With a diversity of land forms unequalled by any other Scottish island, the third largest of the Hebrides, Mull is a place of wild beauty: untamed, rugged and never uninteresting. Here is a sample route to give you a taste of the walking available.
WALK 1.1: Tobermory and Aros Park
|Start||Tobermory car park (NM 505 551)|
|Distance||5.5km (3½ miles)|
|Terrain||Woodland and lakeside paths|
|Map||OS Explorer 374 Isle of Mull North and Tobermory|
Aros Park is a green lung for Tobermory, not that it needs it, given the breezy ozone that permanently mantles the town. But this sometime estate park, now owned by the Forestry Commission, is linked to Tobermory for good reason: it is the perfect place to explore a managed estate woodland, to enjoy the ornamental lake carpeted with water lilies, and to harvest a bounty of brambles in season. The woodlands are rich and lush with ash, rowan, hazel, birch, beech, oak and various pine, as well as rhododendron, a telltale sign of a managed estate. Thick layers of moss cloak many of the trees, both living and long-since felled, while the understorey has a fine range of fungi later in the year. This walk is straightforward and uncomplicated.
Leave the car park by setting off along a path near the pub (signed ‘Coastal Path to Aros Park’), climbing a little at the end of a cliff, then going forward along a terraced path with the sea down below to your left. Throughout the walk there are stands of oak, beech, birch, hazel, alder, rowan and a few lime.
Spùt Dubh (Black Spout), as its name suggests, is a waterfall, a once-important supply of fresh, albeit peat-stained, water for ships in years gone by. Beyond that, a landslide some years ago necessitated a little re-routing, but the path maintains a steady course above the waters of Tobermory Bay, with Calve Island riding at anchor offshore, protecting the Tobermory harbour from east winds.
Where the busy Aros Burn meets the bay, a footbridge provides a fine viewing point for the nearby waterfall. Across the burn, take the left-hand path and soon reach a junction. Here, branch left (signed for the pier), and walk down to a T-junction close by a couple of sturdy buildings. A quick left turn here takes you down to the pier and its small nook-like harbour, with a lovely view across the bay to Tobermory.
Turn right and soon reach the north-western end of lily-covered Lochan a’ Ghurrabàin. As you do, turn left onto the Lochan Trail, and immediately right to follow a gentle path all around the lake through mature woodland. At the far end of the lake, the path divides. Branch right, and, just on crossing a simple footbridge spanning a stream (with a dilapidated pump house nearby) flowing from the distant Lochan na Guailne Duibhe away to the south-east, keep right, still on the Lochan Trail.
When the path next divides, take the left-hand branch, walking up to a large car park and picnic area. This spot may be reached more directly – to effect a shorter walk, or for that matter a picnic – by leaving the A848 at NM 509 541, at Aros Lodge.
The car park is the site of Aros House, owned by the Allan family, shipowners from Liverpool, who were resident here from 1874 until 1959. The gardens were planted by Alexander Allan, who tended the estate with great care and lived the life of a respectable country gentleman. By the 1950s, the estate had become a financial drain, and the Forestry Commission bought the land but had no use for the house, which was sold on and later stripped of its oak panelling and lead roofing. In time, left as a shell, the house became a danger and the army demolished it in 1962.
Cross the car park, heading towards a small toilet block, just past which you find another path taking you back among the trees. This path, too, soon divides. Go left, climbing gently, and quickly arrive at a T-junction with the Aros Burn a few strides in front of you, and the lower waterfall and footbridge a short distance down to your right. If you want to extend the walking a little, then at the T-junction you can turn left and walk up beside the burn, crossing a main trail, and continuing to the upper waterfall. There are linking paths to get you back on line, but the simplest expedient is to return to the lower waterfall.
Cross the footbridge, and retrace your steps to Tobermory.