Monday, January 18, 2016

Scenes from Star Wars

I went to the new Star Wars movie this week. I enjoyed the movie, especially the end. My jaw dropped in astonishment when I saw where they filmed the last scene. In it, Rey, the heroine of the tale, climbs an ancient stone stairway atop an island in a galaxy far, far away. In reality it was not quite so far away, for the scene was filmed on one of my favourite islands: Skellig Mhichael.

Stairway to the monastery - Skellig Mhicheal
A boat trip to Skellig is something you'll remember forever. As the boat approaches the island it is as if a giant pyramid is rising out of the sea.

Approaching Skellig
Once ashore it is a stiff climb to the monastic ruins on the North Peak, some 600 feet above the sea.

The Burial Ground
The Monastery Beehives
As amazing as the monastery is, the hermitage that once stood on the south peak is even more amazing. Chiseled out of the side of the south peak, nearly 700 feet above the sea, is a small ledge. And on it there once stood a solitary beehive cell, the monastery's place of retreat. I wanted to see it, so after exploring the monastery I descended back down to Christ's Saddle between the two peaks, and then followed a path that led to the South Peak.

Looking down to Christ's Saddle from the route to the South Peak - the steps in the photo lead to the North Peak
The going was easy at first, and there was an amazing view straight down the cliff-face to the lighthouse.

Then I came to a blind corner, where the route crossed a narrow ledge about 12 inches wide. The cliff-face on one side, a vertical drop of a few hundred feet on the other.

The blind corner - sea-pinks sprouting on the rock face
It was here I decided to turn around, the narrow path across the cliff was too scary. And so the hermitage of Skellig Mhichael, like the Gannet Isle of Sulaisgeir, will probably remain special island-places I'll never see.

The South Peak
If the hermitage of Skellig interests you, be sure to read The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael (see this link for an on-line version of the book). I look forward to seeing Star Wars VIII, as I've read there are more scenes filmed on Skellig.

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