The Isle of Iona has captured the imaginations of tourists for centuries. Situated off the south west coast of Mull, Iona is a tiny island only 3 miles long and 1 ½ miles wide. However, despite its size, the location’s overt beauty attracts over 130,000 tourists each year.
The Isle of Staffa is another incredible island a short boat ride from Iona. Approaching the island by boat is a seminal experience for every first time visitor, a memory largely engrained by the renowned Fingal’s cave, widely considered a geographical wonder.
The limited size of both Iona and Staffa enable tourists to cover the length and breadth of each island by foot, making the islands a perfect destination for your next walking holiday!
Iona Abbey, Dun I and the North End
This route offers walkers the opportunity to explore the magnificent north end of Iona. Over the course of this walk visitors pass by Iona Abbey, one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe, and a focal point for the spread of Christianity in Scotland. Continuing on this route, “the hill of Iona” (Dun I), offers visitors amazing panoramic views of the island from its highest point (only 100 meters above sea level). To complete the walk, before heading back home, the route stops by Iona’s picturesque white sand beaches situated on the north end of the island. The terrain for much of this hike is minor roads, beaches and an optional small climb up Dun I. Participants should set aside around two hours of their day to complete this 4.75-mile route.
Iona: The South End
Despite being a less travelled region of Iona, visitors are strongly encouraged to tour the south end of the island, which has some fantastic sights. Over the course of this route you’ll pass by a war memorial, a converted church, a golf course and excellent views of some of Iona’s cliffs and beaches. Finally, you’ll make your way to a beautiful shingle beach, separated by a unique rock outcrop, where St Columba is said to have first set foot when travelling from Ireland. Starting at Iona’s ferry jetty and heading left, on average this 5.25mile? trek should take approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours to complete.
The uninhabited Isle of Staffa is home to one of nature’s true gifts, Fingal’s Cave. For hundreds of years it has been one of the West Coast’s major attractions . Getting to the island by boat is the easiest (and only!) way to get there. Once there, exploring the cave by foot is not only allowed, but encouraged! Visitors can scale the basalt columns surrounding the cave, before tentatively venturing inside.
The path to the cave is relatively straightforward though, with safety rails and non-slip surface columns ensuring safety to visitors throughout their journey, allowing for the beauty of this phenomenon to be fully appreciated.
Unique life experiences are rare, unspoken natural beauty is difficult to find, but the islands of Iona, Staffa and Mull provide visitors with a once in a lifetime experience not soon to be forgotton. Whether it be through experiencing a piece of Iona’s history whilst walking through the North end of the island, marching along the remote roads and beautiful beaches of Iona’s South or travelling over to Staffa’s spectacular Fingal’s Cave, the west coast of Scotland has adventure aplenty to offer even the most seasoned traveller.