Flannans and North Hebridean explorer – 9 night cruise
|Availability||Weds 11th July to Fri 20th July||3-4 places (1 single/twin cabin, 1 twin cabin*)
* Twin cabin £1800 per person, single cabin £2160
A cruise designed to discover some of the more remote Northern Hebridean islands. Visit the Shiants before venturing north and rounding the Butt of Lewis. We’ll explore some of the wonderful islands in West Loch Roag and then on to the Flannans and other lesser known islands on the west coast of Lewis and Harris. If conditions allow we’ll also land on some of the islands in the Sound of Harris. Daily walks, large numbers of birds and high likelihood of cetaceans, particularly round Lewis.
Destination: Guests join motor vessel Hjalmar Bjorge at around 1300 on Wednesday 11 July in Oban. Our departure shortly after a light lunch will see is on anchor in the vicinity of the Small Isles for our first evening aboard.
The itinerary is dependent on weather – balancing shelter with reaching our preferred destinations – but may include, for example, some of the following destinations: the Small Isles, Shiants, Little & Great Berneray, Pabbay, Boreray. We will specifically aim to land on the Shiants and Flannans and explore these wonderful islands with their large seabird colonies and interesting archaeological remains. Expect sea and golden eagles, cetaceans (such as dolphins, minke whales and basking sharks) and lots of seabirds such as gannets, puffins, guillemots, terns, skuas and razorbills.
This cruise will not visit St Kilda. On the final day we will return to Oban having breakfast there before your departure on Friday 20 July.
Wildlife highlights we’ve enjoyed on previous cruises:
Birds of prey like Buzzards & Kestrel are widespread, with Sparrowhawk & Peregrine needing more patience & luck is needed to see the diminutive Merlin – Black Guillemots (known as Tysties) in their striking plumage – Rasping Corncrake heard & sometimes seen if we’re lucky, in Flag Iris beds or our traditional hay meadows – Responsible viewing of Golden & Sea Eagles as they afford privileged views on their territories, hunting for prey to feed their chicks in spring, with sightings of successfully fledged young ending the season – Fulmars with their highly effective & pungent nest defence – Snowstorms of Gannets at their colonies on Sula Sgeir & the Flannans, or plunge diving for food on the open sea – Hooded Crows, strikingly different from their southern cousins – Insects such as the striking Golden-ringed Dragonfly, astonishingly beautiful Fritillary & Scotch Argus butterflies, or the rare Great Yellow Bumblebee found only on a few Scottish islands – Haunting calls of breeding waders on the Machair, meadows & moorlands, with significant numbers of Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Snipe, Redshank, Ringed & Golden Plover, Oystercatcher & Lapwing – Kittiwakes calling their names at breeding colonies or roaming the Minch on feeding sorties – Storm Petrels are regular as we cross the Minch or on the approach to St Kilda, the Flannans & North Rona – Rum’s massive Manx Shearwater colony allows incredible views as they raft offshore around the Small Isles or shear the waves in feeding parties – Incredibly acrobatic Ravens giving everything else in the sky a flying lesson – overwhelming sight, sound & smell of seabird colonies with their breeding Puffins, Guillemots & Razorbills, & later in the season Pufflings & Jumplings entertain as they paddle around the boat or form rafts with their parents after fledging– Skuas, both Arctic and Bonxies, vigorously protect their young on islands or shadow the boat, parasitizing other seabirds of their food – scattered colonies of sensitive breeding Arctic & Common Terns.
Cetacean encounters most commonly with Minke, Humpback’s are a less frequent visitor, occasional sightings of Fin and Sperm whale – the Hebrides have a resident Pod of Orca and the area is occasionally visited by an Icelandic pod – frequent encounters with Common, Bottlenose & Whitebeak dolphins, Risso & Whitesided dolphins are also occasionally sighted – Basking sharks have been scarce the last few years but are still seen and seem to be returning, we know the hot spots!
Please Note: The above map indicates an area within which we are likely to travel. Weather and the interests and abilities of guests influence the skipper’s final decision. Sightings and findings are examples from previous similar cruises; the list is neither exhaustive nor guaranteed.
DID YOU KNOW?
Atlantic puffins have penguin-like colouring but they sport a colourful beak that has led some to dub them the "sea parrot". The beak fades to a drab grey during the winter and blooms with colour again in the spring.