Another place that sticks out in my mind when I think about Scotland is the Isle of Iona. This tiny island, located in the Western Isles, is beautiful and steeped in history.
To get to Iona, you have to drive through the Isle of Mull and then take a ferry. I remember Mull as being brown and dreary, but it was January in Scotland, so it may not be that way the rest of the year.
Finally, you arrive on Iona. The town is tiny, lining one street. Since it was the off season, the island’s only hotel was closed. It was cold the day we were there – I remember our bus driver hunkering down in a telephone booth while we wandered around – but we were blessed with moments of sunshine.
There is something almost mystical about the beauty of Iona. Standing on the edge of a cliff, with the sea crashing against the cliff’s base, it feels as if you could be standing on the edge of the world.
According to legend, Iona is where St. Columba, the first Christian missionary to arrive in Scotland from Ireland, landed, and set up the first abbey. The abbey still stands, and the squat structure adds to the island’s beauty.
History is tangled up here. Behind the abbey, there are ruins of a Viking village, from the era when the Vikings were conquering and settling in Scotland and England. The stones sticking out of the ground, outlining where the buildings stood all those centuries ago, is fascinating and somehow a little unsettling.
I would love to go back to Iona, hopefully in the relative warmth of summer, and with a camera that will allow me to take more pictures. I would recommend a visit to Iona if you are ever in Scotland – it is worth the trip out to the Western Isles!