St Columba’s Argyll & Iona

Cost £481 - £1,139 (depending on 3, 4 or 7 day options)

including ferries & accommodation but excludes meals/drinks

Journeying to the beautiful and unspoilt Argyll coast, the epicentre of the origins of Scotland in Dalriada, we’ll follow in the footsteps of St Columba. This tour traces the saint’s earlier travels, exploring a cave and ruined Celtic chapels standing in isolated splendour set amidst the ancient Neolithic world of stone circles. The tour continues with a visit to the spectacular islands of Mull & Iona and on the long trip, will lead up the Great Glen to a hill fort, Loch Ness and Pictish stones.

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St Columba's Argyll & Iona has 3 length options;

 3-day  -   4-day  -   7-day

 

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3 Day Trip and Trek

COST: £481 pp based on two sharing a room and subject to availability, including B&B accommodation, ferries, all transport and Mountain Leader guide, but excludes food/drink.

Single supplement: £531 for the whole package.

NB - ‘The Retreat’ tab may be of interest to you if you’re interested in the early Celtic Christian movement

Day One

Depart Glasgow 09:30, drive to the foot of Dumbarton Rock – capital of the Strathclyde Britons and then north to Loch Lomond, stage of a daring Viking raid. As we pass through the Arrochar ‘Alps’, there will be photo opportunities. Coffee in the white-washed town of Inverary.

St Columba’s cave and picnic on the beach and onto some atmospheric Celtic chapel ruins with finely engraved stone slabs.

Dunnadd Hill Fort. Grading: Easy but short steep ascent. Distance: 1 km Altitude: 58m

Kilmartin Glen with its prehistoric cairns, standing stones and cup and ring markers. Grading: Easy along paths. Distance: Not more than 2kms, depending on how much you want to see. Height gained: negligible.

Arrive at a superb accommodation on a private estate.

Day Two

Ferry to Mull and drive across the south of the island to reach the ferry to Iona for lunch.

Walk to the Abbey church, the existing structure spans the 13-16th centuries. View the iconic high crosses; the Augustinian nunnery, the tombs of ancient kings and more.

Walk to Dun I and to the sandy beaches of the north end. Grading: Moderate with final steep climb up muddy path. Distance: 7.5kms Height: 110m

Return on ferry to Fionnphort and to accommodation

Day Three

Ferry to Iona

Possibility of attending the early morning prayer service in the abbey

Walk across island, telling the stories Grading: easy along track. Distance 5kms. Height: 40m

Return via the central divide of Mull with a short walk in the attractive forest through to Loch Ba. Grading: Easy along level estate track. Distance: 2 kms. Height: Negligible variance.

Travel back to Craignure for ferry to Oban departing 17:05 - arrive Oban 17:55 - return to Glasgow around 20:30

 

St Columba & Dalriada (4 day)

COST: £636 pp including B&B accommodation, ferries but excludes food/drink, transport and Mountina Leader guide, based on 2 sharing a room and subject to availability.

Single supplement: £726 for whole 4 day package

Tracing the beginnings of Columba’s time in Scotland in the Kingdom of Dalriada of the early Scots in the picturesque natural setting of Scotland’s west coast. The 4 day tour has more time for walks to explore Argyll’s superb and not that frequented coastline, maintaining its unspoilt and unhurried charm. The trip culminates with crossing the sea to Mull and on to Iona to its ancient abbey in its out on the edge setting.

DAY ONE

Depart from Glasgow at 09:30. Journey up Loch Lomond and around the base of the stunning peak of The Cobbler and over the pass of Rest and be Thankful and a fine descent to the shores of Loch Fyne and morning coffee in the white-washed town of Inverary.

Climb to picnic on the hill of Dun na Cuaiche with commanding views of the attractive town and castle below and down Loch Fyne. Grading: Easy but steady hill climb along waymarked track. Distance: 4.75kms. Height: 236m

Lazy option for those not wanting to climb the hill is to take a tour around this stately home of the Campbells or saunter around the picturesque white-washed town by the sea loch.

Continuing on our journey along Loch Fyne, we’ll drive the solitary shores of a sea loch to St Columba’s atmospheric cave.

Take up accommodation for a 2 night stay.

DAY TWO

- Walk to an Iron-Age duns (ring forts) on a hilltop with panoramic views out to the isle of Jura. Grading: Moderate along a slippery shoreline then on good forest tracks. Distance: 6.5kms Height: 255m

Drive to the Celtic chapel at Kilmory and see impressive, engraved stone slabs and appreciate the the Celtic saints connection with nature in this lovely setting.

Make the short ascent to Dunnadd hill fort, capital of 6th century Dalriada, initial kingdom of the Scots. Grading: Easy but short steep ascent. Distance: 1km. Height gained: 58m

Walk section of the mysterious Kilmartin Glen to see a Neolithic landscape littered with tombs and standing stones. Grading: Easy along paths. Distance: Not more than 2kms, depending on how much you want to see. Height gained: negligible.

View the engraved stones in the yard of the Kilmartin kirk.

DAY THREE & FOUR

The same itinerary as Days 2 & 3 of the 3 day tour

This 4 day option could be part of the full 7 day experience and would mean being dropped at Craignure to make your own way home on the ferry and train back to Glasgow/Edinburgh

The Retreat’ tab may be of interest to you if you’re interested in the early Celtic Christian movement

If you would like to enjoy more of Argyll and Kintyre and have less of the St Columba story, then look at ‘Wild about Argyll’

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Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey

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St Columba & Dalriada (7 Day)

COST: £1,139 pp based on two sharing a room and subject to availability. Cost includes all B&B accommodation, all ferries, transport and Mountain Leader guide, but excludes food (other than breakfasts) and drink.

Single supplement: £1,399 for the whole package.

Although the theme is about connecting with the places associated with Scotland’s apostle and telling his story, we’ll explore regions rich in scenic beauty and tranquillity and a culture steeped in pagan history. This journey explores the quiet and beautiful Argyll and some of its islands including Mull and Iona, then ferrying on to mainland at Ardnamurchan, by which time we’ll have seen half of the exceptional west coast of Scotland. Via Scotland’s ancient trade route, The Great Glen, we’ll travel the shores of Loch Ness to Inverness, before heading south back to base by the Cairngorm mountains.

DAYs ONE, Two & Three

Same as described on the 4 day tour.

 Day Four - NW MULL

Drive to the ferry to cross over to Ulva for walks through the woods and along the coast to appreciate the rural history and geology of the island.

Drive up to the NW corner of Mull for a coastal walk to the raised beaches with views out to the Treshnish Isles.

Walk the sands of Calgary Bay and return down the centre of the island via Glen Aros

Short walk in the attractive forest through to Loch Ba.

Evening meal out in a local inn.

DAY FIVE

Drive up to Tobermory and ferry across to the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

Visit Castle Tioram on a tidal island and walk through the beautiful Caledonian pine forests along the shores of Loch Moidart with a picnic lunch. Grading: Moderate along some boggy paths. Distance 5.5kms. Height: 150m

Visit the Church of St Mary & St Fillan in what has to be a contender for the most beautiful setting of any church in Scotland. Visit the Jacobite exhibition at Glenfinnan.

Walk up Glen Nevis to see a spectacular gorge and waterfalls. Grading: Moderate but the path is rough over wet slabs in parts with big drops. Distance: 3.5kms. Height: 220m

Up the Great Glen along the quiet eastern shore of Loch Ness for accommodation for two nights.

DAY SIX

Walk to the Falls of Foyers in an impressive steep gorge and set in Caledonian pine woods. Grading: Moderate, lots of steps on a steep slope. Distance: 1km. Height: 70m

Boat outing on Loch Ness

Short drive to Rosemarkie on the Black Isle visit the Groam museum with spectacular Pictish stones and a short jaunt up the delightful Fairy Glen with two attractive waterfalls. Grading: Easy along paths. Distance: 3km Height 100m

To Inverness and climb to the hill fort at Craig Phadrig where Columba had a confrontation with the over king of the Picts. Grading: Easy hill climb along some steep tracks. Distance: 2km Height: 75m

Dine at an inn and back to base.

DAY SEVEN

Drive south to the Cairngorms.

Walk to look down upon Loch an Eilean through beautiful pine forests. Grading: moderate to difficult over some rough sections without a path. Distance: 5.5kms Height: 155m

Over the Drumochter Pass to Pitlochry with a stop to visit the Cathedral town of Dunkeld and a riverside walk to the Hermitage. Grading: Easy round walk of 1km along the level.

Late afternoon drop off in Edinburgh.

 You could make this a 4 day option by leaving the party at the end of day 4, making your own way from Craignure on the ferry and train back to Glasgow/Edinburgh. Cost would be the same as the 4 day option.

Check on ‘The Retreat’ tab if you’re interested in the early Celtic Christian movement