July 28, 2018
Inch Kenneth: Fionnphort is one of the special places on the west coast of Scotland which offers the opportunity to visit fascinating offshore islands. Iona, Staffa and Treshnish each have their own very distinct unique character and are the most well-known and popular of the offshore islands of Mull and fairly easily reached, with a bit of forward planning. Find more information on boat tours here>. FromFionnphort, Iona has a regular ferry service and Staffa and Treshnish both have regular boat tour timetables. But there are many other islands to set foot on, and yours may be the only footprint that day!
Inch Kenneth, at the mouth of Loch na Keal, is one of the most fascinating and historically important islands in Scotland – it is said that several kings of Scotland were buried here. However, there is no regular transport to the island. Alternative Boat Hire can be booked to call in on one of its tours: this was the trip we made, spending around 2 hours on the island. If you have your own kayak or canoe you can paddle there given good weather conditions.
Inch Kenneth (Innis Choinnich) was named after Saint Kenneth, a contemporary of St Columba, who is said to have founded a monastery on the island. There are no signs of a monastery, but the well-preserved chapel ruins date from 1200, cared for by Historic Scotland. Within the chapel walls there are eight grave-slabs dating from between the 1300 and 1500, similar to stones found on Iona. A fine collection of memorials still stand in the churchyard.
Inch Kenneth gained some notoriety due to its connection with the Mitford family, some of whom were Nazi sympathisers and who bought the island in 1938. The island was sold by Jessica Mitford in the late 1960s and now belongs to the Barlow family, who have a family tree relating back to Charles Darwin.
Apart from the fascinating history, Inch Kenneth is well worth a visit for the scenery and atmosphere. It is a very grassy, fertile island, with several sandy beaches and an interesting geology. The views over to the Ardmeanach Peninsula and up Loch na Keal are outstanding.
The Ross of Mull’s own remarkable features are sometimes overshadowed by the attraction as a location for visiting its offshore islands. The only solution is to ensure a long enough stay to do both!