Travel to Scotland
Day 2 Oban - Isle of Mull - Isle of Staffa - Iona - Oban (130 Km.)
(in 9 km.) Oban: After a spectacular breakfast at the Falls of Lora hotel, we go to the port of Oban to start the tour of the 3 islands. We collect in the Staffa Tours office the tickets that we had previously reserved. The tour includes a combination of ferry, coach and boat to visit the islands of Mull, Staffa and Iona. We make the first section of the tour on the ferry that takes us from Oban to the port of Craignure, on the island of Mull in just 45 minutes. Although the day has dawned rainy, the departure of Oban is spectacular. After some minutes we spotted the ruins of Dunollie Castle on the port side and Oban City in the stern, with the McCaig tower on top and the chimney of the whiskey distillery at the bottom. Already arriving to the coast of Mull we see the Duart castle.
In the port of Craignure, a two-story coach takes us to Fionnphort, on the other side of the island. It's a 56-kilometer journey that took about an hour and a half to travel. The road has a single lane and a multitude of "Passing place" (a place to move aside and to let pass the vehicle that is coming from the opposite side). Although it's still raining, the landscape is beautiful. We advance through green valleys on which fall many waterfalls. At the height of Ishriff we see a spectacular view of the valley with 3 lakes. Past the town of Killunaig, next to the Loch Scridain, we contemplate a small colony of seals. Once in Fionnphort we queue to take the boat that will take us to the island of Staffa. At last it stops raining and the sun shines.
Isle of Mull
We board to the boat that takes us to the island of Staffa, the star of the day. The journey is approximately one hour. Leaving Fionnphort we contemplate some beautiful coves. To starboard we see the beaches of the island of Iona, which we will visit later. When passing near some rocks, the boat slows down to see a group of seals. Our daughters are enthusiastic about the possibility of seeing dolphins and in the middle of the trip the captain warns us that a group of these animals is approaching. During a couple of minutes 4 dolphins jump next to us. The island of Staffa is one of the Hebridean islands. It is an island of volcanic origin approximately 1 kilometer long, 500 meters wide and a maximum height of 42 meters.
Seals and dolphins
It consists of a basement of tuff, underneath colonnades of a black fine-grained Tertiary basalt, overlying which is a third layer of basaltic lava without a crystalline structure. By contrast, slow cooling of the second layer of basalt resulted in an extraordinary pattern of predominantly hexagonal columns which form the faces and walls of the principal caves. The boat, after stopping for a moment in front of Fingal's cave, leaves us on a small jetty. In an hour, it will pick us up again. There is the possibility of walking to the interior of the Fingal's cave or climb to the top of the island to see the puffins that nest to the east of the island.
Isle of Staffa
We choose this last option but we have the bad luck that almost all puffins are at sea. We hardly see a couple of them fly. Staffa's most famous feature is Fingal's Cave, a large sea cave located near the southern tip of the island some 20 meters high and 75 meters long formed in cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns. This cliff face is called the Colonnade or The Great Face and it was these cliffs and their caves that inspired Felix Mendelssohn's Die Hebriden. On the east coast are Goat Cave and Clamshell Cave. The latter is 10 meters high, about 6 meters wide at the entrance, and some 45 meters long.
Isle of Staffa - Fingal's Cave
We embark again on the boat, which in 45 minutes takes us to the island of Iona. The sun still shines and surprises the color of the water of the beaches of this island. We have a couple of hours that we take first to eat and then to visit the abbey of Iona. In 563, Saint Columba or Saint Columcille, exiled from Ireland, founded a monastery on the island, the Abbey of Iona. From there, the Christianization of Scotland took place. It is also believed that the Book of Kells was written on the island at that time. The monastery, center of pilgrimage, existed until the Anglican Reformation. In front of the Abbey stands the 9th century St Martin's Cross, one of the best-preserved Celtic crosses in the British Isles, and a replica of the 8th century St John's Cross.
Isle of Iona
Once again, a boat takes us to the port of Fionnphort, where the coach picks us up and crossed the island of Mull again to get on the ferry that will take us back to Oban. About 20:00 we arrived at the port of Oban, where we searched for a restaurant to dine. The tour cost us £60 per person, but it is a totally recommendable tour.
(in 9 km.) Falls of Lora: We come back to the hotel.