Ardalanish on the Isle of Mull
Blog – 3rd February 2021
In October of 2017, while on one of our private tours of Scotland, we were travelling around the West Highlands and Argyll, which is a uniquely beautiful part of Scotland. In October, this part of Scotland also enjoys some of the most spectacular autumn colours in all of Scotland. Our guests were keen to get off the beaten track and experience hidden gems. We did this with a visit to Ardchattan Priory which dates to 1230 / 31 and founded by Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorn and builder of the nearby Dunstaffnage Castle. A visit to Ardchattan is a tranquil and beautiful experience and we love to take our guests here and recount history while observing the carved stones and grave markers. Ardchattan Priory: History | Historic Environment Scotland | HES Our lunch stop later this day was at the Inverawe Smoke House, a favourite spot of ours. Here they have been smoking the finest Salmon and Trout for over 25 years and they are now one of the biggest mail order houses in Scotland. Smoked Salmon | Scottish Smoked Salmon | Inverawe Smokehouses Before lunch you can tour the exhibition and learn about the family and the smoking process. It was while we were sitting down to our lovely, locally caught lunch, that we started talking about another of Scotland’s famous products - woollens and tweeds. They were keen to buy quality woollens and, preferably, locally made from start to finish. We are always happy to find such places, and luckily enough for our guests, we were sailing over to the Isle of Mull, in the Inner Hebrides the very next day, where an absolute local gem awaits…
A voyage out to the Scottish Islands is an amazing travel experience, in fact, we would say it is one of the best! The experience starts as the ferry departs the quayside, and in this case, the departure point is the beautiful harbour town of Oban. As we sail out on a sunny autumn morning the views of the town, Oban Distillery, McCaig’s Tower, the promenade, restaurants, Dunollie Castle and more are amazing, and it is a nice feeling to know we will be returning to Oban, to explore more. But for now, we are sailing west, into the Firth of Lorn, which sits at the south end of Loch Linnhe and flows into the sound of Mull, which in turn, flows out to the Atlantic Ocean. We won’t be going that far today though, our sailing is a short, but nevertheless, spectacular 50-minute voyage to the Isle of Mull, where the views of the Mountains of Morvern get you every time. (We do this journey almost weekly from spring to autumn.) The purpose of today’s tour is to visit the small Island of Iona, which sits just off the south west of the Isle of Mull. Iona is one of my favourite islands in all of Scotland as it is so peaceful. Whenever I step off the small ferry to Iona, (it only takes 20 minutes to get across the Sound of Iona) I enter the realm of tranquillity! I want to switch off my mobile phone, disown all modern communications, and embrace small island life. And for a few hours, or if we are staying a couple of nights, we do! Iona is known as the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. St Columba and twelve companions came here from Ireland in the year AD 563. The monastery they founded here was one of the most important in all the British Isles.
We will visit Iona in a future blog but for now we must reverse…. Back over the sound of Iona to the Isle of Mull, and into the stunningly beautiful Ross of Mull, a peninsula jutting out of the south west of Mull in the direction of Iona and offers amazing views of sea and land. Before we reach our small ancient island, we turn off, to an off the beaten track gem, Ardalanish Bay.
Remember the Scottish woollens and tweeds our guests wanted? Well, this is the reason for our detour to Ardalanish. This hidden gem on the Isle of Mull is one of our favourite places for views out to other Hebridean islands of Jura and Colonsay. The coastline here is rocky and it also has a shimmering mile long sandy beach, fringed with wildflower machair from June to September. Sitting in this little corner of stunning beauty is Ardalanish Weavers. Ardalanish - Isle of Mull Weavers
First and foremost, Ardalanish is a farm and they have two of the classic highland and island breeds – Highland Cattle and Hebridean Sheep, which are both very much at home in this wild landscape. The fleeces from the Hebridean sheep are compressed into wool, which is then spun and ready for designing. The products they make here are of the highest quality and include accessories, clothing, homeware, yarn and tweed. They take their colour from the natural fleeces which include, dark/ black, white/creamy and cinnamon/toffee. The designs are superb, and I am happy to say both Evie and I own some of their products! The farm has its own mill shop onsite and is open to visitors most of the year. Another wonderful feature at Ardalanish is that you can take a tour of their weaving mill where they will explain the weaving process as well as giving you a demonstration. Our guests had an amazing time at Ardalanish Weavers, not to mention the stunning surroundings and being on a working farm! The purpose of our visit was to buy quality woollen products and that, I can tell you, they did! (So, did I!)
It is always a pleasure to introduce our guests to local business owners who have a passion for what they do. We love including hidden gems on all our tours, it is what makes a tour more memorable.
© Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved