Isle of Iona Argyll Scotland

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Iona

The Island of Iona lies 1 mile off the south west of Mull. There is a ferry which travels between Iona village and Fionnfort on the Ross of Mull. Iona is perhaps the most famous of the Hebridean Islands and is certainly the most important place in Scottish Christianity. The most iconic building in the history of Christianity in Scotland is of course the famous Iona Abbey. It is however greatly unfortunate that the present building cannot be viewed freely. Iona Abbey is now run by Scottish Heritage who charge visitors to enter the Abbey grounds or the Abbey itself.

Saint Columba came to Iona from Ireland after having stopped off at the Mull of Kintyre peninsula in 563ad and founded the Abbey, it was built in wood and remained so until around 1200ad where it was rebuilt in stone, various changes have taken place since and it was eventually restored in the last century. The Abbey today is not just a religious centre but also an important place of pilgrimage. The graveyard in Iona Abbey grounds is the resting place of many of Scotland's Kings.

 

Iona Abbey

There is also a very interesting ruin of a nunnery which is in the centre of the village, just 2 minutes walk from the ferry. Although it is in ruin it is a fine example of a medieval nunnery with its excellent pink granite walls. The gardens are often used for photo opportunities or just to rest and read.

The island although only a mile wide and about four miles long is full of interesting places to visit. In the far south there is St Columba's bay where St Columba first landed on the island. Nearby is the now disused but fascinating marble quarry. On the south west there is Spouting cave where water is forced up as much as a hundred feet in certain weather conditions at around half tide. The golf course is also in the south, an interesting 9 hole course where the biggest hazard is avoiding the sheep who graze the course. The north of the island is peppered with glorious white sand beaches with fantastic views to nearby islands. Also in the north is the hill of Dun I which has a fairly easy path up which gives unencumbered views of the island and also the surrounding islands such as Coll and Tiree to the west, Staffa and the Treshnish isles to the north, Mull fills most of the east and on clear days you can see Jura, Islay and Colonsay to the South East. There is also a small pool where you can make a wish and of course on an island like this you might expect that wish to come true.

There is a lot of growing concern about the seemingly unending building changes to the Abbey. Some of which is viewed by many as vandalism. The worst would be the sudden appearance of a pitched roofed small building on the great iconic square tower. Alas the photo above can no longer be taken as the tower will for the foreseeable future have "that damned spot".

Isle of Iona, and Staffa, Argyll, Scotland

 

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