The Isle of May is a nature reserve today, and in the summer months it teems with over 200 species of birds and one of the largest Puffin colonies in the world, with almost 40,000 of them living happily in the frigid water. There is also a large colony of grey seals that call this mile-long rock home.
There are a few buildings on the site. One is the ruins of the 12th century St. Adrian's Chapel, a chapel dedicated to the memory of a monk who was murdered on the island by Danes in 875. The Chapel was a pilgramige site for barren women in the middle ages and early Renaissance. Marie de Guise, Queen of Scotland and mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, visited here before she conceived. The other building is an 1815 lighthouse built on the site of a 1600s lighthouse, the first in Scotland.
You get to the island by an hour-long trip on the May Princess. Despite the elegant name, it is a simple, large motor-boat that spouts fumes, so don't expect the QE2. The seas can be very rough, and on the day we visited, they were particularly bad. I usually don't have a problem with seasickness in the least, but it got me that day. There were quite a few people on the boat who were feeling way under par. The seas were so rough that we couldn't even land, so we never got to go ashore. Normally, you get to spend 2 to 3 hours walking around the paths and seeing the avian life, but we had to stay on the boat.
Despite the fact that I felt like garbage and we didn't even go ashore, it was still an incredible time. Puffins are the cutest animals I have ever seen, and we passed thousands of them close enough to touch. Their smiling faces made me feel much better. The centuries of rough waves have cut large caves in the cliffs, and it such an unusual and beautiful landscape. It was truly a memorable experience, and not in a negative way. I encourage everyone to see this beautiful island.
There is only one trip daily and it totally depends on the tides. You can check by calling the operator at #01334 - 472021 (how's that for a number?). You can also visit the website at to check on the sailing times. Tickets are 15 pounds for adults and 7 pounds for kids. The trip takes about 5 hours, and make sure to bring warm clothes and rain gear. You never know if you will need it.
by Taylor Shelby
Charleston, South Carolina
March 18, 2005
From journal Scotland Sans Tourists - A Journey in Fife