Iona and Mull, Scotland
6th-13th April 2021
£995 shared (If you would like to share a room, please note on the booking form the name of the person you want to share with).
This is a two-centre holiday. We spend our first 3 nights in a fully catered retreat house on Iona. Then we have 4 nights in a large self-catering house on the Isle of Mull. Iona is a small island, some four miles long and less than two miles wide, to the west of Mull. It has been a holy place since the days of Saint Columba. We have the opportunity not only to explore the whole island, but to allow its atmosphere to imbue us with its sacred charm, to the extent that we are open to it, in our three days there, following Easter.
The Isle of Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, lying just west of Oban. The main town, Tobermory, which we shall visit, takes its name from Tobar Maire (Mary's Well), and is famous for its quaint coloured cottages lining the harbour. The island's scenery is magnificent, formed by cataclysmic primeval upheavals that have left ancient geology very close to the surface, particularly along the rugged coast line. It is home to a range of wildlife, from red deer, to otters and seals, sea eagles and golden eagles, and the puffins. There are people as well, who have left traces of their spiritual life, as well as of wars and agriculture, over many centuries.
Walks and Excursions
April can be a delightful month in Scotland, with soft skies breathing peacefully after the storms of winter, flowers beginning to show themselves, birch trees with new leaves that hold the golden light. However, the temperatures tend to be around 9 - 12 during the day, dropping to single figures at night, and of course it may well rain! It is essential to have warm and waterproof outer clothes, waterproof boots and plenty of layers. Our excursions will all be weather permitting, and we will try to be sensitive to the interests of the group.
Plans for Iona:
• It's difficult to get lost on this little island! You will be free to roam as the spirit takes you, whether remaining in the little settlement around the abbey, going into the abbey, or further afield. But you will not be abandoned! The leaders will offer accompanied walks to the various parts of the island each day, which you can drop into or out of as you wish. Notably:
• Saint Columba's Bay. This is the spot, on the southern shore of the island, where, according to legend, Saint Columba landed from Ireland in 565. It is a haven of peace, as there is no road access, being reached by a rough track and path. The adventurous can climb the hilltop which flanks the bay, to find the spot from which the Saint gazed back towards Ireland, and made his decision to found his settlement on Iona, because he could not see Ireland from there, and he wanted to be in a place from which there could be no looking back, and no turning back. A lesson in fortitude for us all! Walk Grade: Length - medium; Terrain - moderate; rough track and path.
• Boat trip to Staffa. Sea conditions and weather permitting, we will offer a boat trip to Staffa, to include landing on the island and seeing Fingal's Cave.
Plans for Mull:
• Coastal walk to Treshnish Point via the legendary Whiskey Cave. Good track to lure you in, then rough, rocky coastline and return over lovely (but boggy) moors. Dramatic scenery with amazing rock formations. 6-7 miles, gently undulating. Walk Grade: Length - medium; Terrain - moderate; boggy patches, and some scrambling on rocky coastline.
• Explore Calgary Bay: vast expanse of white sands at the foot of great hills, and a sculpture park with a very good coffee shop. Walk Grade: Length - short; Terrain: easy. Followed by an afternoon in Tobermory.
• Walk Loch Frisa with stunning views from the north side (somewhat boggy over the moor) and pleasant forestry tracks along the east. An important nesting site for white tailed eagles with a hide for viewing - which is moved according to where the birds are. (4-8 miles depending on how much time we want to spend at the hide.) Walk Grade: Length - medium to long; Terrain: moderate
3 nights at Bishop's House, a retreat house for the Scottish Episcopal Church on Iona, near the abbey, with single and twin rooms, fully catered; followed by 4 nights at Arle Lodge, close to the shore at Aros, a tiny hamlet between Salen and Tobermory, with rooms for single or shared occupancy. At Arle Lodge we self-cater as a group, with the leaders doing the cooking and everyone helping with meal preparation and clearing of tables; there is a large comfortable open plan sitting/dining/kitchen area.
Train or bus from Glasgow, or drive your car to the ferry port at Oban, from where we will catch the ferry together to Craignure, on Mull. (There are hotels and guest houses in Oban, where you could book overnight accommodation before or after the trip, if you wish.)
Tuesday 6 April: We meet at Oban Ferry Terminal at 1.30pm for the 2pm ferry to Craignure. (Ferry timetable subject to confirmation).
Tuesday 13 April: We plan to take the Craignure Ferry at 11am which reaches Oban Ferry Terminal at 12 noon. (Ferry timetable subject to confirmation).
Steve Evemy 02380 332940 firstname.lastname@example.org and Christine Smith.