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Retreat to Iona

NEW for Autumn 2021, McCabe presents our first ever short break staying on the sacred Isle of Iona.

Make your own way by train, coach or air to Glasgow for the start of our journey towards Iona. Dinner and an overnight stay at the Jurys Inn Hotel. We then travel by coach along Loch Lomond towards the Highlands and we cross from Oban to the Hebridean island of Mull.

A scenic drive takes us across the southern part of Mull to Fionnphort, where Iona comes into view.  We arrive in Iona after a short ferry crossing and stay for five nights at the St Columba Hotel — reserved for the exclusive use of McCabe guests.

Time can be spent exploring Iona with the option to join in with the Iona Community and attend daily services in Iona Abbey. You can join pilgrimage walks around the island, or spend the days on your own in quiet reflection.

We will also have the possibility to visit colourful Tobermory on the Island of Mull and (weather permitting) to sail from Iona to Fingal’s Cave on the small island of Staffa.

The focus is on travelling with like-minded people, accompanied by a McCabe pilgrimage leader who will offer opportunities for worship.

On our return journey, we arrive back in Glasgow by late afternoon. You may be in time for train and flight connections home or you may choose to stay overnight in Glasgow.



  1. Travel to Glasgow

    Independent travel to Glasgow with check in from 16:00 onwards at the Jurys Inn Hotel, within walking distance of Glasgow Central Station. Welcome reception, dinner and overnight at Jurys Inn. If you arrive before 16:00 the hotel will store your luggage for you.

  2. Towards Iona

    A two hour drive takes us through magnificent scenery along the shores of Loch Lomond and Loch Awe to Oban, gateway to the isles.

    Our ferry crossing to Mull takes less than an hour. On arrival in Mull we drive to Fionnphort, where Iona comes into view.  After a short ferry crossing we arrive on Iona and check in at the St Columba Hotel for five nights.

  3. The Sacred Isle of Iona

    After breakfast you can choose to join the Morning Service at Iona Abbey at 09:00. The rest of our day on the island can include an optional pilgrimage walk around the significant places in the life of St Columba as well as visiting the ruins of The Nunnery. Or you can spend time in quiet contemplation. After dinner there is a Service of Welcome at the Abbey at 21:00.

  4. Iona

    The Morning Communion Service is at 10:30 am in the Abbey. We will enjoy Sunday lunch together at the St Columba Hotel. There is an Evening Service of Quiet at 21:00 in the Abbey.

  5. Iona

    Join the Morning Service at Iona Abbey at 09:00. Today is a good day to visit the picture-postcard fishing port of Tobermory, Mull’s main town. There are many places to enjoy lunch as well as the small local food market. Monday Evening at the Abbey is the Service for Justice and Peace at 21:00.

  6. Iona

    Join the Morning Service at Iona Abbey at 09:00 or take an optional boat trip from Iona to the island of Staffa, famous for Fingal’s Cave. Tuesday Evening at the Abbey is the Service of Prayers For Healing at 21:00.

  7. Homeward bound

    After breakfast you may have time to join the Morning Service at Iona Abbey at 09:00 before we leave Iona for Mull. We sail back to Oban and make our way back to Glasgow. Due to the seasonal ferry timetable, we expect to arrive back in Glasgow by 18:00. We recommend booking connections home anytime from 19:00. You may also choose to stay overnight at the Jurys Inn Hotel which we can assist with.

Essential Information


The cost of this holiday starts at £1095 per person sharing a twin or double room, not including your travel to and from Glasgow.

Glasgow is the ideal starting point and we will have a welcome reception and dinner together at the Jurys Inn Hotel, within walking distance of Glasgow Central Station.

The next five nights will be at the St Columba Hotel which is reserved for  McCabe for the duration of the stay.

All rooms are en suite with the option of sea view. Each room comes with tea and coffee making facilities, a hairdryer and toiletries. Meals are served in the dining room, with beautiful views over the Sound of Iona.

Prices and Upgrades
The price of £1095 per person is based on a standard twin or double. Sea view upgrade is £160 per person. Upgrade to superior room with sea view is £315 per person.

Included in the price are six breakfasts, six 3-course dinners and one lunch all with tea and coffee, plus coach transportation, ferry crossings and tips.


Hotel accommodation, 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 6 dinners, Iona Abbey entrance fee, transport and gratuities.

Not included

Single room supplement and room upgrades

Travelling Alone

We can offer a limited number of single rooms at the St Columba Hotel with the following supplements:
Single room £185; Single room with Sea View £290.

We will accept limited bookings on a requested share basis. Subject to availability we will charge the standard twin room price and accommodate you with a person of the same sex also requesting shared accommodation.

Train Tickets

Travel to Glasgow is not included. Train is possibly easiest with our first night hotel walking distance from Central station. We recommend booking rail tickets online from or similar.

Travel Insurance

We recommend that you buy UK Short Break Travel insurance which includes COVID-19 related claims. You can purchase cover at the Post Office or from Global Travel Insurance by calling 01903 235042.


You can view hotel websites here:

Jurys Inn Hotel, Glasgow

St Columba Hotel, Iona


From Iona it is possible to visit Tobermory on the Isle of Mull using the Iona ferry and the island’s bus service. We recommend visiting on Monday as there is a small food market.


You can take a trip by small boat from Iona to Staffa, home to the basalt pillared Fingal’s Cave and inspiration for Mendelssohn’s overture The Hebrides. Time is spent ashore (weather permitting) with the opportunity to explore the cave and island.

Cost: £30 per person

Trips are scheduled every day at 09:30 and 12:15. Visit or call 07732 912370 to book.


Practical information

Our journey

We recommend booking rail tickets online from or similar.

If you are flying to Glasgow, there is a shuttle bus service from the airport to the city centre.

We will travel in our own coach and be accompanied by an experienced McCabe Travel leader.

Boats feature strongly in our programme and can be a lot of fun.  Our coach travels with us on the ferry to Mull which is a large modern vessel with restaurant, bar, shop, lounges and viewing decks.  The boat has lifts so is fully accessible.

In contrast, foot passengers, bicycles and islanders’ cars only are allowed on the small ferry to cross to Iona.

The hotel is a short walk from the ferry and luggage will be transported.  The Iona island taxi can assist anyone who prefers not to walk from the ferry to the hotel.

We will travel in our own coach and be accompanied by experienced McCabe leaders and staff. On Iona we will meet members of the Iona community and offer two programmes, one involving more walking than the other. A highlight will be a service in Iona Abbey itself.

Iona and St Columba

Iona is a tiny and beautiful Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland, cradle of Christianity in Scotland. In 563AD, the Irish monk Columba (Columkille) established a monastic settlement, evangelising large parts of Scotland and the north of England and Iona became an important centre of European Christianity.

In the Middle Ages it became the site of a Benedictine abbey, and over the centuries it has attracted many thousands of people on their own pilgrim journeys.

The Iona Community

The Iona Community was founded in 1938 by George MacLeod, minister, visionary and prophetic witness for peace, in the context of the poverty and despair of the Depression. From a dockland parish in Glasgow, he took unemployed skilled craftsmen and young trainee clergy to Iona to rebuild both the monastic quarters of the mediaeval abbey and the common life by working and living together, sharing skills and effort as well as joys and achievement. That original task became a sign of hopeful rebuilding of community in Scotland and beyond. The experience shaped – and continues to shape – the practice and principles of the Iona Community.

As an aside, the late Ursula MacLeod, George’s cousin, was a founder member of McCabe Pilgrimages.

Iona Today

Today, Iona remains a centre for pilgrimage and the daily services of the Iona Community are open to all.

There is a year-round population of over 100; long-established island families as well as more recent arrivals, including those who work for the Iona Community as staff or volunteers. The abbey itself is now managed by Historic Scotland but the Iona Community remains in residence as a living, worshipping presence. The islanders, the Iona Community and Historic Scotland work together to maintain Iona as a place of welcome.

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Upcoming Pilgrimages

We have no tours scheduled to this destination at present.

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