Iona, Port na Curaich the South End.

Start. Iona Ferry Jetty.

Route. Iona Ferry Jetty - Port nam Mairtir - Sligneach - Golf Course - Cama Cuill an t-Saimh - Loch Staoineig - Port na Curaich - Loch Staoineig - Golf Course - Sligneach - Port nam Mairtir - Iona Ferry Jetty.

Notes. Iona is world famous as the island where St Columba established his mission to the Picts and brought Christianity to Scotland in 563AD. This walk visits a number of beautiful beaches including the pebble beach folk law tells us Columba landed by coracle after a long voyage from Ireland. If you've followed us in the past you may recognise this route, yes we've trod this path before, we had intended to make a circuit out of it but ran out of time, as they say tide, time and the last ferry from the island waits for no man.

From the slipway a narrow ribbon of tarmac guided us south passed a restaurant and gift shop, to our left Martyr's Beach and a granite war memorial, when the lane turned right we turned with it heading across the island. The road terminated at a metal gate allowing access to a vast tract of machair grassland, this is West End Common Grazing and is also a golf course. After passing through said gate we wandered over to Camas Cuil an-Saimh (Bay at the Back of the Ocean), an exquisite arch of white sand sandwiched between dark cliffs. Here we turned south wandered across the machair before ascending a low hill, with a rough track under foot we passed a small loch before descending through bracken, traversed yet more machair before stepping onto the pebbles bordering St Columba's Bay. Guarded on two sides by low cliffs with a number of rocky islands just off shore this feels a special place, silence broke only by the crashing waves and sea breeze, we hung around too long, with a shock we realised it would be a race to catch the last ferry of the day.

Our route had intended to ascend the cliffs to the east, wander to an abandoned marble quarry before picking our way back over probably boggy ground, in the event we just re-traced our steps at a rather brisk pace, getting back just in time to board the ferry.

view route map.


From Martyr's Beach views over the Sound of Mull to the tidal island of Erraid, look closely you can just make out the white Observatory.

Camas Cuil an-Saimh (Bay at the Back of the Ocean).

A wonderful view along the jagged edge where land meets sea.

Passed en route, a small pool fed by a spring in the lower cliffs of Cnoc Druidean.

View across Camas Cuil an-Saimh to the small islands closing and guarding it's north end, islands with names like Stac Liath, Eilean nan Slat and Eilean Didil.

Loch Staoineig the source of the islands fresh water.

Sue strides out eager to reach Port na Curaich (St Columba's Bay).

Our first view of Port na Curaich.

Port na Curaich a pebbled beach with....

....stunning views to the blue/grey hills of the Scottish mainland.

Sue hunts for the highly sought after Mermaids Tears, a small tear shaped pebble only found on this beach.

Guarding the bay a sprinkling of rocky islands.

One action shot before we turn and head back.

A final look back, farewell Port na Curaich until next time.

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