The island of Iona is a place of many religious legends and is said to be “A thin place” where God comes closer to the earth. St. Columba arrived here in the 500’s; not much was here, then, either. Columba was really good at converting heathen and the Vikings & Picts provided him with lots of opportunities. The monks did lots of “illuminated manuscripts” of the Bible and preserved much art and literature at a very dark time in Europe. One of their local works here – the Book of Kells – is a prized artifact in Dublin at the University college there.
Today, there is a town of two roads, each about a block long. Some stores, 2 small hotels, some houses, 4 nice ruins, a nunnery, a grade school and this big Abbey, which has been renovated/rebuilt by a group of zealots in the 1980’s and now maintained and managed by the Scottish government. You can see in this photo that some of the saints sent a gull to welcome us and get into our first picture.
Our hotel room was about big enough for the bed and quite a change from our big place at Eriska. Maybe 10×12 vs. 25×28 w/fireplace. But, it’s perfect with a tiny, old window looking at local boats in the harbor.
We did an Abbey church service the next morning. About 100 attended (surprising with the drizzle – the 1st rain we have had since the 18th of May) and it was led by an informal guy named Steve; he gave no more and may have been a minister. They have a goal of providing new, more effective ways to worship…this was not it for us.
So, we went for a hike…our best in Scotland, so far. Here’s a photo of a place called the Bay at the Back of the Ocean – a major spot for the lady author of a book called, “Iona Dreaming”, which must have been recommended by Nancy Kennedy, a real Iona fan. Picture is taken from a public, shared meadow, full of sheep. We are trying to find a labyrinth – you know we are always searching – up over the hill by the reservoir and down to the sea on St. Columba’s Beach.
Here are the only folks we saw on our hike. We never made it…took a wrong turn by the reservoir and couldn’t figure out how to climb down the rather boggy hillside and return to town to catch our ferry….to get back to the Route A whatever you call it on the Island of Mull…oh, there I go again.
No comment…one follows the other, you know.
We decide that it has been a wonderful (almost said, “lovely”) hike so far and we turn around and go all the way back to town. 500 sheep, 25 cattle and some fine views of Highland mountains and high meadows punctuated with tough-looking rock outcroppings are left behind for now.
Here’s Nancy walking a path back to town.
We’ll catch you after the “piece of cake” drive back to Eriska through Mull to the other ferry.