I got a call at 8:30 this morning from Friendly Donald at CalMac! We’re on first name terms already. He told me that if I could be at the Oban ferry terminal for 9:20 I could join the Staffa and Treshnish island tour. I peered out of my window and a vibrant rainbow was framing the town. All systems go. There would be no food or drink available for the entire day so I had make sure I packed well.
It wasn’t until I reached the terminal and picked up a brochure that I discovered that I’d actually be sailing to Mull, to Craignure, then getting a minibus across the island’s narrowest point, and picking up a small excursion boat for the rest of the day.
Another rainbow was present as the huge car ferry set off on its 50 minute journey to Mull. I’ll be doing this same ferry trip on Sunday morning!
So as I stepped foot on Mull for the first time the minibus was waiting. Apart from the driver, who was from Somerset of all unlikely places, no-one else was speaking English as their first language, and, of course, I was the only one traveling alone, a fact that did not escape the driver.
It was about 40 minutes drive to Ulva and I was able to see the narrow road with passing places that we’ll have to contend with in a few days. The sun was out and the landscape of Mull was laid out before us, like something from a movie. There were plenty of Sea Otters Crossing signs!
Boarding the tour boat the captain informed us that because of the strong wind we’d be following the proposed tour in reverse order. He assured us that the first 30 minutes would be calm but after that, when we reached the open sea ‘all hell will break loose,’ it was at that point I decided to take a sea sickness tablet, or two. After throwing up for 4 hours going to St Kilda two years ago I didn’t wish to repeat that scenario! AND the captain was absolutely right. A young teen near me was looking decidedly green so I called for a sick bag – and got one for myself at the same time.
By the time we reached Lunga I was feeling decidedly queasy, though I purposely hadn’t eaten lunch. We only had a 45 minute stop here- unscheduled because the captain was still unsure if we’d by able to land in Staffa. The swell was amazing. No-one could stand up. My arm constantly bumped against a window sill and quite often we felt the boat free fall into a trough. It was all quite a thrill. Lunga was tiny though it is, in fact, the largest of the Treshnush arcapelago. It’s a famous bird watchers paradise and 1000 grey seal pups are born there each year.
It was only another half hour to Staffa, an uninhabited chunk of volcanic rock. It’s fame is due to Mendelssohn visiting it and subsequently composing his Fingal’s cave
overture. Wordsworth and Turner also visited this place. I climbed the steep stairway leading over the basalt columns to the cave. The walkway into the cave was recently destroyed by winter storms but I
could still peer into the gloom and watch the sea causing even more erosion. It’s very similar to the cave I visited with Rachel on Black Sand beach in Iceland in early June. I sat on a barnacle covered basalt column and listened to the overture on my phone, glad that I downloaded it especially for the trip.
Our return trip retraced our steps exactly and we embarked back in Oban at 6. A quick trip to Tesco on the way home provided me with some delicious seafood which I must now go and cook!