Monday, November 2, 2009

Isle of Iona

The island of Iona lies just to the southwest of Mull,Scotland and is small at 5 km long and about 1.6 km wide. Emerged as the ‘Cradle of Christianity‘, this may have been a Druidic centre even before the arrival in 563 AD. The main village and ferry port, Baile Mor, is a moment away from the pink granite ruins of the convent, while a little further on sands the 15th century Maclean’s Cross. The street of the Dead, leading to the abbey itself, is a 13th century, red grainite street, along which Scottish kings were carried from burial.

Despite the hordes of visitors – 250,000 annually – Iona is worth exploring. With its fantastic white shell beaches to the north and east, the machair and shingle containing semi-precious stones to the west, and the cliffs and bays of the south with their rounded rocks and green pebbled beaches, there is an explicable atmosphere. Treeless and austere, the pin shrap light picks out the subtle colours of the rocks, the sands and the sea, which varies from brilliant turquoise to deep purple. Stay for a day or two and let Iona’s magic capture you.

When to go: At its best from May to September.

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