Walk 213 – Calgary Bay & the Art in Nature Trail, Isle of Mull – 2.5 miles

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“From the Sea” string sculpture on the Art in Nature Trail, overlooking Calgary Bay

Starting with a wander around the Art in Nature Woodland Sculpture Walk, you will then head down towards the iconic Calgary Bay. Walk along to the pier and back and then across the white sandy beach, returning to the start via field-edge paths. Uneven woodland trails, gravel footpaths, sandy beach, surfaced roads. Sometimes muddy. Mostly on the level.

orange circle with white dog icon inside Dog-friendly route

Parking available at Calgary Farmhouse Cafe (PA75 6QQ) or down at Calgary Bay. The walk starts from the cafe. Local bus service stops on B8073 outside Calgary Farmhouse Cafe.

black icon of a figure walking, a zig zag line with arrow on one end and a location pin on the other endRoute: From Calgary Farmhouse Cafe, follow signs for the Sculpture Walk (in the woods behind the cafe). I haven’t prescribed the exact route you should follow around the trail because everyone will want to see different things – use the map provided at the entrance to choose what sculptures to visit or simply wander around the many paths. There are 24 to see in total, and it is a small area so there is lots packed in! Ultimately you want to aim to exit the woods down by the standing stones (number 20 on their trail map). This is at the SW end of the woods, right next to the B8073. When you reach the road turn right (W) to go through a gate and walk down towards Calgary Bay. There should be a dry stone wall and a car park on your right-hand side. After going through the gate continue ahead (W) along a grass and gravel track. This will take you around the north side of Calgary Bay. You will reach the pier approx 800m along. Turn around and retrace your steps back to Calgary Beach. Find an easy place to descend onto the sand and walk S along the beach to the far side. Turn left (E) at the end of the beach. You will reach a small camping ground, accessed by fording a burn. Cross the camping ground and turn left (N) to walk along the B8073. Just beyond the toilet block turn right (NE) through a wooden gate with a sign on it “Calgary Castle”. Continue along this pleasant track beside a field. You’ll come to a stone ruin on your right (fenced off with a lock at time of my visit). Turn left here (NW) to walk along a loose gravel path which crosses between the fields. When you reach the road turn right (N). You can either continue on the road or go back into the Art in Nature trail to return to Calgary Farmhouse Cafe.

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I always think the Isle of Mull looks like the shape of a teddy bear sitting with its back to me, one leg and arm outstretched. If that were the case Calgary Bay would sit right on the top of the teddy’s head, or on its left ear if it had ears! On the far NW of the island.

It was a fair drive from where we were staying so it was brilliant to be able to combine two shorter walks and parking at Calgary Farmhouse Cafe meant that we could grab a coffee, use their loos and have a wander around their small gallery. The menu was really varied and there were plenty of vegetarian and vegan options if that’s something you’re looking for (like me). The cafe also sold local produce and gift items.

The Art in Nature trail begins behind the cafe at the entrance to the woods. There was a suggested donation to do the walk (£2 at the time of writing – cash in the box at the start of the trail or pay by card in the art gallery).

There wasn’t much structure to the way we walked around it, we just followed the path in whichever direction felt most appealing at the time. I’m pretty sure we didn’t see everything but what we did see was most impressive and my favourites include the view from the tree house window, the oyster catchers on the hillside, the Kittiwake, the string lady and the willow stag.

Map of the Art in Nature Sculpture in the Wood trail

Having enjoyed some fine views down towards Calgary Bay from the woodland trail, we were eager to get closer: it looked truly stunning.

Rather than heading straight onto the beach we decided to walk along a track to the north of the bay. We didn’t have a huge amount of time because we were headed to Tobermory after this so we weren’t sure how far along we’d go. I could see from my map that there was a pier about half a mile along so we could use that as the turning point. In the end we did exactly that.

The track from the pier seemed to head up onto the hillside and around the clifftops. A stunning walk no doubt, and we did see some people coming from that direction. It wasn’t for us today but perhaps you will fancy continuing further if you have more time! From my map it looks like you can do a big 12.5km /7.5 miles loop up to Caliach Point (where there is a cairn and trig point shown on the map), returning to Calgary on a minor road. I have no idea how good the paths are but it is definitely the sort of walk I like to challenge myself with. If you fancy giving it a go here is the route map – let me know how you get on!

Track along the north side of Calgary Bay to the pier
From the pier looking back towards Calgary Bay

We headed back towards the bay and finally allowed ourselves to set foot on the beach. The tide was out and the sand was firm and compact making walking across it a real pleasure. Aside from a few other people out enjoying the beach with their dogs, we had the place to ourselves.

We crossed a ford at the south side of the beach to reach a grassy camping ground. There were some stepping stones and little water in the burn but I’m not sure if that fills up at high tide or how easy it is to cross after a heavy rainfall. If the worst comes to the worst you can always walk back along the beach the way you just came.

We were drawn to a track at the other side of a new wooden gate which promised “Calgary Castle” somewhere along it. Sadly when we reached the other end there was deer fencing, locked gates and security cameras around about some stone ruins. I am pretty sure Calgary Castle sits higher up and is still occupied so I’m not sure what these ruins are. In any case there didn’t appear to be any through-road to the castle on the day we visited.

Not to worry though, there was a track to our left (with many gates along it) which took us safely across the fields and back to the road.

From there we chose to go back through the Sculpture Trail to the Farmhouse, however you could equally choose to stay on the road should you prefer.

Walking across Calgary Bay at low tide
An inviting track promising access to or at least a visual of a castle!
The ruins, surrounded by newly-installed deer fencing and a locked gate, complete with security cameras. I can only assume that access to Calgary Castle is further along that track.
Gravel track leading across the fields to the road.

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