Iona can be discovered a 10-minute ferry from the Isle of Mull, which is in turn, an hour ferry from mainland Scotland.
In its sleepy, far-flung corner of the world, it sits as an uninterrupted jewel, surrounded by aquamarine clear waters and white sugar sand. If it wasn’t so cold, there were less sheep and more people, it could be the Maldives.
Iona is known as the ‘cradle of Christianity’ and, whatever your beliefs, you can’t fail feel to feel that ethereal sense of calm that you get when you’re somewhere precious.
At the heart of the four-mile, 120-people-strong island is an abbey – a Christian community with love, equality and kindness very much at its heart. Soak it up, light a candle and cherish all that you hold dear. And if you’re anything like my mum, you’ll want to visit the late, great John Smith in the graveyard.
Iona is also home to a plethora of beautiful shops selling unique, handcrafted items. It’s these ventures that are the lifeblood of the island economy, so there really is never better place to ‘shop local.’ Aosdàna (beautiful silver jewellery), Iona Craft Shop (a lovely collection of blankets, clothes and crafts) and The Iona Gallery (stunning paintings, inspired by the beautiful surroundings) are all very much worth a visit.
To sate your taste buds with produce grown right on the island, you can’t get better than The Argyll and the St Columba. The Argyll is my personal favourite for dinner, with a homely feel and warming food and the St Columba is perfect for a cream tea, sat next to the large windows, over-looking the bay. Both double up as hotels and the youth hostel is brilliant for value accommodation.
But other than shopping, eating and visiting the ancient Abbey (and nunnery), I’d just walk. Embrace the solitude, marvel at the tiny but growing school and stroll to the end of the island in a mere 30 minutes, until you reach a picture-perfect beach. And on this, just stand, staring out at Staffa and the Dutchman’s Cap beyond as the waves roll on.