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The beautiful summer meadows of Iona © Celtic Compass

Hebridean Island Jewels

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April — November

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Stay in a historic island home, surrounded by beautiful meadows. A full explore of the islands their history and wildlife with expert guides: Visit stunning beaches, tweed mill, explore the landscape through art and feast on delicious food and drink

Full Itinerary

Please see our website for photos and more information about our guides and your island home.......

The Wonders of Mull, Iona & Staffa

Day 1

Travel to the Isle of Iona, by train, ferry, bus or car. Information on connections provided!

Arrive on the island in time for the evening welcome dinner at one of the islands wonderful hotels and settle into your wonderful island home.

Or arrive a bit earlier and have some time to get your first feel for the island.

Day 2

After breakfast, we will walk up Dun I, a holy hill and the highest point on Iona to get a sense of the whole island. From the top there are incredible views to the surrounding islands and up towards the Isle of Skye, Eigg, Rum and Muck. Standing on Dun I looking over the Hebridean islands North and South is quite a humbling and fulfilling experience. We will then visit a sacred holy well perched on its peak named Well of Eternal Youth, with many tales linked to it.

Afterwards, we will venture onto the North of the island to visit a very special award-winning island eco croft. We will meet with the croft owner who will explain how sustainable farming practices and working in harmony with the land can enrich the landscape creating a diverse habitat, rich in wildlife. The talk will also include tales about the Western seaboard and ancient maritime traditions in the area, you will gain an understanding of interconnectedness of the islands and how the sea is the highway of this place. right the way from Ireland in the South up to Orkney, Shetland, the Faroe Islands and on to Scandinavia in the North, giving you a different geographic perspective of this sea-bound landscape. This will all be set possibly to the backdrop of the strange cries of the elusive corncrake, hiding in the meadows! We will be served a delicious homemade lunch and the sampling of artisan food products and island craft ale tasting.  

Rest of the day is time to relax, maybe have a walk along the beautiful North End Beach. Many artists are drawn to this end of the island for its light qualities and the stunning different coloured rocks with ‘streams’ of green and red serpentine in them. It is a great place just to sit and contemplate. Evening at your leisure with the chance to try the delicious offerings at one of the island’s restaurants.

Day 3

Full day trip with our guide and renowned geologist and font of knowledge all things stone, James, exploring the landscape and geology of Iona. Today we begin to understand how these stunningly coloured rocks of Iona were created. James will explain what we are seeing as we traverse the island.

Iona is very different geologically from the Isle of Mull. The rocks are much older with the oldest dated at over 2000 million years old. The colours of these rocks can be spectacular, especially on freshly wave-washed rock. After we reach St Columba’s Bay, where the saint is said to have landed we will explore the bay with a chance to find a semi-precious stone, including the famous Iona greenstone. James will identify the rocks you are looking at for you. Then on to the marble quarry, the marble is a beautiful white colour and has been highly revered since ancient times. Much of the quarrying equipment is still in place, a good example of industrial archaeology, it is a very atmospheric place. 

Then we slowly wend our way back northwards to see the Spouting Cave with its blowhole and Bay at the Back of the Beach. The rocks have a distinctive colour – bright red granitic exteriors and dark grey basaltic interiors. They really are conspicuous. It is a wonder to see such art in rock! 

The Bay at the Back of the Beach is a lovely place with a wonderful expansive feel and a special habitat called Machair, it is a unique habitat full of specialised flower species.  It is also home to Iona’s golf course, which is probably not like many others you have seen, as you are just as likely to encounter a highland cow or sheep on it as a golfer! Its location is incredible with the backdrop of the sea with its many shades of blue, white sand beaches with curlews and oystercatchers. A lovely place to finish your Iona exploration.

After this invigorating and interesting day, the evening is at your leisure.

Day 4

Morning trip to Staffa to see the incredible towering hexagonal basaltic columns and experience the mighty presence of Fingal’s cave a natural wonder matched with the Giants Causeway in Ireland. You will be struck by the colours and majesty of the place. Make sure to stop at the Wishing Chair on the way to the cave. legend says you are allowed three wishes there!

Meet the Staffa puffins! They are a ground-nesting bird with a very improbable flying shape and brightly coloured beaks, you can get quite close to them if you sit quietly. They are very charismatic, quite comical too and often make low grunting noises!

Afternoon at leisure to explore the very atmospheric 12th century Nunnery, the 13th century Iona Abbey and St Oran’s Chapel and the royal burial mound of Scotland’s Kings at your own pace and in your own time. St Oran’s chapel has incredible acoustics if you fancy singing! Or just to sit and relax, read, take a walk to one of the beautiful white sandy beaches and absorb the wonderful peacefulness of Iona. Alternatively, explore the array of craft shops and pick up a little something to take home. 

Staffa

“ I have seen a temple not made with hands” 

Sir Robert Peel 1837

Day 5

Full day trip over to the Isle of Mull with our geologist James. With James, we will explore the stunning Ardalanish Bay. It is a great place to see some extraordinary rocks with some very unusual minerals. The rocks here are so unusual the area has been classified an SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest. This includes a spectacular band of rock containing large garnets!

The bay is a great place simply to wander and look at the beautiful multicoloured pebbles on the beach, there is a fascinating selection whilst enjoying wonderful views across the white sands to the Hebridean Isles of Colonsay, Jura and Islay.

Next, we will venture onto Ardalanish farm it is fully organic and the only fertilisers used on the land are compost and seaweed. The wool from the native breed Hebridean and Manx sheep is woven in the weaving mill and made into throws, scarves, shawls, coats and other items. The colours, textures and patterns are beautiful. After a tour of the mill, there will be a chance to browse around the shop. The mill’s products are shipped worldwide. 

There are several burial cists at Ardalanish and some bronze age vessels were found which are now in the National Museum for Scotland, there are also standing stones but, due to ground-nesting birds in June, we will not visit these sites.

Return to Iona and evening option of a group dinner cooked in your island home with your own chef if all the group would like it (this is at extra charge).

Day 6 

A fun and creative morning of exploration of the landscape through art using monoprinting this is a process suitable for beginners you will be guided in the technique by a local artist. Having explored all the colours and landscapes of Iona and the Ross of Mull and the rock formations this will be a great workshop to recreate pattern and colour that you have seen on your week, or design and create whatever else takes you fancy! This will make a lovely memento of your special week on Iona. For those who wish to there is then the option to discover the delights of the Hermits cell and the Well of the North Wind, both hidden in a tiny glen at the heart of Iona.

Afternoon at your leisure, time to just enjoy the sereneness that personifies Iona.

Farewell dinner at one of the island hotels.

During the week there is also the possibility of a relaxing reflexology session with highly experienced island reflexologist (at an additional charge). 

Day 7 

Say farewell to your new found friends and catch the ferry back to Mull to return to the mainland and your onward adventures.

“Some feelings are to mortals given

With less of earth in them than heaven.”    

Sir Walter Scott

Contact details

Celtic Compass
Celtic Compass Tours
28 Barony Street
Edinburgh
Scotland
EH3 6NY
Starting
Edinburgh Glasgow Isle of Iona
Length
7
Days
Transport
Driver guide Walking
Type
Bespoke Private Small Group (1-16)
Themes
Adventure Ancestry Art Food and drink Geology History Island Hopping Landscapes Photography Whisky Wildlife

Attractions

Tour company information

Celtic Compass

A specialist company providing unique small-group tours to help people get a greater sense of the places they travel to; the remote, hidden, sacred and ancient sites of Scotland. The country is explored through storytelling, folklore, poetry, geology, history, art, archeoastronomy and of course its food and drink! The guides are experts in their specialist fields, passionate about their subjects with many years experience guiding. Celtic Compass prides itself on designing itineraries to give a really immersive experience and create life-long lasting memories of this majestic country.

Opening times

Office opening times: Monday - Friday - 9am - 5:30pm.

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