Caribbean-blue sea, white sand, mountains…the Isle of Mull has become one of our favourite places to camp.
Here’s our guide to a perfect five days of camping and exploring.
Please check current ferry, cafe and campsite details before travelling.
Camping en route to the Isle of Mull
If you’re planning to get a ferry from Oban to Mull, then it’s good to give yourself some time in Oban to stock up with food and fuel. That means camping somewhere on the mainland the night before.
We love the forest roads of the Trossachs for wild camping, having spent a snowy new year there once. In season (May to October), you need a permit, but it’s only a token fee to pay and you can do it easily online. You can easily extend your trip with a few days here, visiting the smaller lochs (like lovely Loch Katrine), the village of Callander, the great Mhor bakery, waterfalls and more.
For a campsite, we’d recommend the Luss site right on the banks of Loch Lomond. There are plenty more on the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs website (an easy-to-use, well-designed guide). We try to avoid the loch itself in season. It’s busy and the laybys can get rather mucky with litter.
If you have time, make a detour to the batty church on Loch Awe. St Conan’s Kirk is a masterpiece of eccentricity overlooking the water.
Taking the ferry to Mull
There are three ports with ferries to Mull, but the easiest is Oban. The town itself is really interesting, plus there are supermarkets and cheap fuel for your trip. Visit our favourite cafe here – the veggie Potting Shed.
Ferries are operated by Calmac and run very regularly. For a car and two passengers, the cost is around £22 one-way. Buying a ticket is NOT the same as booking a space. Out of season, you'll probably get on if you just turn up, but in season it's better to book ahead
It’s no cheaper to buy a return, by the way, plus you might want to go back by a different route. There’s a Hopscotch ticket that lets you travel to as many islands as you like, but doesn’t give you any discount on the individual travel price.
The Oban to Craignure ferry takes 45 minutes and it’s a lovely crossing. There are drinks and snacks on board.
Left or right at Craignure?
Once you get to Craignure on Mull, you can turn right to take the only properly main road to Tobermory, or you can take the usual single-track road (with plenty of passing places) towards the south.
Mull is bigger than you’d think, plus the winding roads make journeys long than expected. There’s beauty at every turn, so enjoy the drive!
IMPORTANT: There’s no camping at Uisken or Fidden in 2020. There’s nowhere nearby either, so please don’t drive all that way to take a chance.
If you’re on foot, there are buses to Tobermory and to the setting off point for the island of Iona.
We turned left on our trip, heading for the stunning beach at Fidden, near Fionnphort from where the Iona ferry leaves. Here, you camp among pink granite rocks, semi-wild, but with some facilities offered by the farm. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and there are islets, inlets and bays to explore nearby too – either on foot or by kayak.
The Wild Guide to Scotland is a real boon. It’s how we discovered Fidden.
A brilliant series of guides that help you discover lovely landscapes, places to swim and camp, unusual and special places to eat and more.
Weavers and wild camping
How we discovered Uisken, though, was by calling in at the Ardalanish Weavers.
Originally just a sheep farm, a series of serendipitous events have created a weaving centre with wonderful tweeds, scarves, wraps and blankets all made with local wool, dyed with local plants and woven on vintage industrial looms.
There’s a small welcome room with snacks and local crafts, a fabric and garment shop and a chance to see the looms in action. A fascinating visit – more so because the man who set up the looms and trained the series of new craftspeople is Bob, a master weaver from my hometown of Huddersfield.
It was here that Uisken beach was recommended to us. And how fantastic a find!
Scotland? Really? This is Uisken
Three nights at Uisken
It was supposed to be one night, but we couldn’t leave. Is this the most perfect bay?
For £2 per person per night, you can camp on the beach itself and top up with water at a nearby croft. There are no other facilities (no loos), so you need to be self-sufficient or be prepared to drive into the local village every so often.
We swam in the ice-cold sea, built campfires, climbed up to the cairn and watched the oyster catchers, greylag geese and wheatears. Our view from the van was out to Colonsay and Jura over crystal clear water and rocky islets.
Up the coast to Loch na Keal
Heading back up the road to Craignure, you can take a left turn and drive along the coast road up the west towards the north of Mull.
Remember that Mull is very sparsely populated apart from Tobermory and there are no big supermarkets, only a couple of petrol stations (with no need to advertise their prices!). A short distance as the whitetailed eagle flies becomes a long but gorgeous drive as you wind around cliffs and lochs.
On the way, we stopped at Whitetail Gin – the botanicals from here are used to make a 47% gin named after the famous eagles. The lovely owners have also opened a great little café and shop, with superstrong coffee, homemade cakes, pastries and lunches.
Loch na Keal is an immense sea loch with lots of places to wild camp on the southern shore. Just pick your view and pitch your tent or park your van for a night or two of dark skies and bird calls. You’ll see serious birdwatchers here on the look-out for whitetailed and golden eagles. You might also spot a seal or an otter.
As the loch ends, just after the Benmore Estate, there’s a small shoreside campsite where we spent a night. £5 a night when open, free when closed. No facilities, only views!.
‘Real’ campsites on Mull
Mull doesn’t have many organised campsites. There’s a biggish one at the ferry port of Craignure, but it’s not the prettiest spot on the island. There’s a charmless one on the hill above Tobermory, which is useful if you want to spend a couple of days in the town. And there’s a basic campsite at Calgary Bay, with toilets. This one, while on a beach, can get crowded.
If you’re wild camping and need a shower, the marina office at Tobermory has excellent showers on a coin-operated system.
Places to visit on Mull
Tobermory is a bit of a draw for tourists because it has a Co-op, shops, pubs, a distillery and a marina. It’s famous for its coloured houses and is a picturesque place, though not somewhere to spend more than a day or two.
Our recommendations for visits would be Duart Castle, Glengorm Castle, the Fossil Tree, Staffa to see the puffins and Fingal’s Cave and Iona.
Out of season (we were there in early April), there are few people around, the single track road is quiet and wild camping spots are easy to find. The sea is cold, for sure, but too beautiful to resist.
Mull is definitely one of the most beautiful places we’ve been too and we’ll definitely be back.
As well as all our usual camping gear, there were some particular things that proved very useful on this trip.
For our all-time favourites, have a look at our 60 must-haves feature.
We tested this for the first time in the Lake District and were impressed. The rechargeable pump sits in the collapsible bucket (or any standing water) and will give you a good shower at a decent pressure. The kit includes a shower-head, a trigger spray and a jet nozzlew in a neat bag, along with a hook for hanging. The bucket (available separately) comes in useful for washing up or storing and carrying water (there’s a tap accessory).
Have a look at our feature on camping showers.
It was our friend Kathy (of the wee tube fame) who introduced us to the wonders of these lightweight binoculars. As Mull is such a great spot for birdwatching, a pair of carryable binoculars is a really good idea.
She had these Nikon binoculars and they were the best we’ve tried for portability and clarity. We spotted a golden eagle, seals, yellowhammers and a naked man having a shower next to a green bucket on the beach! Who could that be?
We go on about our Campingaz Bivouac stove ALL the time, but we have had it for more than six years and it’s never let us down. Small enough to carry, takes easily-findable canisters and has an ignition.
We used it inside the van on this windy trip (plenty of ventilation, of course).
See more recommended gas stoves.
Very useful indeed. We used our Colapz bag for gathering wood, for washing up, for storing wet shoes and for taking recycling to the bins.
There are two sizes and both are suitable for holding water. The two Andrews are using the blue one for kindling as they get our beach campfire going.
Our fridge is probably the most expensive item of camping equipment we’ve bought, but it’s worth every penny.
You can get cheaper coolboxes and they’re fine in lots of situations, but if you’re wild camping and don’t want to run down the battery, you need a camping fridge that will run efficiently on 12V. The fan works only when needed and, thanks to the high level of insulation, that’s not often.
Our 32l fridge keeps our food and drink cool whatever the temperature outside and inside the van. It really comes into its own for Mediterranean camping, of course.
We were able to stay in one spot on Mull for three days with no fear of draining the battery and no fear of warm wine or beer!
Have a look at our guide to choosing the best camping fridge, with suggestions for every type of camping and every budget. Then have a look at our recommended models of camping fridge.
What a great find. Inov8 is more associated with trail and fell running, but they also do a range of very lightweight, comfortable and waterproof boots for men and women. Prices are great at Sportsshoes.com, which was where I bought my Roclite 325 GTX. Go up a size. This trip was their debut and they gave brilliant grip on rocky beaches and Scottish fells.
We’ve included them in our round-up of our favourite walking boots.