You can see Puffins on Lunga from April to August.
It was a cold morning, a real bite in the air, despite being mid June, as I headed down the island to Fionnphort. It takes around an hour and a half with clear traffic from Dervaig. This is where I was boarding the Staffa Tours boat for the Staffa and Treshnish Isles Wildlife Tour.
This is the first time I’d done this trip, as usually I’m not much for group tours. I like to get away from the crowds and do my own thing, so I felt a little apprehensive as I hung around waiting for the group to gather and the boat to come in.
The tour I opted for is the longest of the trips and takes just over 5 hours. I didn’t fancy the strong northerly wind that was picking up pace as was already quite cold. However, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, so in my book, it was a pretty perfect day.
2 Staffa Tours boats pulled up to the slipway and a large group of people boarded for the shorter trip, with just around 15 or so people on my boat. The Staffa Tours staff and crew are fantastic, really friendly and helpful. I was already enjoying myself and we hadn’t left the slipway yet.
We sailed out passed Iona on our left as we made the hour long journey out to Lunga. As we neared the island we could see a few Puffins on the water, darting off as we cruised closer. There’s no slipway or landing on Lunga, so we made our way across the floating pontoon. On arrival we saw a magnificent White Tailed Eagle above us. A few looks and nods between us on the boat as we acknowledged our good fortune.
Tip: Good walking boots are needed for this trip as the first part of the walk is across a rocky beach.
The group soon dispersed and I found myself alone pretty quickly, sat quietly watching Puffins at close quarters. They were extremely busy feeding their newly hatched Pufflings, hidden deep down in their burrows.
The island of Lunga is quite simply, stunning. The views and sense of peace is worth the (at times) lumpy sea crossing and steep walk up the cliffs.
We had 2 hours to explore the island – which, if you’re like me – needing to sit and soak it all up before even thinking about getting the camera out – really just flies by. I could have spent all day there and still not want to leave.
Tip: As you’d expect, there’s no facilities on the islands so do ensure you take a packed lunch and plenty to drink. Despite being June, I wore my wooly hat most of the day.
At the far end of the island is Harp Rock, which is covered in thousands of Razorbills, Puffins and Guillemots. The noise is quite arresting. Be sure not to miss seeing this.
Razorbills are incredibly cool little characters, very laid back and seemingly uninterested in you.
On this trip, I met a German couple in their later years, who had come especially to see Puffins. I think I had just as much enjoyment watching them watching the birds, they were totally enthralled and snapping away with their pocket cameras. I sat and had my sandwiches with them before heading back to the boat and we continued chatting for the rest of the trip. The Staffa Tours crew were keen to know what we thought of the island and happy to hear we’d enjoyed ourselves. As we were preparing to leave the island a seal popped up to keep a close eye on us.
From Lunga we headed over to Staffa to see Fingal’s Cave. The cave is formed from hexagonal columns and is visually fascinating – drawing you in even from a distance. We were able to walk along the cliff path, holding a rail, to the mouth of the cave.
I am glad I have seen Fingal’s Cave and managed to take a picture without any other visitors there. We were one of 2 boats there at that time, so it was a little crowded at the mouth of the cave for a while.
The handrail and path to the cave is easy to walk on. The hexagonal stones making perfect steps.
From here we headed back to the slipway at Fionnphort. I would whole heartedly recommend Staffa Tours for their professionalism, brilliant customer service and willingness to answer any questions. This is the tour I did: Staffa Tours
Please feel free to ask any questions about this trip. I decided not to do any filming that day, opting for a small camera, to travel light and enjoy the wonderful opportunity to relax with the Puffins.
Photography and copyright: S-J Cooper-White.