Bucket List Check #9 - Boats, Buses and Automobiles In The Hebrides, Scotland

Sadly, after spending less than 24 hours in the amazing city of Glasgow, we woke up early the next morning at the crack of dawn, for a 2 hour drive to Oban, Scotland. I had booked a full day tour through West Coast Tours to visit the Isles of Lunga and Staffa in the Hebrides, and the only ferry boat for our tour was leaving promptly at 9:30 am from Oban's dock.

Our Route from Glasgow to Oban to Craigsmure to Fionnphort to Isle of Lunga to Isle of Staffa
Our Route from Glasgow to Oban to Craigsmure to Fionnphort to Isle of Lunga (1) to Isle of Staffa (2)... A long day planned, indeed!
So, we sadly sped through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Had we not had this tight deadline, I would have definitely stopped for a few amazingly beautiful shots along the way. The road was windy and tight, with very limited (like none) public restroom facilities on the way, so if you have to pull over one of the many laybys and hide behind a bush... so be it!
We arrived in Oban around 9 am and had to pick up our tickets for the ferry and Wildlife tour at West Coast Tour's main office in "downtown" Oban. This was a Sunday, and West Coast Tours informed us there would be no available food to eat on the 12 hour tour, so made a quick stop for some sandwiches at a local grocery store. Parking was a little challenging, but we did find public parking spots across from the large super market, but be prepared to pay 10 pounds for a full day of parking.
We made our way, with our sandwiches and snacks toward the Oban dock where the massive Caledonian MacBrayne ferry was waiting to take us to Craignure on Mull Isle.
Caledonian Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry - Large Enough To Transport People and Cars
The Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry
Large Enough To Transport People and Cars
Upon arriving in Mull, we then had a 45 minute bus ride to Fionnphort, where our chatty bus driver told us about the history of the Isle of Mull, which is home to him and about 3,000 other Scots. Mike was having none of the chattiness, and drifted right off to sleep, tired from all the driving.
Sheep - A Scot's Staple
At this point of the tour, the only wildlife we've seen has been tons of sheep, a staple in Scotland, that Mike, would come to learn later on in our Scotland adventures.

At the Fionnphort dock, we loaded on our tour boat for another 40 minute ride to the Isle of Lunga.

Big boats, little boats...they're all the same when you're trying to get to the Hebrides
Big boats, little boats...they're all the same
when you're trying to get to the Hebrides

After travelling for almost 4 hours non-stop, we made it to our first destination. And boy, it did not disappoint. First off, let me qualify this because I believe we were extremely blessed to have such gorgeous, sunny and clear weather, which can make or break an experience. But we were prepared, nevertheless, for rainy weather, which can come in abruptly in Scotland.
Upon docking, we left to climb uphill to the top of the Isle to see a colony of puffins. The puffins build nests in the grounds and apparently, humans help ward off other predators, so they allow humans to get pretty close for some photographs. It was fun to watch them pop in and out of the ground like groundhogs. And I love the contrast of their coloring with the green grass and blue ocean.
Puffins on Isle of Lunga...Up close and personal
Puffins on Isle of Lunga...up close and personal

We found another tour group operator who chatted with us and told us to take a short hike on the other side of the Isle, which we did. Here we were met with literally a sea of Razorbill birds who had decided to settle there and breed. The pictures don't do them justice, but I've included a video so you can experience it yourself. All the rock areas are entirely covered in Razorbill birds!

Me on the Razorbill side of the Isle of Lunga
Me on the Razorbill side of the Isle of Lunga

Mike and I appreciated that the tour boat gave us lots of time to explore the Isle of Lunga, and we stopped to eat some of our snacks.

Mike and me on the Isle of Lunga

Mike on the Isle of Lunga
Moving on, we loaded back up on the boat, for our final destination on the tour -  the Isle of Staffa. According to Wikipedia, the Vikings gave Staffa its name because the columnar basalt reminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs. The Isle is about 138 feet above sea level, and the basalt columns that created the Isle contain a sea cavern called Fingal's cave.

Isle of Staff in the Hebrides region of Scotland
The Isle of Staffa
Fingal's Cave in The Isle of Staffa in Hebrides Scotland
Fingal's Cave in the Isle of Staffa

In 1772, only one family lived on Staffa, living on a diet of barley oats, flax and potatoes, but abandoned the Isle by the end of the 18th century due the the severity of the winter's storms. Many people owned the Isle of Staffa but in 1986, Jock Elliott Jr, a wealthy advertising executive of New York, purchased the Isle and then gifted it to the National Trust for Scotland in honor of his wife, Eleanor's, 60th birthday.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Upon docking at Staffa, you have to climb along the side of the Isle on the basalt columns. Fortunately there is a wire handrail to hold on to, and I imagine during rainy weather, it could get quite slippery.

Me near Fingal's Cave on the Isle of Staffa

Mike overlooking the edge of the Isle of Staffa

We made our way along the side of the Isle towards Fingal's cave. Unfortunately, the National Trust for Scotland closed the pathway inside the cave, due to erosion of the basalt columns, so we were not able to enter the cave, but we got very close.


We continued back and could take some steeps steps to the top of the Isle. The view of the Isle from the top is amazing, particularly given our amazing weather.

Resting at the top of the Isle of Staffa in The Hebrides Scotland
Resting at the top of the Isle of Staffa in The Hebrides Scotland,
about 138 ft above sea level.

Panorma shot on top of Isle of Staffa in the Hebrides Scotland
Panorama shot on top of Isle of Staffa in the Hebrides Scotland

We came back down to get back on the boat, but not before stopping to admire the glass pools of algae and moss that congregate in the water.

Basalt Columns Clear Water and Algae At The Isle of Staffa in the Hebrides Scotland


Basalt Columns Clear Water and Algae At The Isle of Staffa in the Hebrides Scotland
Basalt columns, clear water and algae
at the Isle of Staffa in the Hebrides Scotland

The boat returned us back to Fionnphort, where we loaded back on the bus to return to the ferry to take us back to Oban. Here is a shot on Fionnphort, where we were greeted by a child bagpiper and gorgeous views of their beach.

The Beach at Fionnphort Scotland

We finally returned back to Oban by 8:30 pm. Mike rented a room at a local bed and breakfast, and we had a spectacular view of Oban's dock.


The View from Hotel Bed and Breakfast in Oban Scotland
The View from Hotel Bed and Breakfast in Oban Scotland

Are The Hebrides Isles on your next bucket list adventure?  Comment below!

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