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The Island of Staffa, Scotland
(June 2000)

A small island of Scotland's Inner Hebrides, Staffa is famous for the magnificent volcanic rock formations which make up the island. The long columnar rocks with their geometric forms are part of the same formation as the more famous Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. As you'll see in the following pictures, the appearance is quite remarkable, like a huge crystalline structure from another planet!

Staffa's most famous landmark is Fingal's Cave - the inspiration for Mendelssohn's 'Hebrides Overture' composed in 1830. Read on for details...

Having no human residents, Staffa is also home to a variety of seabirds - most notably the adorable puffins you see in the pictures below!
 
Click for larger image! Entrance to Fingal's Cave - Fingal's Cave is famous for inspiring Mendelssohn's 'Hebrides Overture' ('Die Fingalshöle') after his visit to the island. Mendelssohn was inspired by the deep, rhythmic, sounds the waves make as they enter the cave then cascade down the geometric rock formations. The cave stretches back into the island for a distance of 227 feet (69 meters) and has a ceiling of around 66 feet (20 meters). Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
Click for larger image! Basalt rock formations - It is worth enlarging this image to appreciate the amazing appearance of the rocks. Imagine hundreds of wooden pencils squashed together in no particular order! According to the experts the columnar rocks were formed millions of years ago from rapidly cooling lava.<p> <br>  Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
Entrance to Fingal's Cave

Fingal's Cave is famous for inspiring Mendelssohn's 'Hebrides Overture' ('Die Fingalshöle') after his visit to the island. Mendelssohn was inspired by the deep, rhythmic, sounds the waves make as they enter the cave then cascade down the geometric rock formations. The cave stretches back into the island for a distance of 227 feet (69 meters) and has a ceiling of around 66 feet (20 meters).

Basalt rock formations

It is worth enlarging this image to appreciate the amazing appearance of the rocks. Imagine hundreds of wooden pencils squashed together in no particular order! According to the experts the columnar rocks were formed millions of years ago from rapidly cooling lava.

 
 

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Click for larger image! Puffins sightseeing - The island is usually avoided by the Puffin colony during the day as they become easy prey for Gulls and other predators. However, the presence of humans scares away the predators and so the inquisitive puffins feel save to land on the island and checkout the new arrivals.<p>  Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
Click for larger image! Nesting Hole - Puffins lay their solitary egg in underground burrows which are not unlike small rabbit holes in appearance. Eggs are also laid in rock crevices, etc., anywhere they will be concealed and protected from hungry beaks! After hatching, the young puffins stay hidden in the burrow till after night fall. Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
Puffins sightseeing

The island is usually avoided by the Puffin colony during the day as they become easy prey for Gulls and other predators. However, the presence of humans scares away the predators and so the inquisitive puffins feel save to land on the island and checkout the new arrivals.

 

Nesting Hole

Puffins lay their solitary egg in underground burrows which are not unlike small rabbit holes in appearance. Eggs are also laid in rock crevices, etc., anywhere they will be concealed and protected from hungry beaks! After hatching, the young puffins stay hidden in the burrow till after night fall.

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Click for larger image! The Socializer - Puffins seem to enjoy each others company and move around together in loose groups of two or three, within the larger colony. When one bird flies off, it is sure to be followed by one or more companions!<br>  Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
Click for larger image! Warm and snug - A puffing of feathers shows off the soft, fluffy, coat which keeps these hardy birds warm during their extended periods in the cold Atlantic sea water. Puffins pass much of the daylight hours on the water, fishing.<br>  Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
The Socializer

Puffins seem to enjoy each others company and move around together in loose groups of two or three, within the larger colony. When one bird flies off, it is sure to be followed by one or more companions!
 

Warm and snug

A puffing of feathers shows off the soft, fluffy, coat which keeps these hardy birds warm during their extended periods in the cold Atlantic sea water. Puffins pass much of the daylight hours on the water, fishing.
 

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Click for larger image! Extruded Rock Formation - Another picture worth enlarging to see the very unusual, angular, rocks. This small outcrop looks like it was formed by pushing soft clay through a sieve!<br>  Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
Click for larger image! Light over the ocean - Sunlight bursts through clouds during the boat journey to Staffa. The trip from the island of Mull passes a number of small islands, the playground for the seals and dolphins we were fortunate to see. Keywords: staffa,scotland,island,puffin,fingal's cave,fingal,cave,Hebrides,sea,bird,staffa island,columnar rocks,basalt,volcanic,rock,formation
(Click to view)
Extruded Rock Formation

Another picture worth enlarging to see the very unusual, angular, rocks. This small outcrop looks like it was formed by pushing soft clay through a sieve!
 

Light over the ocean

Sunlight bursts through clouds during the boat journey to Staffa. The trip from the island of Mull passes a number of small islands, the playground for the seals and dolphins we were fortunate to see.

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Information

Staffa is one of the numerous islands of the Inner Hebrides, located off the west, Atlantic, coast of Scotland. The island is now owned by the Scottish National Trust.

Various private operators run boat trips to Staffa from the Islands of Mull, Iona, and Ulva. The total trip will last around 3 hours.

Some information on columnar rock formations (and Fingal's Cave in particular) can be found at http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/vw_hyperexchange/col_joint.html

Getting there: The nearest international airport is Glasgow (GLA) in Scotland. From there the drive to Mull takes around five hours (or more if you stop on the way to admire the stunning scenery!). A number of coach tours visit Staffa as part of their itinerary. There is also a bus service to Oban (on the mainland) and from Oban a one hour ferry ride takes you to Mull. A further bus (hey, no one said it was easy!) takes you across Mull to one of the ports from which Staffa boat trips leave.

Nearby attractions: A ferry ride away is the island of Iona, home of christian communities since the arrival of St. Columba from Ireland in the sixth century A.D. - look out for more on Iona (and Mull) in upcoming newsletters!

Want to explore another beautiful island? Cozumel in beautiful Mexico has amazing Cozumel rentals! Take your family to an exotic Cozumel villa and have the vacation of a life time! We have Cozumel condos too!

  
Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
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