Armadale, Scotland

Jul 27, 2019 - Lord of the Glens


The misty morning had a characteristic Scottish gloom as we headed from Inverie to the Skye port of Armadale. The sea, however, was absolutely flat – like a mirror reflecting the hazy sky. With fantastic conditions, those of us on the bow before and after breakfast managed to spot five harbor porpoise, Manx shearwaters, common guillemots, harbor seals, and hundreds of jelly fish – moon and lion’s mane – drifting in the water column.

Once at Armadale, we left the ship for a scenic walk to the Clan Donald Centre. The center has beautiful grounds that we explored before heading into the museum. Plant hunters from the Victorian period traveled out across the world and brought rare and beautiful plants back to Scottish estates, such as Californian cypress trees, rhododendrons from the Himalayas, and other exquisite and exotic flowers. We admired all of these before heading inside to learn about the true, rich history of the Donald clan and the people of the Hebrides.

The Hebrides is a sea kingdom, a marriage of Norse and Celtic cultures. It is historically a place of great poetry, song, and art as well as skilled craft and engineering. In representation of this, the center was hosting a poetry trail featuring some of the greatest Hebridean poets such as Jacobite warrior Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair.

After a delicious lunch back aboard ship, we headed out for some more history at Kyle of Lochalsh. A kyle is a rushing, narrow passage of water, and these rushing narrows pass the small town of Lochalsh. From our new berth, we joined a bus and traveled to Eilean Donan Castle, the ancestral seat of the Macreas. The castle was in ruins for 200 years before a reconstruction by Farquar Macrea was completed in 1932.

Then we traveled across the Skye Bridge, back to Skye to visit one last castle Castle Maol at Kyleakin. In stark contrast to Eilean Donan, Castle Maol was hit by lightning several years ago and is now a ruin, yet beautiful and original in its design.

We wrapped up a fantastic week in Scotland at the farewell party and enjoyed one last meal, during which our hotel manager, Brian, gave an impassioned address to the haggis.

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About the Author

Ella Potts

Naturalist

Growing up, Ella spent much of her time swimming and kayaking in the cold waters off the rugged coast of West Wales. It was there that she first found her love of the ocean. From those early beginnings she went on to study Biology at undergraduate degree and Environmental Biology, Conservation and Resource Management to Masters degree level, at Swansea University. During her studies, Ella took an ecosystem approach towards assessing the health of our marine systems, with her specialism being in our oceans apex predators, the cetaceans. Following her studies, Ella decided to put her scientific background to good use and move into marine conservation.

About the Photographer

Steve Morello

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Steve Morello has had a long and colorful career in the natural history world. Born in New Jersey he was lucky to be able to summer on the shores of Cape Cod. Whether it was exploring the tidal pools, snorkeling along the beach, or hiking in the dunes, it all came together to instill in him a deep connection to the natural world. It was no surprise that he would return to the Cape as a whale researcher in his adult years. It was on the Cape that Steve first became involved in guiding, and for 15 years acted as naturalist on whale watching boats in the Gulf of Maine. Steve worked with groups creating environmental education material for school programs and soon found another one of his passions, photography.

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