So near is Inchcolm Island, I cannot think why I had never ventured aboard the Maid of the Forth for the short trip into the Firth to visit this sublimely peaceful island. Not always was the case however as the old fortifications are still evident, which defended Edinburgh during both world wars and additionally against the English raiders of the 14th century during the Scottish Wars of Independence.
The tranquillity on the island now obviously belies its turbulent history; having a population only of cliff loving seabirds and seals, oh and two custodians who live on Inchcolm from Easter until the end of Summer in a quaint little cottage sited next to the Abbey. They are so hugely welcoming , helpful and informative, their love for the island is hugely apparent to any visitor to their Summer abode.
Sitting to one end of the island is the former Augustinian Inchcolm Abbey, which is Scotland’s most complete surviving monastic house, containing well preserved rooms with original wall engravings and eerie winding stone staircases. Also apparent is its early dedication to the 6th century abbot of Iona; Saint Columba, earning it the title of “Iona of the East”.
An informative visitor centre fills in the historical gaps and two accessible sandy beaches offer a contrast and fantastic panoramic views both of Edinburgh and Fife.
A perfect, delightfully unassuming visit minus the hordes and a must visit for both native Scots, yet to make the expedition and visiting non-Scots!