Skellig Michael

Getting to Skellig Michael is an adventure in itself. It takes over an hour, over 15 kms of open ocean, to reach Skellig Michael. The trip is done in small boats, which sits about a dozen passengers. So it is not a trip for people are concerned about being sea sick.

The success of a trip depends on the weather. They are popular, so you have to book ahead and hope it doesn’t get cancelled because of rough seas. The day before was a beautiful sunny day on land, but the trips were all cancelled. This day was cloudy, cold and wet, but fortunately the trip went ahead.

The island sticks out of the ocean, off the south western coast of Ireland.

We get our first good look at the island only when were were very close to it. Since for most of the journey it was directly in front of the boat, and us passengers were in the back; trying to stay warm and dry, and not get sea sick.

It is a spectacular sight, as we head towards the small dock.

Approaching the island

It is a flat walk from the dock to the stairs.

Path from the dock to the stairs

After a brief safety talk, we start the climb.

The start of the climb

It is a long climb to the top. And the clouds grew thicker, the higher we got.

There were many stairs to climb.

Stairs

On the narrow stairs, you may encounter other people going in the other direction. Since the dock is small, only one boat at a time can disembark. Therefore, each small group starts their climb at a diferent time.

Stairs

Extreme care must be taken during the climb. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, everything is preserved in its pre-workplace-health-and-safety state.

Steps with a drop on one side and no guard rails
Watch your step

Near the top is an ancient Augustinian monastery from around the tenth century, if not earlier.

St Fionan

Gate in the wall of the monastery
Entrance to the monastery

Centre of the compound
Doorway in one of the huts
Graveyard
Stone cross
Stairs

The journey down is probably more dangerous than going up—especially when it is wet.

Looking down the wet stairs
A long way down

The island has two peaks, but the saddle to the other peak was fenced off.

The gap

Flowers growing amongst the rocks
Rock

Finally we’re back to where we started.

The huts are only for the local rangers, who live on the island in summer.

The other part of the adventure is: there is no toilet on the island or on the boats!

The final steps back to the bottom

Back at the small dock, you quickly board your boat. Each group takes their turm, before the boat for the next group arrives.

The dock

The captain shows us the southern side of the island. The path from the dock continues around (past where the stairs started) to a lighthouse. The helipad can be seen at the far right of this picture.

Lighthouse and path

Further around, on the western side of the island are another set of steps built by the monks.

East steps

The steps lead to another place where boats used to land. But this one isn’t used for visitors.

Western steps landing

There are actually two islands here. The Great Skellig was the island we were on. The other island, Little Skellig, is about 2 kms away.

Little Skellig

Little Skellig is home to

An island of birds

Little Skellig is very rocky and no one lands on it.

Little Skellig with Great Skellig in the distance

The trip ends with another hour long journey over the open ocean.

Leaving Little Skellig and Great Skellig

Spherical panorama

360°x180° Spherical Panorama