Isles of the Sea (including the Garvellachs) – 6 night cruise
|Availability||Sat 15th to Friday 21st September||2 places (1 twin cabin)
A gentle cruise exploring Mull, Iona, Erraid and the Isles to the south of Mull, the Garvellachs, Colonsay, Oronsay, Jura and Scarba. If conditions allow we’ll also make the passage through the Gulf of Corryvreckan. Daily walks to explore remote sites of historic and archaeological interest. Dark skies with the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights.
Outline itinerary: Hjalmar Bjorge will depart Oban at approximately 1600 on Saturday 15 September for a leisurely cruise across the Firth of Lorne to either Loch Spelve or Loch Buie on Mull. After a peaceful night on anchor (despite roaring stags), we may have a short walk ashore before moving on. If weather conditions allow we’ll land on the Garvellachs (Colomba’s mother is reputedly buried here) and explore the amazing chapels and bee hive remains on Eileach an Naoimh. From here, making the best of the natural shelter of the islands we’ll explore as far west as Iona and Erraid, to the south we’ll aim to land on Colonsay and Oronsay; another of our favourite islands, stark, white sand beaches populated by grey seals, the priory with its amazing carvings is also well worth a visit. Mesolithic middens have been excavated on the island and there is also a Viking ship burial. Returning east via Jura, those so inclined might wish to sample the excellent Malt Whisky produced here (Craighouse). Travelling north if conditions allow we’ll pass through the Gulf of Corryvrechan, we may also land on Scarba. Our final evening will be spent on anchor close to Oban before our return on Friday 21 September. Guests will disembark after a final substantial breakfast – brunch.
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 – Acrobatic Choughs on their Scottish breeding strongholds of Colonsay and Oronsay – Smart Dippers & Grey Wagtails bobbing along stream sides – 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 – Gannets plunge diving for food – Hooded Crows, strikingly different from their southern cousins – Incredibly acrobatic Ravens giving everything else in the sky a flying lesson – Skuas, both Arctic and Bonxies shadow the boat, parasitizing other seabirds of their food.
Cetacean encounters most commonly with Minke, Humpback’s are a less frequent visitor – 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!
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.