The Glengorm Goodlife

The Shepherd’s Bothy

Inspired by a post first lockdown holiday to the south end of the island, to stay in a friends converted bothy, we decided we would get a plan together to rebuild an old ruin which had been on the radar for a while.

The Shephers Bothy is our newest letting property. Originally built as a house for the estate Shepherd, its most recent use was has been for the gas works which provided the Castle with gas. After the introduction of electricity in the Castle, gas was no longer required and the cottage had fallen into a state of disrepair and had become a home for old cast iron baths, sinks and cookers!!

During Covid, we began the clearout. We recycled as much as we could and all the other junk was taken to the dump. I think we are pretty typical, if we have space to save anything we do!

The beginning-

The cottage sits on a wee farm track, just below the coffee shop. It benefits from the morning sun and some late afternoon/early evening sun as well. When the trees are a bit thinner, the sunset and the sea come into view. The immediate trees around the cottage had grown up around the ruin and had to come down. Three had to be removed, and this would create a lot more light to the property and prevent future damage.

After the trees were removed, the walls of the building were made stable. Parts had to be removed and rebuilt, the banking at the back had to be dug out to prevent dampness, and the whole building had to be picked and pointed and built up until it was to the right heights and level.

The ruin from above

The cottage was a typical small cottage, it had one large room and a solid wall which partitioned off another small room with a doorway out to the sea. We decided we would turn the smaller area in to the kitchen, add an internal bathroom and have a full height sitting room with a mezzanine bedroom on top of the bathroom and kitchen.

Walls are all secure

The large trees surrounding the cottage are really visible from above. They were professionally removed to prevent any damage. The walls are all secured here and the building is almost ready for the roof.

There was a round wall which protruded from the ground beside the cottage. Tom got stuck in with his digger and this is when we discovered this was an old gas tank. The pipes were all still in situ and the tank was about 10ft deep when emptied. It had been filled with old bottles and jars and lots of other old discarded items from the Castle, a lonesome black leather shoe was also discovered. We contemplated doing something with the tank, but we decided to fill it back in and leave for someone else to discover in the future.

When the roof went on the cottage, it really started to take shape. At the time when we started building it was during Covid and money was tight so we could afford to just get it done. It took a while with various different tradesmen coming when they could.

We opted for a black tin roof and added some vellux windows to keep the cottage nice and light. The lintels on the windows were replaced and we installed modern looking doors. We added a panoramic slim window above the bed for the view. The cottage was very well insulted and we hoped to keep a cosy feel, it made sense to add a wood burning stove.

When the roof had gone on, and the walls plastered, it was impressive to see how high the ceiling was. From the outside it has a real old bothy feel, but inside it is very light, airy and contemporary.

As the cottage sits by a farm track, landscaping has been difficult. At present it sits in a field where we generally keep our bulls. Adding some more shrubbery is a waste of time as the bulls like to hang out in the sun trap of a patio! Future landscaping is on the cards when we have cordoned off the area from our four legged neighbours.

This lovely little cottage is available for booking on a weekly basis on our website.

An old OS map showing the ‘Gasometer’ , the squash court and the Steadings building at Glengorm!

The End of an Era!

It is with mixed feelings that we will close the Glengorm Bed and breakfast business from the 13th November this year. We have ran the business in the Castle for the last 22 years.

Over the years we have experienced a very interesting array of guests and staff!! Unfortunately though, Covid 19 happened and we, well I personally, got to experience a side of Glengorm that I had yet to experience.

The business was set up by my mother in law, Janet Nelson, a few years before we got married. The main Castle up until then, had been a family home offering self catering accommodation in 3 flats in the castle, and cottages on the estate.

Janet had decided to move out of the main house, and at the time no other family members lived in the Castle so it was set up as a bed and breakfast and quickly became a successful business.

When we married in 2000, we moved into the Castle and took over . At the time it offered accommodation in 3 bedrooms, and use of the main house. Over the years as our family has grown, so has the business. The business now has 5 letting rooms and an apartment in the castle, along with a self catering flat (the Terrace) and the flat where we live, the West Wing.

The business itself has become a bit of a beast, whilst it has been very successful and popular, it takes a lot of feeding!! Staffing has always been an issue for us here, from the first days when we took over, up until this very day! We have always been fortunate to be able to offer accommodation for staff, but the stretching seasons and the work involved doesn’t always attract a huge audience. Life has been juggled and a lot of sacrifices made over the years and we now feel it is the right time to close our doors to the public and enjoy this wonderful house ourselves.

The start of Covid 19 was a very scary time for us. Glengorm Castle is a big house and requires a lot of up keep, and the income generated from the bed and breakfast business has always kept the house in a good state. Whilst we started this period of lockdown off a bit worried, we soon learned to appreciate what we actually had and were able to enjoy having Glengorm all to ourselves.

We are very grateful for all the guests that have visited, couples that have got married and friendships made. The house has been admired and enjoyed by many, and we have also had our fair share of complaints!

2023 will bring some big changes. Adapting to this different life will take a bit of getting used to, for ourselves and a lot of people around us, but as a family, we are very much looking forward to this. We hope to be able to sustain this new life with the remainder of the business that we run, but we are not naive, and it may be in the future that this may change again. We will still have some accommodation available in the Castle, the Terrace flat which is a weekly self catering let, The Tower rooms which is a nightly self catering apartment(part of the main House ) and the West wing where we are living at the moment, which will also be a nightly self catering let. Unfortunately no breakfasts or catering will be offered and my 6am alarm clock will stop ringing.

So thank you to everyone that has come and stayed with us in the past, thank you so much for supporting us and keeping us pretty much watertight! Thankyou to all the lovely staff members we have employed over the last 22 years and helped us keep this ship a float. Thankyou to those who are left to help pick up the pieces and help us with these huge changes.


New tups

Our tups are out! 24 well rested virile males have been let loose in the fields at Glengorm. As winter fast approaches, the circle of life here on the farm keeps going.

We have 24 tups on the farm, 4 are Suffolks, one is a cheviot and the rest are all blackface. They range in value from our own home bred up to £4000. This year, we are using tups from Dyke, GlenRath, Pole, Midlock, mainland Balimeanach and locally from Mull. We also have some tup lambs which we use as chasers.

We have almost 800 breeding ewes on the estate, and they are divided into groups and are put out into out to our ” in bye” fields. These fields have been kept empty for a while to allow the grass to grow, ready for this time.

The ewes are put out to graze for 2 weeks before the tups go out. This period is called flushing and is done to increase nutrients and body condition of the sheep and this will bring on ovulation.

Sheep ovulate in 3 weekly cycles. They do not ovulate all through the year, but have a specific time of the year when this starts happening, although the better condition of the ewe the more she will ovulate.

When the first tups go out to the ewes, they are put out for a 6 week period. Our best tups go out first for the first 3 weeks, then we will put in what is called a chaser, this is a tup of lesser quality or maturity but will hopefully catch any sheep which are not pregnant. When a sheep is pregnant it will not entertain a tup.

The sheep are selected into groups and their tup is chosen accordingly. We have 9 groups of black face sheep, which we keep pure bred and they have a blackie tup. These are kept in groups of about 50 sheep per tup and are ranked according to their features, so the best group of sheep will be put to the best tup. We breed these sheep for either increasing our female stock, or as tups which we may keep or sell. Only the best are selected and the rest will end up in the food chain.

We have 140 commercial ewes which are good at reproducing, but are at the poorer end of the black face lot. These ewes are pedigree but not our best and generally will not be kept for breeding except if they are good. Offspring from this group will be kept as replacements for old sheep or any that have may die in the year from the Glengorm flock, if they are good.

To produce larger sheep, we cross our blackface ewes with a cheviot tup. This gives cheviot cross which we then put to a Suffolk tup. We will keep the best to increase our flock and replace older animals . This year we have about 70 ewes being crossed with our cheviot tup, which we have bought locally from Robbie MacDougal.

Cross Cheviot ewes waiting for the Suffolk tups to be released

Finally we have a group of 120 cross cheviot ewes that we cross again with a Suffolk tup. This group produces the biggest off spring for meat and hybrid vigour. The Suffolk tup is regarded as a terminal sire as all offspring produced will be killed for meat. Our Suffolk tups is local too and comes from John MacDowell.

Generally 80% of ewes will get pregnant on the first ovulation cycle, but the good tups are given the opportunity to try again if they have missed one. Earlier this year, our lambing started 5 days ahead of the start date, this was possibly due to all the ewes being in good condition when the tups went out. The gestation period for a sheep is 147 days and our lambing season will start in early April.

The Goodlife is back…….

Autumn sunrise

What a year this has been for us all. Covid has reeked havoc with us all and all our businesses, and here we are now coming to a slightly premature end to the season. The season that we have had has been good. Pretty choc a bloc here, which has been great for our sanity and we appreciate it all.

This blog has suffered though, for various reasons here we have never seemed to have the right staff , and busy farmers markets and pie making has taken up a lot of my spare time .

Now it seems, another lockdown is not far away. As England has already locked down, and the Central belt of Scotland is on a travel ban, there are not many people on the move and I can’t help but feel we won’t be far behind as the numbers are not coming down in Scotland.

Covid has made it to Mull, we have small clusters of cases. Up until then, the only people I personally knew that had the virus are a family friend in Edinburgh and my own wee boy Jack, who started Glasgow University this September. He lives in the now very famous Murano buildings in a flat of 11, and 8 of them all tested positive and showed very few symptoms. His sister Asha had a visit from him in Edinburgh, the day his flatmate was tested. She was tested and had to isolate for 2 weeks, but was negative. He has been fine and doesn’t seem to have any repercussions.


Some happy news here, Triggy has had puppies, after years of trying she has finally given us a litter. Her mum Lexi is 12 and we feel we need to add to our doggy family. Cloudy has been accepted by Lexi an Triggy after a long couple of months, and in a week or 2 she will be running riot with the 4 new additions.

The farm has been having a fantastic year. The weather has been favourable and has been suiting grass conditions, the live and dead price for animals has been at a premium and the circle of life has continued to roll.

Our farm renovation project, to provide affordable long term accommodation has been finally approved by the Rural Housing fund and we hope that this will be finalised soon and work will start next year to provide 5 new properties.

We have other various projects in the pipeline and they will be appearing on the Goodlife soon. Stay safe everyone.