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Series 2: Episode 2



Ben takes a tiny passenger ferry from mainland Argyll down the length of Loch Sween to arrive on Islay.\n\nWhile the island is famed for its whisky - the island has more distilleries than churches - its links to Christianity are ancient. The island was a crossroads between Ireland and Scotland for early Celtic monks, and Ben heads for the stunning sands of Machir Bay.\n\nFrom here, Ben gazes out across the sea and imagines those hardy, seafaring missionaries as early adventurers and pioneers. What lingers of their spirit and legacy on these islands?\n\nBen hitches a lift with Callum, a former social worker turned tuk-tuk taxi driver, for a tour of the island. They discuss how it was once the church that was the main focus for providing common belief and bringing people together. Today, however, it’s strong community and shared endeavour that can increasingly fulfil that role. \n\nHe gets involved with an extraordinary community venture run by new charity Sidekick to help disabled islanders enjoy Islay’s incredible opportunities for outdoor activity. Ben takes wheelchair user Stewart for his first ever paddleboard on one of the island’s gorgeous lochs.\nIn the graveyard of Islay’s Kilarrow Church, Ben discovers a memorial to local man Donald Caskie, a Church of Scotland minister who risked his life during WWII to help allied POWs escape occupied France. He meets Caskie’s nephew, Gordon, to hear more about his uncle’s heroics and the inner strength of islanders.\n\nBen joins the volunteers of one of Britain’s busiest RNLI teams on a search and rescue exercise and talks with the crew about the reality of putting yourself at risk to save those in trouble on the treacherous seas around Islay and Jura. He then makes the short trip across to Jura. Known as the wilderness isle, it’s thought by some to have been St Columba’s personal retreat where he lived as a hermit to come closer to God. Ben meets local church elder Sheena for a stroll on the glorious Corran Sands. They discuss how an environment as beautiful as Jura makes it somehow easier to believe that there is something bigger than yourself.\n\nBen travels up the length of the wilderness isle to one of its most remote corners on a personal pilgrimage. Jura is where George Orwell wrote his dark masterpiece, 1984. Ben visits the house of his literary hero to meet with Orwell’s son, Richard, who lived here with his father as a young boy. Ben hears about the author’s complex relationship with faith and wrestles with how Orwell could write such a dark vision of the future whilst living in such a stunning location.\n\nTaking a boat across the wild Corryvreckan whirlpools, Ben traces the route of Irish monks to land on a little-known island called\nEileach an Naoimh, or The Isle of the Saints. Here, he finds an incredible 6th-century monk’s cell, understood to be the oldest Christian building in Britain.

Source: BBC 1

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