Iona

It's 6:00pm on a Friday night and I'm sat in my tent listening to the rain outside, I really know how to live it large! This afternoon has been a bit of a washout and after arriving in Carsaig to find absolutely nothing here but the pier, there wasn't much choice but to setup camp and shelter from the rain. Pity I hadn't bought any booze earlier but the thought of carrying it up and over to Carsaig was enough to put me off, haha.

Camp spot

Last night was wet and windy and this morning I felt super tired. Three times I woke in the night on the floor, I cannot for the life of me find the leak in my rollmat and so am now waking up and reinflating it during the night, not ideal by any means.

The thought of a brew in the cafe lured me to get myself up and back on the road and it was overcast but dry which is good enough for me. Suitably refreshed I headed to see the sights of the island. My first stop was the ruins of a nunnery which was founded around 1200 and was in use for 350 years.

Nunnery

Making my way up the hill I was headed for Iona Abbey. St Columba founded the monastery here 1,450 years ago and it is a known as an important centre of early Christianity. Many people visit Iona every years on a pilgrimage to the Abbey. In fact yesterday when I was on the boat trip to Staffa island there was a group of about 15 teenagers from a church camp in the US that were visiting Iona because of it's religious significance.

Abbey

St Martins Cross in the photo above is one of the only remaining high crosses still standing on Iona and is over 1,200 years old.

The cloister was the heart of the monastery, linking the church with the rest of the buildings and was a place for calm and quiet.

Cloister

I listened to an audio guide as I wandered throughout the Abbey and it's buildings but to be honest I never remember any of the detail and after 30 minutes or so my brain had switched off - culture done for the day I think!

Riding to the north end of the island I came across the second thing that Iona is famous for, it's beautiful white sandy beaches. A gateway to another world.

Gate to beach

Sand dunes

Wandering around the coastline it was silent except for the crash of the tide. I felt relaxed and happy - right from the start of this trip I realised just how much I miss living by the coast. Being brought up in Seaburn, Sunderland literally a 10 minute walk from the beach it is in my blood. Whenever I smell seaweed it reminds me of home and of spending my summer holidays at the beach with friends every year.

Me on beach

These beaches really are something else, so pristine and quiet.

Beach view

Heading back to the pier I sat and had some lunch whilst waiting for the ferry back to Fionnphort. Time to move on again. I was heading to Carsaig Bay on the south coast of the island. It started to rain after about 5 miles and hasn't stopped since. The road over to Carsaig was pretty hard work and the downhill was really steep, I'm not looking forward to that first thing in the morning!

Road to Carsaig

I'm aware now that my time on this trip is limited. It is very difficult to stop my brain from thinking about it when I see the date now as I have only 10 days left. Living in the moment is hard to do all of the time. I just tell myself that I need to continue to make every day count, to squeeze every last drop out of every experience and to enjoy myself.

Time for my favourite rainy day pastime now, going out of the tent for a wee and then spending the next 15 minutes playing squish the midge! 😁

Me in midge headnet

Trip Summary:

  • Miles ridden = ???
  • Ice creams eaten = 9
  • Ferries taken = 32
  • Islands visited = 26
  • Wild camp nights = 39
  • Ticks removed from body = 14
  • Distilleries visited = 8
  • Breweries visited = 3
  • Bothy nights = 6
  • Trips to A & E = 1