Roaming and eating our way through Columbus and beyond.

The Isle of Staffa from Oban

{by alexis} I have been dying to share our day on the Isle of Staffa.

I know more details about our trip to Scotland are long overdue, so I thought we’d jump right back in with a tour of Staffa. After leaving Edinburgh and visiting Stirling castle, we pulled into Oban in the early evening, and checked into the Barriemore, one of our favorite B&Bs of the trip. We were welcomed with a small glass of Scotch and settled into our giant, first floor room with a lovely view of Oban Bay. I’m a devotee of Rick Steves, and his book is heavy on recommending a tour of the surrounding islands, so we quickly booked an all day jaunt with West Coast Tours for the following morning.

Our tour took off at 10am, and didn’t get us back to Oban till 8pm. We started by boarding a ferry to the Isle of Mull. Our morning weather was overcast and gloomy, but it was perfect for a scenic cruise.

ferry in oban bay oban from the bay castle from oban bay lighthouse on oban bay

This was one of my favorite mornings of the whole trip. It was chilly on deck, but the bay was smooth, and the hills and soft light were wonderful to photograph.

from oban bay from oban bay

Once we docked on Mull, we found our way to our bus. From here, we drove clear across the island to another set of boats. Our driver, who lived full time on Mull, narrated the journey, pointing out the names of various mountains, telling local fables, even slowing the coach so we could spot the native wildlife.

Eventually, we reached the next dock, and boarded a much smaller, bouncier boat bound for the Isle of Staffa. Staffa is a small, uninhabited island just off the coast of Mull. It’s known for its unique, geometric rock formations, strange cave, and its location as a nesting spot for an adorable colony of puffins. We weren’t visiting during puffin season, which is in summertime, but they are a big part of the tourist draw.

So we boarded this boat, and made our way through the waves to Staffa.

the isle of staffa the isle of staffa

Even from the sea, you can see the hexagonal columns that make Staffa such a popular destination. In the second photo, you can also see the entrance to Fingal’s Cave, which is the big ticket item for travelers who come all this way. The boat pulls up to stone dock and a slippery set up steps. Tourists have about an hour on Staffa to roam as they please. There are no services of any kind on the island — no snacks, gifts shops, or even bathrooms — so they don’t leave you for long.

We quickly made our way around the outside of the island, taking the columns as stepping stones. We had hoped to be the first to Fingal’s Cave to have a moment there without the crowd, and our haste was rewarded.

fingal's cave on the isle of staff fingal's cave on the isle of staffa

At this point, the sun had come out and was beating down onto the slick rock. You’ll have to forgive me for my less than stellar photography here; the light and angles made it difficult to do it justice.

On our way out, we spent more time wandering on the columns.

isle of staffa  isle of staffa

After Joe got a quick bath due to a surprise wave, we made our way back around the island and up a much steeper flight of stairs to reach the top of Staffa.

isle of staffa

The top of the island is as green as the sides are barren. The windswept grass was bright soft. The day warmed up and we all shed our coats.

isle of staffa isle of staffa isle of staffa isle of staffa

Joe is always after me for taking pictures of strangers, but aren’t they lovely! What a wonderful place for a rest!

After a few more minutes in the sun, we made our way back down the steps to meet the boat. Afterward, the tour took us to Iona, another nearby island which was mercifully populated with shops, restaurants, and free public bathrooms. It really was a magical afternoon on the Isle of Staffa. Have you been? Were you enchanted by Fingal’s Cave?

isle of staffa isle of staffa



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