Island Cruising: Treshnish Isles, Staffa, Iona and the Small Isles

Island Cruising: Treshnish Isles, Staffa, Iona and the Small Isles

A special Scottish island cruise combining the beautiful Small Isles (Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna) and a circumnavigation of the Isle of Mull which is at the heart of the Inner Hebrides. The outlying Small isles are justly famous for their sheltered anchorages, spectacular birdlife and ever-changing, island scenery.

After visiting the Small Isles we visit the famous islands of Lunga, Staffa and Iona. 

Lunga, one of the Treshnish Isles, is famous for the breeding colonies of kittiwakes, manx shearwaters, guillemots, razorbills, storm-petrels and the colony of puffins which, in the breeding season, allow you to approach very close.

Staffa has one of the world's most spectacular natural marvels in Fingal's cave - one of the island's many sea caves. The moving beauty of the island and the cave's towering, six-sided basalt columns are famously captured by Mendelssohn's Hebridean Overture.

Iona, birthplace of western Christianity was where, in AD563, Saint Columba founded an abbey when he traveled over from Ireland. Iona has been for centuries a place of Christian pilgrimage and here the early abbey monks created the wonderful Book of Kells. Saint Columba and 48 Scottish kings, including Macbeth, as well as some Irish and French kings, are buried on Iona. One can walk in peaceful solitude along the island paths away from the Abbey.

As we travel we can see incredible wildlife - soaring sea and golden eagles, basking sharks, minke and killer whales, porpoises, dolphins, seabirds and seals. 

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 lift anchor and set sail to our first destination.  

Tobermory: One of the most picturesque towns in the Hebrides. If you wish, we can make time to visit the local distillery or visit eagles (Mull is the best place in the UK to see eagles).

Canna, the Small Isles: Canna is possibly the most beautiful of all the Small islands.  Its 200 metre high cliffs of Compass Hill rise dramatically out of the sea and we have a good chance of seeing both sea and golden eagles. The anchorage on Canna is one of the best of the Small Isles and a stroll ashore to see the puffins and wild flower meadows of Sanday's Machair is a pure delight.

Muck,  the Small Isles: The small island of Muck (Muck is Gaelic for 'Pig') is only a couple of miles long and a mile wide. Ashore there are wonderful coastal walks and many seabirds. On Horse Island, which is accessible at low water, there is a colony of puffins.

Eigg, the Small Isles: The "Sgurr of Eigg", an ancient, eroded volcanic plug that creates a dramatic cliff on the east side of the island and a high ridge which runs west. There are beautiful white-sand bays and a quartz beach that creates the famous "singing sands".  

Rum, Loch Scresort, 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. A visit to the Kinloch castle near the anchorage or a guided walk and talk with the ranger Trudi Clarke is definitely worthwhile.

Lunga, Treshnish Isles: Keeping well clear of Caliach Point we head down towards the Treshnish Isles, breeding grounds for seals and puffins. Lunga is a site of Special Scientific Interest because of the plants which grow there and the wildlife. 

Soribay Bay, Loch Tuath: Our destination is a pretty anchorage in Soribay Bay where we see, in the distance, the mountains of Mull dominated by Ben More (963 m) and close-by, across the Loch, is the picturesque Eas Fos waterfall tumbling into the sea.

Fingal’s Cave, Staffa: It may be difficult to anchor off the island because of the lack of sheltered anchorages but we can sail close to the island to see all of its natural beauty. With our new sea kayaks guests can sometimes explore the incredible Fingal's cave on the Isle of Staffa!

Iona: As there are no sheltered over-night anchorages on Iona, we organize a daytrip from the village of Bunessan. There is a short ferry crossing across the Sound of Iona to Iona.

Loch Spelve: Up anchor and travel down the Sound of Iona. This a special Sound where the clear blue waters flow over the white sand and where the Abbey tower is used as a navigational mark to denote a safe passage. Out of the Sound the dangerous Torran Rocks have to be avoided as we travel along the rocky southern shores of the Ross of Mull to enter remote 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.

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Reasons to book

  • Extraordinary wildlife cruises
  • Skipper & chef included
  • Hoist the sails
  • Great value for money
  • Cruises through Scottish Canals
  • Maximum of 11 guests per cruise
  • Breakfast, snacks, lunch & dinner
  • Organised whisky tours for free
  • A perfect adventure for all ages
  • Art & photography cruises with free specialist tutors
  • Cruises with wildlife guide for free
Holiday Tips

Thank you both so much! You've whetted our appetite to discover more of Scotland!

Joyce, July 2013