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Melody cave (Fingal’s cave) on Staffa island, Scotland

Fingal’s Cave (Fingal’s Cave) or as it is also called “cave of melodies” is located on the island of Staffa (Staffa), part of the inner Hebrides of Scotland, and located to the West of the island of mull. It fascinates with its whimsical sounds and melodies of nature.

Staffa island itself is very small, about a kilometer long and half a kilometer wide. at its highest point, It rises 46 meters above sea level. The name of Staffa means “island-column”, and the ancient Vikings called it “island of columns”, most of its coast, the total length of which is 2.4 kilometers, consists of basalt cliffs. Although it is small and it would seem that there may be something interesting in it, but in fact tourists like to come here, since it looks like a Cathedral or a theater thanks to its naturally created columns.

 

Approaching the island of Staffa, you can see that it looks like a giant hand stretched out into the Atlantic ocean. The view immediately reveals that the island is surrounded by dark and elegant symmetrical hexagonal basalt columns, which are located on the sides of the island. Basically , the columns are hexagonal, but there are also three-sided and octagonal. These pillars were formed as a result of the rapid release of lava from the earth’s interior. Slowly cooling, the lava crystallized into its present form. But according to the legend, these columns were built by giants and having visited the island, you willingly believe this legend, because it is difficult to imagine that such ideal polyhedra could be created by nature.

 

The main attraction of the island of Staffa is the cave of Fingal, which is located in the South, it is the largest on this island, but it is not remarkable for this. The fact is that the vault is arched like a dome, so the sound lingers here for a few seconds, creating literally fabulous melodies. The huge hall of the cave repeats the sounds of the surf many times, and the whole cave literally sings. And the sound from the cave can be heard at a distance of several kilometers from it.

 

The cave is 113 meters long and 16.5 meters wide at the entrance. It is impossible to get to the cave by boat, the water entrance is very narrow. The only way is a narrow path that is laid just above the water’s edge. The ancient Scots called the cave “An Uamh Bhin”, which means “melodic cave”, but then renamed it in honor of Finn Mac Cumal (aka Fingal), a hero of Celtic folklore, who was a giant and according to the legends of the Irish people, built a dam connecting Scotland and Ireland.

 

Along the entire perimeter of the island there are numerous caves, washed out by the sea and cut by rain and wind. All caves, except for the Fingal cave, are not accessible from the shore, and you can only get to them by water. Some caves are permanently hidden under water, and you can only see them at low tide.

 

The island and the cave became known in 1772, after a visit by the famous English naturalist Joseph banks. He and several members of his team visited the island in the XVII century (1743 – 1820). The expedition explored the island and discovered many caves, including the famous Fingal cave. People were so impressed by its beauty that they compared the vaults of the cave to the Louvre in their notes. Seeing this cave for the first time, Banks exclaimed, “what are cathedrals and palaces built by men compared to this!”Following Joseph Banks, Staffa island was visited by many celebrities of the time, including Queen Victoria, Felix Mendelssohn, Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Alfred Tennyson, and Jules Verne himself. In 1832, the artist Joseph Turner painted a landscape on which he captured the famous cave. And after Mendelssohn’s famous Overture “the Hebrides or Fingal’s cave”, the island became even more popular.

 

Staffa island is home to seabirds-petrels, gulls, common (black-legged) sea urchins, and long-nosed cormorants. The coastal waters are home to dolphins, grey seals, giant sharks, and minke whales.

Melody cave (Fingal’s cave) on Staffa island, Scotia melody cave (Fingal’s cave) on Staffa island, Scotland

You can get there by car ferry from Oban or Lochalin, located on the coast of Scotland to the island of mull, then by boat, from Ulva ferry pier located on the Western side of mull. It is better to go in the spring, when the tops of the reefs are covered with wild flowers. The nearest town is TOBERMORY, 32 km from Ulva ferry.

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