Ullapool - Oban: Hebrides 2
A visit to the Hebrides
Ullapool - Oban
Mon. 20 - 08 - '18
Thu. 30 - 08 - '18
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This sailing voyage leads to practically uninhabited and rugged areas that will be appealing to nature lovers. At the coast of Scotland, we find deep lochs and small fishing-villages. The hundreds of islands of the Hebrides have their own character, are very isolated and therefore entirely self-reliant. This area is rich in seabirds, which usually breed on the steep cliff walls. With the ‘Oosterschelde’, a relatively small ship, we will visit unique places that cannot be reached over land. During the crossings between different islands the chances are high that we will spot whales and seals. We will try our utmost best to visit St. Kilda, but weather and wind are of great influence in this area. Even if it is not possible to visit St. Kilda, there are countless other special places in this area which are worth a visit. During the voyage, we sail as much as possible. There will also be enough time to go on land to explore the coasts, culture and animal life. Besides gorgeous nature, Scotland also has a fascinating history. You can find it in the castles and the standing stones. And many who think of Scotland think of Whiskey. During the voyage, there is plenty of time to explore all aspects of this extraordinary area.
Day 1. The crew will welcome you onboard. The cabins will be assigned and you will meet the other quests. The captain will explain everything on board and give you the safety instructions. We enjoy a quiet first evening.
Day 2. In the morning, we leave Ullapool and set course to Stornoway, where we will arrive at the end of the day. We will set sail as fast as possible and make a great sailing day so everyone gets used to sailing the ship.
Day 3. We will arrive in Stornoway, which is the only town on the Outer Hebrides and has 8000 inhabitants. There is a museum that displays the life on the island, in the harbour is a colony of Grey Seals and around Lewis Castle is a forest with the only Rook-colony of the Hebrides. It is also possible to take the bus to the Calanais Standing Stones; a collection of standing stones from the early Bronze era.
Day 4. Today we leave early in the morning and sail up north, where we will pass the so-called Butt of Lewis, to sail to the Flannan Islands. We will sail close to the rugged coast with deep lochs, bays and beaches. A spectacular place to watch seabirds. Also, Killer Whales are often seen here. It is not possible to go on land on these small islands, so we sail further to St Kilda. Sometime in the night we will drop anchor in the bay near the main island; Hirta.
Day 5. Hirta, St Kilda. We will stay at anchor all day so we have the time to explore this island.
St. Kilda lies approximately 40 sea miles west of the Outer Hebrides. Hirta is the biggest of the islands and has been inhabited by the Celts as long as people can remember. In 1957 the National Trust for Scotland became the owner and made St. Kilda a nature reserve. In 1986 St Kilda became part of the Unesco World Heritage List. For millennia the Celtic community on St. Kilda has been dependant on whatever the island group had to offer. Sheep, birds and some cows. Meat, fat, eggs and wool. Then thousands of birds were caught every year, especially Auks, Northern Fulmars and Northern Gannets. Dangerous tours were made to climb the cliffs; especially the islands in the north (Boreray, Stac and Stac Armin) consist of nothing more than steep rocks. At the end of the 17th century, when there lived about 180 people, they had one boat of 16 el. As far as we know they have never made boats of their own.
The St. Kildans lived in houses made of boulders with roofs made of turf and hay, without chimneys or windows. In the 1830’s wood and glass were introduced. The old houses became stables and stores. The old feudal Celtic community of St. Kilda was gradually destroyed by the influence the Angelsaksians from the mainland. Strict Christianity and education came first, later on stone houses with sanitary, charity and tourism. On August 29th 1930 the British government removed the last
39 inhabitants. Bulldozers destroyed most of the old houses. The National Trust has stimulated the tourism on St. Kilda and has restored some of the houses, the church and the school.
Twenty species of birds are breeding at St. Kilda, with over a million birds with about 300.000 nests. On Boreray and the Stacs a fourth of all the Gannets of the North Atlantic, about 60.000 pares. The most common seabird in the archipelago is the Atlantic Puffin, in the past there were millions of pares. Special is the St. Kilda Wren, with a larger than average beak and a different song; with an estimate 250 pares. No other seabird island can be compared to St. Kilda. We will stay anchored and go to shore. At the beginning of this century the St. Kildans were still living very primitive compared to the rest of Europe. They lived of sheep, some farming and mostly bird catching. Once a year a ship with knives, needle and thread sailed to the islands and traded the products for dried birds and tweed.
Day 6. Early in the morning we sail to the island Skye. Just like on many other islands of the Hebrides, the main language is Gaelic. The inhabitants describe the island poetically as ‘the island of mist under the shadow of the high mountains’. There is plenty of choice what to do here. There is a 13th century castle and there are a few 18th century gardens, there is a seal colony or perhaps we can visit Talisker for a whiskey-tour. Depending on our destination we will arrive late afternoon or in the evening.
Day 7. In the morning, we will have time to do an activity on Skye. Then, we will hoist the sails for a short voyage to Canna, one of the ‘small islands’. This island is 11,3 square KM large, and has 19 inhabitants. It is breeding ground for many seabirds, such as the fulmar and puffin. It is a beautiful place for an evening walk.
Day 8. We set course south to the island of Mull. At the West coast of Mull, we find lots of small rocky islands. The island of Staffa will emerge as a steep, volcanic rock cliff. This island is home to numerous birds. Mendelssohn got inspiration for his Hebrides-overture on Staffa. We will visit Fingal’s Cave, a deep basalt cave, by dinghy. We will go ashore for a walk. We cannot anchor at the island so we will find a bay to spend the night.
Day 9. After breakfast we will sail to Tobermory, a stunning village with coloured houses. We have time for a walk in the park around the bay, to drink a hot Chocomilk on a terrace or a tour at the Tobermory Distillery. There is also a small museum in this picturesque village.
Day 10. Today we sail trough the Sound of Mull, next to a few ruins of castles. For those who want to, it is possible to hike a part of this voyage on a path next to the waters where we sail. Late in the afternoon we will arrive in Oban. Our cook will prepare an extensive goodbye dinner and we will end the voyage in a festive way.
Day 11. After breakfast, the bags will be packed. We say our goodbyes and leave the ship.
This description is meant to give you an impression of how a voyage could look like. Depending on wind and weather conditions the travel plan could be altered, however we always try to sail as much as possible.