Friday, 31 August 2018

Incholm Abbey

So, no rest for the wicked! After our fabulous long weekend adventures, we had a (mis)adventure around Incholm Abbey on Wednesday. Not to be confused with Inchmahome, which we have previously visited, when holidaying in the Trossachs! Incholm is located on the Firth of Forth, and its name means "Columba's Island" whereas the latter is located in the Lake of Menteith, near Aberfoyle - a very important distinction we have discovered in retrospect!
Incholm is one of those sites I've really fancied for a while now, but it's only open on season whereas we do the bulk of our weekends out and about off season. With it being an on season weekday, the hubby and I figured we should give it a go and hope for the best.
We weren't disappointed!

To get to the island requires catching a boat over - we used the Maid of the Forth ferry (recommended via the historic Scotland website) and pre-booked ourselves onto the morning boat at a cost if £14 each (£20 for non historic Scotland members). A quick double check showed that they were indeed dog friendly and we enjoyed a half hour boat ride out to the island. Although it was sunny, autumn is certainly about as there was a definite chill in the air. We've both caught small-child-lurgy and decided to sit downstairs in the warmth and watch the scenery in comfort and away from any wind chill. A wise choice I suspect owing to overheard comments.

After a delightful loop-de-loop about a small rocky outcrop full of seals, the priory soon came into view. It was far more intact than we had expected and, with an hour and a half until pick up, we got our kids quiz and were off. There were rangers showing off sea life and a monk doing a walking tour, but we decided to have a meander about the priory at our own pace. We found the kitchens and the dormitory and the quad and enjoyed a wandering through the maze of buildings. The quiz came in hand otherwise we would have missed the delightful octagonal Chapter House - another reason they are certainly worth picking up! It was as we scaled up the bell tower however that Missy had her misadventure. 

Clearly in an adventurous mood!
When it comes to narrow spiral staircases, we tend to have one of us go up/down and then allow Missy off the lead at the all clear to safely get up or down at her own pace without tripping people up or wrapping them up in her lead. This time however, as the hubby was scaling up a very steep staircase, which was really more a glorified step ladder, Missy launched herself up them and dragged me along with her before either of us had realised that it was going to be far too steep to get down again. Deeming it a future problem, we went up to the view point and found a pair of German tourists who were very surprised to see Missy.
I shuffled backwards down the steps first, trying to encourage Missy down with some biscuits as our new audience looked on. The hubby decided to allow them down first and, as I discussed with the lady of the couple about how the stairs somehow felt steeper coming down, we overheard my hubby explaining that he would just carry Missy down, at which point the German lady shouted up, asking if he would carry her down too!
In hindsight, I rather wish I had taken a photo. It was not one of Missy's finer moments. Scooped up in one arm (so that the hubby could hold the rail with the other, we normally carry her in two) she paddled her legs uselessly in the air and kept trying to catch the rail as they slowly advanced downwards, gaining a round of applause from our new German friends when she was eventually placed down on solid stone. We allowed them to go down the tiny windy staircase first whilst Missy shook the embarrassment out of her fur and then behaved perfectly for the rest of the day, doing exactly as she was told.

Missy rather pleased with herself after being rescued!
We realised that the island had a military base and a walk, but had used up most of our time going about the Abbey. Once safely back on the ferry, we were told that, so long as its not the peak of high season, if we just notify the crew, they are generally good to let you catch a later boat to give you more time on Incholm, which is likely what we will do next time we go. Chatting to the monk tour guide, we also had another odd phenomenon explained to us - that to Inchgnome island, a rock outcrop beside Incholm where, during the winter breeding season, gnomes appear and multiply. In 2014 they applied for Independence from Scotland but were denied, and apparently next year they will be applying again. We were told to keep an eye out on the web, so I'm not sure if its a campaign on Historic Scotland's part, or all part of an elaborate joke that our monk friend was in on, but I'm certainly going to keep an eye out!

The tour finished with more seals and a swooping sail beneath the three bridges, all of which we were informed over the loudspeaker, were record holders in their own right. A rather marvellous way to end our little misadventure!


  1. Oh dear, hope your all doing well from your misadventure!

    And apologies for the child Luffy, but with two terrors, it doubles the chances of it happening!

    1. Ah, no worries on the lurgy! And Missy has been absolutely fine since her misadventure!