From the Summer Isles to the Small Isles. – Highland meandering
|Voyage No.||Start date||End date||Start port||End port||Days||Price|
|BE280721||Wed 28 July (15.00)||Fri 6 August (10.00)||Ullapool||Oban||10||£1400||Book voyage »|
Please note: all of Bessie Ellen’s bookings are now handled by Nikki’s own agency, VentureSail Holidays. By clicking ‘Book voyage’ you will be taken to a VentureSail booking form in order to secure your berths.
Join us as we head back south taking our time to discover all that is fabulous about the Highlands and Islands. Over the following 10 days, I will show you some of the most magical places we have discovered in the years of sailing these waters.
This hands on adventure will take you where the wind blows and some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. There is just so much to take in, and to make best use of the wind and enjoy the full experience, we do not run to specific itineraries.
I’d recommend it all. Fantastic fun sailing a boat like that whatever the weather. Skipper & crew excellent & food delicious, thanks all. x
As we bid farewell to Ullapool, it feels exciting to be heading south again. Our journey will be packed full with some of the most remote and beautiful locations in the UK with plenty of wildlife to boot.
A short hop from Ullapool lie the Summer Isles, picturesque and secluded, providing a first night anchorage away from it all. After learning the ropes, a quick romp ashore is a must before returning for a fantastic supper of local produce.
Lying half way across the Minch, Shiant provides a welcome break in the passage across, haunted by the mournful song of the seals this is a birds paradise where seabirds breed in their thousands, puffins guillemots and razorbills fill the bay while ashore, be wary of the Great Skua, and, as a bonus I have often seen pair of Eagles here, flying high along the edge of the ridge. A walk along the southern shore to the old village and lie down amongst the wild flowers, look out across a pewter sea towards Skye and dream.
The Outer Hebrides are beckoning, the purple peaks of Harris hiding the perfection of the white strands and turquoise waters running down the western coasts of these islands. Taransay is a favourite along with Ensay for a night stop on the edge of the Atlantic before exploring the magic and seclusion of Loch Skiport, where a long climb up Hecla temps the most sturdy of walkers. At the head of the loch, the remains of the old cattle drovers pier reminds us of the past when drovers would come across from the mainland to collect the islands cattle from the Uist’s and Benbecula before loading them onto boats to cross the Minch, whence the beasts were walked across Scotland through the mountains to the East coast markets.
Windows on the past are still clear, small stone crofters houses still stand with just four walls remaining from what was the backbone of these islands before the clearances. Ridges in the bracken can be depicted from what was once barely fields and potatoes. Today farming, fishing and tweed are still the main industries on these harsh lands.
Crossing the Minch from the ‘Outers’ the wee island of Canna provides good shelter and wonderful hospitality all connected with the real magic that make up the Small Isles. Canna is your perfect island, lush green fields, steep cliffs all sown together with a good deal of history. John Lorne Campbell purchased the island along with his American wife, Margret Faye Shaw, and between them collected a vast collection of gallic songs and stories before the language was lost. After a good day sailing, I love to walk in the quiet walled garden behind Canna House on the shore of the bay, sheltered from the winds by plantation woodlands under basalt hillsides before meeting up for a cold beer at the Canna Cafe as Rum slowly descends into darkness.
The Small Isles, made up of Rum, Eigg, Muck & Canna lie off the coast between Ardnamurchan & Mallaig. All are very different both geologically and community. All the islands now have thriving communities, Canna & Muck retain old agricultural ties, while rum and Eigg turn to craft skills and small crofting. Each island has a character of their own, Rum, dark and forboding offers a safe haven in stormy weather, Eigg dominates with the Sgurr, a great walk for superb views, Muck is really very charming indeed, gentle and verdant with awesome views back towards Rum. Ponies and cows roam the white sandy beaches and its not unknown for the laird to bid you good-day from his old tractor. Whatever your island odyssey, there is a place for all here.
As the Small Isles fade astern, Ardnamurchan Point with her dominant lighthouse beckons us into the shelter of the Sound of Mull. At 25NM long, the sound offers plenty of sailing in flat water, magnificent views of Mull and Sunart and plenty of sheltered bays. Although Tobermory is a favourite for the charismatic street of painted cottages, fab fish ‘n’ chips and not forgetting the famous Mishnish inn , I prefer the quiet of Na Drom Buidhe, a small bay sheltered by Isle Ornsay on the Drimnin peninsular, a haven for otters and often a White tailed eagle flies overhead. The autumn brings in the mackerel and the pool here can be teeming with them and they are great for breakfast.
The sound opens up to the beginning of the great glen, at the western end of Lismore you can see, stretching far into the distance, the magnificent mountain range culminating in Ben Nevis, Britains highest peak. This ‘great glen’ cuts across Scotland, divided by Loch’s Ness, Oich and Lochy all joined by the Caledonian canal and terminating at Inverness on the North Sea coast. Our journey, however, must terminate here, at the gateway to the Isles and the bustling port of Oban. Our final night is spent close by but a promise of a final anchorage in a secluded loch offers a farewell to the magic of Scotland and all that draws us back time after time.
Wildlife is guaranteed at this time of year and not a week passes without seeing at least 3 of the big 5. Red Deer, Otter, Seal, Golden Eagle and of course the Red Squirrel.
Shiant will provide us with seals and eagles fly close by. Outer Hebrides for its abundant plant life where many frare and endangered plants are native to the islands.
Grey seals inhabit the waters, while birdlife include: Shearwaters, storm petrels, fulmar, kittiwakes, puffins guillemot and razorbills.
Whales and dolphins are often seen out in the Minch mostly Minke but Orca have been known to visit these waters.
How to get there:
By Rail: To Inverness then change for Ullapool. A journey of under two hours.
Fly: From Bristol, London Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton, BirminghamUnited Kingdom Belfast City Cardiff East Midland Exeter Leeds Bradford Manchester Norwich and Southampton.
Departing From Oban: By rail to Queen Street in Glasgow or bus direct to airports.
Please note that you will need to arrange your own travel insurance, which covers you for the duration of your voyage. We recommend Topsail Insurance, which offers single policies from about £20.
McCaigs Folly, Oban
Oban whisky distillery
Lunch at the Seafood Bar for the best shellfish and sandwiches.
Walk Kerrera to stretch your legs.
Nikki Mobile: 07800 825 382