Be our guest
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 also 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. Everything here is readily to hand. A cooking stove keeps the space warm. From local wood, we’ve built a small dining table, some sturdy stools and a comfy sofa to curl up on. A cupboard on the wall contains all the cooking essentials and crockery. For the night, the sofa transforms into a double bed with Japanese futon mattress to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
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. These have now grown to no more than knee height. It is the granite rock itself which gives the garden its surprising levels and meandering structure. Near the house there is a chestnut fenced vegetable garden. Its peculiar wing-like shape follows the contours of early lazy bed experiments.
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.
No matter the type of weather, storms, snow, hail or sunshine, the Observatory is comfortable throughout the year thanks to the sheep’s wool insulation and a modern Salamander cooking wood stove.
Water is plentiful here! We collect and filter rain water and make use of a nearby well. No chemicals are added. You will taste the difference. The wood burning stove has a back boiler that will supply warm water to make hot drinks and do the washing up. When the stove is not on a water heater will help you out.
Just outside the observatory there is a private composting toilet. Next year an outdoor shower and sauna will be at your service too. Till that time we keep it very 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.
To cook or not to cook
Good food is important especially when being outdoors the whole day.
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, frying oil and butter, vinegar, pepper and salt, organic eggs, jam and a box of home baked biscuits. Every morning we will supply a freshly baked artisanal sourdough bread.
Cooking on wood functions really well but requires a little bit of practice if you are used to gas or induction hubs. We’ve fried pancakes and eggs, simmered slow stews and baked the most delicious cakes, bread and pizzas with this stove. The wood for the stove is local and planted sustainably and the use of it is included in the price (considering a normal use).
Knockvologan is a remote place. There are a few places to eat out during the summer season, the best local ones being: The Blackbird Bistro, Ninth Wave Restaurant, The Keel Row Pub & Restaurant and The Creel Fresh Seafood Bar. However all these close for the winter. Possibilities to do groceries in the area are limited. The local shops at Fionnphort and Bunessan have the basics and sometimes run out of stock. We grow our own vegetables which guests are welcome to harvest. If you are not in the mood for cooking, we offer a range of home-made soups and simple meals like vegetarian dishes and stews from local lamb and deer that we keep in our freezer. We cannot guarantee but we probably can accommodate most dietary needs. A price list is given on arrival as meals will vary depending on the season. If you bring your fishing rod you can give it a try from the rocks down at Knockvologan beach where you can also harvest delicious seaweed. If you are interested, we will show you where they grow and which ones to pick.
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.