I was delighted when Farmer suggested we took a day trip to Iona today, it is the school holidays after all, and the last chance to have a family day out before lambing starts. We put the bicycles on the back of the car, and headed off about 9.45am. The forecast was for the cloud to clear away to sunshine. We dropped Coco with a friend near Torloisk and drove down Loch Tuath to Gruline. We decided to go via Craignure on the way down and come back on the ‘scenic route’ via Gribun. This meant we could stop at Arlene’s in Craignure for a coffee on our way through, and we were just ahead of a ferry from Oban docking, so were in front of the traffic rather than behind it.
Some people tend to think that it is too long a drive to go for a day trip to Iona from Treshnish, and yes, it does take 2 hours to drive which ever way you go and come back, but the scenery is so beautiful each way, that it is all part of the day out.
It was still pretty cold when we arrived in Fionnphort but by the time we had got off the ferry onto Iona, the sun was out and it felt warmer. We cycled up to the Heritage Cafe, next to the lovely Iona Museum, to have some lunch and met a couple who come and stay at Treshnish every year but this week were enjoying a holiday on Iona. We didn’t sit outside but you could have done, as there are tables to sit at, and a water bowl for dogs.
After lunch – homemade carrot and coriander soup and toasties for some – back on our bikes, we made our way up to the north end, past fields of sheep, some with lambs, some without. There were lots of people walking and one or two cars, but it is such a peaceful place. The wind was interesting to cycle in, but the views were as always, just magical. I love the way the light changes, minute by minute.
There were fields of lambs – they lamb earlier than we do. Farmer did a lot of looking over the fence, at the Iona sheep – the grass is so rich and fertile here, there are larger breeds of sheep – like the Texel and Suffolk crosses that we don’t see up our way.
Iona seems to have lots of great places to pick up a coffee too – you can go and sit, at the Heritage Cafe and the Columba and Argyll hotels, and enjoy one, but you can take away from a couple of places with good coffee machines! The Iona Craft Shop (now in its 51st year of trading) was probably the one that made the best coffee as far as Farmer was concerned, but I really enjoyed the one I had from The Low Door which is opposite the St. Columba Hotel – and they have a great selection of organic and whole foods too.
The drive home, refreshed from our day, was beautiful – the light intense and clear. Gribun is spectacular whatever the weather, and you need to keep your wits about you when driving under the cliffs!
The views looking back over to Gribun before we reached Ulva Ferry were lovely, and then we were driving homeward into the evening sun.
What an excellent day on Iona. So good, I will be going again on Monday… for a meeting in the evening.