Antipole cruises

Colonsay, Oronsay and Iona


Kiloran Bay

From Jura we had a lovely sail, some under spinnaker, to the island of Colonsay.  We had hoped to anchor off its small southern neighbour Oronsay, but that felt uncomfortable in easterly winds and so we rounded the northern tip of Colonsay to anchor in Kiloran Bay.  This beautiful bay, with a crescent of gold-coloured sand, is usually unavailable as an anchorage as it is exposed to swell from the west, but the extended easterly and southerly winds gave us this rare opportunity.  From there we walked the length of Colonsay and crossed at low tide to Oronsay to visit the ancient abbey ruins.

From Colonsay we sailed for Iona.  Tradition has it that St Columba arrived from Ireland on Colonsay [name derived from ‘Columba’s Isle’] but he could still see Ireland (as we could) and so sailed on to Iona arriving in AD563, where he founded a monastery.  After his death, Iona became a place of pilgrimage.

The abbey on Iona with Antipole anchored off

We anchored in the sound off the abbey, as you can see in the photo.  Everyone speaks of the wonderful feel of this holy island and they do not exaggerate. We found it a delight.  The stone-built abbey dates from 1074-1203 and was in use as a monastery until the dissolution in 1570.  The abbey was restored 1902-10 and the monastery buildings were subsequently restored by the Iona Community, an ecumenical group, which runs it today as a retreat centre. So it was especially good to find an ancient abbey that was not just ruins but in active use. Hearing the bell tolling for the regular services harks back to monastic times and we attended two late evening services, which were lovely.  Seeing those in residence file down the stairways from the dormitories directly into the church echoes how the monks must have done the same for all those hundreds of years.

Iona has a population of Corncrakes – birds very rare in Europe – and every evening we heard them croaking in the meadows – sounding something like very loud deep cicadas.
The feel of the island as special is reflected in both hotels having their own extensive organic vegetable gardens.  We so much enjoyed a cream tea at the Argyll Hotel – very excellent huge home-made fruit scones and home-made jam – that Ynskje ordered some scones which actually were delivered in take-away form complete with jam and cream, so for the last few days we have been enjoying ‘Argyll Cream Teas’ on board.
More to follow
Ynskje & Tony


One thought on “Colonsay, Oronsay and Iona

  1. Liz Pill

    Hi All sounds lovely. We are at Goleen near Crookhaven and Skull where you stopped last summer. I am so much enjoying the sea air. Liz x

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