Iona painting & walking holiday

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2022: 8 May

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides where visitor cars are not permitted. It is a special place and is appreciated by visitors for its peacefulness and tranquillity. As a tiny island the infrastructure is fragile and because of this Iona is subject to a "Prohibition of Vehicles" Order that controls the type of vehicles allowed onto the island. This Order was first introduced in 1978 to ensure the preservation of Iona’s unique environment.

Arriving to Iona the first time from Fionnphort is an experience that heightens your awareness of the natural world. The vivid colours of the waters, the open skies and above all the smell of the sea emphasise the prominence of the environment to Hebridean life. Crossing over on the small ferry, the sounds of the ubiquitous gulls can be accompanied by the screeches of Terns or the child like cries of the Kittiwakes. And in the waters, a rich marine ecosystem hosts an abundance of marine life, that occasionally sees dolphins jumping on the boat’s wake, or basking sharks swimming up the sound.

It is an environment we will bring visitors up and close to and the week's activities will provide lots of opportunities to learn about and appreciate it. We will walk, draw, paint and write inspired by the natural environment.

When visiting the Scottish islands we take our Leave No Trace approach very seriously - this includes minimising waste, avoiding use of single use plastic, recycling as much as possible. We do not provide bottled drinking water, but hand out reusable water bottles for guest who didn't bring their own, for filling up using tap water, which is of very good quality everywhere in Scotland. The group size is small with up to 10 guests.

The Impacts of this Trip

Iona is a small community where visitor accommodation is very limited to prevent overtourism and protect the natural environment. Our hotel St Columba is owned is owned by a group of locals, former islanders and individuals with a close connection to Iona, so you can be sure of the warmest welcome. The hotel, the village shop, as well as local artists and craftspeople depend on small groups of responsibly-minded visitors like our groups. The money spent on this trip on accommodation, catering and personal purchases, benefits directly the local community.

There will be lots of opportunities for the group to connect with locals. We plan to visit studios and workshops on the island and bring in locals to tell about their history and life in this tiny island community.

One of the days - weather permitting - we will take a boat trip aboard a traditional wooden ex-working sailing fishing boat to explore other nearby islands. The boat’s owner Mark calls the Birthe Marie “an unashamedly old fashioned boat with a gaff ketch rig and a solidity that is reassuring”. He says “the whole concept of our trips is of an unhurried drinking in of the landscape. The boat fits into the coastal scene, disturbing little, quietly finding her way into places hidden from life ashore.” An adventure not to be missed on our art experience.


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