Exploring the Isles of the West – 9 night guided cruise

Availability Sat 2nd June to Mon 11th June 1 place (male sharing a twin cabin)
Twin cabin £1895 per person
Marc Calhoun is a writer and traveller, he has been cruising with Northern Lights for many years, his knowledge and enthusiasm for the people and history of the Hebrides is extraordinary. This exciting itinerary is the result of conversations with Marc encouraging him to devise a wish list of some favourite islands we could incorporate into a cruise. For more about Marc, and his travels to the Scottish islands, see his two books, Exploring the Isles of the West – Firth of Clyde to the Small Isles, and Exploring the Isles of the West – Skye and Tiree to the Outer Isles. Also see his website at
Marc will offer his advice and knowledge on the various islands. Depending on the island, he will lead guests on a short walk near the landing place, followed by a longer, and more strenuous walk further afield. (Note that some walks may involve crossing trackless, rough, steep, and boggy terrain. As such, they may not be suitable for all guests, and sturdy, waterproof footwear may be required.) As usual with all our cruises, if you wish to explore on your own you’re more than welcome to do so.
Destination: Guests join motor vessel Hjalmar Bjorge around 1600 on Saturday 2 June in Oban. Our departure shortly thereafter will see us on anchor for our first evening meal aboard.
We will aim to make a grand circuit around Mull and Jura. If conditions allow we’ll venture as far south as Cara and Gigha; a route that opens up a large selection of amazing islands to visit.
garvellachs by Marc Calhoun

Monastic Beehive Cells – Garvellachs

The Garvelachs: On Eileach an Naoimh lie the extensive ruins of St Brendan’s monastery, including the largest corbelled stone beehive cells in the Hebrides.

Belnahua: A historic island whose slates have roofed the world. The ruins of the quarry are still in place, just as they left them 100 years ago.
Belnahua by Marc Calhoun

The slate quarry, Belnahua

Scarba: The guardian of the Corryvreckan whirlpool. If the wind and tides are right the whirlpool is an amazing sight. If we manage to land, a hike to a whirlpool viewpoint is possible.

EileanMor by Marc Calhoun

St Charmaig’s Chapel and Cross – Eilean Mor

Eilean Mor of the MacCormaig Isles: A fascinating tiny island, once the hermitage of St Charmaig. Sites to see are its pilgrim chapels, Celtic crosses, St Cormac’s effigy, and his hermitage cave.

Cara: Once an outpost of St Fionnlugh, Cara is home to the mysterious Brownie. If he lets us get ashore we’ll sit in his giant chair.
Jura: With its vast raised beaches, Jura’s West Loch Tarbert is one of the most remote places in the Southern Hebrides.

Oronsay: This tidal island is connected to Colonsay at

Prior Colin’s Cross - Oronsay

Prior Colin’s Cross – Oronsay

low tide. We hope to land directly on Oronsay to visit the priory ruins, including the magnificent Prior Colin’s Cross. Also to see is one of the best collections of carved medieval grave-slabs in Scotland.



Inchkenneth by Marc Calhoun

Monastic ruins, Inchkenneth

Another important outpost of the early Celtic Church. Sites to be seen are the ancient burial ground, Celtic Cross, and the ruins of St Kenneth’s Monastery. The solitary mansion on the island was once lived in by Harold Boulton (who wrote the lyrics to The Skye Boat Song), and from 1935 to 1965 by the Mitford family.

Texa: With possible connections to St Kenneth, this island’s monastery may have been an important site in the early Celtic Church. Texa is exposed to the open sea, and is rarely visited.
Treshnish Isles (Cairnaburgs and Lunga): The castles on the tiny Cairnaburgs once controlled the seaways. They were pummeled by cannon during the Jacobite battles of 1715, but substantial remnants, and a solitary chapel, are still to be seen. Lunga is famous for its puffins, but not to be missed is Dun Cruit (Harp Rock), home to a vast assortment of other seabirds. For those who like caves, Lunga has a dark subterranean passage that leads from the centre of the island to the shore.
Ulva/Gometra: Several good selection of walks are available on Ulva. And on Gometra a walk to Baileaclaidh is possible, one of the largest clearance villages in the islands.
Skipper Mark with Seven on Errad's Balfour beach

Skipper Mark with Seven on Errad’s Balfour beach

Erraid: The island base used by the Stevenson’s for the construction of Dubh Artach lighthouse. The lightkeeper’s homes are now used for retreats by the Findhorn Foundation. Another Stevenson connection is RLS’s use of the island in Kidnapped, where he briefly stranded David Balfour (until David realized it’s connected to Mull at low tide).

Coll: If time permits we’ll venture west to Coll; its waters are prime for whale watching.

We arrive back in Oban for your departure after breakfast on Monday 11 June.



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