(I didn't take this picture - the sun wasn't shining when we were there)

(Island of Pillars)

When I heard that our stay on Iona could include a boat trip to Staffa and Fingal's Cave I knew I wanted to go. I've heard Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave Overture so many times that I just had to make the trip to see his inspiration for that great piece. My next thought was getting some travel sickness pills. Boats on the open sea and I do not do well together. Fortunately, Boots the Chemist had just the thing. So I followed the directions on the package, taking two pills two hours before departure.

Good thing, too. There was a 30-40 mph wind blowing from the east that day, and it was the roughest sea that I have ever been on in a small boat. It was exciting, and I was very glad I had taken my pills. The boat captain wouldn't promise us he would be able to land on the island and offered refunds to anyone who wanted to decline the trip. He didn't get any takers. Only one person got sick, but I don't think any of us will forget that crossing or the one coming back, with swells above the gunnels of the boat, spray drenching us, and waves breaking into the boat.

It was worth it all---don't pass up a chance to go to Staffa, but do take your seasickness pills in advance.

There were about 30 of us on the boat, all in our waterproofs. Good thing we had been told to bring them along on the trip.

Staffa is only 5 nautical miles or so from Iona, and the trip took about an hour. We got a good view of the south coast of the island, with it's dramatic pillars of stone.

We're looking towards the entrance to Fingal's Cave, which is on the corner of the island.

The captain was able to dock the boat and we disembarked via a metal staircase on the side of the cliff. We opted to go to the cave first, walking along a path above the water. This is what we saw when we got there.

Peering into the cave (we could only go to the entrance) we gazed at the floor-to-ceiling pillars of stone. It is a unique geological formation.

Looking even further back it's easy to see the fascination that this place has held - a place of mythical giants and mystery.

Nan was proud of her braving the path to the cave and wanted documentary proof of her adventure.

This was the path we walked along to get to the cave. The island is the property of Historic Scotland, and they thoughtfully coated the rocks on the path with a non-skid surface. Well done.

Off to our right was a small island comprised entirely of the hexagonal rocks.

And to our left were more of the same, close up.

The other reason for coming to Staffa was the puffins. We caught glimpses of them in Yorkshire, but found them in abundance on Staffa. It was a thrill to see them so close. The wind was quite strong, and the puffins would fly off the top of the cliff and just hang in the updraft. Like this one.

This is my favorite picture, a classic puffin picture, suitable for framing.

This is how close we could get to them. Evidentally the presence of humans scares off their #1 predator, so they like having people around. If you enlarge this picture you will also see two puffins nestled in the side of the cliff in the background.

There were gobs of puffins. It was puffin heaven.

But all good things have to come to an end, so we headed back to the boat for the wet, cold trip back to Iona.

I'm going to fill up the rest of this page with puffin pictures.They're irresistible.

And a look at the east coast of Staffa.