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Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa


Postby John Doh » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:09 pm

Date walked: 06/06/2019

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Ascent: 103m

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After a hiatus of two years we were back in Scotland this year, exploring the Isle of Mull.

On 6 June we were booked on the "Big Bird Trip" organised by an operator based in Ulva Ferry. At 10 am, everybody was on board the Island Lass and off we went.

Ulva and Ferry, seen from Ulva Ferry. :roll:

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We headed up Loch Tuath which is situated between the Isle of Mull and the islands of Ulva and Gometra. From the boat we got nice views of one of the landmark sights of Mull, the waterfall Eas Fors:

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After about an hour the Treshnish islands came into view. The Northeastern most of them are Cairn na Burgh Beag and Mòr with ruins of the "burgh" on the bigger one ("Mòr"). According to Hamish Haswell-Smith, "during a clan feud Maclean of Lochbuie was imprisoned in the castle on Cairn na Burgh More with only the ugliest woman in Mull for company but Lochbuie rose to the occasion and gave her a son who eventually won back his heritage".... :clap:

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Soon enough, the bird life became prolific.

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We accoasted Lunga where the boat was tied to a swimming pontoon which it then brought on to the pebble beach allowing us to land without having to use a dinghy. The skipper pointed out a white arrow on the cliffs which is where to find the path to the higher ground with the village and the birds. It's not a problem to get up there for able bodied persons but could be difficult for disabled persons.

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As soon as you get to the higher ground, you are within bird territory. Having been to many puffin colonies, I first focused on another species which I haven't had the pleasure to get very close to so far. Meet the Razorbill.

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Basically you can stay on the first cliff the whole day as bird life is abundant. However, there is a path leading out to a sea stack called the Harp Rock and even if it's a muddy affair, I absolutely recommend taking it. It's a good idea to wear wellies. Along the way, we met a shag who had built it's nest a few meters above the path.

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More Razorbills along the way. I really got to like these birds and they almost stole the puffins the show.

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Approaching Harp Rock with the Dutchmans Hat above left.

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Impressions from the Harp Rock, where mainly Guillemots were breeding. A most impresive sight, accompanied by noise and smell of myriad birds.

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We had a wee picknick among the birds and when we had finished, it started to rain (as you can see on the last pic above). However, I wanted to get to the island peak, a hilltop called Cruachan at 103 meters above sea level, which I understand makes it a Tump. :roll:

There is a path leading up the hill from Harp Rock and you approach the summit from the South.

Looking down the Southern half of Lunga, the Dutchmans Hat and my less than enthousiastic wife.

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Summit cairn. Down below on the water you can see one of the excursion boats. There were actually several boat loads of tourists on the island but we were the only fools to make it to the top in the pouring rain.

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Or so we thought, until we met two other hardened souls who had braved the rain. They came the other way than us, i.e. from the North. This is a bit of a scramble and I took a picture of one of the guys climbing up for illustration purposes.

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We headed down the hill on to a small promontory from where we had good views on the ruins of the village.

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Back at the puffin burrows, I couldn't resist to take a few puffin pics, in particular as the rain had stopped and the sun came out. The puffins still had wet feathers...

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A sleepy specimen:

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A chatty one:

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Having a smoke:

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All of a sudden, my camera died. I should not have carried it through the pouring rain without any protective cover. I am grateful I had the opportunity to make a few close-ups of the birds before the camera gave up. :roll: I continued to take snaps with the Iphone. Quality is okayish as long as you don't use the zoom.

The puffins returning to the burrows after having flown off because a loud noise had scared them.

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All back on the burrows. Looking towards Harp Rock in the distance.

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After another picknick and a stroll through the village, our 4 hours on Lunga came to an end and we got back to the shore where the Island Lass was waiting and picked us up via the swimming pontoon.

Our trip was not over yet as we were promised a half hour on Staffa. Approaching this Basalt marvel.

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World famous Fingal's cave:

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At the pier, you can either climb to the top of the island (I hear there are puffins up there too) or head straight along the basalt columns to the cave. As we only had 30 minutes and seen enough puffins for the day, we did the latter. It's really like being on another planet or in a fantasy movie à la Game of Thrones. I'll let the pictures speak.

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After a half hour we were back at the pier, but our boat couldn't land yet, as there were two other boats and a bit of commotion. A lady had hurt (broken?) her leg/ankle on top of the island and had to be carried down the steep stairs by a heroic lad. I hope she is well. Anyway, once this was sorted, we boarded the Island Lass which got us back to Ulva Ferry in about an hour. At around 5:30 pm we were back from what had been an amazing day out.
Last edited by John Doh on Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:27 pm

Fabulous! I really must make a serious attempt to get there.
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Re: Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Postby John Doh » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:34 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Fabulous! I really must make a serious attempt to get there.


Cheers mate. It's really not so hard to get there. They also run tours straight outta Oban to Staffa and Treshnish. Which obviously means you're missing out on Mull which would be a pity.
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Re: Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:25 pm

I love your razorbills! :clap:
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Re: Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Postby John Doh » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:45 pm

EmmaKTunskeen wrote:I love your razorbills! :clap:


Thanks Emma. They are indeed a lovely species and (at least on Lunga) just as tame/unafraid as the puffins when it comes to being around humans.
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Re: Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Postby Sunset tripper » Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:09 pm

Fantastic pics again. The waterfalls are worth a visit close up. I'm guessing you have maybe done that already though.
Staffa is a must visit place and your trip looked really good. I've been from Iona but no Puffins when I went. Too early in the year but still well worth the visit to the island, and far superior to the giants causeway in N.I.
Cheers. :D
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Re: Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Postby denfinella » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:28 pm

Fantastic! Wonderful photos as always. May I ask how much the trip was (and is it a scheduled trip)? May try to do something similar another year.
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Re: Birds and Basalt on Lunga (Treshnish) and Staffa

Postby John Doh » Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:53 pm

Sunset tripper wrote:Fantastic pics again. The waterfalls are worth a visit close up. I'm guessing you have maybe done that already though.
Staffa is a must visit place and your trip looked really good. I've been from Iona but no Puffins when I went. Too early in the year but still well worth the visit to the island, and far superior to the giants causeway in N.I.
Cheers. :D


Thanks. Unfortunately I did not visit the waterfalls, not enough time to do all I wanted. Next time... I always plan my holidays to fall into puffin season :lol:

denfinella wrote:Fantastic! Wonderful photos as always. May I ask how much the trip was (and is it a scheduled trip)? May try to do something similar another year.


Thanks Denfinella. This was the "Big Bird Trip", a scheduled trip at 75 quid per person. There are cheaper options but none that will give you 4 hours on Lunga. To be honest, you could do the island circuit and have enough time with the birds in less than that but it was nice not to worry about the time.
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