Known as a wildlife watching hotspot (said to be the best place in the UK to see white-tipped and golden eagles) the Isle of Mull has beauty and charm in abundance. The picturesque setting of Treshnish Farm makes it an ideal base from which to explore the island and unwind in peaceful surroundings. We asked owner Carolyne Charrington to tell us more about the Studio at Treshnish and her tips for visitors to Mull.
Could you tell us a bit about your award-winning eco cottages – The Studio in particular?
Our cottages are situated on a beautiful and remote headland on the north west coast of the Isle of Mull. Four of our cottages are Hebridean ‘black houses’ (crofters dwellings) with thick stone walls and rounded corners built about 200 years ago, while the other four are traditional farm cottages and buildings – all have been sensitively renovated to preserve their history, using eco-friendly products and methods so they are homely, well insulated (warm and cosy all year round!), comfortable and stylishly furnished. We tend to choose wooden floors with rugs rather than carpets, and decorate the walls with interesting and original artwork. Each cottage has lovely views, and all of them bar one have a wood burning stove.
The Studio Cottage is the largest cottage on the farm, an architect designed steading conversion that sleeps 4 + 2. It has wonderful sea views and the small sunroom catches the best sunsets all year round! The interesting layout of the Studio, with its two public rooms, gives families flexible living space without it feeling too large when rented by a couple.
We have been members of the Green Tourism Business Scheme since 1999 and are proud to have held a Gold Award since 2001. The GTBS auditing process means we are inspected every two years, to make sure we are doing the best we can – in ethical and local sourcing, energy saving, carbon reduction and environmentally. Our aim, using two small wind turbines and 3.8kW of Photo Voltaics, is to generate as much electricity has the business consumes during the course of a year – at the last count we were 90% there. We installed a Woodchip boiler in 2009 which heats the four Treshnish cottages.
Your accommodation is situated on a working farm near Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull. What are some of the highlights of a stay here?
Treshnish is a beautiful, quiet and peaceful place to stay. There is plenty to explore on the farm itself, with several scheduled historic monuments including a medieval chapel, a late medieval settlement, the remains of a dun and a fort, and two well preserved ruined villages. Within a few miles we have the world renowned Calgary beach with its stunning white shell sand beach and serene turquoise waters. The Calgary tearoom and woodland walk is just up the hill from the beach and well worth a visit (or two), and there are several other magical beaches to discover nearby – we are happy to point you in the right direction! The Isle of Ulva is 10 miles from here, a great place for lunch at the Boathouse and with lovely walks of varying lengths. Tobermory is about 50 minutes drive and has a great selection of shops and places to eat, plus the prettiest seafront with its colourful houses and buildings!
Treshnish and Haunn cottages are pet friendly – where do the four legged visitors (and their owners) like to walk in the local area?
Dogs are very welcome here and there are fantastic walks right on our doorstep. As it is a working farm we prefer that dogs are kept on leads particularly when walking along the headland and through the fields in summer to protect ground nesting birds. The Treshnish headland walk is popular with both our guests and locals, following sheep paths along grassy ‘raised beaches’. On a clear day it is possible to see 18 different Hebridean islands. There is some interesting archeology to look for along the way, as well as the two haunting now abandoned villages of Crackaig and Glac Gugariadh. Calgary beach is a wonderful place to let the dogs run free, especially at low tide – take a ball thrower and tire them out!
What wildlife might guests spot around the cottages or in the surrounding area?
Treshnish Farm won the UK RSPB Nature of Farming Award in recognition of our wildlife-friendly farming methods, and in 2013 one of our fields was chosen to be a Coronation Meadow, to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and help to restore and create wild flower meadows. Over the last 20 years we have used a careful grazing regime to enhance and encourage bio-diversity, protecting the many different habitats on the farm – and it has worked! Consequently there is a great variety of wildlife here, including Otters, resident Golden eagles, Short-eared owls, White tailed Eagles, Cuckoos, Twite, Wheatear, Curlew – to name but a few! The wild flowers are wonderful – we have 15 species of wild orchid, and many rare wild flowers which grow here in abundance. We are lucky to have a very knowledgeable naturalist living on the farm who has kept a record of his wildlife, flora and fauna sightings over the last 10 years.
As you know we like to share ‘Loved by Locals’ tips. Can you tell us about some of the things you suggest to your guests?
A boat trip: Recently we had a family outing to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa with Turus Mara, who run regular trips from Ulva Ferry. Iain Morrison coined the phrase ‘puffin therapy’ – and he is so right! We had a magical day, the weather was wonderful and the sea birds (especially the adorable puffins) were amazing – we all felt very relaxed and happy on the way home! I had forgotten how close you can get to the puffins, so it is great for photography – and there is always a chance of seeing a porpoise or a dolphin on the way back.
Mull & Iona Food Trail: I would recommend picking up a Food Trail leaflet and using it to source island produce – whether it is some fresh mussels to cook yourself or to find a restaurant which specialises in using island produce.
Duart Castle: Mull’s iconic castle is a bit of a drive but it is a fascinating castle to visit and the view from the turrets are stunning! Their tea room is well worth a visit too!
Mull Aquarium: Tobermory has Europe’s first catch and release aquarium, and it is a great place to visit for young and old!
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