195km (121 miles) NW of Edinburgh; 145km (90 miles) NW of Glasgow
The third-largest island in the Hebrides, Mull is rich in legend and folklore, a land of ghosts, monsters, and the wee folk. The island is wild and mountainous, characterized by sea lochs and sandy bars. Mull was known to the classical Greeks, and its prehistoric past is recalled in forts, duns, and stone circles. Be sure to bring a raincoat: the island is one of the wettest in the Hebrides, a fact that upset Dr. Johnson, who visited in 1773.
Many visitors consider Mull more beautiful than Skye, a controversy we stay out of because we love them both. Mull has varied scenery with many waterfalls, and the wild countryside was the scene of many of David Balfour's adventures in Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Its highest peak is Ben More, at 961m (3,153 ft.), but it also has many flat areas. The island's wildlife includes roe deer, golden eagles, polecats, seabirds, and feral goats. Mull is also a jumping-off point to visit Iona and Staffa.
Guarding the bay (you'll see it as you cross on the ferry) is Duart Castle, restored just before World War I. In the bay -- somewhere -- lies the Florencia, a Spanish galleon that went down laden with treasure. Many attempts have been made to find it and bring it up, but, so far, all have failed. To the southeast, near Salen, are the 14th-century ruins of Aros Castle, once a stronghold of the MacDonalds, lords of the Isles. On the far south coast at Lochbuie, Moy Castle has a water-filled dungeon.
At the end of the day, you might enjoy a dram from the Tobermory Malt Whisky Distillery, in Tobermory (tel. 01688/302-647; www.tobermory.co.uk), which opened in 1823. Tours are given by appointment only. Be sure to call in advance -- the distillery seems to shut down from time to time.