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Oban, Isle of Mull, Iona, Tobermory, Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan Point, Strontian, Lismore, Scotland.
(8 day bike-pack)
Wed 09 Apr - Wed 16 Apr 2014

Thu 10 Apr 2014

Wed 09 Apr 2014
Thu 10 Apr 2014
Fri 11 Apr 2014
Sat 12 Apr 2014
Sun 13 Apr 2014
Mon 14 Apr 2014
Tue 15 Apr 2014
Wed 16 Apr 2014
Heavy rain during the night had stopped by morning but there was still a lot of cloud around. I was packed up and away by 07:20 to continue my ride towards Fionnphort. The ride was similar terrain to the last few miles yesterday but now I was about to leave the coast behind for a while. It was interesting looking at the line of the old road which was mostly close to the line of the current road but much narrower. I briefly reached the coast again at Bunessan, which seems to be the only settlement of any size on this part of Mull. I reached Fionnphort about 08:40, 5 mins before the ferry was due to leave for Iona.

Chapel on the approach to Fionnphort.

The Calmac office was closed but a notice said to buy tickets on the ferry. A few cars drove on then I wheeled my bike down the ramp and onto the ferry. Several people bought their tickets before me and I was the last. £5.05 for a return which is valid for a month. The crossing is only 10mins and as we approached the Iona jetty I could see many people queuing to return to the mainland. The only vehicles allowed on the island are those belonging to the residents and delivery vehicles. I wheeled my bike up on to the island and Stella was there saying goodbye to the guests she’d helped to look after at Bishop’s House. When the ferry had gone and the waving done with I wheeled my bike while Stella led the way to Bishop’s House near the Abbey.

Magnificent camp neat Iona Abbey

I wanted to camp on the island and was prepared to used the only official campsite. Fortunately I was told that it was OK to camp in the Bishop’s House grounds. A grassy walled area to the rear was a good area but through a gate were some nice grassy patches by the shore and just above high water mark. It was a superb position. The house staff stop for tea break at 10:30 so after putting my tent up I set off on a short exploration of the island.

Bishop's House

I Followed a rough road to meet the main access road to the west part of the island called the Mhachair. There were too many tourists wandering along the road for my liking so I returned to the house for coffee break with Alma, Jane, Robby and Toben. Afterwards I set off on the bike again to follow the road north past the Abbey. There were still a lot of tourists wandering along the road. At the end of the road the continuing path had a sign saying no bikes. There was even some cycle parking bays available. I left my bike and walked across the grass to the wonderful coastal area and the northern end of the island.

St Columba - originally found in the garden.

Iona north coast

more Iona north coast

The original Iona graveyard

The Iona graveyard

The weather had improved considerably and the sky was blue but the wind was cold. I walked along the edge to the east side and some shelter from the wind. It was amazing how warm the sun felt there. I walked back to my bike. and cycled back to Bishop’s House for lunch at 13:00. Stella still had more work to do after lunch so I set off on my bike again this time back to the west side of the island again and the Machair. I took the tarmac road to the gate at the end then across the grassed area to the shingle beach.

John Smith (Labour leader) buried 1994

The sky was mostly clear and picturesque against the sea. I was mostly able to cycle north above the shore, through a gate and on to another bay. I left my bike and wandered around to take some photos. There were quite a few people out enjoying the sunny weather. I returned to Bishops House then later in the afternoon set off walking with Stella as she had some brochures to deliver around the island. On the way we were able to climb to the summit of Dun I, The highest point on the island at just over 100m. There was also an Ordnance Survey trig post there which was circular post made of concrete.

Dun I trig post

Iona war memorial

Iona Abbey

We descended the way we’d climbed then down to an outdoor centre to the north. On the way back we went into the Abbey grounds by the north gate. It’s interesting to note that there is an entry fee at the south gate but not the north or east gates. We left by the east gate and across the field back to Bishop’s House. In the evening we went to the bar near the pier but only had one drink. The main reason was that a beer and small house white wine cost an extortionate £7.50. Returning under a dark clear sky just before 22:00 there was a magnificent view of the ISS (International Space Station) appearing very bright overhead then fading to nothing.

Iona Abbey

Chapel in Bishop's House

Bishop's House library / sitting room.

19th century painting of Iona Abbey

Rt Revd James Alexander Chinnery-Haldane
(1840 - 1906), Bishop of Argyll & the Isles
1883 to 1906