This wonderful Outer Hebridean 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 Oban, the gateway to the isles.
During this special cruise aboard Seahorse II you will be accompanied by a wildlife guide and host Cathy Harlow. Cathy Harlow has worked as a wildlife guide for 25 years. Specialising in cetaceans, she has worked extensively in Iceland and Arctic Norway, including three winter seasons as guide on a whale watching boat in the Lofoten Islands. She currently guides wildlife trips in the Hebrides, Iceland, Norway, Madagascar and the Azores. A keen photographer, her images have contributed to photo-id work on Orca Guardians catalogue of Killer Whales of Iceland.
Our small ship 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.
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, Leach's 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 your voyage is weather dependent. Weather doesn't just mean good or bad weather. There are many considerations such as tidal gates, wind direction and strength, the strength and direction of currents, overfalls, and fetch. Depending upon the weather and nature’s conditions, wildlife viewing varies.
If you wish to visit a specific place or have a specific experience, such as sea eagle tours or whisky tasting, then please do let your skipper know and he will endeavour to meet your request. Excursions and visits ashore are at your own cost.
Some of the places we may visit are:
Oban: Your departure point will be Oban (Dunstaffnage Marina), the gateway to the Hebridean isles. After a short introduction to life on board our small ship we will set sail to our first destination. Afternoon tea will be served en-route.
Tobermory: One of the most picturesque towns in the Hebridean Isles with its famous whisky distillery and colourful waterfront. You can wander along the streets, visit the delightful local museum, perhaps watch a pipe band, admire the wooden fishing boats and take in the long history of this lovely village.
Rum, the Small Isles: 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.
Canna, the Small Isles: Canna is possibly the most beautiful of all the Small islands.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 destination, the islands of the Outer Hebrides.
Castlebay, Barra: Castlebay is a little village 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.
Berneray: On the way to Berneray, sailing south from Barra we pass the spectacular uninhabited islands of Sandray, Pabbay and Mingulay. 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.
Vatersay: An anchorage off the beautiful sweeping beach and sand dunes of Vatersay.
Hirta, St Kilda: If the weather is kindly we up-anchor early and head out through the Sound of Pabbay for Hirta, St Kilda. Two nights at anchor on Hirta and a day ashore.
Monach Island: On the return from Hirta we can anchor off the magical Monach Islands: Ceann Ear, Ceann Iar and Shivinish. The extensive sand dunes are perfect for beach landings by tender and the fairly flat landscape makes easy walking, but with breathtaking views. The islands are all linked at low tide with white sandy beaches and turquoise blue sea surrounding them; an idyllic landscape.
Lochboisdale, South Uist: 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. We can explore the incredible endless beaches and flower-rich Machair of the islands of South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist.
Loch Skipport, South Uist: We will cruise along mountainous, eastern island shores towards the remote and beautiful anchorage Loch Skipport - one of the classic Hebridean anchorages, dominated by wild Hecla, South Uist's second highest mountain (606m).
Loch Drumbuie: Just south of Oronsay island, another Inner Hebridean island, lies secluded Loch Drumbuie. A squeeze between high sided cliffs and we are in a perfectly sheltered anchorage. We can spend a tranquil night here.
Loch Spelve: A narrow entrance leads us in to the tranquil waters of Loch Spelve with its surrounding ancient oak forest. The anchorage gives us a different perspective than our previous views of the wonderful mountains of Mull. There are resident otters along the loch's shoreline.Enquire now
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Great crew, great food, great scenery, great wildlife, great company. What more could you want? FAB-U-LOUS!!