…”with the best views this side of heaven”…
Iona, one of the Inner Hebrides, is a tiny island, yet justly famous. The north and south ends are rough moorland hills. There’s a low lying route through the middle. The coast is scattered with even tinier islands and inlets. There are wide, pale beaches. It is an island where you are, by necessity, close to nature and by extension to the spiritual. Farming, fishing, wildlife are all around you. The peace and solitude of the island have always brought pilgrims.
Samuel Johnson wrote “That man is little to be envied whose … piety would not grow warmer amid the ruins of Iona.”
The Hostel on Iona understands this. Their website is full of beautifully phrased affection for the island – their words are far more eloquent and informed than mine. It is part of a croft, worked for generations, buried in a wildflower meadow “with the best views this side of heaven”. It sleeps 21 in a variety of room sizes and is snuggly warm with woodburning stove and heaps of insulation. As if that wasn’t tempting enough, a shepherd’s bothy has been wheeled out to the water’s edge which you can stay in too! Explore the pictures and the description – again, they are more lovely than I can do justice to.
Iona has a long history of spirituality. The old, early Christian abbey gives the island the title of ‘Cradle of Christianity’. The great and the good have chosen it as their resting place: Kings of the Picts and of Scotland; musicians and leaders. Still today folk are attracted to its special magnetism as a retreat, an artist’s muse or wildlife lover’s haven.