Have you ever done one of those meditation exercises where you’re told to close your eyes and picture a place that brings you calm and peace? A place with unrivaled beauty that makes you feel happy? Well my friend, the Isles of Staffa and Lunga in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland have become my “meditation vision”. That being said, I don’t really do much meditation, but if I did these places would be foremost in my peaceful mind. The words “stunning beauty” don’t even begin to describe them. At one point in our journey, I found myself standing practically alone atop Staffa feeling so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to experience something so special.
The Isles of Staffa and Lunga are not exactly an easy jaunt from the main cities of Scotland. For us, our journey took us from Edinburgh, to Inveraray where we stayed for a couple of nights. Next, we journeyed to Oban, hopped on a ferry to the Isle of Mull, and the next day boarded a tour boat with Staffa Tours out of the picturesque town of Tobermory. Are there easier routes? Perhaps. But we took our time enjoying the beautiful sites Scotland had to offer along the way.
Staffa Tours specializes in boat tours to Staffa and Lunga. They were very professional, kind, and offered nice, comfortable accommodations with seating both inside and outside. Not to mention they had bathrooms onboard. An important convenience if you are going on a full day tour. Although the boat was full (perhaps 50 people), there was plenty of seating for everyone and once we arrived on the island, everyone scattered about so it never felt over crowded.
As we sailed across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Treshnish Isles, I found myself enchanted by the water. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ve found this in the Lochs of Scotland as well. The water seems extraordinarily thick and glassy. Although we were in the open ocean, the water still seemed to take on this thick, heavy demeanor. It’s fascinating to watch a boat cut through the water and create a slow, smooth wake that can span out for what seems like a mile. I find it eerily beautiful. Maybe I’m weird being fascinated by something like this, I don’t know. But it really is a very unique phenomenon.
Our first stop was the Isle of Staffa. All I can say is that if we went nowhere other than this island, I would have been content. Beautiful is not even a worthy word to describe the attributes of Staffa.
The island itself is made up of basalt volcanic rock that has come together in a uniform matrix. Almost like a 3-D puzzle. Fun fact, The Vikings gave Staffa its name because the basalt reminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs (thanks Wikipedia!).
It’s absolutely incredible. A short walk along a cliff brings you to the famous Fingal’s Cave, a site visited by both Queen Victoria and Felix Mendelssohn who was so moved by the beauty of the cave that he wrote the Hebrides Overture as a tribute.
As we approached, a lone bagpiper stood at the mouth of the cave playing a hauntingly beautiful melody. When he finished he told the small crowd around him that it had been his life-long dream to play his bagpipes here. I felt privileged to be part of such a special occasion.
After our bagpipe serenade at Fingal’s Cave, we hiked to the top of the island and sat on a grassy spot near the edge of a cliff. A soft sea breeze kissed our cheeks as we took in in the majestic view. Sea birds called overhead, and an expanse of sparkling aquamarine water undulated below. It was remote, peaceful, and absolutely beautiful.
I thought for a second about hiding out on Staffa and letting the boat leave me there, but realized my two boys might not appreciate the island as much once night fell and we were all alone in the dark, so I begrudgingly dragged myself back to the boat. However, we were excited because our next stop was the Isle Of Lunga to meet some Puffins!
The Isle of Lunga is similar in composition to the Isle of Staffa. A rocky base covered in grass and heather. Again, breathtakingly beautiful.
After hiking up a short trail, we came across our first puffins. To say these little guys are adorable is an understatement. I can see now why people travel far and wide to get a glimpse of these birds. Burrowing into their nests set deep in the heather, they pop out and look at you with as much curiosity as you them.
I could have sat and watched them all day. However, I was with my two boys and you know boys, they’re always onto the next thing. “Yeah, yeah, cute birds. I get it, now let’s move on”.
A short cliff-side walk led us to Heart Rock.
Home to literally tens of thousands of birds, this rock is a sight to behold. The sounds of bird calls is almost deafening and it’s amazing to stand there and watch as birds manage to find a spot to land on the crowded rock.
After Heart Rock, we were feeling adventurous and hiked to the top of Lunga.
When we reached our destination, we all sat alone on a rock overlooking a wide expanse of open ocean. Ok, you know by now that I’m in love with Scotland, and views like this are one of the many reasons why. There are very few places in the world where you can sit isolated from the world and take in such an array of sweeping, vast beauty.
Again, the time came to leave the island and I begrudgingly peeled myself away, looking longingly back from the boat as the island became a small dot on the horizon. Our journey brought us back to Tobermory with new memories, new adventures, and a new love of puffins.
I highly recommend making the journey out to the Scottish Isles of Staffa and Lunga. If you do, you too will always keep the memory of their magnificence with you and may also begin to see them in your “meditation visions” when you are searching for calm. They are a tranquil place of unrivaled beauty, adorable wildlife, and perfect peace.
As a side note, Absolute Escapes helped us book our perfect trip to Scotland. I highly recommend checking them out. They are awesome!