Inch Kenneth

Inch Kenneth lies a short distance off the coast from Mull, just off Gribun rocks. The island is 55 hectares in area and is Geologically different from the rest of Mull. Inch Kenneth is one of the most historically important islands in Scotland. Along with Iona, this island has a significant number of important burials of the kings of Scotland. The island (Innis Choinnich) was named after St Kenneth, who founded a monastery on the island.

Dominated by the sea cliffs at Gribun, Inch Kenneth occupies a truly quintessential Hebridean setting. Only one mile in length and half that distance at its widest, the island provides easy walking surrounded by some of the most heart-stirring scenery on the Isle of Mull.

Composed of sedimentary conglomerates and limestones, Inch Kenneth is a fertile oasis amidst the volcanic lava flows that predominate much of Mull’s landscapes. The island’s fine, sandy soil promotes flower-rich grassland in Spring and Summer, while providing nourishment for a 200-strong herd of Barnacle Geese that arrive each Autumn from breeding grounds in Greenland.

Inch Kenneth was the home of the song writer and philanthropist, Sir Harold Bolton, who wrote the lyrics to the ‘Skye Boat Song’, the island became infamous during the Second World War due to its connection with the Mitford family, a minor aristocratic English family, who bought the island in 1938.

One of six sisters, Unity Mitford was a staunch supporter of the Fascist movement and an admirer of Adolf Hitler, with whom she became a friend. Held back in her early life by her prettier and more clever sisters, Unity craved attention and developed a desire to shock. An exhibitionist, with a coarse sense of humour, Unity discovered that her love of Nazism allowed her to stand out from the crowd. Having attempted suicide, with a pistol given to her by the Fuhrer, when the Second World War was declared, Unity returned to Britain and spent her last years on Inch Kenneth. There she spent her time improvising religious services in the medieval chapel and planning her own funeral.

Following the death of their mother, Lady Redesdale in 1963, the island was inherited by the surviving Mitford sisters. Diana, Nancy, Deborah and Pamela sold their shares in the island to their sister and fellow beneficiary Jessica. Jessica had previously let it be known that she would donate her part of the island to the Communist Party, and Lord Redesdale cut her out of his will.

The island was sold by Jessica Mitford in the late 1960s and it remains under private ownership. The house belongs now to Charles Darwin’s grand-daughter and is still accessed by a small rowing boat, depending on weather.

Inch Kenneth represents yet another world of solitude and great tranquility, where the peaceful idyll is punctuated only by the calls of nesting shorebirds, the bleating of sheep and the gentle lapping of waves on to the shore.

Mull Charters conduct regular boat trips to Inch Kenneth from Easter to October.