These three neighbouring islands, with their hundreds of associated smaller islands and reefs, could not be more varied. Mull, the most southerly and largest of the three, is dominated by towering mountains with Ben More, at 996 metres, the highest point. This busy island, with its main ferry port at Craignure and its main population centre (and dive centre) at Tobermory, varies dramatically from coast to coast. To the east, the shelter of the Sound of Mull, with its racing currents and collection of intact deep shipwrecks, is overlooked by the historic castle at Duart Point. This contrasts with the wild west coast, where the famous islands of Iona, with its ancient cathedral and burial ground, and Staffa, with Fingal’s Cave running deep into its dark basalt column cliffs, are worth a stop over on any trip. Although more exposed, fewer shipwrecks are recorded here than in the shelter of the Sound.
Further west the flat, barren islands of Coll and Tiree are almost deserted by comparison. Arinagour on Coll is merely a collection of a few houses and a hotel near the ferry terminal. On Tiree, Scarinish is not much bigger. The most striking feature of both these islands are the beautiful and deserted white sand beaches, particularly those on the west coast. All round both Coll and Tiree the coastline is dotted with shipwrecks from earliest to modern times.
The last area included in this chapter rates as one of Scotland’s most remote places – the barren rock of Skerryvore, some 12 miles off the Tiree coast. The towering lighthouse, first lit in 1844, is normally only visited by seals and the odd person on a maintenance visit. It is a long, but worthwhile trip to reach the rock, although it should only be considered in perfect weather.
The Sound of Mull is probably one of the most popular dive destinations in the United Kingdom, the main attraction are the intact wrecks which can be found in the relative shelter of the Sound, as well as the dramatic scenery which surrounds the area. Strong tides run through the Sound of Mull and dictate the dive routine for the day, this tidal flow also encourages the dense and colourful sealife which covers most of the wrecks, making them popular for underwater photography. To the west of Mull sites are more exposed and tend to be more broken up by either by salvage works or by the elements.There are a number of deep water wrecks between Mull and Coll which have been found and investigated in recent years such as the Teunika, Jan Volders and Annie Melling, there are an elusive few still waiting to be discovered. The islands of Coll and Tiree have also claimed their fare share of ships over the centuries, and like the west coast of Mull, most of the sites have received the attentions of salvage contractors as well as the regular pounding from winter storms.