St Hilda to St Kilda: an Outer Hebridean Cruise

Sat 1st July 2017

From £1,650 p/p

From £1,650 p/p

11 nights / 2 spaces

Departs: Tobermory

St Hilda to St Kilda: an Outer Hebridean Cruise

11 nights

This wonderful, 12 day St Kilda cruise will, if the weather is kind, give us time to explore fabulous St Kilda; the remote Monach Isles; many dramatic islands of the Outer Hebrides; and the spectacular Small Isles. Our starting point is the picturesque harbour of Tobermory on the isle of Mull, in the Inner Hebrides.

Sturdy St Hilda will anchor in scenic, lonely islands, in tranquil bays and, throughout the trip, we see incredible wildlife  - soaring sea and golden eagles, many species of sea birds, basking sharks, orca and minke whales, porpoises, dolphins and seals. Aboard St Hilda you can do as little or as much as you want. Sit back and enjoy the trip as you travel through the Sounds; pass the islands and sea lochs; view the spectacular mountains and fast running tides that make extraordinary spiral patterns and glassy runs in the sea; marvel at the lofty headland lighthouses and castles; and, if you want, become involved in working the ex-tall ship St Hilda.

Our ultimate destination is Village Bay, Hirta, on the archipelago of St Kilda  - a UNESCO world heritage site. Hirta is the largest of the four islands in the St Kilda group and was inhabited for some 2000 years before the villagers were evacuated in 1930, never to return.

The sea cliffs (the highest in the UK) of the St Kilda islands rise dramatically out of the Atlantic and are the protected breeding grounds of many different sea bird species (gannets, fulmars, Leeches petrel, which are hunted at night by giant skuas, and puffins). These thousands of seabirds were once an important source of food for the islanders. The breathtaking islands of Soay and Boreay have rare, ancient species of feral sheep and the St Kildan wren and field mouse are both unique sub species.

Travelling back from St Kilda, we could stop at a remote anchorage on the Monach or Heisker islands, which lie some five miles west off North Uist and are famous for their wild flowers in the Machair, sandy white beaches and for a huge grey seal colony.

Throughout the trip we will explore the many wonderful, breathtaking islands of the Outer Hebrides and the Small Islands. 

Please note that although St Kilda is our ultimate destination it cannot be sure - the Atlantic may not always be kind, even in summer. But, as we can see, we will explore other wonderful Hebridean islands and the wildlife is always guaranteed! Your skipper will be your guide.

Day

1

Arrive Tobermory, one of the most picturesque and colourful towns in the Western Isles. A dinghy ride from a pontoon in this most sheltered of natural harbours to the St Hilda, quietly resting at anchor. After a short introduction to life on board our small ship, there is afternoon tea (clotted cream and scones!) before we lift anchor and set sail for the Isle of Oronsay, another Inner Hebridean island. Just south of Oronsay island, between it and the mainland, lies secluded Loch Drumbuie. A squeeze between high sided cliffs and we are in a perfectly sheltered anchorage. We spend our first tranquil night here.

Day

2-3

In the morning we up anchor and set sail for the Small Isles where, weather permitting, we will spend two days. We pass close to the Small Isles of Muck and Eigg to arrive at Rum the largest of the Small Isles where we will spend our first night at Loch Scresort. Rum Island is a National Nature Reserve and famous for its herds of red deer and sheer sea cliffs which are home to nesting sea eagles. A visit to the Kinloch castle near the anchorage is definitely worthwhile.

The next day we sail for the scenic anchorage at Canna and its neighbouring Sanday. There are seabirds galore on the island's high sea cliffs - puffins, shags, razorbills, black guillemots, Manx shearwaters - and breeding there, in the high crags, are sea eagles. There are two lovely beaches, three churches, a tiny ruined castle and a population of less than 20! A short climb up Compass Hill gives wonderful views of Skye and our next destination, the islands of the Outer Hebrides.

Day

4

Up anchor and sail to the village of Castlebay on the island of Barra of the Outer Hebrides. Castlebay was where much of the film Whisky Galore was made about the WW II stranding of the S.S. Politician in Eriskay Sound with her cargo of 260,00 whisky bottles! Castlebay was once an important herring curing station and near our anchorage, surrounded by water, is Kisimul Castle, the ancient seat of the MacNeils of Barra.

Day

5

We up anchor and head for the island of Berneray, sailing south from Barra. On our way we pass the spectacular uninhabited islands of Sandray, Pabbay and Mingulay: all are now uninhabited. We clearly see the derelict crofts and abandoned house on Mingulay as we pass its Village Bay. If there is not too much Atlantic swell we return north after a circumnavigation of Berneray, passing under the cliffs of famous Barra Head lighthouse. Our destination is an anchorage off the beautiful sweeping beach and sand dunes of Vatersay.

Day

6-7-8

If the weather is kindly we up-anchor early and head out through the Sound of Pabbay for St Kilda. Two nights at anchor on Hirta and a day ashore. On our return we could also spend a day anchored off the Monach Island.

Alternative:

If the Atlantic is being too unfriendly for St Kilda, from Barra we will head north, up the island chain, pass the Sound of Barra and the islands of Hellisay and Gighay, to our next quiet anchorage in Lochboisdale on South Uist. On day 7 and 8 explore the incredible endless beaches and flower-rich Machair of the islands of South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist.

Day

9

Today we head north, sailing along mountainous, eastern island shores towards our next anchorage, remote, beautiful Loch Skipport - one of the classic Hebridean anchorages, dominated by wild Hecla, South Uist's second highest mountain (606m). 

Day

10

We set sail for Canna and its delightful anchorage.

Day

11

Up anchor to take in the beautiful islands of the Small Isles: Rum (with its ancient volcano and Kimlock Castle), Eigg  (dominated by its high ridge and surrounded by sandy, white beaches) and Muck  (full of birdlife) and its pretty adjacent Horse Island before returning to Tobermory.  Aperitif on deck and then dinner followed by malts.

Day

12

Disembark by dinghy after breakfast at around 11am - the end of a perfect voyage.

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Prices

Fore Cabin - 4 Berths (p/p)£1,650.00
Double Cabin En-suite (p/p)£2,530.00
Private Charter (whole boat)£11,660.00
2018 Accommodation Layout

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Reasons to book

  • Extraordinary wildlife
  • Ex-tall ship with skipper and chef
  • Hoist the sails
  • Great value for money
  • Cruises through the Crinan Canal
  • Maximum of 6 guests per cruise
  • Breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner
  • Organised whisky tour
  • Organised activities for free
Holiday Tips

Landing mackerel by the dozen and enjoying them as fresh as it's possible to be. Waitrose will never be able to compete!

Sue Fletcher, June 2012