The call came through…’what are you doing on Tuesday Rab’ said the skipper of the Marfin. ‘Nothing’ I said, hoping it could be another invitation to tour an aspect of Argyll by boat, and thankfully it was. It’s always a risk saying ‘nothing’ too readily without checking the diary, the weather forecast or indeed the prospect of unpleasant tasks. However, for me nothing should stand in the way of these wonderful sea safaris that I’ve enjoyed over the past few years.
It’s a little known fact that Argyll and its isles have more coastline than the whole of France so the opportunity for adventures are boundless but there are gems that keep drawing you back time and again. Staffa and Lunga are but 2 of these island gems where the hexagonal columns and magical caves seem ‘otherworldly’ and where the puffins and people come together in a harmonious union of tranquillity.
The botanist Joseph Banks was the first to highlight the wild natural beauty of Staffa in 1772 and since then the great and the good from around the world have paid homage to this unique geological phenomena. Today the sea state was fairly calm so we landed and mingled with the tourists from the many tour operators who service the demand to see and experience nature’s perfect stepping stones.
A short distance away is the island of Lunga which plays host to a colony of puffins. There is no jetty but the tourist boats have developed ingenious methods of successfully landing their passengers with detachable pontoons. For us it’s a slightly more awkward landing form the dingy onto largish boulders, but the ‘dry feet’ record remains at 100%. A short walk up through a cleft in the rock band takes you onto a lush green platform that never fails to make you smile. You are immediately aware that you are witnessing something delightfully odd. The birds don’t fly away and the sense of calm is mutually observed. People deter the puffin’s natural predators so they are always pleased to see us as we are to see them. There were captivated cameramen abandoning their clearly expensive tools just to embrace the moment and be at one with nature – awesome!
Argyll has undoubtedly a distinctive landscape with mountains, glens, lochs and rivers but this is just half the story. I’ve learned over recent years that exploring the coastline from a boat goes a long way in providing a sense of completeness. We are always indebted to Ian, Anthea and the Marfin who always go the extra mile to ensure that a memorable day is had by all – Thank you!