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Staffa, Isle of Mull

4.9
#1 of 6 in Nature in Isle of Mull
Staffa from the Old Norse for stave or pillar island, is an island of the Inner Hebrides in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The Vikings gave it this name as its columnar basalt reminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs.Staffa lies about 10km west of the Isle of Mull. The area is 33ha and the highest point is 42m above sea level.The island came to prominence in the late 18th century after a visit by Sir Joseph Banks. He and his fellow-travellers extolled the natural beauty of the basalt columns in general and of the island's main sea cavern, which Banks renamed 'Fingal's Cave'. Their visit was followed by those of many other prominent personalities throughout the next two centuries, including Queen Victoria and Felix Mendelssohn. The latter's Hebrides Overture brought further fame to the island, which was by then uninhabited. It is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.Geology and pre-historyIn prehistoric times Staffa was covered by the ice sheets which spread from Scotland out into the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Outer Hebrides. After the last retreat of the ice around 20,000 years ago, sea levels were up to 125m lower than at present. Although the isostatic rise of land makes estimating post-glacial coastlines a complex task, around 14,000 years ago it is likely that Staffa was part of a larger island, just off the coast of mainland Scotland, which would have included what are now Mull, Iona and the Treshnish Isles.
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Staffa Reviews
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  • Great opportunity to see a natural creation of basalt columns. Went with Staffa Tours. Best to start out on top first, most people generally head to the cave. Be careful, it's slippery and muddy up th...  more »
  • You just can't miss Staffa if you get the chance to see it. It is stunningly beautiful and different from anything I've ever seen. We went despite really bad weather and never regretted the trip. Fing...  more »
  • This is the second time we've been out to Staffa, and we'd go again! The basalt columnar geography is fascinating, and Fingal's Cave (the inspiration for Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture) is other-worl...  more »
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  • Beautiful uninhabited island with very interesting geology and puffins! The Puffins are not scared of humans as we stop seagulls from coming close so you can get up quite close to them. Also they are only there from early May until early August as an FYI. They then head to mid Atlantic so try and go between May and early August.
  • Nice island, lovely, close up views of nesting sites, but it's often tourist filled (from the various charter companies) and not very tranquil. Try to avoid the standard boat options and see if there is something more niche ...
  • We visited the Isle of Staffa through the West Coast Tours Three Isle tour day trip. Staffa was the highlight of the trip! I didn't realize this, but you can get SO CLOSE to the puffins. Apparently humans scare away puffins' predators, and thereby encourage the cute little birds to land when they are present. I was maybe 1 foot from several puffins while on the isle. Fingal's cave was cool, but you only needed to spend ~5 mins there to see it and get your photos. It doesn't do anything special but crash waves due to the Arctic swell. The puffins and their behavior we're way more entrancing.
  • Beautiful, intriguing island with the wonderful Fingal's Cave... The inspiration for The Hebrides Overture by Felix Mendelsshon. The sound of the waves crashing in an around the cave is incredible. The fascinating columns of bassalt that form a central layer of the island are spectacular.
  • Boat trips are available during the summer months to Staffa from Oban, although landing is weather dependant. On my trip we encountered a pod of bottlenose dolphins, apparently such sightings are commonplace. In Irish folklore Fingal was the enemy of an Irish giant called Finn MaCool who built the Giants causeway( a similar formation of hexagonal basaltic columns) in order to fight Fingal. Staffa wins, in my estimation, over its Irish counterpart, the sounds made by the surf inside the cave coupled by the light playing on the breakers gives it an eerie atmosphere best appreciated when the crowds have departed.

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