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Issue 29 - Wild island paradise

Scotland Magazine Issue 29
October 2006


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Wild island paradise

Glengorm Castle is a luxurious retreat on the Isle of Mull. Rob Allanson visited it

There are several elements that go in to making a memorable stay at an island retreat – and Glengorm Castle has them by the sack full.

Whether it is the romantic, windswept landscape, the dramatic castle, log fire and comfy leather armchairs or just the owners’ down to earth hospitality – a stay at this remote hide-away can be the stuff you remember for a long time.

Possibly one of the more remote hotels you might find, Glengorm is situated on the northern tip of the Isle of Mull near Tobermory, surrounded by forestry, lochs and hills.. The castle overlooks the Atlantic and has views across 60 miles of ocean to the Outer Hebrides and islands of Skye, Rhum and Canna.

Built in 1860, the castle had a history of changing hands until 1962 when it was sold to the Nelson family. The present owners, Tom and Marjorie Nelson, took over the management of the estate from Tom’s mother in 2000. Marjorie has her own family connections to the castle as her grandfather was once the farm manager.

It is this family-run feeling that pervades the castle walls these days, and creates the perfect rural retreat.

Once you get there, and through the main door, the most welcoming place is the great hall, the heart of the castle.

If you arrive in the evening there is often a roaring fire on the go and your hosts are always willing to join you for a chat and a whisky from the well stocked bar.

There are five luxurious bedrooms, four with en-suite and one with its own private bathroom. All have been individually designed to reflect the expansive views you get from the huge windows, and are named after local geographical features.

One of the many delights of Glengorm is to have a breakfast of local produce in the main dining room overlooking the estate. And Marjorie’s hearty breakfasts really do set you up for the day.

Activities on offer during the year include fishing, walking, bird watching and a host of other pursuits.

The braver visitors can take a step back in history and refresh themselves in the Victorian stone bathing pool, built in the early 1900s at the water’s edge.

Further afield for the keen explorer are Dunara Fort, An Sean Dun fort, several standing stones and the old ruined village of Baliacrach.

Wandering round the estate you are bound to find the coffee shop. Here Marjorie, who is a fantastic chef, can often be found whipping up a variety of fresh dishes.

Above the shop is the Glengorm Art Gallery which offers an area to reflect and perhaps even find some stimulation to create your own masterpiece. Exhibitors are all local artists on Mull and surrounding areas.

For the green fingered among you, exploring the Victorian walled garden is a must. Here Tom grows a wide variety of interesting shrubs, herbaceous plants and vegetables that, for those who want a more permanent souvenir, are often for sale.

If self-catering is more your thing then Glengorm can also accommodate you in its magnificent cottages and flats.

These range from the five-star luxury of the Steadings flat with its impressive kitchen to Glengorm Castle is a luxurious retreat on the Isle of Mull. Rob Allanson visited it Wild island paradise more practical family accommodation.

If you are heading to Glengorm in the, shall we say, cooler times in the year, there is one particularly special indulgence you should not miss out on – the bar, run as complimentary for guests staying at the castle, found in the library.

Tom decided he wanted to offer his guests some of the finest malts while they settled back in this timeless oak panelled room, replete with open fire and rows of books.

He thought it would be the perfect, comfy setting for his guests to spend evenings chatting after dinner and putting the world to rights.

The selection on offer may not at the moment rival bars on the mainland, but you know that each bottle has been hand selected by your host – a true whisky enthusiast.

However from these humble beginnings Tom, whose favorite tipple is the aptly named blended whisky Old Mull, is hoping to expand the collection.

Tom says he intends to run a very informal tastings and comments book so guests can pass on their experiences of the bottles on offer.

Returning visitors will be encouraged to bring their own bottles which they can chose to leave behind for the benefit of other guests – complete with their own tasting notes.

As island getaways go, they don’t come much better than this...

Glengorm Castle Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Argyll, PA75 6QE
Tel: +44 (0)1688 302 321