Mull of Kintyre, Scotland

The Mull of Kintyre is a wild and remote place, made world-famous by Paul McCartney and Wings way back in 1982 when their hit single, called Mull of Kintyre, reached the number one spot in both the UK and the US and stayed their for an incredible 20 weeks, breaking all records at the time.

It's quite strange to think that Paul wrote this song while staying at his farm-house near Campbeltown, where he guarded his privacy fiercely. The result of this massive hit was an increase in visitors to Kintyre and so his privacy was harder to maintain.

The Mull of Kintyre is a beautiful, barren scene. On a steep rocky hillside sits a lonely lighthouse, continually sending its warning beacon to mariners crossing round the choppy waters where the Firth of Clyde meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The name Mull is derived from the Gaelic word maol, meaning a promontory or bare round hill. Many places in Scotland have the name Mull in their title -Isle of Mull, Mull of Galloway to name two, and the name Mull of Kintyre simply describes the headland at the end of the peninsula of Kintyre, in the West Coast of Scotland.

Mists Rolling in from the Sea

A more barren place is hard to imagine. Lichen-covered igneous rocks dominate the landscape, and even the summer heather struggles to grow. The photos here were taken on a clear day, but as Paul McCartney described in his song, many times the view of Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland, barely 12 miles away across the channel, is completely obscured by the omnipresent mists that do indeed roll in from the sea.

Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse

The building of the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse

In 1782, the British Isles were struck by a succession of tempestuous storms such had never been experienced before. Many fishermen were unable to put to sea at all, but hunger and desperation forced some to try.

One dark and stormy night, two separate herring vessels were capsized while rounding the Mull of Kintyre and many lives were lost.

This spurred on the building of the first lighthouse which was built by Robert Stevenson of the famous lighthouse building family. Robert Stevenson's great nephew was Robert Louis Stevenson, the author.

The actual building of the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse was extremely difficult due to its remote and inaccessible location. Supplies had to be landed by boat 6 miles away, then transported on horseback over the rough mountainous terrain to the site. Each horse carried a maximum load of 1 cwt (112lbs) and the journey alone was a full day's work for each horse.

It took two 'seasons' to build the lighthouse, only being finally completed in the spring of 1788. It was actually ready by November 1787, but they delayed moving in the lantern until the following Spring because of the risk to the apparatus during the winter storms.

The lighthouse was rebuilt between 1822 and 1830 to conform to new regulations brought in by the Lighthouse Commissioners Establishment Policy. A fog signal was added in 1876, and ran on steam. This was necessary because of the frequent fogs that blanket the area making a light invisible to passing ships.

In 1906 the light was changed from a continuous to a flashing light, and its strength increased from 8,000 to 281,000 candlepower. In 1976, the light was changed over the mains electricity and increased to 1.575,000 candlepower.

In 1996, the lighthouse was fully automated and the light changed to a 250 watt multi-vapor lamp,.

As there is no longer any need for a live-in lighthouse keeper, the lighthouse accommodation is now available to let for short-stay vacation rentals.

If you are interested, contact the National Trust for Scotland at their Edinburgh HQ on 0044 0131 243 9331 or email holidays@nts.org.uk

The foghorn, which is now a fully automated piece of equipment, is situated 1 km away from the lighthouse which should permit some sleep for anyone staying there during foggy weather.

Mull of Kintyre

mull of kintyre lighthouse, looking down from the car park
mull of kintyre lighthouse, looking down from the car park | Source

Mull of Kintyre Visitors sign

The smaller writing on the sign that you may have difficulty reading on the photo says:

Congratulations on safely negotiating one of Scotland's most exciting roads. Cars must now be left safely in the car park - hairpin bends and steep gradients on the road to the lighthouse are even worse than those you have left behind!

Avoid putting lives at risk - communications here are poor including mobile telephone coverage. The terrain is difficult with hazardous hills and cliffs prone to rapidly changing weather conditions. Remember this is home to sheep and a variety of wildlife - please keep dogs on leads.

Visitors sign on the Mull of Kintyre
Visitors sign on the Mull of Kintyre | Source

Memorial to those lost in the Chinook disaster

Chinook disaster memorial
Chinook disaster memorial

Chinook Disaster, Mull of Kintyre, 1994

There is a helicopter landing pad here, and this brings us to the Chinook disaster of 1994.

On the 2nd of June, at about 6pm in the evening, an RAF Chinook helicopter carrying 4 senior and experienced crew members and 25 civilians, among whom were most of the UK's senior Northern Ireland Intelligence Officers, crashed on the Mull of Kintyre, killing all those on board instantly.

They were travelling from Northern Ireland to a conference at Fort George, near Inverness in the north of Scotland.

The twin-engined Boeing Chinook ZD576 crashed in the mountainside about 500 metres from the lighthouse. Due to heavy mist, no-one witnessed the actual crash although many heard it. The noise in a normally quiet location where only the sound of crying seagulls interrupts the steady pounding of the tidal waves far below, must have been horrendous.

A subsequent fatal accident inquiry blamed pilot error, but this has been questioned (and indeed overturned in a subsequent court ruling) and the final reason for the crash may never be known.

Enquiries are still ongoing today.

The Mull of Kintyre lighthouse lies in a position which is totally exposed to the elements and the prevalent south west winds which flow via the Gulf Stream.

This prevents the Mull of Kintyre from ever becoming bitterly cold. Indeed, palm trees flourish on the promenade in nearby Campbeltown.

A former lighthouse keeper was a keen gardener, and it was he who built several dry stone walls (that can be clearly seen in a photograph above, near the helipad) to protect his crops from the worst of the winds.

Indeed, as testament to the frequent rain which falls in Scotland, you can see the lush green of the grass on the drying green someone has taken the time to build outside the lighthouse, no doubt with the help of some topsoil sorely lacking on the terrain of the Mull of Kintyre.

looking at Northern Ireland and Rathlin Island from the Mull of Kintyre
looking at Northern Ireland and Rathlin Island from the Mull of Kintyre | Source

How to get to the Mull of Kintyre

By Road:

From Glasgow, follow the A82 which becomes the A83 at Tarbet just after Loch Lomond and follow the signposts for another 100 miles or so until you reach Campbeltown. From Campbeltown, take the signposted road to Southend, about 8 miles away, and from Southend take the signposted route towards the Mull of Kintyre itself. This journey will take you along a windy single track route for about another 8 miles. Where the road ends there is a car park and you must walk the rest of the way, unless you have hired the lighthouse cottage, in which case you can take your car down the even steeper and windier road to the lghthouse itself.

By Air:

Take a flight to Glasgow Airport, then another flight from there to Campbeltown Airport which is situated on the former RAF Machrihanish base, about 3-4 miles from the town itself. You can either hire a taxi or rent a car to take you the rest of the way.

Mull of Kintyre at Dusk

Mull of Kintyre by Paul McCartney and Wings, featuring Campbeltown Pipe Band

The Mull of Kintyre on to the left of Southend on this map.

show route and directions
A markercampbeltown, argyll -
Campbeltown, Argyll PA28, UK
[get directions]

B markersouthend, argyll -
Southend, Campbeltown, Argyll PA28, UK
[get directions]

A beautiful view of Kintyre to leave you with

looking inland away from the coastal part of Mull of Kintyre
looking inland away from the coastal part of Mull of Kintyre | Source

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Comments 21 comments

lakeerieartists profile image

lakeerieartists 6 years ago from Cleveland, OH

Scotland is one of those places that I would love to see just once in my lifetime. The images you have here just make it more enticing to me. Gorgeous!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Thanks! I was interested to learn that you can now rent the lighthouse for a vacation! Now that's what they call 'getting away from it all'!


Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

It is so beautiful. The grass is so green. I would love to go one day.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland

That was really a very interesting and enjoyable read about the Mull of Kintyre. I love that song and always try to stop what I am doing to listen to it when it comes on the radio.

Scotland is a place I want to visit one day too. Enjoyed the history of the Lighthouse and love the idea of staying there on a weekend break.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Thankyou Wendy and Viking for commenting :)

I grew up very near the Mull of Kintyre and visited once or twice as a child, but to be honest seeing this place through an adult's eyes holds so much more joy. You need to have seen a bit of life to enjoy the peace offered.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

Really outstanding images. I find it a bit ironic that Mr. McCartney caused his own privacy to be challenged. Nice hub, and again, the landscape images are beautiful.

K9


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Thanks. They are not my images I need to acknowledge the photographers somewhere.


Joe Badtoe profile image

Joe Badtoe 6 years ago from UK

Mull is indeed a beautiful place as are the Highlands where I've spent many a wonderful (albeit it midge dodging)holiday camping. Just a shame Paul McCartney had to make such an awful record about such a beautiful place!! Also love Oban, Ullapool, Skye, Glencoe, Kyle of Localsh etc.

Great Hub IzzyM.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia

It certainly looks a remote place but that is what appeals to me. A real get away from it all holiday. Great hub!


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

I've not been to the Mull of Kyntyre, though it's on my list of places I'd like to see. Your photos are lovely, and you've desribed it all beautifully. You're absolutely right when you say that you have to live in the buzz of life to appreciate the peace and serenity of such a place. Rated up!


Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

I love the scenery you provided. I want to make a sojourn to that part of the world soon and may include this on my itenerary.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

It is breathtaking! I hope one day (when I follow my dream to travel the world), I'll pay the Mull of Kintyre a visit. Thanks for adding to my places-to-go list.


humagaia profile image

humagaia 6 years ago from United Kingdom

I loved the song 'Mull of Kintyre' and I loved your hub. Just got to get in the car and go see it for myself!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

Thanks to everyone who commented above and sorry for not replying individually, but I'm having major problems staying online (too many people here on vacation using up the bandwidth!). It's a long drive to the Mull of Kintyre for those of you who live in the UK, and the probability is that when you get there you can see nothing for the mist!


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I went there on a camping trip around Scotland when I was younger, the scenery if breathtaking. But 3am in storm on the top of a cliff in a tiny 2 man tent is not so much fun.. lol


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Loved this hub, Izzy. I used to go down to Campbeltown fairly regularly when I had a family member living and working there and travelled out to Southend to fish several times. Incredible as it may seem (even to me!) I never once took the opportunity to head just that little bit further on to the Mull of Kintyre.

I am glad to say that reading your Hub has made me feel almost as though I did!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK Author

I've been once...and I used to live near there! It's quite a trek after you have parked your car and have to go the rest of the way on foot. Incredible scenerey all the same :)


Peter Eyre 5 years ago

Chinook ZD576

• This particular type of Chinook (HC2) had a long history of problems which were known to the authorities and in particular at Boscombe Down immediately prior to the accident. The very aircraft itself had also encountered serious problems prior to the day of the accident.

• It is a common understanding that ZD576 was not a serviceable aircraft in the true sense and had this been a civilian Chinook it would never have been allowed to depart. In civil aviation we have in our operational manual what we call allowable deficiencies. This basically is a list of go or no go items.

• The weather was typical coastal type weather with some hills shrouded in cloud or mist and it was obvious from the account of the Mr. Holbrook (the boat skipper) that visibility at sea level was reasonable. From my experience the cloud/mist on the coastal hills is continuously swirling around with a fluctuating cloud base. The fact that the lighthouse keeper did not have good visibility is because he was at a higher level and in a totally different position. Mr. Holbrook could see the surrounds of the lighthouse and the approaching helicopter.

• As an expert in aviation security it is not normal for such people as Royal Family, VIP, and CEO/Directors to travel on the same aircraft in such number for obvious reasons. Why was such a high profile group allowed to travel on one helicopter?

• The Chinook departed Aldergrove as a VFR flight and did transit the northeast part of Northern Ireland before its sea transit to the Mull of Kintyre without incident. It is therefore obvious that no matter what was programmed into the computer the flight was still carried out under VFR rules with the crew having the ability to adjust accordingly.

• The crew would have selected on their Sat Nav (whilst still at Aldergrove) their first waypoint which was A and also programmed in their second waypoint B etc.

• As the crew visually monitored the approaching Mull of Kintyre headland they would have been extremely alert and ready to call ATC with a position report i.e. waypoint A and at the same time selected waypoint B. If in those final moment the crew could see that their select waypoint was putting their aircraft into danger then again that would have de activated and corrected their course to fly up the western side of the Mull of Kintyre peninsula.

• A call to ATC was made but no response was given and one has to ask why not as this was a very special flight and the RAF would have been carrying out flight following procedures. One would also expect this to be their position report, ahead of the turn, having also gone visual with the lighthouse.

• One can therefore only assume at this moment something catastrophic occurred that took away the ability of the crew to control the helicopter. This can only lead to five possible causes - Catastrophic Failure of the control mechanism - Contamination of the Hydraulic System - FADEC failure - Interference to the aircraft by either outside or inside persons - Crew Error.

• It is also common knowledge that the Mull of Kintyre is in itself a very secretive location used as a testing ground for advanced (next generation) high tech military aircraft as well as US Navy Seals. One would therefore assume that the area was monitored continuously by both the RAF and the US with their usual array of sophisticated tracking systems and radar etc.

• There would have been other fishing boats around and one could ask the question how much effort was put into obtaining witnesses, how was the screening carried out and were all witnesses taken to their location on that day to display, explain or visually show what they saw or heard etc.

• Why wasn’t the possibility of inside or outside sabotage or external control of the aircraft looked at more deeply? This has been discussed at other aircraft accidents but did not play a significant part in this inquiry. The status and importance of the passengers onboard would have certainly made this a distinct possibility.

In regard to the latter i.e. that of sabotage; I have myself received vital information, from a very senior ex intelligence officer, that this was an inside job. It was during a very lengthy conversation on the 4th of August 2010 that this person disclosed that the Chinook was not an accident but one that had been planned from the office where the intelligence officer had previously worked.

I immediately discussed this with my friend (ex RAF) and carried out my own research. It was only last week that I again made contact with him and told him, that in my opinion, the investigation was a cover up in some way and one would have to take such evidence into consideration. He advised me that if I do not take this up with the police immediately, then he will. We both then proceeded to our local police station to report the contents of this telephone call.

The contents of the telephone call were noted by the Derby Police HQ, St Mary’s Wharf, Derby under incident number 620 dated 07/10/2010. Both Gordon Bowden and I are still waiting for a fully recorded interview, to be taken under oath, which to date still has not taken place. In my opinion it is therefore vital that my informant be interviewed to clarify what was said and for that person to substantiate the comments made.

Peter Eyre

Aviation Consultant – Senior Operations Officer Airline/Helicopter – SAR Coordinator.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Peter, your information falls very much within what the people of Campbeltown think (I am originally from the town). If I can help in any way, please contact me directly through the contact button on my profile page here on Hubpages. (Clicking on my avatar top right will open my profile page).


DavidLivingston 5 years ago

Nice post. Thank you, it interests me.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

David is that your real name? If so, you might be a relative!

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