Walk 208 – Isle of Mull Coast to Coast Circular, Salen to Killiechronan – 8 miles

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A varied circular walk across the narrowest part of the Isle of Mull, between Salen in the East and /killiechronan in the West. The first half takes you through woodland and forestry and across open hillside. The return is predominantly along a single track road, finishing with the Salen Woodland Walk.

On-street parking in Salen. Local bus service to Salen.


Staying in the village of Salen for our short break on the Isle of Mull, as soon as we found out there was a coast-to-coast walk which started in Salen, it was decided we’d be giving it a bash! At this point let me give kudos to the comprehensive walking section of the Isle of Mull Cottages website, which we found most helpful in preparation for this walk.

Despite having plotted out the route on my favourite mapping app before leaving our cottage, we managed to get lost within the first 5 minutes. Arriving at the converted church building, we turned up the obvious gravel track and completely missed the right turn into the woods. In our defense the path is very faint and we did later find what looked like a marker post lying on the ground at the top of the embankment, which would have helped us out a lot had it still been in place. But these are the things that happen and you need to be prepared for. Hence my route plot!

Right turn shown here with a yellow line so that you don’t miss it like we did!

The next “incident” occurred just inside the woods when mum managed to hit just beneath her eye on a tree branch she hadn’t seen protruding out over the path at (her) head-height. She had been up front and concentrating on where she was placing her feet. I shouted out “watch your head”, sadly a few seconds too late. Not a cut nor a bruise was visible so onwards (and upwards!) we went. But not before my sister spent several minutes removing the rogue branch from the tree to avoid anyone else suffering the same fate.

“Watch yer heid!”

Soon we were out onto the open hillside and enjoying gorgeous vistas of the surrounding mountains, Loch Ba also coming into view as we gained height. We were pretty sure we saw a white tailed eagle soaring high above us – a real treat. I love eagles as they remind me of childhood hillwalking days. My dad was always on the lookout for golden eagles and deer so any time I see one or the other it reminds me of him.

By this point the sun was heating up and my sister was wishing she had worn her shorts. Turning to the next best option, she rolled up her trouser legs to the knee. However after less than a mile she had flicked three or four ticks off her skin so it wasn’t long before she was rolling them back down again.

Open hillside and grand vistas. Loch Ba just visible ahead.
Boggy forestry trail

After the forestry section, we decided to take the short de-tour to a standing stone I had spotted on my map. We found it no problem, although no longer standing! Lying on its side, it made a good seat for a snack stop.

The next section between the standing stone and the Killiechronan Estate was lined with gorse bushes in all their yellow splendour. They fairly brightened the place up and the smell of coconut off them was quite strong. It reminded me of a question I was asked recently: why do we describe that smell as coconut, when coconuts don’t grow in this country? That is to say, why is the smell from coconuts more familiar to us than the smell of gorse flowers which we can experience in our own country? Why don’t we describe the smell as gorse flowers? So then when we smell a coconut, we’d say the coconut smells like gorse flowers…… a good point, I thought!

Gorse bushes wearing their yellow flowers

Once through the Killiechronan Estate (the name made us smile, since we live in a different “Killie” several hours away!), we were treated to the sight of a herd of eight or nine large red deer in the field of sheep next to us. They appeared to be a bit disorientated, as though they had run away from something in the forest and ended up in the field by accident. With the exception of the path they had run out of, the entire far side of the field was lined with deer fencing and they followed each other back and forth a few times seemingly wondering how they were going to get back out. Eventually they figured it out and were on their way. How lovely to have seen such a large herd so close up. We are used to roe deer around Ayrshire, and any sighting of one becomes the highlight of the walk. These were double the size! My dad would have loved it 🙂

The walk back along the road towards Salen was just ok if I am honest…. Doing the coast to coast walk again I’d probably opt for going back over the hillside. It was 3km of road, and scenic as it may have been, it didn’t inspire me very much. It was quite stop-start too because every time a vehicle came along we had to stop at the side to give it enough space to pass. And that happened many times over the course of the hour…

B8035 to Salen

I was therefore grateful to arrive at the entrance to the Salen Woodland Walk which would take us off the road and back to the village via the woods. It didn’t disappoint – a good mix of different path types, bridges, uphills, downhills and gorgeous views.

Salen Woodland Walk
View from the Salen Woodland Walk down into the village and across the Sound of Mull to the Morvern Peninsula

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