Sunday, 16 June 2013

On Iona

I caught the early CalMac ferry to Mull, Craignure if you wish to be precise. This involved getting at 6:30 in the morning and having breakfast on the ferry. It was cloudy with patches of rain as I started along the single track road to Fionphart. I made poor time between stops for traffic and to change in and out of raingear. Coming out of a pass, there was a rainbow. As I tried to zoom in with my digital camera, I found the zoom wasn't working. Blast.

On the plus side, the rainbow was the start of some gorgeous weather. Lots of sun.

"Foreign" cars aren't allow on Iona. Consequently, I was the fastest thing on Iona's  one paved road. This was a welcome reversal of the normal situation, only spoilt by the fact that some of the tourists could be a little slow on the uptake about what a bike bell ringing meant.

I made my way to the hostel at the northern end of the island where I stashed most of my panniers and went to visit the abbey founded by Saint Columba in about 513 or so. I need to check my dates but people have been talking about the " anniversary". The celtic abbey itself did not survive the Vikings (and neither did a significant number of monks some of whom were slaughtered in the nearby Martyrs' Bay.) The extant building is an early 20th century restoration of 14th century Augustinian abbey.

There is, alas, precious little to connect with Celtic church aside from some ornate stone crosses. The most interesting of these fell over several times in the 20th century alone and is now indoors with a reproduction outdoors. The modern carvers reproduced the considerable erosion on the cross. This has a logic but I would have liked to see an attempt to show what it would have looked like when it was when it was new.

I also visited the ruins of a 12th century nunnery and a cow pasture cum golf course. As I was leaving said course through a farm gate I saw a truck heading my way so I opened the gate fully to let it through much to the driver's gratitude.

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