Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Visit to Staffa

It seems a while since I managed to find time to write a blog but at this time of year almost inevitable as outdoor activities and welcome visitors keep me away from the computer. Not to mention the fact that over the past weeks we have definitely had a computer gremlin that is still not fully sorted.

However, It was twenty-five years almost to the day since I last visited the island of Staffa. Then I was there when on a training cruise with the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service and was allowed to take one of our small craft right into Fingal’s Cave which is the main cave of a number that are formed in the basalt cliffs. The second trip was on the motor launch, Island Lass that runs out to the island from Ulva Ferry on Mull. This visit was with friends from The Netherlands who wanted to see the caves and photograph the puffins that burrow in the cliffs. Almost as soon as we sailed from Ulva Ferry out into Loch Na Keal we saw dolphins playing which set the tone for the day as the rain stayed away and the sun shone fitfully as we ploughed our way across a calm sea.

Staffa lies about six miles to the west of Mull and is probably the best know of all the small islands off our coast. Its Viking name Pillar Island describes it well, being of volcanic formation with towering forty-two metres high basalt columnar cliffs with six large caves. Fingal’s Cave, twenty metres high and cutting seventy-five metres into the rock was celebrated by Felix Mendelssohn in his Hebrides Overture. This made the island famous which attracted many distinguished visitors including Queen Victoria. The other caves are less well known though Mackinnon’s Cave (named after one of the abbots of Iona) ranks as one of the worlds largest sea caves. Getting on the island is not for the faint hearted. The boat slides into a small concrete jetty at the base of the cliffs and the stairway, part steel and part cut from stone zigzags to the top. Once there and our breath back, the surrounding views and the myriad of wild flowers make a spectacular back drop to the antics of the birds. Our friends trekked across the island to the puffin burrows whilst we enjoyed the warm sunshine and wild flowers before returning to the boat back down the stairway.

1 comment:

  1. What an impressive sight! Of your photos, I especially like the first one—it's hard to believe that something like that exists in nature. From afar off, the cave almost looks like a petrified forest.

    Stowaway Magazine recently published an article about the Hebrides, and mentions Fingal's Cave. You might be interested in checking it out:

    Thanks for sharing your experience at Staffa!


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