Antlers and Dolphins and Puffins, Oh My!

Last week was quite a busy week! We spent the week “glamping” in a lovely caravan-camper in the village of Appin while jetting about with Thing 1 and J. The upper highlands are one place where one REALLY needs a car, as the villages are tiny and separated by miles of windy road, so we were especially chuffed to have a friend on hand, who was happy to drive us to all of his favorite places, and to some he’d never visited before. We headed – in one remarkably long day – out to visit Iona Abbey and Staffa Island. In order to do this, we first had to take the ferry from Oban to the town of Craigmure on the island of Mull, which takes about 45 minutes. We then took a bus via single-track roads (yes – one lane, with places to pull out and let opposing traffic pass – it’s not a joyful thing at all) all the way across the island, which takes about an hour. We then took another ferry over to the island of Iona. You can check out all of the pictures here.

Iona 86

From Iona, we then took a wee tour boat out to Staffa island – to see puffins! Along the way, we got to visit with a friendly pod of dolphins, who were quite happy to play along in the boat wake. We were quite sorry to see them fall behind, as our boat accelerated, but they were joyful to see in person, in the wild, playing in the water.

Staffa 13
Staffa 15

Staffa Island is interesting, from a geologic perspective, with columnar basalt formations, caverns, etc. It is also quite steep, full of peat bogs which want to suck off your shoes, big rocks in the middle of the trail, and steep cliffs. For us, though (well – for D), Staffa was mostly a convenient place to visit with the puffins. These little birds – and they are quite surprisingly smaller than you’d think – have pretty much no fear of people. They’ll happily waddle around a few feet away, looking quizzically at you if you’re where they want to be. It’s a bit of a slog through marshy ground to get there (UNDERSTATEMENT! – t), but well worth the hike. Check out all of the Staffa pictures here.

Staffa 74

When we say it was a busy week, we mean it. We are well exhausted, from long drives and lots of walking/hikes, but we had such a good time, and T. looks back at high hills and cliffs with a sense of satisfaction from having climbed them (though her thigh muscles are still faintly protesting). We walked out to visit Glenfinnnan (of Harry Potter train-bridge fame), pottered about a bit in Glencoe, and took a gondola ride up to the top of Aonach Mor. Not to mention getting to visit with Thing 1’s parents and oler sister, eating loads of good vegetarian food, playing rowdy games of Cranium and Articulate (we will be purchasing that one – it’s awesome fun), and visiting the “Hollow Mountain,” aka Cruachan Power Station – the first “reversible” hydro-power station in the world (when the need electricity, they let the water run out of their reservoir; when they can buy electricity during off-peak usage times, they reverse the turbines and pump the water back into the reservoir). A good time was had, but we’re most grateful to be back in the land of fewer “midgies,” as they call the voracious mosquito, and more internet connectivity!

-D & T

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