Ardtun Fossil Leaf Beds and Columnar Basalt Cliffs

Basalt cliff and Fossils ,Ardtun,Bunessan,Isle of Mull

Basalt Cliffs of Ardtun containing Fossil leaves and plants

Map: OS Explorer 373 Iona, Staffa and The Ross of Mull 1:25000
Grid Reference: NM380327
Walking time: approx 1.75 miles (3 km), about 2 hours.
Terrain: Pathless moorland and coastline, very boggy in parts

Waterproof boots or wellingtons recommended.

                                                         10 minutes drive from Seaview bed and breakfast

Dunan Mor , Ardtun ,Isle of Mull

Dunan Mor hill fort with cairn

Click on photos below to enlarge

Basalt Stack Ardtun,Ardtun,Isle of Mull

Twisted basalt stac Ardtun

A relatively easy short coastal walk below and above basalt cliffs with interesting geology and spectacular views. Ground tending to be wet, boggy in parts and slippery; good waterproof walking boots or wellingtons definitely required. By car from Seaview, drive back towards Bunessan from Fionnphort. Drive through Bunessan village round the sharp bend after the Spar shop and turn first left before you leave the 30mph limit, over the little bridge and left again immediately after it sign posted "Ardtun"and drive along the  shore road. A quarter mile further on you enter the Ardtun area and to your left there are magnificent views north west over Loch na Laitaich and Eilean na Liathanaich (Grey Island) with its little lighthouse perched at one end. To the west is Bunessan pier used by the local shell fishermen and extremely important to the areas economy. In the distance on a good day you can pick out the pillar island Staffa to the north. Turn left just before long pink painted cottage on the right into Ardtun Bay area. Park your car on the left at the bottom of the hill near to the shore.

Basalt and Fossils Ardtun, croft,Loch na Laithaich lighthouse

ruined croft on route to Basalt Cliffs north to Loch na Laithaich Lighthouse

Follow the road round the bay on foot nearly to the end and just before the last 2 houses there is a gate facing north on the right hand side of the road.

Basalt sea cave Ardtun,Ardtun,Isle of Mull

Basalt sea cave Ardtun

go through the gate. Follow the sheep track north through a field and on to the open moor. In the mid distance there is a little flat topped hill with a cairn on top (Dunan Mor). Walk to the cairn and then carry on past it descending north down to the fields above the shore.

Here you pass through ruined croft houses and enclosures. On your right above the notable columns of basalt cliffs become grander as you walk north east. The sheep track takes you to a steep gorge with the sea funneling into it.

Basalt,Ardtun,Isle of Mull

Twisted Basalt Ardtun shoreline

At this point you have to go up onto the tops of the cliffs. Now follow across the headland and ahead of you in the distance is the magnificent mass of the

Ardmeanach and Burg Peninsular,Isle of Mull

Ardmeanach and Burg from Ardtun

Ardmeanach peninsular.

After a short walk you will reach a shallow open gully between the cliffs well above sea level and with reasonable access but be careful. In the gully sides you will see fossils of leaves of oak ,hazel and plain trees, conifers,,foilage,fruit and stems. Three differing layers have been found. A large variety of fossil plants occur in the sediments left between the lava flows This is an area of Special Scientific Interest for lower tertiary palaeobotany and the leaf beds could be about 58 million years old. It is the only place in the UK  to yield these types of fossils. Return either by the same route or follow along the top of the cliffs the whole way back to the cairn.

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Last updated 05 April 2019

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