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Salen

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Salen is a small village on the island of Mull, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It's little more than a road junction midway between Tobermory and Craignure. It was created to serve as a harbour in the 19th century and had a mailboat service until 1964, then the boats got bigger and the ferry landing was relocated to Craignure. In Gaelic Sàilean denotes a bay - the name in full is Sàilean Dubh Chaluim Chille, the little black bay of St Columba. It's said St Columba preached here but few people came to hear him; it is, after all, a small place.

You also come through Salen to reach the even smaller village of Gruline by the B-road south, and the island of Ulva by a short ferry crossing.

Get in

  • Salen is on A848, 10 miles west of the ferry terminal at Craignure and 10 miles southeast of Tobermory.
  • West Coast Motors Bus 95 / 495 runs five times daily from Craignure via Fishnish to Salen (30 mins), continuing to Tobermory; no Sunday service Nov-March. Bus 96 / 496 runs four times M-Sat and once on Sunday between Craignure and Fionnphort, so it is possible to travel between Salen and Iona by bus and ferry.
  • Ulva Ferry Community Transport minibus runs twice F-Su from Calgary along the west coast to Ulva Ferry, Gruline and Salen, where it connects with the 95 / 495 bus to Craignure. The ferry to Ulva runs on demand between Ulva Ferry on Mull and Oskamull the landing point on the little island.
  • With your own light aircraft, use Glenforsa airfield next to the hotel. It's open daily May-Sept and Sat & Sun throughout the year, but you need prior permission (+44 1680 300377 and radio 120.805). The grass strip is 780m x 28m: the north end gets very boggy in wet conditions.

Get around

You'll want wheels to reach the mausoleum, and certainly to get to Ulva.

See

  • 1 Macquarie Mausoleum, Gruline (Off B8035, 2 miles south of Salen). Always open. Lachlan MacQuarie (1762-1824) was born on the nearby island of Ulva. He had a distinguished army career then was Governor of New South Wales 1809-1821. He returned to London in failing health amidst public criticism of his many harsh measures; nevertheless he had overseen the transition of Australia from penal colony to nascent nation. He died soon afterwards and was buried here at Gruline. The mausoleum is reached on foot by a good track signposted from the B8035, a mile to walk. Free.
  • 2 Ulva is an island some 7.5 miles long and 2.5 miles, separated from Mull by a channel of a quarter of a mile; the ferry runs on demand. There are no roads, just walking tracks, a cafe and heritage centre. There's no regular accommodation, but a bothy can be rented. At its west end, a bridge joins Ulva to the tidal island of Gometra. The south coast has spectacular basalt-column cliffs, like those of better-known Staffa the islet five miles southwest. By 2018 Ulva's resident population had dwindled to six; they've bought the island as a development trust.
  • Eas Fors waterfall is a mile northwest of Ulva Ferry on the road to Calgary and Dervaig.
  • 3 Lip na Cloiche Gardens is another mile along that road.

Do

  • 1 Killiechronan Pony Trekking is on B8073 near Gruline. They have treks M-F suitable for all ages, max rider weight is 90 kilo / 14 stone.
  • Boat trips to Ulva, Fingal's Cave on Staffa, Treshnish Islands and elsewhere sail from Ulva Ferry. You can also join their connecting transport at Oban or Tobermory.
  • Climb Ben More, at 966 m (3169 ft) the only Munro on Mull. The simplest ascent is from 2 Dhiseig on the coast road south of Gruline. Seek advice before climbing during the deer-stalking season Aug-Oct M-Sa. It's 2.5 miles each way, the well-trodden path is boggy lower down and stony higher up.

Buy

  • 1 Salen Spar (Malcolm Elliot Post Office & Stores Ltd), ☏ +44 1680 300472. M-Sa 08:00-19:00, Su 10:00-17:00. Small supermarket, has ATM.
  • MacDonald's filling station at the A848 / B8035 junction is open M-F 08:00-18:00, Sa 09:00-17:00 and Su 10:00-16:00.

Eat

  • In Salen, the two hotels have the best offerings. Mediterranea Restaurant has closed down.
  • Ballygown Restaurant, just beyond Lip na Cloiche Gardens on the road from Ulva Ferry to Calgary and Dervaig, is open Tu-Su 17:30-22:30.

Drink

The Glenforsa and Salen Hotel bars are the best bet.

Sleep

  • 1 Pennygowan Holiday Park is a camping and caravan park at the east end of the village. Two-person tent £18, caravan £25.
  • B&Bs in Salen include Tigh-an-Achadh, Ardmhor, Fascadail and Callachally House, and there's a dozen places for self-catering.
  • 2 Glenforsa Hotel, Salen by Aros PA72 6JW (On main road next to airfield), ☏ +44 1680 300377. Small family run hotel in Norwegian log building. 14 rooms en suite plus bar & restaurant. B&B double £110.
  • 3 Salen Hotel (jcn of main road and B8035). 10 bedroom hotel with 45 seat dining room and two bars. B&B double from £100.
  • 4 Tiroran House Hotel, PA69 6ES (off B8035 on north shore of Loch Scridain), ☏ +44 1681 705232. Victorian villa in tranquil setting, dog friendly. B&B double from £190.

Connect

Go next

  • On west to Tobermory, by either the main road or west coast back road via Ulva Ferry and Calgary.
  • The short ferry hop from Fishnish brings you to Lochaline on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula.
  • Travel to Fionnphort to cross to Iona.
  • From Craignure the ferry returns you to Oban on the mainland.

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