“ Loch na Keal on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. „
I love the Scottish highlands and in particular have a passion for the small islands that lay off the west coast, known as the inner isles. The second largest after the isle of Skye is the beautiful Isle of Mull. Having just returned from a week long trip I though I would share some of my favourite places.
Loch Na Keal, meaning loch of the narrows, is situated in the remote northern part of Mull. It is reached via the long and winding single track B8073. There are plenty of passing places but the road will test your driving and reversing skills! The main reason we set out to explore the loch was the promise of wildlife, including otters and the magnificent white tailed sea eagle. The loch is divided in two by the many small islands. The loch has no main settlements and the nearest small village is Salem some 2.5 miles away. The islands main town of Tobermorey is 15 miles from the loch.
I think that a car is essential to visit Mull as there are limited buses especially during the winter months. The weather is also very changeable, with sunshine one minute and driving wind and rain the next. A car offers shelter from the elements especially if you have young children. We were lucky as on the day we visited the loch the weather was mild and mainly dry!
If you enjoy rock pools then it is worth knowing that loch Na Keal was voted as the best place to go rock pooling in Europe! My children certainly enjoy exploring the many pools and collecting the pretty tiny shells and rocks. The loch offers great views of Ben More the islands highest peak at 966 metres. It can be a bit tricky finding somewhere to park safely off the road and I imagine during the busy summer months this would be a real problem. We sat and ate a picnic whilst watching for an elusive sea otter. However although we had seen otters the day before, this time we were not so lucky.
Travelling from the northern shores of the Loch we continued to its eastern edge. Killichronan is an excellent place to spot sea eagles as there is a large wood close to the loch shores. We saw several buzzards and other sea birds and enjoyed watching them. Just as we were about to leave my son spotted what we had been looking for; a magnificent pair of sea eagles being flocked by a group of hooded crows. We stood in silence; binoculars poised enjoying the truly awesome sight of these enormous birds as the circled above us. Then just as they had arrived they slowly disappeared into the distance.
Overall I would highly recommend a visit to Loch Na Keal. There are no facilities and the only entertainment is that provided by nature. It is a very special place for young and old alike! Once you have explored the loch you may like to take a trip to the colourful fishing village of Tobermorey.This is where the popular children's programme Balamorey was based and the brightly painted houses will please any young fans!