28th June 2019
On the west coast of Scotland in-between Ayrshire and the Mull of Kintyre is a volcanic plug from an extinct volcano that rises straight out of the sea.
No one lives here today, however, it is still where the granite for every curling stone in the Olympics comes from. A day trip here includes a hike up to the ancient monastery, seeing the old quarry, and bird and seal spotting. Of course, it also includes a picnic, if the weather permits.
There is no place like St Kilda and a visit here is an unforgettable experience. It’s the United Kingdom’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of only 39 in the world. On the approach, it feels as if you are visiting the island in Jurassic Park as it rises out of the wild Atlantic. It contains the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Its cliffs and sea stacks clamour with the cries of hundreds of thousands of seabirds.
A community of islanders existed here for at least 4,000 years, living off of the dense colonies of gannets, fulmars and puffins for food, feathers and oil. The final 36 islanders were evacuated in 1930. Now uninhabited, visitors can sail to the islands at the edge of the world’ for the experience of a lifetime.
Staffa has had many famous visitors including Queen Victoria, J M W Turner, Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth. But it’s probably Felix Mendelssohn’s visit and thus inspired the ‘Hebrides Overture’, dedicated to Frederick William IV of Prussia, which brought the most fame to the island.
Apart from its famous history Staffa is worth a visit for the impressive six-sided columns of basalt rock, the same as the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. These are most visible in the mouth of Fingal’s cave. During the spring and early summer months, this is also a huge nesting ground for colourful puffins and the perfect place for a picnic and puffin-spotting.
There’s a luxurious boat which takes you from the Isle of Skye to Rona where you will learn about the history of the island and have the opportunity to spot dolphins and whales. Upon arrival, a freshly caught, delicious seafood lunch is served on the boat and you might even meet the fisherman who caught your lunch (lunch is shown in the first image of this article). Once on the island, you can enjoy a hike to the top of the island to experience the awe-inspiring panoramic views of the Isle of Skye and the mainland. It’s also worth visiting the Church Cave which inhabitants used until a proper church was built in 1912.
With a population of just two, no roads or shops, this remote Hebridean island is the perfect way to get away from it all.