Spring in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland

Spring in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland

From GBP £4,290

Description

Words do not do justice to the spectacular beauty, rich wildlife and fascinating history of the Inner and Outer Hebrides which we will explore during this expedition aboard the MS Hebridean Sky. One of Europe’s true last remaining wilderness areas, it affords the traveller a marvellous island hopping journey through stunning scenery accompanied by spectacular sunsets and prolific wildlife, and there is no better way to discover the beauty of this region than by small ship. With our naturalists and local guides we will explore using the nimble Zodiac craft which allow us to reach some of the most remote and untouched places. Whether your interest lies in the natural world, history or bird watching or simply being there to witness the timeless beauty of the islands, this trip will lift the spirits and gladden the heart.

Trip Name
Spring in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland
Days
11
Overview
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 90 metres Passenger Capacity: 110 Built: 1992 - newly re-launched 2016 The Hebridean Sky (formerly the Sea Explorer) underwent a 6.5 million dollar refurbishment. Always  known for its effortless elegance, impeccable service and atmosphere of charm and camaraderie, the Hebridean Sky continues that tradition adding a host of new amenities as well as state of the art stabilization, fuel efficiency, and upgraded communications systems. Its all-suite accommodations and increased adventure options make the Hebridean Sky the perfect blend of luxury and adventurous exploration. SPACIOUS SUITES Hebridean Sky is an all-suite yacht accommodating up to 110 guests. Built in 1992, refurbished 2014 and again in 2016, each suite features: • Exterior views • Your choice of queen-sized or two twin-sized beds • Sitting area with sofa and side chair • Flat Screen TV with DVD/CD player • Telephone • Independent temperature controls • Mini-Bar • Marble-appointed bathroom with fine toiletries • Hair dryer • 220 square feet or more • Sofa can be converted to bed for third person In adition Promenade, Deluxe, Veranda & Penthouse Suites include: • En suite Champagne & Chocolates on Arrival • Complimentary mini-bar (beer, wine & soft drinks) • $100 per person Gift Shop credit • En suite Nespresso machine Penthouse Suites (325 sq.ft.) and Veranda Suites (260 sq.ft.) feature private balconies. ONBOARD DINING Great expeditions require great food! Our team of world-class chefs offer breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that change daily. They have boat-loads of creativity, so you are sure to experience a variety of remarkable cuisine throughout your voyage. SERVICES • World-Class Cuisine • Complimentary Wine with Dinner • Live Entertainment • Complimentary Coffee/Tea station • Voyage Photographer • On-board MD and Facilities • Dedicated Passenger Service Manager • Pre-voyage hotel night • Complimentary Expedition Jacket FACILITIES • Elevator serving all passenger decks • Upgraded WIFI Internet • Library with computers • Panoramic Top Deck Observation Platform • Bar/Lounge with Live Entertainment • Boot Room • Lounge with Audiovisual Facilities • DVD Movie Library Deck plans may very depending on the ship operator.

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 - Oban.
Embark this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Glasgow Central Railway Station and Glasgow International Airport at a fixed time. Sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Iona, Staffa & Lunga.
The isle of Iona has been occupied for thousands of years and has also been a place of pilgrimage and Christian worship for several centuries. It was to this flat, Hebridean island that St Columba fled from Ireland in 563 AD and established a monastery. Here his followers were responsible for the conversion of much of pagan Scotland and Northern England. No less than 62 Scottish Kings are buried in the Abbey. Visit the Abbey or perhaps walk along the white sandy beaches. This afternoon we hope to drop anchor off the south side of Staffa where the perpendicular rock face features an imposing series of black basalt columns, known as the Colonnade, which have been cut by the sea into cathedralesque caverns, most notably Fingal’s Cave. Weather permitting, we will use our Zodiacs to explore closer. We then also sail to Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish Isles. Of volcanic origin, Lunga has been described as a ‘green jewel in a peacock sea’. Populated until the 19th century, the island still bears the remains of black houses. There is also prolific birdlife including puffins, storm-petrels, kittiwakes and Manx shearwaters.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Loch Scavaig & Canna.
Today our vessel will anchor in the lovely Loch Scavaig. Just beyond is the freshwater Loch Corruisk with its breathtakingly beautiful view over the Cuillins. This is great walking country, but for those who prefer a less energetic morning our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals. We sail over lunch to the island of Canna. Strategically placed between the mountains of Rum and the Outer Hebrides, Canna is run as a single farm and bird sanctuary by The National Trust for Scotland and enjoys the best harbour in the Small Isles, a horn-shaped haven. Canna has an amazingly rich archaeological landscape with remains dating to all periods of settled occupation in Scotland. The fertile soil and its diversity of habitats mean that the island has an incredibly rich plant life with 248 native flowering plants recorded. We will see Canna House, once the home of the previous owners, John and Margaret Fay Campbell, and wander across grassy basalt plateaus to the 600 foot cliffs on the north shore.
Day 4 - Day 4 - St Kilda & Stac Lee.
Arrive at first light in St Kilda, a remarkable uninhabited archipelago some fifty miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. Dominated by the highest cliffs and sea stacks in Britain, Hirta, St Kilda’s main island was occupied on and off for at least two thousand years, with the last 36 Gaelic speaking inhabitants evacuated at their own request in 1930. Immediately after the evacuation, the island was bought by the Marquess of Bute to protect the island’s thousands of seabirds including puffin and fulmars, and in 1957 it was bequeathed to The National Trust for Scotland. St Kilda is one of only two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites with dual status reflecting its natural and cultural significance. The local ranger will join us on board before our expedition staff lead a number of guided walks on the island. Later, cruise past one of the largest gannetries in the world, Stac Lee.
Day 5 - Day 5 - Stornoway, Isle of Lewis & Shiant Islands.
On leaving the island capital of Stornoway, today’s tour takes us across to the beautiful west coast of the island and to Callanish. Described as Scotland’s Stonehenge, the Callanish Standing Stones date from around 3000 BC. There are a total of 32 stones in a circular and avenue design. The stones stand like a petrified forest on the flat top of a peninsula which reaches out into East Loch Roag. Visit the excellent visitor centre to learn more about the site and venture out amongst the stones themselves to experience their mysterious atmosphere. Continue around the west coast to the site of Dun Carloway Pictish Broch. Probably built sometime in the last century BC, it would have served as an occasionally defensible residence for an extended family complete with accommodation for animals at ground floor level. We then head north to Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, a reconstructed settlement of traditional black houses where people and animals lived in close proximity. The houses are made using dry stone masonry and have thatched roofs, distinctively weighted down with rocks. Visit the small museum, enjoy a display of a typical crofting activity such as weaving and take in the views at this dramatic site on the wild Atlantic coast. This afternoon we will board the Zodiacs for a cruise around the spectacular basalt cliffs of the Shiant Islands, a group of little islands located a few miles off the shores of Lewis and home to many nesting seabirds.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Inverewe Gardens & Handa.
This morning we will drop anchor and use our Zodiacs to access one of Scotland’s premier gardens, Inverewe. This botanical garden in the northwest Highlands presents an amazing collection of exotic trees and shrubs that are sheltered by well positioned windbreaks of native pine. After a guided tour of the gardens we will return to the MS Hebridean Sky for lunch as we sail towards Handa arriving later this afternoon. Here we will use our Zodiacs to explore the magnificent sea cliffs of Torridonian sandstone which rise from the Atlantic. The island comes alive each summer when nearly 100,000 seabirds gather to breed, including internationally important numbers of guillemot, razorbill, puffins and great skua.
Day 7 - Day 7 - Scrabster.
Spend the day in Scrabster, the most northerly port on the Scottish mainland. This morning we will visit the Castle and Gardens of Mey, built between 1566 and 1572 by George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness. The castle was purchased by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1952, who renovated and restored it and created the beautiful gardens which we will see today. After lunch on board relax for the afternoon or choose to take a drive along the coast to Dunnet Bay, a glorious crescent of sand and dunes and home to many seabirds and unusual flora that we will discover on a guided walk with the local ranger. We continue to Dunnet Head to see the lighthouse, built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson, and enjoy the views over to Orkney. Before our return to the ship we will visit the Medieval Canisbay Kirk whose position over the Pentland Firth has made it a shipping landmark for centuries. We sail overnight north to the Orkneys.
Day 8 - Day 8 - Westray and Papa Westray, Orkney Islands.
Today we explore the islands to the north of the Orkney mainland. On Westray we will visit Noup Head, an RSPB reserve on the sea cliffs and home to up to 100,000 nesting seabirds. We also see Notland Castle, an incomplete fortress built in the 16th century by Gilbert Balfour, Mary Queen of Scots Sherif of Orkney whilst in the main village of Pierowall we find the Westray Heritage Centre housing Neolithic carvings. Over lunch we sail the short distance to Papa Westray. Here you have time to stretch your legs on a number of island walks. You can choose to visit the 3500 year-old Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farm building that claims to be the oldest standing house in Europe, and the 12th century St Boniface Kirk. In the north of the island is the North Hill reserve, home to Arctic terns and skuas and also the extremely rate Scottish primrose. In the early evening we will meet at the Papay Pub for a well deserved pre-dinner drink with the locals.
Day 9 - Day 9 - Lerwick, Shetland Islands.
After breakfast, we will begin our exploration of the Shetlands and travel to the southern point to visit the historic site of Jarlshof where the archaeological ruins date from the Stone Age up until the 17th century. Return to the MS Hebridean Sky for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure to explore the historic port town of Lerwick. Wander the narrow stone lanes and maybe visit the excellent Shetland Museum, containing artefacts from shipwrecks and the whaling era.
Day 10 - Day 10 - Fair Isle.
This morning we anchor off the remote island of Fair Isle. Located midway between the Shetland and Orkney islands, the tiny population of sixty or so islanders always extend us a warm welcome. Enjoy a walk across the island, perhaps visiting the Bird Observatory, searching out the puffin slopes, or continue to the community hall for a cup of tea.
Day 11 - Day 11 - Aberdeen.
Disembark this morning after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to Aberdeen Railway station and Aberdeen International Airport at a fixed time.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Amundsen Standard Suite
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Byrd Superior Suite
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Shackleton Owner's Balcony Suite
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Byrd Superior Sole
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Shackleton Hebridean Suite
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Mawson Premuim Suite
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Mawson Corner Suite
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Scott Deluxe Balcony Suite
24-05-201903-06-2019GBP £0Amundsen Standard Sole

Inclusions

    • Make calls into some of the remote and uninhabited islands that surround the Scottish coast. Few ships make the journey to these outer islands and we are fortunate to be able to explore them in our small groups
    • Combine visits to the small community of Iona with uninhabited St Kilda and Lunga
    • Discover Stornoway and Lerwick
    • Experience the history, wildlife and culture of the varied and remote islands of Scotland

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