Sunday, 13 May 2012

in the footsteps of giants

TUESDAY - Six sail for Staffa

Another day to remember.  Incredible weather, not a cloud in the sky, lashings of factor 50 and one of the most incredible geological features of the British Isles.

We set forth from Fionnphort on our 10am sailing with Davie in his fantastic little boat - click here for tour info - and headed out under a deep blue sky over a calm blue sea with all the beautiful islands dotted about.  We could see as far as the mountains on Rhum, the Isle of Jura and the Isle of Coll, where Davie reminded us the wonderful Katie Morag books were written, over to the mighty ridge of the Cullins on Skye and even Ireland way in the distance.


and don't you just love the wonderful 'we are here' on Davie's treasure map below


Must have only been about 20 of us in the little boat, so that when we got to Staffa we few had the island to ourselves.  The 45 minute crossing was idyllic, passing shags basking on the rocks, common seals sunbathing and puffins flying around Staffa.


 and suddenly we were there . . .


Drawing up to Fingal's Cave on the edge of Staffa was nothing less than a Grand Canyon moment - something unique, special and totally awe inspiring.  Davie was even able to take the boat inside the cave, as he said the weather and water conditions were so perfect, and he can hardly ever do that!!  I am going to have huge difficulty selecting photos for this page I took that many - 117 of the rocks alone if you're counting!!!!

Gigantic basalt columns spread all the way round from the cave along the cliff to the little jetty.   Some sloping crazily, some small, some huge - all totally beautiful and captivating. And to think we were at the other end of this just two years ago at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.  Just totally unbelieveable to be here.

We disembarked and managed to tiptoe our way around the rocks to the cave itself.  Great that the National Trust hasn't spoilt this by taming it and making it 'safe' and touristy like they have most other places.  It's just totally natural and amazing.  Half the party had gone up on the rocks to see the amazing flocks of puffins nesting up there.  Sorry we had to miss that, but Fingal's Cave was a lifetime's ambition ticked off.  Finding it hard to understand why this is not on the Unesco World Heritiage Site list for the UK.  Shame on them.

No words now - just some images, but before I begin, you really should play this video - to get into the mood while you ponder the pics - Mendlessohn's 'Fingal's Cave' Hebrides Overture.  And moreover you can see my camera didn't lie with the amazing colours in the Hebridean seas


Here we go










and round and into the cave itself










They say the sea floor around Staffa is full of sponge and coral - quite incredible - although no idea if this is it in this rock pool?


and now to wend our way back





and scramble up the cliff

 
before the boat came back in and sped us away from the island

to Iona


for a fab lunch in the lovely gardens of the St Columbia Hotel with the sun beating down and cooling ginger beers all round, then a visit to the Heritage Centre and a last wander on the beaches before a ferry ride back to Mull.

And later, back at the ranch, dinner with fellow guest Donald who's on the Oban lifeboats so was fastinating to talk to, and a magnificent feast of mussels from the loch, local venison and smiley faced soups to cheer us


 and another sunset to soothe the soul

Yes, a day to remember . . . and I thought of this poem Dad loved so much

Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing:
What a little thing
To remember for years --
To remember with tears!
~ William Allingham, from Flower Pieces and Other Poems (1888). A Memory

And if you're up for more, read on (click here) for our Wednesday expedition to the Sea Eagles and Ulva

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