Travel Report

2nd club trip to Scotland

March 23. - 28. 2011
Prestwick, Gourock, Edinburgh,
Speyside, Inverness, Skye, Mull, Iona, Oban Argyll

Theme: "Scotland in a Nutshell"

day 0 , day 1 , day 2 , day 3 , day 4 , day 5

day 4: Island hopping : From Oban to the Isle of Mull furtheron to the Isle of Iona.

Sunday, March 27th, 2011. Today we all need a day that is not this overcrowded with impressions. We are happy to have the opprtunity to have a small island hopping today. Destination: St. Columbas Abbey on the Isle of Iona.

Oban and the ferry passage to Mull

Today we have much more relaxed program compared with the last 2 days. But we get up early to be at the ferry terminal right in time for the 10 o'clock ferry which should bring us over there to the Isle of Mull. The full Scottish breakfast is very full and very delicious. This way prepared and with a nearly over flu we go down to the Oban terminal of CALEDONIAN MACBRAYNE.

We try a small view to the Isle of Kerrera.

Best known since former times: This Local Shellfish sales booth at the harbour, where the best fresh seafood and fish is offered.

We are the first ones that are arriving for the ferry today. At first we enter the at this time nearly completely empty terminal and get all of our ferry tickets for today. Many thanks again to Andrew of CALMAC !!! We have quite some time and so we can look around at Oban harbour.

The shops at at the harbour road open at this time and so we can have a short look at the offers.

Then our ferry arrives: CALMAC "Lord of the Isles". We go back to the car to be ready to enter the ferry vessel.

Without waisting time the ferry leaves the quay and we have a great view to Oban bay from seaside.

before the next attraction appear we enter the convinient and nearly uncrowded bar of the CALMAC ferry "Lord of the Isles". We buy tea, beer and cake.
We pass edge of Kerrera and so we can see the rear side of this small isle with its obelisk.

In front of us at the right hand side the Isle of Lismore lighthouse appears.

This impressing building is - strictly speaking - on a micro isle named Musdile (or Mansedale) at the southwestern end of Lismore.

This light house has been built by Robert Stevenson (grandfather of the poet Robert Louis Stevenson) in the year 1833 .

Inbetween it is the only lighthouse that uses katoptric lenses instead of Fresnel lenses ansd is still working.

On the left on a rocky part of Mulls shore Duart Castle is to be seen.
From the upper deck of the ferry theres a very nice view over the Sound of Mull.

Duart Castle, the Black castle is main property of the MacLean clan.


Isle of Mull and the ferry passage to Iona

There are no waves on the Sound of Mull we reach Craignure on Mulls east coast very relaxed. The main road of the isle is the A849 which we use at first in southern, then in western direction. Shortly aftre leaving Craignure the A849 is a Single Track Road with passing places. Driving fast on this kind of road is to be learned and needs experience.

Finally we reach Fionnphort at the westernmost end of the Ross of Mull peninsula.

Here we see the CALMAC ferry terminal of the Iona-ferry in Fionnphort, admittedly a little bi smaller thean the Oban ones.

The ferry is ready: We enter the CALMAC Iona-ferry in Fionnphort. Ticket things are done by the ferryman directly.

Shortly before entering the "Ross of Mull" peninsula we stop at this Glen with the 3 Lochs: Loch Sguabain, Loch An Ellen and Loch Airdeglais. Even without the green gras we are overwhelmed by this landscape beauty.

We take our backpacks and leave our car here. The isle of Iona is free of cars - except some cars owned by the inhabitants.

This (a little bit older) map of Iona and the Ross of Mull is on the ferry terminal.

from the ferry we have a first distant View from the ferry to St.Columbas Abbey on Iona.


Isle of Iona and St.Columbas Abbey

The Iona ferry pier is on the east coastof the island. The village is called Baile Mor - it is the only village on this small isle, but the village has everything that an islander needs. More about this later.

First sight on our way to the abbey is the ruin of the Iona Nunnery.

On the walls there still are tomb slabs of some nuns to be found.

Although Iona is very small and has only 1 village, there is a promary school here: Iona primary School...

A view over the not too complex village of Baile Mor. The Abbey is on the right side of the photo.

The ruins of the Augustinian Nunnery are very well prepared and there's also a nicely arranged inner yard.

The monastery has been founded 1203 (!) by Reginald MacDonald (Raghnall mac Somhairle), a son of the legendary Somerled and later Lord of the Isles. Bethóc, Somerleds daughter, became the first prioress of the nunnery. The nunery has been destroyed during reformation times and since then it is a ruin.

...and this school has got a very nice school garden

On a wall we find the the cat of the island. But fondling is not possible.
The short way from Baile Mor to the abbey is very well prepared.
and then we stay in front of the todays tour destination: IONA ABBEY.

in front of it there is replica of St. John's Cross dating back to the 8th century. The original has been brought to the Abbeys museum, because is fell down some times and boke down into pieces.

The landside of the Abbey. Right of it there's the old cemetery with the old chapel.

At the entrance the table with the opening times and the ticvket prices is already installed. But at this season we don't have to pay. Obviously there are too few visitors to open the pay kiosk.
A table showing the service times etc. is inside the Abbey.

On the central yards meadow there's the "Descend of the Spirit" statue by Jacques Lipchitz.

Impossant: The inner square of the Abbey surrounded by an arched walkwaymit . you can see that some of the columns had to reconstructed.

At the walls of the arched walkway there are some very old tomb slabs. They have been removed from the old cemetery and put to here so that they are weather safe..
The central Nave of the Cathedral . A really impressing building !

The altar is a raw stone. There's no other decoration.

We move a little bit to the front: The altar in the center takes effect by itself..

Left of the main nave the Iona church community uses this side aisle .
Iona is the "Holy Island of Scotland".
In the year 563 the holy St.Columba arrived here together with 12 other monks from Ireland. The speach says he had be expulsed from his native cloister. and so he wanted to found a cloister on the first island from which he wasn't able to see to Ireland. After some former attempts Iona was the first island from where Ireland wasn't to be seen. But St. Columba was at fault: From the Iona hills it is possible to see Ireland at clear weather but at St.Columbas day it might have been quite misty.
Another reason for calling Iona the Holy Island is that here the famous "Book of Kells" was written. At the 9th century the last monks fled from Iona back to Ireland because of Viking attacks. They went back to the cloister Kells and brought a very big book with themselves...
Since that time Iona is the burial plot of many scottish kings, clan chiefs, and sovereigns.
On the side of the altar there are sarkophargs of royal families .

There's a "Corner of silence" at another alcove.

This, for instance, is the sarkopharg of George Douglas VIII, one of the Dukes of Argyll and his wife.

We also take to opportunity and light a candle .
This photo shows: This church is alive !

We go down to the shore to have an overview of the whole area of the Sound of Iona.

Back outside we walk around this impressive building to see the Abbey seaside. .

Original celtic crosses:
in front of the Abbey the 2nd high cross: St.Martin's Cross dating back to the 10rth century.

At the Abbey museum we find the broken and re-composed pieces of the original St. John's Cross from the 8th century.
At the museum of the Abbey there are also the oldest and most valuable tomb slabs and sculptures. Only very view are behind glass.

On a hill there are these wilde daffodils are in full bloom.

Now we went nearly a whole circle around the Abbey and see the building ensemble from hillside.

Wilde daffodils flower everywhere on this island and in whole Scotland at this season.

Life can be very lonely and boring at this small island - especially in winter time. This brings one to these ideas and to create this kind of a sheep made of branches and displays it at the main road of the island.

The main road of Baile Mor .
On our way from the Abbey back to Maile Mor we see that this island cow is currently removing the fance because the grass is everytime greener on the other side.

although this island is this small everything is onboard: A primary school is there and also this maiin post office of the Isle of Iona.

Here the best hotel of the island with an excellen menu is to be found, too. There are 2 more restaurants and hostels.

The esplanade of the islands main village Baile Mor seen from the beach.


The beach of Baile Mor: Very clean sand and also extremely clear water.
We have got some time (yes - this can happen during our trip, too !) and walk the short way down to the beach.

we could stay much longer here: A really good place to relax.

We try to quarry out some small stones pieces to them with us.

Then our ferry arrives.

No information is shown at pier. well, this ist truely not neccessary - you can watch the ferry everytime.

Return, the evening in Oban

We leave the Isle of Iona and enter the ferry. It was really nice here - to experience living history - here it is possible.

They have lit a fire in the fireplace - very haimish. The kitchen is already closed, so we havecracker and tea.

Right in time the Oban ferry arrives and we are the first car that enters car deck of the CALMAC ferry "Lord of the Isles".

Our car is still at the Fionnphort harbour. Jens drives the same way back to Craignure, which we came this morning. We have got some time (hey again - there must be something wrong!) and so we decide to visit the Craignure Inn for a cup of tea. The air is much colder now against this morning.

There are very interesting signs at the bar. Remarkable: Here they speak english, too !

Upstairs at the ferry bar we have a very good beer and Ralf needs to know the latest football results.

CALMACferry signs:
Everything in gaelic at first sight.

For tourists the have printed everyting in english small below.
Quick and safely we arrive back in Oban. Everthing went really well. Thanks again to Andrew who made this great day possible. CALMAC Oban Terminal in the evening.

Oban city centre. above the distillery: McCaig's Tower.

Oban bay at night. in the background: Kerrera and Mull.

We look around a little bit in Oban city centre - adequate to this day: this is the Columba hotel in Oban.

Oban Distillery - tomorrow we have a date there.
In the evening at the B&B in Oban together with mrs. Barbour.

The cosy B&B rooms - Another tea at the end of the day...

Later on Ralf and Jens again starting to the city centre. Oban without a Pub Tour - Impossible! Its a pitty that Jens' favourite pub "The Coasters" is closed today, but there are much more. Quickly we find contact to inhabitants - there are not much tourists here at this season. In one pub among other things we get to know very insistently by an old ex-seaman that the best music is only ACDC music. With this knowledge this great day comes to the end for both of them, too. Tomorrow will be another one with full program including a hopefully controlled return journey back to Germany.

(C) Single Malt Whisky Club Sachsen e.V.- Report: Jens Burkhardt; Photos and Films: Jens Burkhardt, Konrad Rosenbaum, Heike and Ralf Schuster
Usage of the material not permitted except there is a written permission by the club, by the author or by the photographers.

day 0 , day 1 , day 2 , day 3 , day 4 , day 5