Back to page with current news
News from Staffa House
September 2009
A long-awaited project comes to fruition - solar panels on the roof of Staffa House! After much research and deliberation, we now have a solar thermal system up and running, installed by Sun Harvester Solar Systems of Stirling. We're very excited - it's great to check the monitor as the day progresses and see the temperature on the panels and in the hot water cylinder climbing upwards and helping reduce our carbon footprint.
Installing the solar panels
October 2009
The rowan berries are wonderful in Fionnphort this year, showing themselves off to their very best in the front garden of Staffa House. Our friend Katrina gathers up some of the berries and makes rowan berry and apple jelly with them – truly local and organic food!

The visitor season is quietening down now, so it’s time to resume ‘Music Box’, Gillian’s pre-school music programme which she leads on a weekly basis for the young children of the Ross of Mull and Iona. This season we’re holding the sessions over on Iona – let’s hope the gales stay well away on Thursday mornings and allow the ferry to run! If any late-season B&B guests wish to join us for the music-making, please feel welcome….!

Rowan tree at Staffa House.
November 2009
Winter timetables are upon us! Both Calmac ferries and Bowman’s buses operate a different schedule from the end of October until mid-March. It’s easy to be caught out – for example, there’s no longer a daily 9.15am bus from Fionnphort to Craignure, so please do check the little notes on the timetables carefully before you travel! Ferry sailings to Iona aren’t as frequent as in the summer and the earliest/latest ferry of the day needs to be booked in advance, but getting to Iona is still perfectly possible so don’t be put off, this is a very special place in the quiet season and has much to recommend it. At Staffa House we’re busy planning our winter jobs, but it’s great to welcome one final group of guests for 2009. They have all served on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. (EAPPI). They gather at Staffa House for a long weekend to reflect on their experience in that troubled region, to share their stories, challenges and hopes whilst enjoying nourishing food and the peaceful autumnal landscape on the doorstep.
December 2009
Where’s that list of winter jobs? Running a B&B has its own rhythm and routine in the ‘quiet season’. We swing into action, with various projects - new floor tiles, fans and lights in the ensuite bathrooms, fresh paint in the guest bedrooms and landing…… it’s all go! We have a great team of people working with us, they take such pride in their work and we’re delighted with the results. Meanwhile it’s a bit chilly outside – someone says that there’s snow on the way for Christmas…..!
January 2010
What weather! And what scenery in which to enjoy it! Family members gather over New Year at Staffa House to enjoy superb winter conditions – sparkling snow on the hills, cloudless blue skies and cold, crisp air, with some memorable sunsets. There are some spectacular ice effects around too – even Fionnphort beach is a bit like a skating rink!
Ben More. Ice pattern. Shinty match at Ardalanish Beach.
Nothing will deter the intrepid shinty players on Ardalanish beach however – they turn out in good numbers for the annual match on New Year’s Day – a wonderful mix of fun and fresh air, perfectly rounded off with warm soup and delicious baking served by Minty Mackay and friends up at Ardalanish Farm.
Inside jobs continue through January – new carpets are fitted and we enjoy putting up more local artwork in the guest areas of the house – we’re very fortunate to have so many talented artists living on Mull and Iona. Hope we don’t run out of wall space!
February 2010
Marmalade madness! Ali is hard at work for three days, chopping, boiling, simmering, testing, filling jars, only to start again on the next batch! The entire house is full of a sunny marmalade smell and the neat little jars are stowed away safely – all ready for B&B guests to savour with warm wholemeal toast and lots of butter!
Homemade Marmalade!
Cold, sunny weather continues on Mull – where are this winter’s gales? A pod of dolphins turns up unexpectedly in the sound of Iona. They must think it’s time to come and play already! The colours of the setting sun on the pink granite of Torr Mor are a daily delight.
With most of the house jobs done, the garden beckons – we have new projects in mind for 2010, including a raised bed for growing more vegetables….
Sunset over Mull pink granit.
March 2010
The season must be approaching! There are a few more visitors on the ferry, boats are being painted, the hotels are getting ready to open on Iona, the first group of volunteers have just arrived at the Abbey…. Beautiful snowdrops form a carpet in the grounds of the Heritage Centre on Iona, soaking up some lovely warm March sunshine. The days are getting much longer now and the birds are singing away in the mornings. We take the opportunity for a little pre-season break, walking along the Coast-to-Coast path in northern England before returning to Staffa House to greet our Easter guests.
Snowdrops at the door of Iona Parish Church.
April 2010
There’s a real buzz around the place now that April’s here. The ferry to Iona sails back and forth regularly, with its familiar ‘ding-dong’ each time it leaves Fionnphort jetty. The boat trips to Staffa have started again and puffins have been sighted – if you’re staying at Staffa House we can phone at breakfast time and book you on a trip. The skylarks are back, singing their hearts out all day long, and of course the evenings are getting lighter and lighter – no need for those torches now. The daffodils timed it just right for Easter and the primroses are shyly appearing in their favourite places – look out for them if you’re driving along Loch Scridain. Inside Staffa House there is conversation and laughter around the table at breakfast and dinner – another season underway with much to share and enjoy.
Iona Ferry. Iolaire heading out to Staffa.
May 2010
May’s a wonderful month to be in Fionnphort. We heard our first cuckoo on May 2nd, and our bird feeders outside the conservatory have been mobbed by half a dozen hungry goldfinches and a couple of siskins, not to mention numerous sparrows and blue tits. We can hardly keep up with them – no sooner are the feeders filled than we turn our backs and they’re empty again! Staffa House seems to have become a B&B for the birds, as well as for our human guests! Do bring your binoculars if you come and stay with us, you’ll have great close-up views. Meanwhile the puffins are busy making themselves at home on the island of Staffa – our guests have reported good sightings when they’ve been out on the ‘Iolaire’ with David Kirkpatrick and his crew. May is also the month of primroses – in abundance. The roadsides are adorned with beautiful clumps of yellow, you’ll see them for yourselves if you drive between Fionnphort and Pennyghael.
Goldfinch. PUffins on Staffa. Primroses.
June 2010
The fresh colours of early summer call for a fresh coat of paint on the exterior of Staffa House! Alan and Andy work long hours to make the most of the dry weather and soon the house is happily displaying its new colour scheme to all who pass by. Meanwhile, on the catering front, we’re delighted to learn that we can now order organic milk from The Ferry Shop, so we’ve switched our supplies entirely to organic. Better for us and our guests, and better for the environment!
Staffa House. Organic Milk.
July 2010
Sometimes pictures speak louder than words. This month the garden at Staffa House is just bursting with life and colour and diversity. So please enjoy a little garden tour with us – and imagine the smells and tastes that accompany the photos!
A raised bed full of goodness. Fresh herbs ready for the kitchen. Old walking boots have their uses!
Mouth watering! Pilgrim Rose. Our promising potato crop.
Ragged robin in the wild flower area. Staffa House peas. Wild orchid in the garden of Staffa House.
August 2010
August’s weather holds up well and excited Staffa House guests return from trips on the ‘Volante’ and the ‘Iolaire’ with sightings of basking sharks and minke whales as well as seals and many seabirds.
Thanks to the kind assistance of our friend Hilary who offers to lend us a hand for a week, we are able to explore some of Mull’s delights ourselves. We discover yet more secret beaches on the Ross of Mull, tucked away, far from the crowds, and take evening picnics to quiet viewpoints, enjoying the late summer flowers and turquoise seas.
We also have the pleasure of helping good friends celebrate their golden wedding anniversary on the Ross of Mull – a week of music-making, walking, football matches on the beach and plenty of fun, rounded off by a wonderful meal and ceilidh at Creich Village Hall.
Seal. Market Bay. Sunset from Staffa House.
September 2010
Where do guests who stay at Staffa House come from? The simplest answer is “all over the world”, but here’s a sample of where this month’s visitors hailed from:
Hereford; Poland; South Australia; Washington State USA; Warrington; Largs; Germany; France; New York; Yeovil; Wiltshire; Aberdeenshire; Montana; Berlin; Norway; Fife; Angus; Morpeth; NSW Australia; Bedford; Settle; Kirkby Lonsdale; Gateshead; Isle of Arran; Liverpool; New Zealand; Canada; Oxfordshire; Edinburgh; Kendal; Bishop Auckland; New Jersey USA; Dunkeld……
Amazing, isn’t it? We love meeting folk from so many different places, it makes for a fascinating and diverse gathering of traditions, cultures and stories when people stay at Staffa House.
October 2010
We were blessed with fantastic weather during mid-October! The lovely warm temperatures and sunny skies allowed us wonderful opportunities to enjoy special times on the beach with Gillian’s nieces, Catriona and Eilidh, when they came to stay with us. We paddled, ran races, collected lots of different shells, had picnics, walked to Columba’s Bay on Iona, fed the birds at Staffa House, paddled some more… and the sun just shone and shone!
Playing at the beach. Playing at the beach.
North End, Isle of Iona Columba Feeding the birds at Staffa House.
November 2010
Things are very quiet now. Winter ferry and bus timetables are with us and it’s time for local folk to take a breather from the busy pace of the summer, although some locals never seem to relax!
December 2010
Snow on Iona! This is a truly rare event. Cameras were in action as many of us couldn’t wait to get outdoors and enjoy the vivid colours of snow, sea and sun. What a lovely prelude to Christmas! Back to Staffa House afterwards for a mug of hot chocolate – or was that a glass of mulled wine?
Fionnphort Beach. Staffa House. Snow on Mull.
January 2011
One of the questions most frequently asked by our guests is “Whatever do you find to do up here in the winter?” Well, it’s honestly true to say that our social lives are very busy during the winter months and we could be out almost every night of the week! Just to give you a taste of things which happened this month…
6 January – poetry evening to celebrate Twelfth Night
10 January (and every subsequent Monday evening) – Ross of Mull Singers
11 January – storytelling afternoon at the Ross of Mull Historical Centre
13 January – illustrated talk on the wildlife of Ardalanish
14 January – supper and sleep-over with good friends on Iona!
20 January – Taize singing
29 January – film showing in Creich Hall
Creich Hall. Mull Historical Centre.
February 2011
February sees us heading to the mainland to visit family members in Inverness, Wolverhampton and Kendal. It’s lovely also to meet and share time with good friends – and of course mainland trips always provide a useful opportunity to catch up on necessary haircuts and shopping! The days back at Staffa House this month are busily spent ordering new bed linen, towels and duvets for the coming season – we hope you like them….!
New bed linen!.
March 2011
On 5 March we hear our first skylark of 2011 whilst walking down the track to Camas. What a lovely sound, and a wonderful sign that spring is fast approaching. May there be many skylarks singing their hearts out above our heads in Fionnphort this summer! A few days later we assist with a very energetic Pancake Party hosted by the local churches to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. We quickly lose count of how many pancakes are cooked, they just disappear off the plates as soon as they came out of the pan. A fiercely contested ‘toss the pancake’ competition takes place, but the star winners of the evening are undoubtedly the wonderful ladies in the kitchen who help us clean the frying pans when it is all over!
Pancakes. Pancakes.
April 2011
We attend a great new venture in Bunessan, the Community Café, and enjoy wonderful home-baking, delicious soup, and a rich display of local art and craft for sale. Inspired by last month’s skylark on the Camas track, we purchase a new piece by local artist John Clare for one of our guest rooms.
We’re building up quite a collection of work by Mull artists and artisans – it helps to support them in their creative enterprises and gives the décor in Staffa House an individual quality, linked closely to the landscape and wildlife on our doorstep.
skylark picture.
Easter is late this year – 24th April, but it’s not too late for a few treats on the Easter morning breakfast table. Easter Breakfast.
Easter heralds the start of the summer season in earnest and the Ross of Mull Singers wind up their winter season by performing a few of their songs at the Argyll Arms in Bunessan to entertain Easter Bank Holiday friends and visitors. Music at the Argyll Arms.
May 2011
We have two new arrivals this month – not guests but water butts! Once in place, they look quite stately – and they should help with watering the garden in dry weather. Still on the theme of the garden, a new project is underway at the front of the house – watch this space!
Staffa House garden project. Water butt. Staffa House garden project.
June 2011
A musical engagement in Newtonmore gives us the rare opportunity to take a few days holiday in the height of the season, so we head to the far north-west of Sutherland. We walk to remote Sandwood Bay, climb Ben Stack and Arkle, enjoy stunning coastal walks around Durness, and take the unforgettable minibus ride to Cape Wrath lighthouse. We thought midsummer days on Mull were pretty long, but up here the sun is still high in the sky at 10.30pm – quite amazing!
Holiday in Sutherland. Holiday in sutherland.
Holiday in Sutherland. Holiday in Sutherland.
July 2011
This year July provides some glorious sunny weather. Our solar thermal panels are working overtime and we’re delighted with the results. It’s good weather for outside painting too – Andy manages to tackle the trickiest bit of Staffa House, the back of the west-facing chimney. Hair-raising stuff, but the views are spectacular from up there!
Rose. On the roof.
August 2011
The front garden project is really taking shape now. Slowly but surely the area of tussocky grass we inherited on moving to Staffa House is being transformed into a place where guests can sit and enjoy the views to Iona and Ben More, amidst raised beds where we hope vegetables and fruit will grow and flourish. Watch the transformation here...
Staffa House Garden Project. Staffa House Garden Project. Staffa House Garden Project.
Staffa House Garden Project. Staffa House Garden Project. Staffa House Garden Project.
Staffa House Garden Project. Staffa House Garden Project. Staffa House Garden Project.
September 2011
We celebrate a friend’s birthday by taking her to the newly-opened Bunessan Bakehouse. It’s a great place for lunch, serving delicious home-made soups, hand made breads, cakes and pastries. There’s a lovely friendly atmosphere and it fits perfectly if you’re planning a visit to the Ross of Mull Historical Centre, Ardalanish Weaving Mill, or a walk out to the Ardtun cliffs. And it’s only 15 minutes’ drive from Staffa House, ideal for us to pop out for a quick coffee whenever we get the chance!
Bunessan BakeHouse. Ross of Mull Historical Centre. Ardalanish.
October 2011
Time for our autumn holiday which we’ve chosen to spend in the Lake District. Despite some rather soggy weather, we enjoy re-acquainting ourselves with the Lakeland fells and the beautiful Herdwick sheep. We return to Staffa House in time for the Mull and Iona Storytelling Fest and are delighted to have three Greek storytellers and one Scottish storytellers staying with us as guests. They perform at Mull Theatre, in local primary schools and in Creich Hall – bringing their tales alive with music, dance and costume. Our good friend, Jan Sutch Pickard, also a storyteller, coordinates the events, and recounts tales of St Columba’s monks, shipwrecks off Iona, peat-cutting near Camas and cattle-droving across Mull.
Jan, Storyteller.
November 2011
The clocks have gone back, the ferries and buses are on winter timetable, and our last guest has just departed. The lovely thing about living here is the natural rhythm of the seasons, the transition from busy, bustling long summer days to dark evening and quiet roads, sleeping earth and storm-tossed seas. We eagerly pull on our walking boots and re-discover the delights of the Ardtun cliffs (with excellent sightings of white-tailed eagles and hares). On another day we climb up high above Loch na Keal and enjoy exhilarating views of Mull’s mountain summits in glorious autumn colours. On days when the cloud is low, there is still good walking to be had – such as the route through Scoor Forest, looking across the sea to Colonsay, and with fabulous views at the far point of the forest to Malcolm’s Point, one of the most dramatic cliffs on Mull’s coastline.
Taking a walk. Taking a walk. Taking a walk.
December 2011
This is a busy musical month! The Ross of Mull Singers are in action at a number of festive events - a ceilidh, the Bunessan Christmas Craft Fair, Coffee and Carols, and a not-to-be-forgotten evening of outdoor carol singing when the rain poured down and the wind blew, but we continued to sing with all our might! Our carol sheets were soggy beyond belief by the end of it all, but many folk in Bunessan enjoyed our efforts and we warmed up over tea and home-baking in the hall of Bunessan church afterwards.

December also sees a brand new venture on the Ross of Mull – a Christmas Tree Festival. The local Iona Community Family Group, of which we’re part, organises the event and it is a lovely celebration of our vibrant community. Seventeen different local groups, ranging from the Brownies to the Book Club, the Organic Gardening Group to the Playgroup, each decorate a tree. The finished trees are magnificent creations and are much enjoyed by all those who come to view them over the weekend. Spot our Fairtrade tree below!
Christmas Tree Festival. Christmas Tree Festival. Christmas Tree Festival.
January 2012
Aha! January means marmalade making! Ali spends several days in the kitchen - chopping, squeezing, stirring and chopping again until the work surface is piled high with jars of orange treasure, all ready for the coming season. Ali says it’s about time she visited Seville to see the oranges for herself! Maybe next year….??
home made marmelade
Outside it might look grey some days, but there is plenty of beauty if we care to look: raindrops and twigs
As a local naturalist writes in the monthly nature notes of our local ‘Round and About’ magazine: “In a storm I can watch the huge waves from my window, rolling down the Sound, their crests blowing in the wind like the manes of wild white horses. Seabirds soar and swoop and dive, totally at home in the storm. Living here, so close to nature, the changing seasons are part of the joy.”
February 2012
Days are gradually getting longer now and the bulbs are pushing through the soil to reveal delicate snowdrops and crocuses.
New things are also bursting in Mull’s search to generate its own electricity – a Hydro Electric scheme is proposed for a site at Garmony near Craignure, a scheme which could generate the equivalent electricity needs of 230 homes on Mull. Check out the details on this site. In order for the proposal to move forwards, a postal ballot of all residents on Mull and Iona must be carried out to measure public support. The ballot papers arrive on 15th February and the deadline for replies is 8th March.
Watch this space!
Still on the subject of renewable energy, we attend a Renewables Fair on 4th February – a event full of interest and relevance at the current time, which brings together members of the public and suppliers/installers of solar panels/heat pumps/wind turbines/ biomass systems. The day is all the more inspiring thanks to one of the speakers, Alastair McIntosh (trustee of the land buy-out campaign by the islanders of Eigg and author of ‘Soil and Soul’) who delivers a fascinating talk on community building and resilience. Poster for Renewables Fair
Back to page with current news