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The Shielings

UK Scotland Scottish Isles Isle Of Mull

Shieling Holidays, Craignure, Isle of Mull PA65 6AY

Spectacular location, comfortable camping, easy access from the ferry

Long before the word glamping had ever come into the camping lexicon, Isle of Mull-based Shieling Holidays (the brainchild of David and Moira Gracie) were offering nights under canvas for those not keen on pitching their own tents. Their 16 starched white shielings may not be quite as glamorous as some places these days, but they are supremely flexible, and eight en suite shielings are also available with their own toilet and hot shower. Designed for a maximum of six inhabitants, they also boast cookers, worktops, electric lighting and gas heaters. One now has a woodburner as well. You can either bring your own bedding, crockery, cutlery and kitchenware or hire it. For those without en suite arrangements, the site facilities are excellent, so there’s no need to rough it here. One large Shieling also houses a common room where you can cook, wash dishes and sit by the multifuel stove. Or light the campfire outside and enjoy the spectacular view.

There are camping pitches, too, for those who prefer to put up their own tent, and the location could not be more dramatic. The waterfront site sits right on the strategic Sound of Mull, guarding the gateway to the Hebrides. Just across the water lies Morvern, while in the distance a flurry of mountain peaks vie for attention, including Ben Nevis. Otters are resident on the rocky foreshore and porpoises and dolphins regularly make an appearance. Many visitors just recline and watch the wildlife and the ferries travelling between the mainland and the isles.

If you’ve brought along a canoe or two, or even a boat, these can be launched at the front of the site where there’s a handy slip road straight into the Sound of Mull. Behind the Shielings, climb the Hill of the Two Winds, a fine ridge with views made in heaven.

Bring your bikes to Mull for some serious traffic-free miles and a wilderness experience not found anywhere else in Britain. There’s an excellent cycle ride to the island’s main (and only) town at Tobermory. It’s a 40-mile round trip, but taken over the whole day, and in decent weather, it isn’t nearly as arduous as it is scenic. Tobermory is known for being the inspiration and setting for the kids’ TV show Balamory, but the island was famous before that for its wildlife, and especially its population of sea eagles; they can usually be seen around Glen Seilisdeir, where there are organised eagle-spotting trips, but also at several other coastal areas on the island.

For hikers, Mull’s biggest attraction is Ben More, the only island Munro (a mountain with a peak over 3,000ft) outside of Skye. Much more accessible is Dun da Ghaoithe, Mull’s second-highest peak, which rears up behind the site –
a good half-day’s walk, but one that offers life-affirming views and the chance to spot red deer and eagles. Back by the Sound your tent awaits, with a cosy congratulatory sundowner – to be enjoyed with that view.



Campfires allowed in a designated communal area. Excellent toilet and shower facilities with washbasins and disabled access. Swing, sandpit and games for children. Communal TV. Communal firepits and benches with views. Launderette. Astroturf tent pitches handy in poor weather, special tent pegs available if needed. Bike hire available. Wildlife trail on site and ‘checklists’ are provided free of charge so children can head out creature-spotting around the site, ticking off any of the various species of shell, flora and abundant wildlife they catch sight of. CDs and albums documenting the red deer, sea otters, dolphins, porpoises and birds that visit the site are also available at reception, giving details on the best times to see them, along with a helpful map telling you where.

Suitable For

Tents, campervans, caravans, big groups, young groups, dogs – yes.


You can walk along the beach to Duart Castle, 12th century home of the Chief of the Clan Maclean, where the home baking in the tea room is legendary. The Isle of Mull Hotel (01680 812544) has a lovely swimming pool and spa facilities if you fancy treating yourself. Further afield the island capital of Tobermory is a picturesque treat, and is home to the Tobermory Distillery (01688 302647). There are buses to take you off to Tobermory and Iona (and Staffa too). Or get the ferry to Oban for a mosey around the town. The Scottish Sealife Sanctuary (01631 720386) in Barcaldine is an hour ferry ride to Oban, then about a 10 mile drive away. You'll find an impressive array of water-loving creatures here, including sharks. And if you are travelling to and from Oban, nearby Sealife Adventures (01631 571010) are recommended for whale, dolphin and eagle watching experiences or get under the waves with their sister company Dive Scotland. Buses leave from the pier for Tobermory and for Iona/Staffa. Many wildlife tour operators will collect from the site, including their neighbour Pete Hall of Mull Wildlife Tours (07780 601177).

Food & Drink

The Craignure Inn (01680 812305) does a decent pint, and this cosy pub also has a restaurant offering wild Mull venison, smoked trout from Tobermory, Mull Cheddar and Mull Brie. Across the bay, the Isle of Mull Hotel (01680 812544) has a fine swimming pool and spa. Tobermory offers a wide choice of eating options including the excellent Café Fish (01688 301253), where the freshest of fish is perfectly prepared.


Camping Mar–Nov; Shielings Apr–Oct; Cottages all year.


Tent and 2 people £18 (£15 if no car); extra adults £6, children £3, dogs £1.50; hook-ups £4.50.  Shielings from £39/£244 per night/week; ensuite Shielings from £55/£330 per night/week, Cottages from £60/£360, all for 2 adults.


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