I wanted to take our house guest to Iona Abbey before she goes home on Saturday. I was picturing the sun shining and the colour of the sea between Fionnphort and Iona a vibrant almost Caribbean turquoise. In reality the forecast was terrible and the sea was grey. We still had a wonderful time though. It is a long way but if you make the drive part of the day out it is a joy.
There are several good places to stop on the way including the lovely sands at Gribun. We always go one way and come back the other! Turn left at our road end and go via Calgary, Dervaig, Aros Bridge, Salen and Craignure down to Pennyghael, and on the way back turn left just after Pennyghael at the head of Loch Scridain and come back via Kilfinichen, Gribun, Killiechronan, Ulva Ferry and Torloisk. From our experience both routes take a similar length of time to drive, and afford wonderfully different views along the way. My favourite stretch is definitely the dramatic road along the bottom of Gribun cliffs. We allowed 2 and a bit hours and stopped a few times to take photographs on the way there.
We left home at about 8.15 in the morning, and just missed the 10.45 ferry which meant we had to wait an hour in Fionnphort. The tide was coming in so we didn’t walk on the pretty beach there. We had a look in the Ferry Shop and had a cup of tea in the old waiting room cafe. We didn’t eat at the seafood shack beside the pier, called the Creel Shack, but it look great and their fresh shellfish is landed by their own family boat – so very fresh! The views across the Sound of Iona to Iona Abbey are beautiful even in the duller weather. Most of the day the ferries run back and forth, but please check the timetables!
Once on the island
Walking off the ferry and onto the island is always exciting! Our visitor was unprepared for how beautiful it was! She said it was like a film set. We took our time and wandered up through the Nunnery to the Abbey. Our time was restricted as we had to get back to meet the school bus, but had we had longer (the ferries run until after 5pm) we would have definitely gone to the Heritage Centre. Interesting displays about community life and crofting on the island as opposed to the Abbey and the specifically religious life of the island history.
Our day was over far too quickly – we managed to visit the Abbey, loved the cloisters. The newly done up Museum is a must! It paints such a vibrant and informative picture of life through the centuries. The drive home was uneventful (quicker on the way back as we didn’t stop as often) and we got to Calgary in plenty of time to meet the bus. The sun may not have shone for us, but it was definitely still a lovely day out. We felt it was well worth the drive.