Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

CatsWhiskersTours provide unique tour experiences tailored to suit you. Call +44 (0) 141 638 5500

Browsing Posts published by catswhiskers

Iona Abbey

This evening, I am focusing on the world-famous, Iona Abbey which is located on the small island of Iona which lies off the Isle of Mull on the west coast of Scotland.

Today, this is principally a spiritual retreat centred on the Iona Community which has a line of descent from the arrival of St. Columba in AD 563. Columba founded an early Irish-Christian Monastery from where Christianity was introduced into Northern Britain.

Illustration of sea travel at time of Columba

A summary chronology post Columba is as follows:

  •  The Monastery and mission stimulated learning with chief manifestation being the Book of Kells which now resides at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. This probably dates from the 8th century and was taken to Kells in Ireland about that time for protection in face of Viking raids.
  • Large, free-standing stone crosses were constructed during the 8th century of which five survive.
  • In the 12th and 13th centuries a Benedictine Abbey was founded which brought Iona into the religious mainstream.
  • Most of the buildings survived the 1560 Reformation relatively undamaged but subsequently fell into disrepair.
  • The Abbey and Nunnery buildings were repaired and consolidated in the 19th century and the Abbey was re-roofed by 1910.
  • In 1938 Dr. George MacLeod founded the Iona Community as a Church of Scotland brotherhood which acted as a catalyst for further restoration in a programme which was completed in 1965.
  • Most of the island of Iona is now owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland.

Carved stone from 7th century, AD.

High Crosses

 

Cloisters at Iona Abbey

Abbey Interior

Landscape view of Abbey

Iona is accessed via ferry from Oban on the Scottish mainland to Craignure on Mull followed by an approximately one hour drive to Fionnphort where a ferry transfers visitors to Iona. Visitors are not permitted to take cars to Iona.The Abbey is accessed on foot. Entry fee applies.

Waterfall in full flow at Rouken Glen.

In the 24 hours up to midday today, Glasgow experienced a very high level of rainfall which resulted in the gushing waterfalls and flooding evidenced at Rouken Glen Park.

Glasgow has a relatively high rainfall of forty-two inches p.a. but even that is modest by precipitation levels in the Western Highlands which reach three times that level and more.

Rouken Glen is a public park which is highly rated and popular with locals with evidence of human activity dating back about five thousand years. However, many of the trees and vegetation growing there are not native whilst the burn (stream) providing the waterfalls does not follow its natural course owing to engineering works in the 18th and 19th centuries in order to provide power sources for mills and similar activities. The ancestors of the grey squirrel shown below were originally imported from North America in the 19th century.

For the first time ever I had to change my walking route to avoid seriously flooded paths.

At end of the walk I was drenched to the skin but found the experience invigorating.

Grey Squirrel

Woodland Scene at Rouken Glen

Waterfall at Rouken Glen

Waterfall at Rouken Glen

Waterfall in full flow at Rouken Glen

Flooded woodland at Rouken Glen.

Linlithgow Loch

Today, I visited Linlithgow which has a population of about 19,000 and is located about nineteen miles west of Edinburgh.

Although a historic town with much to offer, Linlithgow is usually by-passed by most tourists due to focus on other priority sites. However, the Palace has featured in Outlander and consequently attracts persons wishing to connect with scenes in that T.V series.

Palace

  • A luxury, lake-side residence for Scotland’s ruling Stuart dynasty.
  • Birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Built over a period of 100 years spanning 15th-17th centuries
  • Post 1603 fell into decline after King James VI relocated to London.
  • Oliver Cromwell wintered at the Palace during 1650-51.
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed at the Palace in 1745. In January of the following year troops of his adversary, General Cumberland occupied the Palace after which it suffered severe fire damage and today remains much in the same condition as February 1746.
  • Architecture influenced by renaissance style.

South and East views of Palace

Northern aspect of Palace

St Michael’s Church

  • Located on an ancient Christian site but re-built between 1426 and 1531 owing to fire damage of predecessor.
  • Situated adjacent to Linlithgow Palace.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots was baptised here in 1542.
  • Alters and statues were destroyed/removed after the Reformation in 1560.
  • During plague epidemics in Edinburgh, the church was used for classes by Edinburgh University.
  • During the 17th century the church was used as a timber store by Linlithgow Town Council.
  • Closed for restoration between 1896 and 1898.
  • In 1964 the crown was fixed atop the church tower. This replaced an earlier stone cross and is intended to represent the Crown of Thorns.

St Michael’s Church

Church Interior

Spectacular stained glass window. This dates from 1992 and was created to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the church’s consecration.

Church Tower at entrance to Palace.

Statue of Mary, Queen of Scots

Canal Centre

The Union Canal runs from Falkirk to Edinburgh. It was constructed to bring minerals, especially coal, to Scotland’s capital. It was opened in 1822 and was initially successful, but the construction of railways, particularly the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, which opened in 1842, diminished its value as a transport medium. It fell into slow, commercial decline and was closed to commercial traffic in 1933. It was officially closed in 1965 but re-opened in 2001 and now used for leisure activities.

The Canal Centre (illustrated) is run by a not-for-profit society which operates a canal museum, tea room and boat trips.

Canal Centre

Dovecote or Doocot

Dates from 16th century at which time pigeons were an important food source.

Dovecote

Other Images

Swan on Linlithgow Loch

17th century Town House

Four Marys Inn. Named after ladies-in-waiting to Mary Queen of Scots.