find shells, pottery shards and rocks. It's is great for kids, especially if you bought them a plastic swords to fight
duels while you are there.
Oh, the Highland cows (aka: "coos"). You could see nothing but
sheep and cows on the island and be perfectly content. These cows are not your
typical dairy cows either. They are very hairy. Hair covers their bodies and
even their eyes. Many of the cows are shown at festivals and competitions. They
are unique to the Highlands and treasured by the people and visitors to the
area. If you visit in the spring, you are
in for a real treat. The lambs are out in the fields with their mamas and the
calves are frolicking in the pastures as they test out their legs and play
those silly cow games that only they understand. Highland traffic jams are not
a joke though. More than one herd of sheep or cows will block the road at any
given time and, unless there is a farmer around, you may not be moving for a
while. Sit back and relax as you watch these majestic creatures use their "right
of way" on the island.
4. Phone booths
One of the most popular, yet out of the way spots from the
movie "I Know Where I'm Going," is a phone booth next to a waterfall. When you
first see the scene in the movie you assume it is against a fake backdrop. But
no. It is a very real thing.
Apparently when the phone company installed the
phone booth, they hadn't seen the location in the spring. During the winter, it
was cold with no water—nothing but snow. When spring hit and the snow melted, a
gushing waterfall appeared, just like it did every year. That phone booth is
still there to this day and worth the 20-minute detour off the main road to
find it. Don't worry. You definitely can't miss it. The road is only one lane
wide for most of the drive.
The Isle of Mull is small. Like, you can drive around the
whole thing in less than a day with multiple stops for photos of Highland cows,
glens and mountains along the way. Most of the island is not inhabited, leaving
cell service sadly lacking for most of your explorations. Rentals and hotels do
offer Wi-Fi, but if you plan on using your phone data for all of your technological
needs, you may have a quieter, screen-free trip than you anticipated. For
families this can be a great thing. You are able to talk, check out your
surroundings and engage your kids to see what they like and don't like on the
island. For anyone looking to get a little work done it can be tough, though.