Islands and Highlands

31 Mar 2022
Islands and Highlands - 3 days, 2 hostels, 1 loosemooose!

We sent Lucy Hamilton, better known as @loosemooose, on a 3 day, 2 hostel trip to the Isle of Mull and Invergarry in the Highlands, to help us highlight all the of the amazing things you can do from a hostel doorstep.

Craignure Bunkhouse Lucy Red Hat

Below is a summary of her trip, for a full report please see the blog on her website > Lucy’s Rambles 

The Hostels
Craignure Bunkhouse, Isle of Mull

Craignure is the main ferry port on the Isle of Mull - you get here from, the (very photogenic) journey is only 45 minutes, and once you disembark in Craignure, the hostel is only 2 minutes drive up the road, or a short walk/cycle if you don't bring your car.

Craignure Bunkhouse Lounge 3
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Saddle Mountain Hostel, Invergarry

Saddle Mountain Hostel is just under a two hour scenic drive from Oban; it's slightly north of Fort William and slightly south of Loch Ness and pretty much on the corner of the road that leads to Skye. There is a regular bus service between Fort William and Inverness/Skye which stops very near the hostel.

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Saddle Mountain Hostel Bunkbeds (1)
Activities on your doorstep
1. Lochbuie House

Lochbuie is half an hour from Craignure. "The road down to it is quite narrow and windy but once you arrive there is quite a big car park and a café (only open in summer). I set off past the church and along the shore, briefly visiting a small tidal island with very sinky sand and then making my way over to Lochbuie Lodge and Moy Castle. It was exciting to see two sets of otter prints on the sand - you can recognise them by the tail marks.

I couldn't go into Moy Castle - it was all boarded up - so I carried on along the path and turning the corner got my first sight of the stunning Lagan Sands - a huge sandy beach, The tide was out and the sand was being whipped about by the wind and I passed a large lone tree then spotted a building amonst the trees at the end of the track. This was the Mausoleum - Caibeal Mheamhair (Chapel of Remembrance), a late medieval building which was subsequently renovated in 1972. I was particularly struck by the stained glass stars in the roof, a really beautiful idea."

Craignure Bunkhouse Beach
2. Kayaking on Loch Oich

"The first morning of my stay at Saddle Mountain Hostel in Invergarry, Gavin from Active Highs came to pick me up and he drove me a few minutes down the road to Loch Oich where we were going to go kayaking. Gavin was very interesting to talk to and great company and he was a good mix of tour guide; telling me about the Well of the Seven Heads, Invergarry Castle and the wrecked boat, and kayak instructor - giving me little pointers but not stressing too much about me getting it perfectly right!"

Saddle Mountain Hostel Canoe
3. Walk to the Allt na Cailliche Waterfall

With Helen and Greg, the hostel owners - "we walked from the door along the River Garry through the woods and along waymarked trails to the beautiful Allt na Cailliche waterfall (Cailliche means old woman in Gaelic). It was very quiet and the path near the waterfall was surrounded by thick mossy tree stumps. The sun did eventually peep through the trees and when we got back to the hostel there was quite a pretty sky. There are lots of hills around Invergarry - the ones nearest the hostel are the Loch Lochy Munros and the Corbett Ben Tee which you can do from the hostel door. Helen was keen to point out that there are 60 Munros within an hour's drive, so it is the perfect place to Munro baggers to stay, and in fact they do get a lot of walking groups who come annually."

Saddle Mountain Hostel Meandhelen

4. Swimming in Loch Oich

From Invergarry Castle you can go swimming in Loch Oich - we did send Lucy in March and it was a wee bit chilly! "I have to say I think it was colder than the sea which is where I normally swim, and we didn't exactly do much swimming but it was good fun and afterwards we were glad we had swum, especially when we were dry and clothed!"

Saddle Mountain Hostel Lucy Wild Swimming Happy
5. The Well of the Seven Heads

"I had seen this from a kayak and now I entered the small tunnel and crouched my way up to the well - it isn't far but it's very dark and I could only see the well when I put my phone torch on. It was lovely turning round and coming back out to the loch though."

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Eating in the hostel 

Both the Craignure Bunkhouse and the Saddle Mountain Hostel have excellent cooking facilities, the norm amongst the Scottish Hostels.

Craignure Bunkhouse Kitchen 3
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Lucy's Pros and Cons for Travelling in Scotland in Winter

• Quiet roads/trains/buses/ferries
• Good weather can be a pleasant surprise
• No midges!
• More availability in hostels/restaurants
• Likelihood of snow on the hills
• Still just as beautiful

• If you are travelling to an island there is more chance the ferries will be cancelled/delayed
• Possibly less likelihood of meeting new people

Saddle Mountain Hostel Highland Cows
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