ISLES OF SCOTLAND
Isle of Mull, Iona and Staffa
Care to see dolphins, puffins and other sea life? Care to explore beautiful islands one of which is uninhabited and boasts a hidden cave? Care to learn about an abbey from 600 AD which is apparently where Christianity originated for the Scots and ironically the first monastery in the U.K. to be pillaged by the Norsemen as shown in the TV series Vikings? Well get up very early (4:00 a.m. for us) and head to Oban for a 7:15 a.m. Caledonian ship to tour the Isles of Mull, Iona and Staffa. As it’s difficult to find parking and to find the terminal building in Oban, give yourself some extra time as this trip you are NOT going to want to miss.
Seeing the sunrise on the back of the ferry boat leaving Oban would have been enough for me but boy did I get so much more today from shots of Castle Duart and a Lighthouse to the coolest uninhabited island I’ve ever visited.
After disembarking we took a bus ride through the Isle of Mull. Interesting and beautiful certainly but nothing like the boat ride in the Atlantic to the Isle of Staffa which actually was a blast given the size of the waves. At one point, I thought they would topple us. But, more importantly, we saw one of only 3 volcanic islands shaped like this in the world – a true geological phenomenon!! To top it off, it had an incredible cave we got to climb in. The colors of the water, the hike, the spray of the ocean all of it is – an absolute must see and do and one of my favorite parts of my journey through Scotland.
Finally, the boat took us to the Isle of Iona where the wind blew so hard I thought it might blow me off the hill where the abbey stands and where you can’t help but wonder if it’s not the wind but all the spirits of the dead buried there that are whispering to you in unison. This includes St. Columba, the original monk who came to Iona from Ireland in the 570’s AD to introduce Christianity to MacBeth, and 63 other kings whose bodies were shipped and buried on the sanctified grounds next to the abbey as well as the 68 monks who were brutally murdered here by their pagan neighbors – the Vikings – back in the late 600s to mid-700s over 1,400 years ago. Learning that kind of history is worth a visit there. And, at the abbey, you get to see the famous Highland cattle to boot.
The return on the boat, then bus, then boat at sunset, then car all the way back home to Ballachulish – while long and exhausting – is nothing balanced against the time spent with God and Mother Nature today believe you me.
Enjoy a little video about Scotland below and make sure you put the Isles of Iona, Mull and Staffa on your itinerary when in Scotland.
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