*I am in the process of redesigning this section to include notes and many more high-res shots*
Bunessan is the largest village on the Ross of Mull and the only sizeable settlement passed on the 38 mile journey between the Oban ferry terminal at Craignure and Fionnphort at the island’s southwest tip where you can catch the small ferry to Iona. The community at Bunessan was originally established by the 5th Duke of Argyll in the late 1700s to run a fishing station and, centuries later, several lobster boats still operate from the small pier.
The name Bunessan comes from the Gaelic for ‘the place at the bottom of the small waterfall’ but it has to be said that the village, which clusters around the head of Loch na Làthaich, near the western tip of the Ross of Mull is not a very attractive place. Much of the bad press is due to the fact that most of the buildings along the waterfront face north or north west and are backed by a steep hillside which means that even on nice days they see very little sun, often none at all in wintertime.
Therefore, perhaps unfairly, Bunessan is probably somewhere that most people are happy to pass through but, as I discovered, there are some quality properties available for rental, including Lochside where my wife and I stayed.
The village makes an excellent base for exploring this wildlife-rich area. You don’t even have to search too hard either - on our first day, an Otter could be seen from the cottage window swimming around in the bay for 90 minutes or so and the following morning a Sea Eagle flew in during a storm and landed on one of the small islands.
Lochside and some of the other holiday lets are strung along the eastern shore of Loch na Làthaich so, unlike the properties of the main village, they receive plenty of sunshine and benefit from panoramic views. They are also ideally placed for visitors to witness some of the spectacular west coast sunsets that Scotland is famous for. This one occurred in early November at the end of a very stormy day...
Lady Jane (OB-349) alongside the pier at Bunnessan. She is pictured below heading out to attend to lobster creels on a blustery November day. The shot was taken from Lochside cottage. Waterfalls, particularly those on the west side of the island, are often blown uphill even on only moderately windy days.
At Bunessan, the width of the Ross of Mull narrows to less than two miles and there are some excellent small beaches along its length. The minor road that leads south from Bunessan, gives access to two gems, at Uisken and at Ardlanish Bay. Each one can compete with any of the others on Mull for scenic splendour, including the most popular beach at Calgary Bay, plus there`s a really good chance of a few wildlife encounters along the way.
Kintra, on the north side of the Ross, is a small but idyllic settlement with most residents living in the row of cottages along the waterfront. The bay is sheltered by a scattering of small islands and outcrops and this was one of the places on Mull used by Drovers from the Outer Isles who would land their beasts here in the 17th and 18 centuries during their long journey south to the huge cattle markets or ‘trysts’ in Central Scotland. The route would take them east along the Ross of Mull to the island's south-east corner where they would be ferried across to Kerrera from the quay at Grasspoint (Link) which was also known as Auchnacraig Quay. Once on the smaller island, the cattle would be transported to the mainland by boat but often they were forced to swim across the narrow channel to Oban.
The size of the beach at Kintra varies considerably depending on the state of the tide. I made a brief visit on a stormy day when the water had receded and, with the rain sweeping in, didn’t venture far from the car. To see the bay at its best arrive on a wind-free day when the sea reaches the edge of the street and mirrors the cottages.
And of course, there`s Fionnphort, the principal port of the Ross of Mull, and the second largest settlement in the area...
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