Yesterday I talked a lot about driving on single track carriageways and not a lot about why we were so determined to do so. The original reason was that we wanted to see Iona Abbey on The Isle of Iona. But having mentioned this to my friend Frank who grew up just outside Glasgow, he suggested we stop in Tobermory. This turned out to be an excellent suggestion, since we needed a stopping point to spend the night. Tobermory is a quaint fishing village on the northeast side of the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It is a visually stunning place with store fronts painted in bright colors, and boats dotting the harbor on a very blue ocean. There aren’t a lot of choices for accommodations in Tobermory and you need to book fairly far in advance for a summer stay. Since I booked late (in April for a July visit) there weren’t a lot of choices. We ended up at the Tobermory Hotel on Main Street. The room we had did not have a view of the harbor but it was clean as was the ensuite bath, albeit very tiny with a price of $98.00US/night for two twins. But all we required was a place to sleep, so it was fine. We walked through every shop, and climbed a quarter of a mile or so up a steep hill to the Western Isles Hotel where we had dinner in a dining room that looked out over the water. The next morning we got up and continued on our journey, this being the day we started with the near head on collision I mentioned in the last post. After we extricated ourselves from the pasture, I was certain I heard strange noises and rattles coming from the car–convinced I had damaged it in some way–something my imagination persisted in hearing for the next three days. Robyn assured me it was all in my head and that she didn’t hear anything unusual. We arrived in Fionphort in a steady rain, found a car park and walked to the ferry. This was a rather uneventful ride, lacking the excitement of the previous ferry ride, my enthusiasm having been swallowed for the morning by thoughts of car crashes. I must admit, I rather soured the mood, and Robyn tried valiantly to cheer me up. Once on the Isle of Iona there was sufficient scenery to take my mind off of what was ailing me. Iona Abbey is said to be the seat of Christianity, and the place where Saint Columba came in 563 and founded the Abbey after being exiled from Ireland. The Book of Kells, which contains the four Gospels of the New Testament was thought to have been either produced or begun on the Isle of Iona.
You can also see the original remaining pieces of Saint Johns cross in the abbey museum (first and largest cross to be carved on the Island in the sixth century or so), and it’s replica outside the abbey entrance.
On our drive back to Craignure, we wanted to see Torosay Castle, so we stopped on the way to the Pennygate Lodge where we were staying. Torosay Castle is young, built in 1865, but owned by the same family for five generations. The property consisted of 10,000 acres. Three days after touring it, we ran in to another tourist who said it had been closed due to theft of books from the library. I don’t know if it ever reopened, but the castle and 900 acres are now on the market, the remaining acreage having been sold separately.
I find this a sad turn of events, but feel lucky to have been able to take a tour. Thus ended our time on the Isle of Iona and the Isle of Mull. The next day we would board the ferry again to go back to the mainland and head up to Inverness by way of Inveraray, which, if you are wondering is not a direct route. But I had promised to return to Rudha-na-Craige in Inveraray to retrieve the portable wifi and I couldn’t just leave it there. As it turned out, we ended up touring Inveraray Castle, which was well worth the miles out of the way. But for now I’ll leave you with the last photo of Torosay Castle Gardens.