Hideaway at the edge of Europe
Why would you travel all the way to the windswept Knockvologan? To explore the islands’ extreme geological diversity, its barren landscape with weather-beaten rock and wind shaved forests. Here you can be tucked away in a secluded spot, far removed from the rest of the world: this is the unparalleled edge of Europe, teetering on the vast, churning waters of the Atlantic Ocean. We cannot guarantee dry spells; however, the landscape never fails to captivate, whatever the time of year.
For our guests, we have designed and built Knockvologan Observatory. A heptagon space, constructed in a way that every detail is inspired by the surrounding land. It brings back the intelligent simplicity of living that is necessary in such a faraway place heavily exposed to the elements. Its 4,5-meter-wide panoramic window overlooks the Tireragan estate to the south and frames Burg and Ben More in the east. The minimalistic building is designed to fit one or two people and offers a possibility to rest, recharge and reconnect with nature.
The observatory, being open plan, is extremely light due to the three large windows. A wood burning stove and sheep’s wool insulation keeps the space warm. You will find a simple working table, some sturdy stools and a comfy Japanese futon to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
Bit by bit we’ve sorted out, cleared and cleaned one of the barns adjacent to our house. It had become obsolete and basically functioned as a dump, at the same time falling apart. Building a new barn in its place seemed most sensible but a limited budget and the difficulty to get rid of building rubble in a responsible way, made us decide to leave it standing and prevent further decay instead. We recently began to build an inner structure. A barn in a barn. A dry and light space which at the same time will hold the old barn together making sure it won’t collapse.
One third of the new space will be a guest studio. The rest will be a versatile workshop for various projects, exhibitions, workshops and experiments.
The garden and beyond
Situated on a large pink granite rock-bed, the garden around the observatory is one of the more exposed gardens on the Ross of Mull. A few 30 year old ash and willow trees provide a little wind break. Since our arrival we have planted over 300 trees and perennials. It is the granite rock itself which gives the garden its surprising levels and meandering structure. Despite the early stage of the borders, there is a variety of colours, texture and scent. A ribbon-like path leads over the rocks to the top of the garden where, next to the observatory, you will find a large hand-dug pond which has attracted wildlife already. Frogs, newts and dragonflies are abundant and swallows fly over and drink from it.
There is a private composting toilet in the garden near the observatory and next season an outdoor shower will be at your service too. Till that time we keep it simple. There will be a porcelain bowl pitcher set (jug and basin) to refresh yourself and an enamel dish pan and rack to do the dishes on the proven Knockvologan way.
On arrival, the observatory will be stocked with a few non-indispensable “basics”. We provide a starter pack of logs, kindling and firelighters for the wood stove.
Knockvologan is a remote place. There are not many places to eat out but we provide simple cooking facilities. In Fionnphort you will find the Keel Row Pub & Restaurant and The Creel Fresh Seafood Bar. However, these are closed in autumn and winter. The local shops in Fionnphort and Bunessan have the basics.