South West of the ferry terminal at Craignure, the road to Iona takes an inland route through Glen More across Mull. South of the main road lies a large chunk of Mull that is little visited and even less well known. The deeply indenting sea-lochs of Loch Spelve and Loch Buie, when combined with the freshwater Loch Uisg create what is virtually a separate island of an area measuring some 8 miles by 2.
The road from Strathcoil, which lies on the A849, heads south to meet then follow the north west shore of Loch Spelve until it reaches a road junction besides a monumental post box at Kinlochspelve. Here a very minor road branches off left to go round the other side of Loch Spelve to the tiny hamlet of Croggan. Those wanting to go to Lochbuie should keep straight on along a marginally less minor road.
Almost immediately you see Kinlochspelve Parish Church, a little way off the road to your left. This was built in 1828 to a standard "Parliamentary" design produced by Thomas Telford. Nearby is the parish war memorial. As you look west along Loch Uisg from here, two things catch your eye. The first is the splendid Craig Ben Lodge, on the north side of the loch.
The second, depending on the time of year of your visit, is the most rampant and out-of-control display of rhododendrons you are ever likely to see in Scotland. Catch them all fully in bloom, and it seems as if the entire north side and west end of Loch Uisg have been colonised by a single strain of strikingly pink flowers, which spread far up the mountainsides to the north.
Lochbuie itself lies at the head of Loch Buie and faces south west down the loch into the Firth of Lorne. The end of the public road brings you to a rough parking area overlooking the stony beach at the head of the loch, which is opposite one of Scotland's smallest post offices. Nearby is a triangular cairn erected to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902. Mull is becoming increasingly popular with bird-watchers, and the head of Loch Buie is considered a prime spot: as a result you are unlikely to have it to yourself.
There are signs of human activity at Lochbuie that go back thousands of years. A quarter of a mile inland from the head of the loch is Mull's only stone circle, dating back to Neolithic times. This lies a little way behind Lochbuie House, a three-storey brown harled mansion built in 1793. Amongst its outbuildings is part of Old Lochbuie House, which was built in 1752.
On a rocky platform just above the shore, only a hundred yards or so south of Lochbuie House, are the imposing remains of Moy Castle, built here in the early 1400s though added to in later centuries. This comprises a three storey plus garret tower house constructed of stones from the nearby beach. Two of the corners carry remnants of caphouses. The castle has long stood derelict, but is currently covered in scaffolding and undergoing an extensive makeover which we hope will lead to its being opened to the public at some point in the future.
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