Thursday, 31 October 2013

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Tobermory has been made famous by a mixture of interesting and bizarre things most superficially the coloured buildings that encircle the bay.

Errrr .... not the MV Isle of Mull !!, Tobermory Harbour
After disembarking the MV Isle of Mull (previous post) at Craignure, I was met with a strange sight of a hive of activity with a packed temporary bus and coach station ready to take passengers to the onward destinations of their dreams. This moment occurs at least twice a day before returning to an insignificant and desolate village beside the waters edge.

Bowmans Coaches seem to have a monopoly on Mull & took me some time to find the right one.

Tobermory Bay
Although the coach to Tobermory looked like something for the tourist, it operated as a local bus service along the north of the island connecting with a smaller ferry terminal on the return route.

Tobermory Promenade
Arriving in Tobermory for the agreed 4 - 5 hour stop to fit in with the bus service times, I seemed to have proved my Guest House host wrong with my choice of weather day.

Tobermory Seagull
To be fair, there was a mix of clouds and weather throughout the day but was fortunate enough to be able to enjoy being outdoors !!

The Tobermory Galleon !!
Legend suggests that back in the year 1588 there was a large Spanish Galleon full of Gold hiding from the English fleet in Tobermory Bay. The crew supposedly had a dispute over payments with local traders as they were taking on supplies and subsequently the vessel caught fire from an explosion of gunpowder and was sunk without trace.


Attempts were made to locate it in 1950 without success although it did help with the development of products in this process.

Fishing port founded on the bicentenary in 1788 by Thomas Telford !, Tobermory Harbour

Awaiting a treasure trip !!, Tobermory Harbour
Tobermory Distillery
Ten years later, with an abundant supply of water and the new access route open, the distillery was founded. The business has had a chequered history with the most notable occasion being its closure in 1930 due a drop in demand from the prohibition of alcohol law in the USA for 10 years. It took until 1972 for the doors to re-open but subsequent problems with the production and suitability of the buildings caused further disruption before the present owners (A finance company in Trinidad ! ) took it on in 2002.

Mishnish, Tobermory
Due to the coloured buildings, the town was chosen to become famous in more recent times as a location for the children's television programme Balamory from 2002 - 2005. It was good enough to last 254 episodes but only the kind of thing very small children would like !!

Balamory map
Imagine the disappointment on a child's face when they realise that Archie's Castle is on the other side of the country.
With the passage of time, the town may have readjusted to tourist normality whatever that is, but the tourist board continue to flog the nostalgic horse years after the programme ended. Who would have thought that Balamory would have become the focus for an intellectual media tourism study paper  ...

media tourism with Balamory study

It's a long pdf paper that is tedious at first but there are figures in a table at the end that gives an interesting public survey overview along with a map of the island depicting the difficulties of travel to such a place for large numbers of people.

Boom & Bust tourism ?? !!, Balamory
I have to say about the next bit here ... this is totally alien to my blog as I didn't come on blogger to do this !! haha ...
I couldn't find a short clip of the programme but in the interests of journalism, a few shots of the town (and a North Berwick Castle !!), children's TV, a local otter,  me being a completist & if you have up to 20 minutes of your life to waste !!! well here it is.... haha

youtube Balamory episode example          .... back to reality !!!

Tobermory Pier
Tobermory pier was built for the larger boats at the advice of Thomas Telford in 1814. Today the old ferry waiting room now houses a cafe with the ferry ticket office and tourist board information room next door. An award winning quality restaurant is located upstairs called Cafe Fish. The main ferry link from Calmac is to Kilchoan on the remote peninsula of Ardnamurchan that is a community link for the local people. It is also an exit route off the island for those tourists on a Calmac Island Hopscotch ticket that want to explore a variety of places on a preplanned tour of the Inner Hebrides.


Stopped for a lunch break in a cafe that was converted from an old church ... What a fantastic viewpoint I had from the the table just inside the doorway.


Next door was an active church with a sign outside that gave me meaning both then and now. No doubt the weather can often seem grim in places like this although I had no reason to complain today. I thought it was worth capturing and sharing, a help to others in recent times of difficulties.

M.V. Loch Linnhe
"Anyone for Balamory today ? " ........ errr no

The Western Isle Hotel built in 1882



Just to give you a close up flavour of some colour and the shops available in 2013

Number 47
Not a laundry ... but a gift shop

Balamory location changed beyond recognition


The Co-operative food chain store provide the green ... haha
Lastly, as I was fixed to a time slot for the coach back to Craignure, I was starting to repeat my images with brighter skies and not much left to see. I thought it was time to sample some coffee shop wares and took a fancy to a chocolate orange cheesecake. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the best piece of cake for 2013 ... if not the decade !!  On leaving the Tobermory Bakery, I said to the cashier .....

Tobermory Bakery GJC_IMG_4016
"Please don't ever stop selling that !!"


  1. a lovely, colorful place! I would love to visit it someday!

  2. Great post Jay. I worked out of here many years ago. I saw more of the Mishnish than the rest of the town. The lighthouse round the headland is worth a walk to if ever you stay on the island as is Calgary Bay but that is further still.

  3. Fantastic stuff Jay, you've really caught the essence of the place in this series - just love it!

    Kind regards

  4. I love seeing the colorful building along the shoreline. Just beautiful!

  5. Wow! Very vibrant place. Looks like a masterpiece!

    ...and I want a slice of that cake. Mouth-watering! :)

  6. Wow, that's a long way to travel for a piece of cheesecake! lol Great collection of photos and information. The colorful buildings remind me of photos of Amsterdam. I'm getting a greater appreciation for Telford, who seems to have left his signature just about everywhere. Now I'm curious to know what 'mory' means, being the ending of both Balamory and Tobermory. The seagull with the colorful buildings looks like a poster. And I love the photo of the nets too! Very interesting post, J.

  7. I love the colors and appreciated that through-the-arch shot--but that cheesecake is mouth-watering! I hope it's still being sold if I ever get over that way.

  8. What an interesting place, J_on_tour! And I would like a pice of that cake, please!!!

  9. A fine series of photos, it gives me a good feel for Tobermory. I like the history you have provided to go with it.

    Sorry I have been a bit slow to respond. Life has been unexpectedly busy in the last few weeks.


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