oban To Iona

Further From Ireland

Route length: 36 miles

A church or sacred site

Destination hub

St Oran’s Parish Church, Connel

This church was built in1887-88 in Scots Gothic Revival style. The tower is based on that of Iona Abbey.


This site is featured in Scotland’s Churches Trust guide book Argyll & The Clyde, reference number 11.

You can see more details on the SCT website.

The Chapel, Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunbeg Church of Scotland

The Free High Church, Oban

Oban Old Parish Church

Corran Esplanade Church of Scotland, Oban

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Columba

Oban Congregational Church

The Scottish Episcopal Cathedral of St John the Divine

Torosay & Kinlochspelve Parish Church, Craignure

The Scottish Episcopal Church of St Kilda, Lochbuie

Former Kinlochspelve Parish Church

Kilfinichen and Kilvickeon Parish Church, Bunessan

Iona Parish Church

The Michael Chapel

The Nunnery

Iona Abbey

By Road

From Oban take the ferry to Craignure. Follow the A849 through Bunessan to Fionnphort. Leave your car here and cross to Iona.

By Cycle

The route for cycles largely follows the main A849, but for stretches there are alternatives. On Iona half of the walking route (see below) can be cycled.

By Foot

You can walk the length of Iona. Other walks in The Ross of Mull can be seen at http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/mull/iona-ross-of-mull.shtml

By Public Transport

For ferries from Oban to Craignure and Fionnphort to Iona check http://www.calmac.co.uk        0800 066 5000

For a taxi on Iona contact Iona Taxi   http://www.ionataxi.co.uk/
07810 325 990.

The bus between Fionnphort and Craignure (Bowmans Coaches (Mull)) stops at Pennyghael, Strathcoil & Lochdonhead.

Public transport information can be found on the Traveline website.

The ferry crossing to Mull from Oban skirts the north end of Kerrera, and then the southern end of Lismore. The story is that the followers of Moluag and of Columba raced to see who could touch the great sanctuary island first. Columba’s boat was a length ahead when Moluag cut off his finger and threw it ahead onto the shore, so winning the contest. Unlikely history, but Lismore did become Moluag’s headquarters, reminding us that Columba was not alone in his mission to Scotland.

The Ross of Mull has a distinctive character and community which is not simply a road to Iona, and Mull itself deserves wider exploration on the return journey. The history of the Ross is closely linked with the story of the people of this area which can be explored in Bunessan, on the island church, and in the Iona Heritage Centre.

Iona itself is Columba's Isle, though it was a sacred place before he arrived. The restored Benedictine Abbey should be experienced as part of the whole island with its many places of peace and beauty, including the ruined nunnery and the ancient burial ground of Scotland's kings at St. Oran's Chapel. Martyr’s Bay, where Viking raiders slaughtered the later monks, and Columba’s Bay, which was the Saint’s own landfall, are all evocative of the island’s special atmosphere and story.

The restoration first of the Abbey Church, and then, through the leadership of the twentieth century Iona Community the Abbey buildings, is one of Scottish Christianity’s resurrection stories that continues to resonate internationally. Again though Gaelic tradition, of which Columba himself was such a notable champion, foresaw this development:

Iona of my heart, Iona of my love,
Instead of monks’ voices will be the lowing of cattle;
But ere the world will come to an end
Iona shall be as it was.

The Guiding of Columba
be on your going and returning
in strath and on ridge
through pit and mire
over hill and crag.
The peace of God be your portion
and let light perpetual
shine upon you.

We would love to hear about your experiences on this route - please post your comments below