Last full day on Iona

I’m back at the St. Columba Hotel again — the only place on the island with an internet connection, it seems — enjoying my last day here on Iona. The weather over the last few days has improved considerably, even though we had ice pellets again last evening.

The last few days have been marked with a variety of excursions, notably on what they call “pilgrimages” (the Community here, although ecumenial, is still devoutly Christian). The pilgrimage route here is so well-known it’s even published on maps. They tell you that it’s not a “hike” because that would remove all sense of the meaning behind the pilgrimage. It’s about going to the religiously significant places on the island.

St. Columba’s Bay, Iona, Scotland, 8 April 2008

Talk about being the odd man out.

Anyway, the experience was good. The weather actually seemed to improve as we went along, even though I found that my supposedly water-resistent shoes are anything but. I ended up having to abort the full route, as the latter half treks through the distinctly boggy part of the island.

Nevertheless, I have officially been to all four shores on this island. It’s less of a feat than it sounds, since getting to all four shores can be done in a matter of a day without too much effort. The island is very small, and except for the wet parts of the south end of the island, you can pretty much hit all four sides without a great deal of effort.

I also trekked up Dun I (pronounced “dun-ee”), which is the tallest point on the island, about 103 metres. I’m convinced that it’s not actually a hill of stone, as is much of the island. I think it’s actually an ancient (and massive) heap of sheep dung from the plentiful flocks that roam the island. The herders have to put it all somewhere, right? I think the farmers have just passed it off as a “holy mountain” just to keep the tourists happy.

Atop Dun I, Iona, Scotland, 9 April 2008

(Yes, I’m kidding. If you’ve read any of this blog, you know enough not to take me seriously.)

Tomorrow, we head back to Oban to overnight again before heading off to Inverness. Not really sure how all that will go, but I’m looking forward to the trip. I feel like I’ve been cooped up in the abbey far too long, and I need to see something new. Then it’s off to York, St. Alban’s, and home again.

Then I’m off to San Francisco not even two days later. Oy.