Volcanic activity

This year, along with so many other people, our holiday plans were cancelled. We were meant to be in Guatemala during November. For a volcano fan like me, a highlight of the trip was going to be hiking up seven of them, including the highest point in Central America, Tajumulco.

After eight months of being at home, it was definitely time for a break, though. With so much uncertainty around where we could go we decided to stay close to home. Although active volcanoes were definitely off the agenda, Scotland has plenty of “volcanic” places to explore. The Isle of Mull, a place we’d never been to, seemed a good choice. Accommodation and ferry booked, we set off in search of our own “magnificent seven” volcanic sights.

Top of the list was heading out to Staffa to see the basalt columns and Fingal’s Cave. It was the last boat trip of the season and even though a large Atlantic swell meant we couldn’t land, it certainly did not disappoint. I knew what it would look like but I was still enthralled seeing it close up and the sight of the waves crashing up against the island and the foam that looked like snow in Fingal’s cave were stunning.

Another “must do” was the hike up Ben More, Mull’s highest point and an extinct volcano. This being a holiday in November however meant the promise of the best weather day of the week turned into driving rain and winds and no views whatsoever from the summit! We’ll have to go back, for sure.

A trip to visit the Carsaig Arches also came highly recommended in all the guidebooks. The rugged coastal hike to reach them was spectacular in its own right as we walked along the base of high cliffs with waterfalls tumbling over them, saw the carved crosses (possibly dating from the 6th century) in the Nun’s Cave, and encountered otters, seals and wild goats along the way. The arches with their basalt columns weren’t bad either!

The volcanic black sands at Traigh na Cille beach, the volcanic plug of ‘S Airde Beinn, more columnar basalt at Bloody Bay and the Calgary Bay dyke rounded off our thoroughly volcanic tour of Mull.

It wasn’t quite the holiday we imagined we’d be taking this year, but we know how lucky we were to have even been able to go on holiday at all. We may get to visit Guatemala some time in the future to climb volcanoes. In the meantime we can definitely recommend the Isle of Mull.

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