Iona^

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
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andreadawn
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Iona^

Post by andreadawn » Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:02 pm

(OK I know I should be out paddling rather than sitting at my computer but the rain is hammering down outside and it’s blowing a hoolie…….so I’m editing photos instead.)

For some reason, Iona is by far my most often visited small Scottish Island. It’s not a spectacularly dramatic island. There are no massive cliffs or stacks. No huge seabird colonies. It’s certainly not a wilderness either, being quite well populated. Everything is on a rather modest scale. There’s the abbey of course, but I’m not at all religious.

I guess it’s just a combination of things. In my book, not being religious doesn’t rule out spirituality and there is, to me, something indefinable about the place. Whatever it is I seem to end up there most years, sometimes courtesy of Calmac, sometimes by kayak.

Clearly it’s very popular with the small cruise ship companies too although I suspect their clients are there primarily for one attraction.
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I don’t have any pictures from inside the abbey as I feel it’s a bit intrusive getting my camera out. If you climb the small hill of Dun I to the north there is a fine view over the abbey to the distant Paps of Jura.
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Although it can get a bit busy in the summer, it doesn’t take long to leave the crowds behind when you’re in a kayak. Even on dull days, the light around the beaches at the north end of the island can be quite magical.
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The beaches themselves are stunning.
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If you wander across to the islands on the Mull side of the sound, you may find a beautiful little beach comprised entirely of “coral” sand.
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Beyond the sandy beaches, the NW facing coast becomes more rugged, with numerous little nooks and crannies to explore.
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I just had to visit this tiny micro beach but rather comically got stuck in the gap.
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Out to the west lie the tiny islets of Reidh Eilean and Stac Mhic Mhurchaidh which has some miniature versions of the hexagonal basalt columns from nearby Staffa.
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It’s well worth taking your time along this bit of coast. It’s just as rewarding to explore it on foot as it is by kayak.
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The big bay, Camas Cuil an-t Saimh, tends to get a bit busy and is a good place to get caught out by boomers on the many submerged rocks. Just beyond is perhaps Iona’s most dramatic natural feature, the Spouting Cave. It can be quite spectacular with a suitable sized swell rolling in.
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The coast beyond gets a bit more serious again. There are a couple of good caves if you look hard enough, one of which has a fine skylight.
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Near the SW corner of the island you come to Stac an Aoineidh. Every time I’ve been here, the channel inside of this island has always been a bit sloppy, with some tidal flow and some clapotis.
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Except on my most recent visit, which does at least prove that the sun doesn’t always shine on Iona.
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Round the corner again and you arrive at Port na Curaich where tradition has it, Columba landed in AD563. In the distance is Soa, one of Scotland’s many Sheep islands.
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There’s plenty to see on the beach at port na Curaich, even on the most miserable of days.
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Soa is well worth a visit. The map suggests it is one large island but it’s really two, joined by a beach; bouldery on one side; white sand on the other.
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Heading back into the Sound, there is still plenty more of interest; the old marble quarries tucked in amongst the low cliffs which then give way to more fine sandy beaches. Soon you’re back at Am Baile Mor, which surely boasts one of the best stocked shops in the Highlands and Islands.

I can’t wait to go back again.
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What have I missed? Lots of things no doubt. Anyone got any nice Iona sunset photos? I really must bivi (discreetly) overnight sometime.

Andrea.

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Mark R
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Re: Iona

Post by Mark R » Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:05 pm

Another great one, Andrea.

I must get back to Iona, it's so long since I was there, that they hadn't buried John Smith there yet.
Mark Rainsley
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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Iona

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Nov 01, 2009 5:12 pm

Hello Andrea, what a stunning collection of photos! Iona is a simply fantastic place, Peace of Iona by the Waterboys was our theme for the week when we were there. (load additional content and scroll down to Peace of Iona).

Here is an Iona sunset and a few other photos from our visit:

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What a great island, this beach even had a beer tent!

Douglas

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MikeB
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Re: Iona

Post by MikeB » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:57 pm

Splendid! Makes me want to brave the elements again next year in the hope of actually seeing some of this stuff!

jamesl2play
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Re: Iona

Post by jamesl2play » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:08 pm

Here are a couple of efforts

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What is the ideal size to post on here?
Last edited by jamesl2play on Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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MikeB
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Re: Iona

Post by MikeB » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:30 pm

800 x 600

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Kate D
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Re: Iona

Post by Kate D » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:13 pm

It is indeed a stunning place. In May the islands were carpeted in bluebells.

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scotty
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Re: Iona

Post by scotty » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:54 am

Couple more pic's but not the usual standard of camera,4MP worth a fiver.
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ian johnston
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Re: Iona

Post by ian johnston » Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:33 am

Hi Andrea, and all the other contributors to this thread,

What a stunning set of images. If Columba arrived on a sunny day, it's not hard to see why he chose Iona for his new community. One doesn't have to be religious to feel blessed by being in surroundings like these.

Absolutely beautiful


Ian

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maryinoxford
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Re: Iona

Post by maryinoxford » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:07 pm

If anyone tells me they are going that way, I always recommend them to spend at least one night on the island. After the last ferry takes the last daytrippers away, a wonderful peace descends.
Not in Oxford any more...

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Ceegee
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Re: Iona

Post by Ceegee » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:49 pm

Lovely photos Andrea (and everybody else who posted pics. BTW, is that a basking shark or surfacing pilot whale Kate?). Thanks for sharing all. It only serves to convince me further that I MUST return to the West Coast after last having been there in 1986!

Steve
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

Graeme Seggie
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Re: Iona

Post by Graeme Seggie » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:00 pm

maryinoxford wrote:If anyone tells me they are going that way, I always recommend them to spend at least one night on the island. After the last ferry takes the last daytrippers away, a wonderful peace descends.
Talking of staying, has anyone stayed here? It looks like it isn't all that close to the water's edge but hard to judge the distance from pictures. Camping seems not to be allowed.

http://www.ionahostel.co.uk/accommodation.html

Graeme

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Kate D
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Re: Iona

Post by Kate D » Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:26 pm

Steve,

It's a basking shark. The picture was taken just on the South Eastern extremity of Iona. I was paddling there in May 08 and we came across this shark, busy scooping up thousands of tiny sperical jellyfish like creatures. It just swam back and forth, not bothered by our kayaks at all, at one point it swam so cose to me that I could have touched it. The creatures that it was feeding on were colourless and sperical, about the size of a marble and were so abundant that I could scoop them up in my fingers. It was about 18 feet long, so just a small one really.

Whilst camping may well be discouraged, I have camped on Iona and it was lovely, especially when all the day trippers went back to Mull. We camped on the machair at the northern end of the island in a small hollow. Although it was fairly close to buildings, the dip in the ground meant that we couldn't be seen. The view from the top of the hill was great.

andreadawn
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Re: Iona

Post by andreadawn » Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:19 am

Thanks for all the replies and lovely pictures. A great antidote to such a foul weekend.

Andrea

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Jurassic
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Re: Iona

Post by Jurassic » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:13 am

A fantastic thread with some beautiful, inspirational pictures. Must save up harder for that Sea Kayak!

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JP9
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Re: Iona

Post by JP9 » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:23 pm

Hi Guys,
Great photos, it makes me want to re-visit Iona and spend a few days there!
All the best
Jean-Pierre

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