Single Malt whisky, made in an individual distillery from malted barley, distilled in copper pot stills and matured in oak casks, is one of the wonders of Scotland. Mixed with magnificent wildlife and spectacular Scottish islands it creates an unforgettable Hebridean cruise on one of our three small ships.
In this Scottish wildlife and whisky and cruise you can sample the delights of some of the most famous single malts from some of the most famous of "malt whisky islands" – Mull, Jura and especially Islay with its many distilleries. On the way you can see the incredible wildlife - soaring sea and golden eagles, basking sharks, minke whales, porpoises, dolphins, seabirds and seals.
If you are not totally malt whiskied-out at the end of the cruise, there is always the Oban whisky distillery or the Oban Whisky Shop.
This cruise can be an eight or ten night itinerary depending on the dates you choose to travel.
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.
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 set sail to our first destination.
Loch Spelve: The anchorage in this sheltered loch, which is surrounded by an ancient oak forest, gives us unparalleled views of the mountains of Mull. There are resident otters along its shoreline.
Shuna Island: Our destination is the remote island of Shuna. On the way, and at anytime during the trip, we may see soaring white-tailed or golden eagles, basking sharks, whales, porpoises and dolphins, as well as many types of seabirds. With the tide in our favour, (a must as the currents can run at five knots in these parts) we enter the Firth of Lorn and then the Sound of Luing. Shooting past the famous Fladda lighthouse - the over falls and eddies of these fast-running waters make extraordinary spiral patterns and glassy runs in the sea. The waters calm as we pass the southern tip of Luing Island and enter Shuna Sound. Our quiet anchorage off the north coast of Shuna Island is a spot where otters frequently play along the shoreline.
Craighouse, Jura: We travel down the Shuna Sound with tidal planning again important as we will pass the notorious Gulf of Corryvreckan with its six knot tides which can be heard roaring 30 miles inland when there is a storm of wind against tide. We pass the northern headland of Jura, where George Orwell’s cottage can still be seen where he wrote 1984, to sail down the Sound of Jura. The magnificent Munro mountains, the three “Paps of Jura”, can be seen rising over the craggy cliffs of Jura's shoreline to dominate the southern end of the Sound of Islay. Our destination anchorage is off Craighouse the home of the Jura Distillery and home to two distinct malts: sweet Origin and smoky Superstition.
Islay: Islay is the Malt Whisky capital of the world. Our anchorage is in Kilnaughton Bay, off Port Ellen, which is Islay's main town (the Port Ellen distillery closed in 1983 but the maltings are still in operation). We are spoilt for choice for distillery visits: Lagavulin distillery is just north of Port Ellen and, close by, are the other world famous distilleries of Ardbeg and Laphroaig. They all use Islay's peaty water and peated malt to give their famous powerful, salty, peaty, iodiney flavours. In contrast, the northern distilleries of Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich draw their water directly from springs to give lighter, nuttier flavours. Caol lla, close to Bunnahabhain, produces a delicate flavoured malt, while Bowmore, the oldest distillery on the island (1779), in the middle of the town of Bowmore and on the banks of a loch, has its own very distinctive peaty, salty taste.
Loch Sween: We travel to an anchorage in the upper reaches of beautiful Loch Sween - its seal population lining its banks to watch our progress. We will pass the natural anchorage of Tayvallich, once a famous Viking harbour.
Crinan Canal: We can anchor just outside the Crinan Canal which has truly magnificent scenery and is rich in history, with many world-class heritage sites. It is a designated wildlife reserve with miles of forest walks and cycle ways. Guests can choose to do a three hour walk from Tayvallich to the Crinan Canal.
Isle of Luing: Passengers can be dropped off at the little village of Toberonochy and do the lovely walk to the Atlantic Islands Centre.
Loch Aline: A delightful loch off the Sound of Mull. In Loch Aline there are woodland walks and, at the head of the loch, is ancient Ardtornish estate and woodland gardens.
Tobermory: Head up the Sound of Mull to Tobermory, one of the most picturesque towns in the Western Isles and home to one of the oldest (1798) commercial whisky distilleries in Scotland. Here they produce two malts: the un-peated Tobermory and the smoky Ledaig. You can visit the whisky distillery and sample these very different flavours.Enquire now
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We all had a great time on board the St Hilda. Ella says it was her best holiday ever!