For friendly, expert advice call: +44 (0) 1962 733051

Islay & Mull ... In Style!

Tour Code: GBR31

A 7-day holiday to enjoy the wintering birds, resident mammals, spectacular scenery and rich autumn colours of two of the Inner Hebrides' most beautiful and rewarding islands, Islay and Mull - gems of Scotland's rugged and scenic west coast.

7 days from £1595(flights not included) Land Only Price: £1595 SRS: £265


No tour summary is currently available. Please read the detailed description or download the tour itinerary.

Food

All included in the price except for lunches.

Accommodation

For this tour we use the very best hotel on each island, all rooms with en suite facilities.

White-tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Arrive Islay

Day 2/3 Islay (and Jura)

Day 4/6 Mull

Day 7 Depart Mull

The beautiful Inner Hebridean islands of Islay and Mull complement each other perfectly. On Islay, a varied landscape of mountains, open moorland, pastures, windswept lochans, and more gentle woods and farmland is home to a wealth of breeding birds, but even more wintering wildfowl, both sustaining a large number and variety of birds of prey. The mountains and moorlands of Mull, by contrast, are wild, rugged and unforgiving; the island’s vast western sea-lochs are beloved of Otters, divers, grebes and sea-duck. There is no more dramatic time to visit than in late October … when glorious autumn colours are at their best, the Red Deer are at their most splendid, and vast numbers of wildfowl and winter storms move in, enhancing skies and landscapes. For birds of prey — their numbers enhanced by summer youngsters — and other predators, the hunt begins in earnest!  

We begin with a 3-night stay on Islay, a remarkable haven for birds that is invaded each October by vast numbers of wildfowl which arrive from their Arctic breeding grounds to pass the winter amongst these lush grazing grounds. Among the most numerous of species are some 40,000 Barnacle Geese and 10,000 ‘Greenland’ White-fronted Geese (the largest wintering population of this species anywhere in the world!). A dawn or dusk vigil at one of the goose roosts on the island is a humbling experience never to be forgotten, and amongst the vast flocks there is always the chance of finding something rarer, perhaps a Snow Goose or genuine Canada Goose from North America. Other wildfowl also occur, among them large numbers of Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese and ducks. Plenty of Great Northern Divers (often 50 or more) may be seen on each of the ferry crossings from/to the mainland, plus Black-throated and Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe and many seabirds, including Black Guillemot. Ravens, Red-billed Chough, Snow Bunting and Twite may be among the land-based highlights, but the stars of the show are most likely to be the island’s remarkable variety of raptors — amongst them Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine and perhaps even a wandering White-tailed Eagle.  

As well as exploring Islay, we may also spend time on the neighbouring island of Jura — its dramatic moors and summits (the Paps of Jura) in sharp and rugged contrast to the rolling fields and moors of northern Islay. Even more so than Islay, Jura is a particularly good location for watching mammals. Indeed its name is said to come from Viking times, when it was known as ‘Dy Oer’ (Deer Island), and even today there are far more deer than people on Jura — in fact, about 5,000 Red Deer to 250 people! Feral goats can be found along the west coast, along with Common and Grey Seals, whilst Otters are generally far easier to see here than on Islay. There are said to be a pair for every three miles of coastline, and views of Otters eating fish, or a mother with well grown cubs eating crab at close quarters, are unforgettable moments!  

The superb single malt whiskies, which some argue are the finest in the world, are an added pleasure of a visit to these two small Hebridean islands. And alongside the superb scenery, truly spectacular wildfowl gatherings and a host of other wildlife it’s easy to see why Islay and Jura are two of our favourite UK destinations. 

Mull, the third largest of the Hebridean islands, is perhaps the most spectacular. We reach it during a scenic day that includes travel by ferry, road and then ferry again. It is rugged, dramatic and blessed with extensive forests and moorlands, high craggy summits and a glorious coastline. Here the population of White-tailed Sea Eagles is as dense as anywhere else in Scotland, although there are even more pairs of the majestic Golden Eagle to provide unique aerial comparisons. Many other birds of prey inhabit the island, including good numbers of Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls. All three diver species as well as Slavonian Grebes can be seen on the sea-lochs that are the favourite home of Otters; indeed Mull must be one of the best places in Britain to observe these captivating creatures, and it is quite possible to see half a dozen or more in a day! The island is also well known for its Red Deer, which are numerous throughout, but there are also a few small herds of Fallow Deer, remnants from past introductions. As on Islay, at many places around the scenic coastline, both Grey and Common Seals can be seen from the shore, often accompanied by Black Guillemots. Mull is certainly a magical island and, weather permitting, we’ll savour it in many moods from our luxury base in the south-west corner!

 

 

The Harbour Inn Hotel, IslayHarbour Inn Hotel, table viewLounge of The Harbour Inn, IslayOtters (Bryan Rains)Golden Eagle (Bryan Rains)Mountain Hare (Bryan Rains)White-tailed Eagle (Bryan Rains)Tiroran House Hotel diningTiroran House Hotel, MullTiroran House Hotel, MullTiroran House Hotel (Mull), bedroomTiroran House Hotel dining room (Mull)Dessert at the Tiroran House Hotel (Mull)View from Tiroran House Hotel (Mull)Short-eared Owl (Bryan Rains)Mull, west coastHen Harrier (male) (Bryan Rains)Mull, west coastBuzzard feeding on a frog (Bryan Rains)Ben Mor summitView from Tiroran House Hotel (Mull)Mull, west coast
A.D.
Aberdeenshire
Dave Pierce was an excellent tour leader and his knowledge made the trip very enjoyable. The small group size meant he was able to make sure everyone had an opportunity to view the wildlife.
R.A.
Norfolk
Both our tour leaders were experts in their field with impeccable knowledge of birds, mammals and the areas visited. Their patience at all times was unbending and their care of their visitors exceptional. We saw exactly what we went to see! This would not have happened without Dave and Terry.
Mr & Mrs H
Kent
A very good leader with excellent knowledge of his subject. Peter Clement was a very pleasant person to be with and went a long way to make our trip memorable.
J.D.
Cheshire
Peter's knowledge of where the birds/animals would be was excellent.
Mr & Mrs E.
Essex
Overall we enjoyed the trip more than we can say! The guide was excellent both with bird-spotting and people management.
R.B.
Bristol
The hotels were everything they were made out to be. The rooms were a bit basic at the Habour Inn in Bowmore but the food was superb. Tiroran House, if anything, was the other way round; the rooms and personalised hospitality were excellent and the food almost as remarkable as the Habour Inn.
C.W.
Fife
The bird knowledge of Pete Clement was immaculate and Martin Beaton's additional information on botany and geology was a great bonus. I enjoyed the trip!
J.W.
Somerset
The food in both hotels was excellent, and I was fortunate in having congenial fellow guests.
Show all details | Hide all details

DeparturesAvailableCost

Thu 26th October 2017 - Wed 1st November 2017

FULL

£1595

more details

Flights: Flights are not included with this tourMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1595 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Thu 25th October 2018 - Wed 31st October 2018

YES

£1595

more details

Flights: Flights are not included with this tourMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1595 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: United Kingdom

View tour reports +

Can I help You?

Alison Steel
Operations Manager

Email Alison

01962 733051

Tour Focus

BirdsMammals

Tour Reviews

Dave Pierce was an excellent tour leader and his knowledge made the trip very enjoyable. The small group size meant he was able to make sure everyone had an opportunity to view the wildlife.
A.D., Aberdeenshire