Scottish Highlands

Aug 01, 2019 - Lord of the Glens


After waking up in Craignure, we departed the Isle of Mull and headed to the mainland and the port town of Oban. Oban is a bustling metropolis of the west coast, with a population of 25,000 and a thoroughfare for ferries, taking people to and from the Hebridean Islands. As we sailed across the Firth of Lorne, it became clear that it was going to be another glorious, sunny day.

Docking in at Oban, we departed the ship for a bit of morning whisky tasting. We headed across town to Oban Distillery where we were given a tour before tasting some 14-year-old single malt. With our new-found expertise gained from Francis the night before, we were able to truly appreciate this fine drink in all its glory. Following the tasting, we headed up the hill to visit McCaigs tower—a folly at the top of the town, which was never completed but commissioned by a rich Scottish banker who wanted to memorialize his family. Building works stopped in 1902 upon his untimely death.

After our walk we set sail again, this time up Loch Linnhe and into the Great Glen Fault. Loch Linnhe is a 31-mile-long sea loch, so as we headed toward our first loch on the Caledonian Canal at Corpach, we spotted our last few marine bird species. A few rafts of guillemots saw us off as the mountains on our either side grew higher and higher.

We sailed past the military town of Fort William, historically named Inverlochy as we approached Corpach. Corpach is a small village north of Fort William with a name that translates to “field of corpses”—a lovely name for a village. The name refers to the historic use of the village as an important stopover for the bodies of Scotland’s celebrated dead en route to Iona Abbey to be buried.

Upon arrival in Corpach, we headed off for our afternoon excursions: kayaking or visiting the Estate of Glenfinnan. Those of us who went to Glenfinnan walked to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famously featured in Harry Potter, or enjoyed a nature walk through native woodland on the way to a monument celebrating the fallen highlanders who lost their lives during the Jacobite rebellion.

In the clear afternoon, we spotted the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, which stands over Fort William at 4,411 feet high. After an afternoon in the sun, we headed back to the ship for recap, dinner, and then a captivating talk by Glenfinnan Estate Manager Alasdair Gibson. Another incredible day in the Scottish Highlands.

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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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