The three ferry routes to Mull are: Oban to Craignure
Lochaline to Fishnish
Kilchoan to Tobermory.
We opted for the small ferry and 15 min. crossing from Lochaline. Ok so it takes longer to get to Lochaline but you don't have to book this ferry in advance, which you do if you want to depart from Oban. We didn't want to be tied to a particular time, either. You simply arrive and wait in the queue. The ferry is every half hour except Sundays when it's less frequent.
Lochaline has a cafe and toilets and ample parking if you just want to watch the comings and goings. Fishnish also has similar facilities.
The cost for our motorhome was £16.35 single and £2.50 per person. You pay on board.
Kilchoan is even further out of the way, at the end of the Ardnamurchan peninsula but a very scenic route. Again, this is not a bookable ferry and you just queue. The crossing is 35 mins. There are toilets but no cafe.
Oban to Craignure is most peoples' preferred route as it less of a road journey than the other two. This ferry has to be pre-booked and is a 45 min crossing. Craignure is only a small village but has more facilities than Fishnish, with pubs and a shop or two and even petrol.
2012 Update. This year we crossed from Oban to Craignure, pre-booking our outward ticket via the internet. Cost was £66.50 for our motorhome and two passengers one way, On our return, we simply turned up at Craignure and bought our return ticket an hour before sailing.We had no problems even though it was the first week of the Scottish school holidays, I guess it could be more of a problem just turning up once the English schools have broken up.
Everything ran smoothly and efficiently and we would definitely sail from Oban again, it gave us the chance to have a wander round Oban whilst parked in the ferry queue. Last check in is 30 mins before departure.
2013, used Oban to Craignure route again. Price had risen to £68.80 single saver. Our return was not booked and when we turned up, the ferry was fully booked. We waited in the reserve queue and were fortunate to be squeezed on at the very end! These ferry workers certainly know how to load a ferry!!!!!
Fionnphort is the tiny port where the passenger ferry leaves regularly for Iona, just a mile across the Sound of Iona. Boats also leave here for trips to further lying islands such as Staffa and the Treshnish Isles..Some combine Staffa and Iona in a day and others Staffa and the Treshnish in one trip. There seem to be numerous boats operating plus Alternative Boat Hire who offer trips around the coastline with handline fishing on a traditional wooden boat. You can hire by the hour or for an afternoon. (01681 700537)
Another boat is MB Iolaire which leaves Fionnphort and Iona for Staffa daily.
For the Iona Ferry visit www.calmac.co.uk
We arrived here on the motorbike in the constant drizzle. I immediately spotted a seal frolicking in the bay, right alongside a boat. By the time I had the video camera in operation, it had of course disappeared.
Apart from the trips and the proximity to Iona, there is also a nice sandy beach at Fionnphort and some good walks to the derelict Tormore granite quarry (which we didn't make.)
There are a couple of shops selling everything you may need (but not milk after 11am!!!) and a pub. There's also the Columba Heritage centre where you can park free otherwise it's a pay and display further down the road where there are public toilets. If you want to stay, there are a few B&B places as well as Fidden Farm camping. No camping on Iona.
Be warned that Fionnphort is full of coaches in the car parks, waiting to be re-united with their passengers who have fled to Iona!!! You are bound to meet a few if you happen to be travelling in the opposite direction to them on the single track road. Whether they are arriving or leaving, they don't hang about, make sure you pull over in good time!!
In general, Mull suffers very badly from lack of parking spots in the more beautiful locations. There is an overkill of laybys on the main Craignure to Tobermory road but anywhere else, you'll have difficulty being able to stop. Roads are very narrow with passing places which are not to be parked in. You may also get to the end of a narrow road and find you haven't room to turn round. Also, bear in mind that sheep and cattle wander freely, as well as sleeping, on these roads. Driving fast could leave you with a written off car, not to mention farmers' losses.
We did a few routes on the motorbike, as it was far easier to stop and also turn on some of these roads on the bike. The only problem Nick experienced was when cars coming towards us presumed we would fit through the gap and didn't stop in passing places to let us through. Instead, they kept coming and Nick had to wobble his way through a very narrow space. He definitely needs more practice riding slowly through small spaces!!!!
Believe it or not, there is a piece of dual carriageway on Mull!!! This is on the main A849 between Salen and Fishnish.
Petrol is available at Fionnphort, Pennygael, Bunessan, Tobermory, Craignure and Salen and it varies in price. In Aug. Salen was cheaper than Craignure.
Our route to Mull was from Lochaline in the Ardnamurchan peninsula. The shortest route to Lochaline travelling from the south, involves the Corran ferry, saving the long journey around Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil . This is literally a five min. crossing and cost us £5.20. Watch your vehicle end when boarding and leaving the ferry and make sure you follow the staff's directions!! We didn't and grounded the tow-bar as we left the ramp!! Whoops!
Corran has toilets and a pub as does Ardgour on the other side.
Getting to Mull is not really an issue, you take the ferry from Oban.
The issue I had was whether to take the car or go as a foot passenger. I had originally intended taking the car so I would be free to drive around the island and see as much as possible. Then I saw that it was going cost about £45 or something to take the car compared to about £7 [this is rough, I forget the exact price] as a foot passenger.
Obviously that meant I was at the mercy of the public transport. I took the ferry at 10am and when we got to Mull just jumped on the first bus to Tobermory figuring I would come back and see Duart Castle etc later in the afternoon. When I arrived in Tobermory though I realised that the next bus back wasn't for 3 or 4 hours and would get me back to Craignure just in time for the ferry I wanted to get back to Oban. So I spent the whole afternoon in Tobermory and didn't see much of the rest of the Island except for on the bus journey.
So I would advise, either take your car despite the cost and try and get the earliest ferry and last ferry back or go for longer than a day!
As you will have read, we drove to Mull in our motorhome carrying our new motorbike on the back. This in itself was some feat as it had taken weeks of buying, transporting and fixing a suitable motorbike rack to the van's draw-bar. Our first trial with the bike on the rack was not a success as it wobbled a great deal and just generally was NOT safe! Nick spent a weekend strengthening the and re-fixing the rack and with our new ratchet straps, BINGO! No wobbles. We were all set for Mull.
The bike travelled well and we had no problems apart from Nick remembering how to strap the bike on the rack.
We were both a little apprehensive on our first trip but soon became accustomed to our new transport and began to relax and enjoy ourselves. It was a great way to get about on Mull's narrow roads, especially knowing there were plenty of passing places. It certainly enabled us to travel minor routes confidently, knowing we could fit anywhere easily, which would not have been so in the motorhome.
Motorhome + motorbike = a great combination for seeing and staying on Mull.
2012 Update. We still have the bike and used it this holiday, absolutely no problems!
Mull is an island. You will need to get over here on a boat and most use the Oban to Craignure connection provided by Cal-Mac. The ride is about 40 minutes or so and the ferry terminal is adjacent to the train station. It is also a five minute walk from the main bus stop. Oban is a very busy terminal with several other boat runs than to just Mull. The ride is very scenic passing islands and light buoys galore. You also pass by the base of Duart Castle as you get close to Craignure. The Oban ferry is not the cheapest way to get to Mull, but it is the easiest.
Buses on Mull run between Tobermory, Craignure and Fionnphort (Iona). They don’t run that often so look at the time tables of Bowman’s Coaches carefully. Bicycles are another option. To have an enjoyable time you really need to pick the weather right. Expect a little wind and a little rain. Sunshine is a bonus. There is bicycle rental in Tobermory and at the little gas station on the east side of the Fionnphort road about 100 meters past the Craignure Inn.
I was given the loan of Tina’s (of Craignure Inn) for the 28 mile roundtrip to Lochbuie. Headwinds in both directions!! Aye, that be Scotland, mate.
The road is narrow. In fact, most of the roads on Mull are single lane, so if a car comes on the other direction, it will have to wait. However the traffic is light, and people are patient for most of the time. (Heard that expression "Island mode"? ) The rewards will be lovely sceneries, the mountains, some lochs, peacefullness, perhaps an encounter or 2 wit hthe locals ( Highlands cow and sheeps)
If you take your own or a hired car to the island, be respectful of the rules of single track roads. If you see a car coming, you should prepare to stop in the nearest passing place. These are marked by black and white poles, or poles with a white rhombus on top.
If there is no passing place between you, the person with the passing place closest behind should reverse. If you can't reverse your car, don't even think about bringing it to Mull.
You should always pull into a passing place on your own side of the road, unless you are letting a bus or lorry past. However, if you are going to pull into a passing place on the right, be sure to give the oncoming vehicle plenty of warning- use your indicators.
Also remember that you should give way to vehicles coming uphill, especially lorries and agricultural machinery. It's much harder for them to get going again on a hill than it is for an ordinary car.
Use passing places to allow overtaking. If you see a car approaching behind you, stop in a passing place when it is safe to do so and allow it to pass. Remember to indicate. Tourists may enjoy dawdling along at 20 miles per hour, but the locals are not here to enjoy the scenery. They know the roads and can (and need to) drive much faster. You never know when the driver behind you is a doctor attending a call-out, or someone rushing for the last ferry at Craignure or Lochaline.
Don't stop in passing places on blind corners for any reason other than allowing oncoming traffic to pass. Passing places are NOT parking places, and it is illegal to use them as such. People parking cars on blind corners to photograph the amazing scenery that has just unfolded in front of them are one of the main causes of accidents on Mull roads. Use your common sense- drive a bit further down the road and find somewhere safe to stop.
Thank you for reading!
Catch the Isle of Mull ferry in Oban. It is a car ferry, but also takes walk-on passengers. It runs about every 2 hours.
The ferry has food service, a pub, some shops, and comfortable indoor areas to sit, but we were all up on the top deck in the cold because of the great view. The ferry passes fairly close to the ruins of the Castle Duart.
There is only one way to get there, unless you swim...
There are ferry ships that leave the city of Oban Scotland to go to the island. I really enjoyed the ferry boat with my friend graham.
Lasting memories with a lad! :o)
To get to Mull you will need a boat and the ferry is the easiest way. From the mainland you can take a CalMac ferry from Oban, but be sure to buy your ticket ahead of time so that you're assured of a place on the boat. You can buy them at the ticket office or at the local tourist bureau. It's about a 45 min ride to Mull and if you're lucky you'll see seals playing in the water. Watch for Duart Castle as you arrive, it's quite a sight.
Watch for those blind hills, you never know what is beyond them. Also the road is very narrow, so make sure that no one is coming in the opposite direction.