Staycation Scotland: Luxury glamping site set for the Isle of Mull

An aviation expert is hoping to see his glamping site on the Isle of Mull take off after being given the green light by planners.

Aerospace engineer Mike Roche, 60, has been based in Malaysia since the mid-1990s but plans to return to the UK to run the new development on the Ross of Mull.

Pennycross Mill will cover 1.5 acres on the peninsular and feature five luxury en-suite timber units all coming complete with under-floor heating, wi-fi and contemporary kitchens.

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Designed by Edinburgh-based Glampitect, the site will include a glamping pod specifically adapted for disabled users.

Mike Roche is returning to land on Mull that his parents bought 30 years ago.

Prior to moving to Kuala Lumpur, Mike worked on the design of Typhoon Eurofighter jets with BAE Systems and is looking forward to a change of focus.

“The reason I have the land is my parents bought a place there some 30 years ago – I was actually with them when they saw it for the first time, and of course fell in love with the place,” he said.

“My sister and I still own the bungalow above the site we’re looking to develop.

An artistic impression of the eco-friendly glamping site.

“When my parents were still living there we were regular visitors to Mull. It basically became my home in the UK for nearly 20 years as I had nowhere else to go back to, until my father passed away in 2016.

“About 18 months ago, I began to think of life outwith the aerospace industry and that’s what drew me to Glampitect to talk about glamping sites.

“Then the pandemic came along and I was stuck in the house here for nearly a year and it got me thinking ‘what on earth am I doing?’ “The pandemic has shown nowhere is remote any more so I don’t see a problem, if I have to, of basing myself in Mull for long periods and working on projects in Malaysia as well.

“The idea of developing the piece of land on the Isle of Mull has always been in the back of my mind with various ideas. The high cost of developing housing meant I downgraded my ideas to something like a camp site, or a place where motor homes could set up and that’s when I came across Glampitect, who were fairly early into their journey.

The pods on Mull will sit naturally in the island landscape.

“I wanted a feasibility study for a glamping site on Mull and that got me chatting to Calum MacLeod and his business partner Ali Young. We were on the same wavelength when it came to wanting a low-impact and eco-friendly development as our goal, which helped considerably. The results of that were pretty good so that’s when we decided to go ahead.”

It’s hoped the site will be open for business around Easter next year and Mike wants Pennycross Mill to help generate more local employment by adding to the customer base of existing businesses, particularly on the Ross of Mull, while at the same time boosting tourism in the area.

“I want to take my family back there so they can enjoy the environment and get them away from the city life of Kuala Lumpur,” said the married father-of-two, who is originally from the Coventry area.

Each pod will have all mod cons for the perfect island staycation.

“It’s a fantastically scenic area but it could do with a real injection of life and I’m hoping the glamping site will help do that, and also help encourage the locals to stay by creating employment for them.

“I’ll be looking to partner with any local business owners, the likes of linen and cleaning services, electricians and the local construction trade.

“One of the big bonuses for me is if I decide at any point to give up the glamping site, I can basically put the pods on a truck and take them somewhere else, leaving behind basically a greenfield site.”

Glampitect co-founder Calum MacLeod said: “We are delighted to see this planning application over the line. It has been a long one! Mike has been great throughout and I look forward to seeing his luxury glamping site open its doors by spring 2022.

“We still have a lot of work to do and will be assisting Mike with his website, booking system and social media marketing, some of which are already underway.”

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