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19 Jun 2018

What to do on a day in Iona

Written by Samantha Grant - Scotland with The Wee White Dug
Iona
I can think of no better place to spend the longest day of the year than on the beautiful island of Iona.

8am - I’d start the day with an early morning dog walk on one of Iona’s stunning beaches. One look at the white sand and azure blue sea and it’s easy to see how this tiny island inspired artists such as the Scottish Colourists.

Dog on Iona

9.45am – After breakfast I’d take a pet-friendly boat trip to visit Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa. It’s an awe-inspiring place where huge basalt columns rise from the sea. Mendelssohn was so impressed by Staffa and Fingal’s Cave when he visited that he wrote a stirring overture called ‘The Hebrides’. If the sea was too rough to allow a safe landing on Staffa I’d hopefully get to watch huge waves crashing against the island. Better still, if it was safe to land I’d be able to meet the island’s adorable summer residents – puffins.   

Staffa
Staffa

12pm – Back on dry land I’d head to one of Iona’s two small hotels to enjoy an al fresco lunch in the garden. Both have organic gardens, and nothing beats eating fresh, home-grown food in a spectacular setting.   

1pm – Post lunch I’d dedicate a couple of hours to indulge my passion for history. I’d walk where ancient Scottish kings were laid to rest, gaze in wonder at intricately carved Celtic crosses and medieval grave slabs bearing proud warriors, then escape to the cool cloisters of Iona Abbey for some quiet contemplation. 

3pm – After a history fix I’d turn my attention to hiking and head to the south of the island. I’d stop and listen for the distinctive call of corncrakes coming from the fields. Crossing Iona’s 9-hole golf course I’d sit by the shore and watch jets of seawater shoot into the air from a collapsed sea cave known as ‘Spouting Cave’. My hike would end at the rocky St Columba’s Bay, where the saint is believed to have landed on the island in AD563.

A puffin sitting on a rock on Iona
A puffin on Iona

6pm – Fresh sea air and hiking would have given me a healthy appetite, so it’d be time to enjoy more delicious island food.   

9.30pm – I’d end my day with a hike up Dun I, Iona’s highest point. At a modest 101 metres, the hill is a straightforward and short climb. The 360-degree view from the summit is incredible and my favourite viewpoint in all of Scotland. If the sky began to take on a subtle, pink hue I’d sit tight and wait for the perfect end to the longest day: a Hebridean sunset.

Dun I, Iona’s highest point
Dun I, Iona’s highest point

I think ‘Love on the Longest Day’ is a brilliant idea as Scotland enjoys such long, light days in summer. Unless you live here, I don’t think people really appreciate just how much you can fit into a day.

I also love the #ForTheLoveofScotland campaign, as for me it’s highlighted so many shared loves, but also shown that people love so many different things about Scotland. It shows that Scotland has something for everyone. 

Quote
“My top tips to enjoy Scotland and my longest day itinerary would be to make sure you pack sun cream, midge repellent, a tick remover and water. They’re my rucksack essentials. Good, sturdy footwear is a must too, plus a lightweight set of waterproofs for summer showers will never go amiss. For the adventurous at heart, take swimwear and enjoy a dip in the azure blue sea if you dare! ”
Samantha
A red boat pulled up on the shore at Iona
Boat on the shore

My name’s Samantha and I’m a Scottish travel writer and digital content creator. My blog ‘Scotland with The Wee White Dug’ and associated social media feeds are dedicated to showcasing Scotland - the incredible, small country I call home.

I spend all of my free time travelling around Scotland and never tire of its diverse beauty. From rugged mountains, to towering sea stacks, heather covered moors and unspoiled beaches – I’m in awe. After family and The Wee White Dug, history and hiking are my main passions in life.  Give me a stone circle on rugged moorland and I’m in seventh heaven! 

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