Isle of Iona

  • Day 4, Monday 7th March 2022
  • Mull – Iona

Today we drove to Fionnphort which was only 38 miles away but which took us approximately 2 hours to drive. 

Coastal drive

Single track roads are everywhere and although we hardly saw another car we were sharing the roads with a huge amount of sheep and some cows.

‘Traffic’ jams

We were heading to Fionnport to hopefully catch a ferry to Iona. I say hopefully as due to having no WiFi we could not check ferry times so we were chancing our luck.

Fionnphort is in the southwest of Mull on the Ross of Mull peninsula, far away from the hustle and bustle of Tobermory and Craignure and I use those terms loosely as when we were there they were nothing of the sort.

The journey time from Fionnphort on the ferry across the Sound of Iona, a narrow stretch of water to Iona is about 10 minutes long.

Both these places entice nature lovers with beautiful landscapes.

View from Fionnphort across the water to Iona

Iona is a tiny island off the southwest coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. It is only 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long, with a population of around 170 permanent residents.

Iona has been a place of pilgrimage for nearly 1,400 years and a destination for tourists for over 300 years, and today they say there is some 140,000 people from all over the world making their way here each year. And almost all of them cover that final mile to the island on board the ferry, which we were about to board.

Ferry middle left and Iona in background

To take a vehicle onto Iona you need a permit from Argyll and Bute Council, we were going over as foot passengers.

The ferry slipway on Iona is in the island’s main and only village, Baile Mòr. The village extends off to your right, appearing to reach almost as far as the Iona Abbey, which dominates the north end of the island.

Iona Abbey

Beyond the abbey to the north and the village to the south, there is only sporadic settlements, while your views of the west side of the island are cut by the low rocky ridge that runs up its spine.

Beautiful cottage

The Isle of Iona is known for its spirituality. In the 6th century, the Irish missionary monk St Columba landed here on the island and founded a monastery, bringing Christianity to Scotland. For centuries, Iona was the religious centre of the region and even today, many pilgrims travel to the island to spend time with the Iona Community and visit the medieval Abbey.

Iona Abbey
Inside ‘The Great Church’, Iona Abbey, built on the site of Columba’s church
The Cloister, Iona Abbey – linking the church with the rest of the buildings, its covered walkways providing a quiet place for contemplation
St Oran’s Chapel the oldest building on Iona with Iona Abbey in background to the right
Inside St Oran’s Chapel
Amazing detailed stonemasonary inside St Oran’s Chapel

While that is without doubt one of the main reasons that the reported 140,000 visitors come to Iona each year, there is much more to the island than that.

World of Women – Iona’s Medieval nunnery

Even if your not religious one cannot argue about the sense of tranquility that overcomes you once on this place…its blissful.

St Martins Cross – the only one of Iona’s early high crosses still in its original location from more than 1,200 years ago

There are many footpaths leading to beaches and bays, remote lochs and the tops of the small hills.

Part of the village, Baile Mòr.

There is only one village on the island with a small food shop, a couple of craft shops, a post office and a couple of hotels/restaurants, today in ‘off season’ mostly everything was closed down.

We wondered around the Island and instantly recognised how special a place Iona is and I definitely appreciated its peacefulness and tranquillity.

Iona’s Dyke’s aka stone wall

The weather might be wilder than in the summer, but if you learn to embrace the elements instead of fighting them travelling to Mull and Iona in the off-season is worth it as you almost have the place to yourself.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. tadhal says:

    What amazing photos. I’m loving following this trip

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mike…its been a lovely little trip so far…plenty to see and do with lots of variation. Already planning the next one!

      Like

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