The Treshnish Isles

The Treshnish Isles are a  group of magical, uninhabited islands,  some three miles (five kilometres) off Mull.

The isles’ distinctive dark shapes can be seen on the horizon from Mull, and very clearly from the headland close to Traigh Mhor Mull holiday cottage. They have been landmarks for travellers through the Hebrides for at least 1000 years.

The main islands are Lunga, Fladda, Bac Mór (known as the Dutchman’s Cap) Cairn na Burgh More and Cairn na Burgh Beg.

Today, several boat operators on Mull run cruises to the Treshnish Isles, offering a close-up look at the isles’ spectacular scenery and wildlife.

The isles are now owned by The Hebridean Trust, which bought the islands in 2000 with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund. And which is working to protect, conserve and document the historical and natural heritage of the islands.

The archipelago is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its unique geomorphology, populations of seals, cliff/burrow-nesting seabirds, wintering wildfowl and populations of house mice. It is also a Special Protection Area under the EC Directive (79/409) for the Conservation of Wild Birds. The islands have internationally-significant concentrations of breeding storm petrels. These birds are highly secretive and, to avoid being eaten by gulls, they only come ashore at night from the deep ocean where they feed.

In the spring, Lunga is home to thousands of nesting sea birds, mainly shag, guillemot, kittiwake, razorbill and, of course, puffin.

In the autumn, the beaches are breeding habitat for nationally important populations of Atlantic grey seals. During winter, the islands provide grazing for barnacle geese.

Boat Trips

Staffa Tours, from Iona and Fionnphort. Tel: 01681 700338 / 01631 571112 / 01631 562842.

Turus Mara, based at Dervaig, offer wildlife and seabird cruise tours sailing from Ulva Ferry. Freephone 08000 85 87 86 or +44(0)1688 400297 outside the UK or using mobile phones.

A spring visit to Staffa or the Treshnish Isles will bring you close to Puffins, who come back to their burrows to breed every year .  The best time to see them is from April through to August.