The Old Sawmill

As you walk out behind the farm buildings, you will see on your right a recently restored mill pond. This pond once supplied water to a sawmill. The sawmill operated full-time until the late 1930s and finally stopped working sometime in the 1950s. Turn left and follow the woodland path downhill till you see a stone pillar and a pit amongst the trees. This is all that is left of the sawmill.

The old trees around you were planted by the Calgary Estate in the early 19th century. Many estates on Mull were building new houses and surrounding them with trees at that time. The rocky outcrops of Sawmill Hill shelter the trees from strong winds and allow them to grow tall and straight.

The oak, ash and elm trees can occur naturally on Mull, but many of the trees that you see in this wood are species that have been introduced to the island by man. The trees with the smooth, greyish bark are beech. Sycamore, lime and horse chestnut are here too. Two types of conifer are present - larch and Scots pine. If you look closely at fresh twigs lying on the ground beneath the trees, you will see that the pine has long needles grouped in pairs and the larch has tufts of tiny needles, looking a bit like the bristles of a tiny brush.

Beneath the trees, only very shade-tolerant woodland plants can survive. These include ferns and flowers such as primrose and wild garlic that flower in spring before the broadleaved trees have fully unfurled their leaves. If you like the smell of garlic, crush a piece of wild garlic leaf in your fingers and smell it!