Day 12. June 8. Our day began early today knowing we had a slow jaunt on a single track rode to catch the ferry in Fionnphort to The Isle of Iona, known as the 'cradle of Christianity'...in 563 Columba landed on Iona in a 'curragh' (coracle) with 12 disciples and established a Benedictine monastery. As promised the sun shone brightly and for most of the day the sky was a crystal clear blue making it a photo- grapher's delight. We all began our pilgrimage to Iona Abbey walking the usual route with a stop at the ruins of the Augustinian nunnery and gardens and then along the abbey road pausing at the Maclean cross. The High Crosses like this one marked places of prayer on a pilgrim's journey. We stopped first to explore the abbey, its lovely cloisters with its carved capitals and the interesting museum full of related artifacts.
Remembering the beauty of the white sands and aquamarine waters of North Beach where we had romped about with our grand girls and Colin and Jennifer 2 years ago while celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary Bill and I headed for a walk in that direction. Once we realized the walk was longer than we remembered Bill turned back to meet Malcolm for the planned walk to St. Columba's Bay where Columba had landed back in the 6th Century while I continued meandering over the "machair" path (a Gaelic word for fertile low lying ground full of wildflowers) with the Hebridean sheep and cattle to North Beach to search for the tiny green stones known as "Columba's tears". On my wanderings back to the abbey I not only heard a corncrake, but saw it dive into the machair where they nest. Often you hear their unusual bird call, but rarely do you actually see one. Until it was to time to meet at the ferry for the short ride back to Mull I wandered the island soaking in its beauty in various spots and stopping off to browse in the few shops on the island, an art gallery, and have a second look at the artifacts in the museum. Very happily I ended my day on the island enjoying tea and scone while relaxing in the warmth of the sun in the garden of the Argyll Hotel where we had celebrated Colin and Jen's 19th wedding anniversary in 2013 with tea and scone. From there I could look across the Sound of Iona and see the Tigh-na-Traigh cottage on the Fionnphort Village beach and reminisce about all the wonderful days we shared together that summer with Colin and Jen, Isabelle, Victoria, and Lily. The icing on the cake on this trip's visit was the young Scottish bagpiper who entertained us while we waited on Ronan's Bay for the ferry to take us back to Mull. A glorious day for sure!