Iona Pilgrimage Week

Iona Sunrise

For information on rates and availability, please contact the St. Columba Hotel on Iona.

In need of financial assistance? Heartbeat offers scholarships to attend this event!

Each day on Iona begins and ends with the rhythm of prayer and meditation together. In the mornings John Philip Newell teaches on Celtic themes of Earth and Soul as sacred and invites us into the holy work of contemplation and action as the basis for transformation in our lives and world. The afternoons are given to hiking, conversation, and rest, and the early evenings to further reflection and meditative chanting in the 11-century Chapel of St Oran. On one of the days we walk the nine-mile island pilgrimage route (see below for important information) together to pray for the journey of our lives and world.

St. Columba Hotel

St. Columba Hotel on Iona

St. Columba Hotel on Iona

Our host for this pilgrimage week is the St. Columba Hotel. Located a three minute walk from Iona Abbey and overlooking the way, the St. Columba Hotel is an ideal location. The St. Columba is much more than a venue; their organic gardens, eco-friendly policies, and welcoming staff are an important part of our community life together. We are also the only lodgers at the St. Columba during this week. We are delighted and grateful to partner with them in these pilgrimage weeks. Registration for this week is made directly through the St. Columba Hotel (for lodging and the program). You can visit their general website here, or their pilgrimage week with John Philip Newell specific page here.

To inquire about availability and prices for this event, please contact the St. Columba Hotel by emailing them at this  address:


Getting to Iona and the St. Columba

Getting to Iona may seem tricky (almost a pilgrimage itself!), but though it has many steps it is relatively straightforward. From Glasgow, it takes a total of around 6.5 hours. Essentially you can depart Glasgow early morning or around lunch and get to Iona either around 3:15 pm or 6:30 pm. There are no sessions scheduled prior to the evening meal on the first day, so you can feel free to arrive on Iona any time up to the last ferry, which leaves for Iona at 6:15 pm.  Your general path of travel will be Glasgow -> Oban -> Craignure (Isle of Mull) -> Fionnphort (Isle of Mull) -> Iona

From Glasgow: take a train or bus to Oban. If you fly into Glasgow, the travel information desk in the Glasgow airport can be very helpful in exploring your options to get to Oban. Otherwise, for train information, visit the UK Rail’s website.

From Oban: take the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. You can buy tickets for this ferry in the ferry terminal in Oban (tip! Buy your tickets for the ferry from Fionnphort to Iona at this time as well). Many people take the ferry departing Oban around noon or around 4:00 pm. Both of these ferries connect with the bus service (see below) across Mull to get you to Iona either around 3:00 pm or 6:30 pm. ** please check ferry and bus schedules to make sure there have been no changes or interruptions of service. For ferry information, please visit Caledonian Macbrayne’s website found here.

From Craignure: take the bus across Mull to Fionnphort. Bus services are available daily. The stop for the bus is just outside the ferry terminal to the left. You can buy your ticket for this bus ride on the bus (cash only!). Click here for a bus schedule on West Coast Motors website.

From Fionnphort: take the small ferry from Fionnphort to Iona.

The St. Columba Hotel is about a five minute walk from the jetty on Iona. The St. Columba will collect your luggage for you at the jetty if you communicate with them ahead of time.

Other Helpful/Important Information

It is very important to bring suitable hiking and outer wear for this week, especially for the pilgrimage day, on which we walk a nine mile pilgrimage route around the Isle together. The weather on Iona can be unpredictable and change quickly. We highly recommend you bring sturdy (waterproof is best) footwear – sneakers are likely to get wet – and waterproof clothing. Many often bring not only rain jackets but rain pants as well. Also, the Isle can be quite dark at night. If you want to do any nighttime walking, you should consider bringing a headlamp or flashlight.

There is no ATM on Iona. The little grocery market in town can do cash back, but it’s not a bad idea to bring some cash with you.

There is WiFi at the St. Columba Hotel. However, it is not uncommon for there to be disruptions in connection. If the WiFi is knocked out, it can sometimes take a few days for it to be restored. Cell service is also spotty on the Isle.

The St. Columba will send you an itinerary of the week a few months prior to your arrival. However, please note that there are no sessions scheduled prior to the evening meal on the first day of the week, nor are there any sessions scheduled after breakfast on the last day. Feel free to arrive on Iona and leave when you need to on those for your travel plans.

Should you have any further questions about Iona, the week, availability, pricing, etc. please contact the St. Columba directly by emailing them at or calling at +44 (0) 1681 700304.

Scholarship Award and Additional Costs

Award Amount: $1,240.00

This scholarship includes lodging at the St. Columba Hotel on Iona, breakfast, dinner, and program fees. Because of limited availability, applicants must be willing to share a room. If you applying with a friend or family member, please let us know on your application.

Additional cost to recipients: travel expenses to get to Iona and lunch each day. We also offer a travel stipend of up to $500.00 for those with significant financial need. Please see below for more information.

Travel Stipend

We ask scholarship recipients to consider raising their own funds through their own network to cover the travel expenses in order to attend the Iona Pilgrimage. In circumstances where this is not possible, a $500.00 travel stipend can be awarded to accompany the scholarship. Only recipients of a program scholarship will be considered for the travel stipend. In order to be considered for a travel stipend, you must apply at the same time as submitting the program application, completing both by the deadline of May 25, 2019.

Application Process

Please note there is a $10.00 application fee to be paid at the time your application is submitted.

To apply, please complete the online application form by clicking here and have a mentor, teacher, or advisor complete our online reference form – found by clicking here – by May 25, 2018. A Heartbeat Selection Committee will review all applications after the deadline has passed and notify all applicants of their application status within a few weeks. The funds will then be transferred directly to the St. Columba Hotel in the recipients’ name. The St. Columba Hotel has reserved spaces for successful scholarship applicants.

Please note we only consider applicants with significant financial need for scholarship awards.