Island hopping to Iona.
Visiting Mulls spiritual neighbour
Getting to the final destination on a road trip is as much a part of the experience as the destination itself. This is seriously the case on the Isle of Mull as we headed to Iona. The roads and landscape are just so engaging. You want to stop every 5 mins just to try and take it all in.
Our shortish journey today was to take us to Iona, a tiny island just off the southwest coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. The drive took us across the southern half of Mull. A perfect way to see and explore more of the island en-route.
Ferry to Iona
Today’s travelling will be a mix of both road and ferry. Road to the small town of Fionnphort where we will catch the ferry over to the Island of Iona for the day. Due to its small size, Iona has a ‘Prohibition of Vehicles’ Order to control the type of vehicles allowed onto the Island. This helps to ensure the preservation of the island, which doesn’t have space or infrastructure to cope with an influx of tourists vehicles.
This meant we’d be leaving the camper at Fionnphort carpark whilst catching the ferry over on foot. Again, this just adds to the overall experience, The ferry crossings thus far have been a fun part of our journeys thus far. On the crossing, I couldn’t help but be struck by both the colour and clarity of the sea. It was a crystal clear turquoise colour. So clear you could see the bottom even when it was 15-20’ deep! It was literally how I would imagine the Caribbean ocean would be, just probably not quite as warm!
Size isn’t everything
Size wise, Iona is a pretty small island. It measures just 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long, with a population of approximately 120 permanent residents. Although small, Iona is an incredibly popular Island with approximately 130,000 people visiting each year because of its spiritual historical importance. It’s known as ‘The cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland.
However, it’s ‘compact’ size meant it was easy to explore by foot and allowed us to make the most of the great weather. The main Iona Abbey was founded by St Columba in 563, although not much of the original building still remains. Still, it was interesting walking around the current incarnation of the Abbey.
The Easter service on Iona must have been quite special. We got to see the remnants of the interior design from the service, along with other beautiful artefacts and examples of craftsmanship that were on display in and around the abbey.
We made the right decision to visit after the busy Easter holidays. This way we avoided the hustle and bustle of lots of visitors. It gave us the opportunity to wander around at our leisure almost undisturbed which was great.
I really love church interiors as they are normally very calming and contemplative spaces to be in. Along with also being very beautiful and inspiring too, like all great architecture should!
Walking up a good appetite
Normally after all this walking around we’d head back to the camper to make a cuppa, unfortunately, this was not an option today. Instead, we popped into a great little place called the Heritage Garden Café for a drink and a bite to eat. Just what was needed! 🙂
Reinvigorated after our lunch, we decided to head out to explore the beaches and some of the higher ground of the Island. Always good to get a different perspective on things. Iona was a very pretty island, very different from the more rugged beauty of Lochbuie. Here its history and spiritual heritage were the main attraction over any natural draw of wild landscape and remoteness. It was a good contrast to experience.
We were only visiting Iona for the day, so after we felt we had explored enough, we headed back to the harbour to get a ferry back to the camper over in Fionnphort. Next decision, where to next? Where were we going to sleep tonight? Decisions, decisions, decisions…