One of the most celebrated of the small uninhabited islands of the Inner Hebrides, Staffa comprises 33 ha (82 acres) of columnar basalt located to the northwest of the island of Mull. The hexagonal columns result from the slow cooling of basalt lava created during volcanic activity 60 million years ago as the Atlantic Ocean was formed. Its most famous feature is Fingal's Cave to the east of which is the Colonnade or Great Face, a vast area of columns which rise 17m (56 feet). Other notable caves include The Boat Cave, Cormorant Cave and Mackinnon's Cave, the two latter caves being connected by an internal passageway. Following a visit by the noted scientist Sir Joseph Banks in 1772, the island became a curiosity and was visited by Sarah Murray (1800), Sir Walter Scott (1810), John Keats (1818), J.M.W. Turner (1830), William Wordsworth (1833), Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (1836), Jules Verne (1839) and the composer Felix Mendelssohn (1829) whose Hebrides Overture was inspired by the noise of the sea in Fingal's Cave. The island, which is a National Nature Reserve, was given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1986 and can be accessed by tour boats from Mull, Iona and Oban.

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