Back in 2011 I took a trip to western Scotland and the Scottish Islands. It was a grueling schedule driving around 1200 miles in just a few days. Most of the driving was on narrow highland roads, so there was no chance to use anything as luxurious as cruise control. The twisting and winding roads held a surprise around every corner. Just when you thought you had seen all the spectacular sights you could, up popped another one.
Driving around the Scottish Highlands seemed to be the gift that kept on giving. However, it didn’t prepare me for the beauty and tranquility of the Islands of Mull and Iona.
I took the ferry from Oban. It’s a regular CalMac service and when I was there it all ran like clockwork. The ferry crews really do provide a lifeline to the western isles and made an unusual ferry trip for me, as simple as hopping on and off a bus.
Arriving at Craignure, I picked up a coach tour of Mull. (I’d decided to have the day off from driving.) Our coach driver turned out to be from London originally, but he gave a detailed commentary of the journey, the history of the Isle of Mull all wrapped up in ‘cheeky chappy’ humour. On our journey we saw Eagles and Sea Otters and were given ample time to take photographs to capture that special moment.
Heading across the island, we ended our journey at Ffionphort. I just had time to grab a much needed ice-cream before boarding another CalMac ferry for the onward journey to Iona.
Iona had a whole different feel to that of Mull. While Mull does remain my favourite Scottish Island (I’d more there in a heartbeat) there was something quite special about Iona. With no motor vehicles on the Island there was an overwhelming sense of calm and tranquility. The pace of life, even for us tourists slowed right down to walking speed as we explored the island. People on Iona talk about ‘the community’ and for a few hours the locals treated us as part of their community.
After exploring the island and climbing up a hill, it was time for a picnic and to gaze out over the water. It was a very relaxing time. Having had my fill I visited the grave of John Smith. He was a leader of the Labour Party here in the UK and some argue he was the best Prime Minister the UK never had. It was a simple understated grave. No brash. No grandeur. But what a beautiful resting place.
All too soon, the time on Iona was over and I had to head back to the ferry port to get back to Ffionphort on Mull. The coach trip across Mull was just as entertaining on the way back to Craignure where I hopped on the ferry to Oban.
All in all it was a fantastic day trip out. Life has been busy and I never managed to get back there but I’d love to spend much more time on Mull and Iona.