Iona Jun 08, 2006
one of the hidden gems of the western isles is the small island of Iona.
Iona is a small island off the larger island of Mull in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.
It is an important place in the history of Christianity in Scotland and is renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty.
Its Gaelic name is Ì Chaluim Cille (Saint Columba's Island; formerly anglicised "Icolmkill"), or sometimes just Ì or Idhe.
Visitors can reach Iona by the 10-minute ferry trip across the Sound of Iona from Fionnphort on Mull. Boats also run whale watch tours, fishing trips and boat tours out to Staffa.
The most common route is via Oban in Argyll and Bute. Regular ferries connect to Craignure on Mull, from where the scenic road runs 37 miles to Fionnphort. Tourist coaches and local bus services meet the ferries. There are very few cars on the island, as they are tightly regulated and vehicular access is not allowed for non-residents, who have to leave their car in Fionnphort.
The island is small enough that one generally doesn't need a car. Bike hire is available at the pier, and on Mull.
Iona Nunnery survives as a series of exquisitely beautiful 12th-13th century ruins of the church and cloister, and a colourful and peaceful garden. Unlike the rest of the medieval religious buildings, the nunnery was too fragmentary to restore, though its remains are nevertheless the most complete survival of a medieval nunnery in Scotland.
Away from the historic buildings, Iona offers enjoyable walks to the north of the island, with pristine white sand beaches, and south and west to the Bay at the Back of the Atlantic.
Pebbles of the famous green streaked Iona marble, commercially mined in the 19th century (the quarry and original machinery survive) can be found on the island's beaches.
This really is a wonderful place to visit and highly recommended
Fionnphort also has some nice guest houses but book up front with the Scottish Tourist Board to ensure you get a bed!!! Its popular!
Part of the Scotland 2006 travel blog
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