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Magical Iona Scotland

Iona is a small village with only two hotels, a few bed and breakfasts and several homes.
Iona is a small village with only two hotels, a few bed and breakfasts and several homes.
Janice McDonald

It’s the furthest island of the Hebrides of the northern coast of Scotland. And from first sight, it is obvious that Iona is a magical place. Remote and windswept, it’s known as the place St. Columba first brought Christianity to Scotland over 1400 years ago.
While a small channel separates it from the town of Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull, Iona is accessible only by boat. Ferries transport locals and visitors across each day or you can charter your own boat to take you around.
What is considered the “town” of Iona consists of two small hotels, a few restaurant and shops, a post office and some homes.
The Iona Abbey is just down the road and was built on the site of St. Columbus’s original monastery. It still has an active nunnery and the church. The various ruins draw pilgrims from around the world. In fact, the place can get rather busy during the day, so if you can arrange to spend the night on Iona, do so and you can have the place to yourself before and after the ferry rush. The site includes ruins of the 12th century Augustinian Nunnery, the Royal Burial Ground (Reilig Odhrain), the “Street of the Dead” and numerous carved stones and crosses.
But as fascinating as the Abbey and town are, Iona is at its best with its natural beauty. Head down the road in either direction and field after field of wild yellow irises dot the green landscape. Walks on the island’s sandy beaches yield discoveries of what the locals call “St. Columba’s tears.”
These are almost transparent white stones with green marbling that have been tumbled smooth by the North Atlantic.
A “must do” as long as you have come this far is a boat trip to the island of Staffa which is visible to Iona’s north. Formed by a volcanic eruption millions of years ago, Staffa has the appearance of being columns of rock bundled together.
As one of Scotland's National Nature Preserves, the island is a haven for puffins and other seabirds and visitors are allowed only an hour or so to explore. You can climb up to search for birds, but an absolute must was visiting Fingal’s Cave down below.
To get there, explorers have to hug the side of the cliffs near the water and walk on the columns of basalt which form natural steps. The cave itself is a fissure in the side of the island and when conditions are right, the pounding waves create a natural symphony – nature’s music that inspired composer Mendelssohn to write his Hebrides Overture.

The tiny village on iona is also the ferry stop from Mull
Janice McDonald