27 Jun 2011
Isle of Mull Top Tips: Four reasons to visit Iona
If you visit the Isle of Mull don’t overlook the smaller, but as important island of Iona, just off Mull’s south west coast. Only a short hop by ferry from Fionnphort, anyone holidaying ought to make time to check out what Iona has to offer. Here are four reasons we make regular trips.
1. Isle of Mull: Iona – Great beaches
Until you’ve seen the sand on the beaches of Iona you won’t believe it. The beaches are pristine with azure seas filled with the healthiest looking seaweed and kelp. There are a succession of small sandy coves on the shoreline in front of the main road in Iona. On a sunny day these look stunning and quite at odds with what you’d expect of the Scottish west coast.
But one word of warning… beautiful as it is, there are still issues with soil pipes running down to the beaches here from the dwellings. To avoid the occasional bad odour, best to steer well clear of the areas where the pipes come down to the shoreline.
On the plus side, given that Iona is just 1.6 kilometres wide (and about 5km long) it will only take about thirty minutes to trek across the island to the utterly pristine sands at ‘Camas Cuil an t-Saimh’ or in English, ‘the bay at the back of the ocean’.
This is well worth the modest effort involved as it’s a great beach for a picnic and relaxing with uninterrupted views whilst the kids play on the shoreline.
2. Isle of Mull: Iona – Good food
Options for eating on Iona are pretty limited. If you’re not coming with a pre-prepared picnic there are two surprisingly well stocked shops where you can load up with snacks and drinks. However, if you’re looking for something a little more refined there’s nothing more pleasant than a visit to The Argyll Hotel right at the shoreline.
The Argyll has been on the go for over 140 years and is a popular place with people into hotels rather than self-catering. But what we know it best for are the excellent meals on offer, with many of the ingredients being grown on the island in the hotel’s very own Organic Garden. It’s soils are kept fertile using using local seaweed.
3. Isle of Mull: Iona – History
This is possibly stating the obvious but in any case… Iona is a hugely significant part of early Scottish history. Iona Abbey was a significant centre of learning which was founded back in 563AD by Colm Cille (better know as Saint Columba today) after he was exiled from Ireland. For more visit the history section of the Wikipedia Iona entry. There’s also the St Columba Centre in Fionnphort which interprets the life and work of St Columba and the religious community he founded.
The Abbey buildings have a fascinating history and are well worth a visit. Buried there are a raft of ancient kings of Scotland as well as the Labour political leader John Smith.
4. Isle of Mull: Iona – Everything is a walk away
Touched on earlier, Iona is an easy bite-sized morsel of interest and entertainment. Nothing takes long to get to, be it the Abbey, the hotels and local shops, or over to the other side of the island and the beaches there. Also, given its relative flatness, it’s a great option for fairweather cyclists who don’t want to strain too hard. Cycles can be hired at the Pier.
More committed two-wheel fans can find further cycle resources for Mull here.
Q. Got any favourite things you liked about Iona? If you do please share below.