Sunday, 4 April 2010


Last Thursday I achieved one of my little adventuring ambitions by visiting the island of Staffa. I'm sure I've been vaguely aware of its existance for ages but it only came fully to my attention on my first visit to Scotland a mere three years ago.

I was staying in a cottage about twenty miles south of Oban and the journey to Staffa took just under six hours and involved hopping over Mull and Iona to get there. I'd been to Mull before, but to Tobermory and on that occasion the weather was dull and the scenery I didn't think was up to much (a very dry driver though - "Tobermory... probably best known for... the womble of the same name"). On the way to Fionnphort the driver was silent but the view from the window was amazing (especially along Loch Scridain) and I've never spent a more enjoyable hour on a coach. At Fionnphort we took a much smaller ferry to Iona and from there we sailed on a tiny little boat called the Ullin of Staffa, which I think sounds like the name of one of the dwarves in The Hobbit.

After a nauseating hour in the Ullin we arrived at Staffa and, without any pushing or shoving, I was first off the boat. I almost ran to Fingal's Cave - I didn't hang around for long though because I'm not great at heights. You're not very high up really but health and safety hasn't reached Staffa yet and there's nothing there to stop you plummeting into the waters below - a situation which, while perhaps not fatal, would be extremely trying.

After that I doubled back towards the jetty and up some (rickety) steps to the roof of the island. I'd come for the basalt but the views from here were worth the journey and impossible to capture on my camera. Until recently sheep had been ferried across from Iona to graze on the island but now the grass had been allowed to grow quite long and has been formed by the wind into funny looking mumps - very Dr Seuss.

Despite the time it took to get here Mull still loomed massively to the east. Much more intriguing were the Treshnish Isles - probably even more desolate than Staffa, I really wanted to go on and visit them. Very unlikely that I ever will, I think you'd have to hire a boat specifically. I might go back to Staffa at some point - later in the year puffins stay there. And puffins (along with badgers) are high on my list of animals that I'd like to see in the wild.

We were only there for an hour - I spent about twenty minutes walking up and down this colonnade - it really is a perfect thing and reminded me of the columns of the temples at Paestum.

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