Sept 6/7 – Islands of Mull & Iona

On Thursday morning we boarded a train for a three hour ride to Oban, then a one and a bit hour ferry to Craignure on the island of Mull and finally a 75 minute bus ride to Fionnphort at the western end of Mull. The whole journey was from about 10:30 am to 6pm. The connection in Oban from the train to ferry was a fast one, we just made it but had a longer wait for the bus from Craignure to Fionnphort.

It was difficult to get pictures during the train ride which went through beautiful scenery. There were a lot of trees along the track and the train was moving pretty fast. We passed  many lakes, including Loch Lomond, the three hours went by quickly.

One of the many lochs on the train ride.

We got on the car ferry just as they were loading the last of the cars, it was a tight connection. The ferry travelled by many islands and again, the scenery was gorgeous.  The ferry ended at the small hamlet of Craignure where we had about a two hour wait for the bus to Fionnphort. We found a little cafe for a bit to eat and drink and then started the last part of the days journey. If possible, the scenery on the bus ride was even more spectacular than on the  train and ferry. This is just an amazingly beautiful part of Scotland, sea and high hills dotted here and there with sheep and highland cattle with their scary looking horns.

On the bus to Fionnphort

Our B&B for two nights was in the tiny hamlet of Fionnphort. The view from the dining room, which was in a conservatory with windows all around, was rock formations which reminded us of the Nova Scotia coast and we could also see the island of Iona with its famous Abbey, Our host John sat us down and asked what we hoped to do during our stay. He then gave us lots of good info about spending time on Iona. It struck us as a little strange to be sat down like that before we even got to our rooms but it all turned out well.

We took the 8:35 am ferry to Iona, about a 5 mnute crossing. It was a beautiful sunny day and we made the best of it. We stopped at the ruins of a nunnery very close to the ferry landing. It was from the 1200s and has not been restored but quite a few walls of various building are still standing. There was good information on plaques about all the structures. We were surprised to see an elementary school near the nunnery, lots cute little kids in their school uniforms. Apparently Iona has a permanent population of around 120, a lot of them seem to be young families.

The Abbey

We then went to the Abbey which was torn down during the reformation in the 1300s. Restoration work began in the early 1900s and it is now  a functioning church. We all did the audio guide tour and since we took the early ferry there weren’t a lot of people around when we got there. Good timing on our part as a large tour group of German’s arrived just as we were leaving.

Our next step was the arduous part of the trip, we climbed the high mound of land on the island, good practice for Arran although it was not a long climb. The views from the top were amazing. Some of the water around the islands is a turquoise blue like you see in the Caribbean.

The hil we climbed

As usual, for me, the climb down was worse than the up but my knees seemed to have handled it ok, and I didn’t even have poles. There wasn’t much of a choice for lunch, three places on the island but it was fine.

 

View from the top of the climb

After lunch we walked to a beach on the west side of the island and saw lots of farms along the way. Farming and fishing are presumably the main occupations on the island. We got back to Fionnphort just in time to enjoy a libation at the pub one door down from our B&B and then go there for dinner.  A very full and wonderful day on Iona.

 

 

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