Oban, Mull, and Iona

Just as England’s Lake District is full of lakes, so is Scotland. Driving north from Torpenhow to Oban, you pass plenty. After getting through the metropolis of Glasgow, the large Loch Lomond dominates. The cute village of Luss on the western shore makes a great lunch spot.

To our joy, the bluebells continued in Scotland. We pulled off somewhere (sorry, don’t remember the specifics!) to look at some more old stone circles and cairns and came across this delightful oasis.

Oban

Our destination was Oban, a small but bustling ferry and train town with a lovely seaside promenade. We used Oban as a launching point to do a day trip to the islands of Mull and Iona.

Below is one of my favourite pictures I took of our whole trip. I love the golden hour when the sun spotlights the earth before sinking into sleep.

Even in May, we learned that it’s important to reserve ferries ahead of time! I guess it must have been our lucky day because thankfully we reached Oban’s ferry terminal before it closed on the night we got in to see if we could book a trip to Mull and Iona the following day. There was one spot left on the ferry and it left at 7:30am. We’ll take it, we said!

And we’re so glad we did.

Mull

Mull is one of the Hebrides Islands and it was much bigger than we expected. We took our rental car across on the ferry so we could drive east to west at our own pace. Even though Mull is often overlooked as a “passing through” island on to the more well-known Iona, we could have stayed here for several days. It seemed like a beautiful and remote place to camp.

Mull boasts 480 km of coastline dotted with castles. It also has a whiskey distillery in the northern town of Tobermory—the largest settlement on the island with just over 1000 people. We didn’t make it that far north as we were headed west to catch the passenger ferry to Iona. Here are some examples of the rugged beauty we saw along the single-track road, which hugged the cliff a little too close to my liking at certain points.

Iona

On the far side of Mull is the small ferry town of Fionnphort that transports people to Iona, which you can see in the distance below. It’s only about a 10-minute ride and no cars allowed. Interestingly, we did see cars on Iona, so locals must be allowed to get on and off with cars but they thankfully don’t let tourists. It helps preserve the peacefulness of this otherworldly place. I couldn’t get over how vibrant the water looked with so many shades of blue.

The main attraction on Iona is the Abbey, which is still active today and a site for many Christian pilgrims. It’s not hard to see why people love travelling here (on the far right of the above pic).

Iona is famous as the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. In 563, Columba came over from Ireland and established this monastery. He is said to have written on top of this mound that I took the above picture from. The Book of Kells (or Book of Columba, an extravagantly illuminated Gospel manuscript) is believed to have been written by monks on this island. The book is now housed in Ireland.

We had a few hours roaming this island on foot but could have used more! After visiting the Abbey and having a lovely lunch in a garden, we walked to the Bay at the Back of the Ocean. How could you not be intrigued with a name like that? It’s called that because the next westward stop is North America. Pretty cool.

Ah, the picture of peace and privacy. So thankful the stars aligned to make this day trip happen because as you can see, we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day to do it!