This Scottish cruise explores some of the fabulous long, sheltered sea lochs in Argyll and the world famous Kyles of Bute that separate the Isle of Bute from the mainland. There are so many delightful options, including a sail to the Isle of Arran, that we do not restrict the trip to a rigid timetable, but we can decide for each day. Depending on availability guests can add in an extra night by visiting Loch Goil.
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.
If you wish to visit a specific place or have a specific experience, such as fly fishing, sea eagle tours, 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:
Holy Loch: Your departure point will be Holy Loch. After a short introduction to life on board our small ship we lift anchor and cruise to our first destination.
Loch Riddon: Travel south west along the magnificent Firth of Clyde to our destination Loch Riddon. Toward Point often has minke whale and basking shark reports and there are frequent pods of dolphins and harbour porpoises. We pass through the tranquil coastal waters of the Kyles of Bute with natural harbours, sheltered beaches and tidal narrows, providing stunning scenery. At around 8pm we arrive at secluded Loch Riddon, a sea loch opening from the Kyles of Bute and surrounded by mountains, and anchor off a beautiful country house with its own wharf and "Admiral steps" and enjoy dinner in perfect peace and tranquility. Seals are a familiar sight including the more rare and misnamed "common" seal. At night phosphorescence can often be seen because of the high density of plankton. Under the water there are langoustine, crabs (swimmer, shore, hermit and large crabs that are good to eat) lobsters and scallops that are regularly caught by the local fishermen as well as fish to be caught. This area is on the edge of the line of total darkness and is one of the most southern places in Europe to experience the stars as you never have before, with no light pollution at our anchorages at night.
Burnt Islands: Wake up at anchor to the sound of water lapping on the hull. After a leisurely breakfast, watching the seals swim around the boat, we can fish for bait for the lobster pot and for mackerel for dinner. We can also learn how to tie knots or just sit back (and photograph) and enjoy the wildlife - often as much as 24 bird species each day that are seen throughout the season. After lunch we can up anchor and head for the Burnt Islands and the island of Eilean Dubh that help create the picturesque narrows of the Kyles of Bute. We can use the dinghy to pass the remains of an Iron Age fort and, in the breeding season, we can get close to the bird sanctuary to see greater and lesser black backed gulls nesting with oystercatchers, herring gulls, cormorants, eider ducks and many other species. We also have a chance to dinghy close to the rare, common seal colony on the Islands and launch a lobster pot.
Arran: After picking up the lobster pot we head down the beautiful West Kyle and out over the Sound of Bute to Arran. Sail training can be included if wished. We lunch on the way and once out in the open sea we hoist the sails. We sail over towards Arran for an invigorating and often lively sail as we meet the full force of the ocean swell and winds around the steep sides of the remote east coast of Arran. Stay alert for leaping dolphins and cruising basking sharks. Gannets plunge into the sea from a great height and, if conditions are right, we quietly sail so close to Manx shearwaters, guillemots and razorbills and three metres long "lion" jellyfish that we could almost touch them! We return to a secluded and beautiful anchorage off the Burnt Islands at the head of the Kyles of Bute to enjoy a well-deserved dinner.
Loch Striven: The very remotest of Scottish sea lochs, Loch Striven which is a total escape. On the way we can collect a plankton sample to examine later at anchor in the quiet waters of the loch. We anchor at the head of the loch to watch for wildlife and soak in the silence. We can go ashore by tender to climb the trail on the loch side, which takes us high enough for magnificent views of the loch and sea. The coastline is also a very pretty walk with lots of shells on the shoreline and perfect for rock pooling at low tide. If the tide is right we can collect plump mussels for dinner that night.
Loch Fyne: If the weather suits we can head off to Loch Fyne to explore the longest sea loch in Scotland. This area is a hotspot for marine life and although it can never be guaranteed we are often fortunate enough to spot dolphins and porpoises and even the very occasional whale and basking shark as we travel up the loch. From May to July there are often rafts of puffins on the surface of the loch and many other bird species. We have lunch on the way and passing through the narrows head for our next anchorage off Loch Fyne's west shore at Minard.
Inveraray: We travel further up Loch Fyne to the small town of Inveraray where we anchor off for the day and visit magnificent Inveraray Castle, a shrine to the Campbell clan and home to the 8th Duke of Argyll. We can also take in the castle gardens and walk through the grounds for a fantastic view of Loch Fyne. We return to Minard to our night time anchorage and dinner.
Loch Goil: A lovely long cruise from Loch Striven, enjoying lunch en-route, passing Holy Loch and on up Loch Long to Loch Goil. On reaching Loch Goil we pass ancient Carrick Castle, once a Viking fort and a resting place for Mary Queen of Scots. Our anchorage is off a delightful stream in a pretty bay; another excellent spot for swimming from the boat. Loch Goil is a popular place for seals, dolphins and porpoises and we should be lucky enough to spot some from the deck. There is the option for an evening stroll along the shore walk in an area where red squirrels are regularly seen.Enquire now
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Our second trip on the St Hilda after 5 years and it was another brilliant trip.