Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Kyle of Lochalsh

    We awoke to clear skies and light air with the sure prospect of a fine day ahead. As we sailed “over the sea to Skye” during breakfast, out of Loch Nevis, with the town of Mallaig on the mainland and the Isle of Eigg on our port quarter, we experienced exceptional visibility. An hour’s sailing brought us to the pierhead at Armadale on the Isle of Skye, the largest of the Hebridean islands, rich in history and with a varied landscape that has made it a mecca for hillwalkers. From our mooring, we could walk to the Clan Donald Centre, an excellent museum that offered a revision course in some of the major themes in Scottish history covered on our voyage: the arrival of the Gaels from northern Ireland in the middle of the first millennium; the coming of Christianity, also from Ireland; the establishment of the medieval thassalocracy, known as the Lordship of the Isles. There was time to enjoy the gardens, containing many specimens brought back to Scotland by the Scottish plant hunters of the early nineteenth century.

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  • Tobermory & Inverie

    We woke in Tobermory to a showery day, with the morning to explore this colorful waterfront town. Despite the rain, a group walked out to a nearby lighthouse, following a trail through the Celtic rainforest, with moss, lichen, and ferns coating the trees along the way. Our endpoint was a picturesque Stevenson lighthouse, designed by the family of Robert Louis Stevenson. Those who didn’t take the walk spent the morning shopping in town, perusing offerings from chocolates to books.

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  • Iona

    The high winds of yesterday that had led to widespread ferry cancelations in the Hebrides had died away, enabling us to venture out of the sheltered anchorage of Oban bay to make for the Isle of Mull, the second largest of the Inner Hebridean islands and one with an exceptionally long, highly indented coastline. It is an island celebrated for its wildlife, golden and white-tailed eagles, shorebirds, and rich marine life, including minke whales, orcas, and seasonal basking sharks. We disembarked at Craignure and drove in a long diagonal across the island, along a single-track road with passing places, to Fionnphort where we met the ferry for Iona.

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  • Corpach & Oban

    We left the Caledonian Canal and ventured into the sea, passing through the last lock of the trip. For the remainder of our week we will be sailing through saltwater, exploring the Inner Hebrides on our way over to the Kyle of Lochalsh. As we traveled from Corpach to Oban along Loch Linnhe, we were still within the Great Glen Fault, though beyond the stretch of the canal. As we sailed to our day’s destination of Oban, we heard a talk on the different populations that came into the country and the advent of Celtic Christianity to Scotland, preparing us for our eventual trip to Iona.

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  • Glenfinnan

    Over breakfast we cast off at the top of the flight of locks in Fort Augustus in sunshine and heavy showers, completing our transit of the Caledonian Canal. Although we were held up at Laggan Locks which were under repair, we enjoyed a few presentations by staff as we advanced along the canal to its highest point at Loch Oich before crossing the shallow Loch Lochy over lunch. By early afternoon we had arrived at the top of Neptune’s Staircase—an impressive flight of eight locks that lowers the canal down to the Atlantic sea lock at Corpach. We overnighted in the Corpach basin beneath the great massif of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain on mainland Britain.

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  • Culloden, Loch Ness & Fort Augustus

    Our week in the Highlands began last night with a welcome dinner and young Highland dancers from an award-winning Inverness dance school. The following morning, we started our journey on Lord of the Glens along the Caledonian Canal, 60 miles of both natural lochs and constructed canal, running along the natural fault line of the Great Glen. We will travel southwest along the canal for the next two days.

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  • Fort Augustus – Loch Ness – Culloden – Inverness

    A steady rain accompanied us as Lord of the Glens made her way down the locks of Fort Augustus and across Loch Ness. Loch Ness is remarkable for more than its famous monster: Created during the Caledonian Orogeny around 450 million years ago and carved by Ice Age glaciers, Loch Ness is 23 miles long, 755 feet deep, and is large enough to hold as much fresh water as England and Wales combined.

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  • Fort Augustus

    Wet, windy weather greeted us today at our berth in Corpach and followed us through the morning. From this point on we will be traveling in the Caledonian Canal: 60 miles of constructed canal and natural lochs, with a total of 29 locks. We climbed several of those locks this morning, ascending Neptune’s Staircase, a series of 8 locks that raise the canal by 19 meters (62 feet) over a quarter mile. With the wind and rain, many chose to enjoy this first experience of the Canal’s locks indoors, either in the lounge or on the bridge.

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  • Oban to Corpach

    Oban means “little bay” in Gaelic. It’s situation in the lee of Kerrera makes it a safe anchorage in the Highlands and it is much used by fishing boats, visiting yachts, and the inter-island ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. The town became a fashionable resort following a visit by Queen Victoria in the company of Felix Mendelssohn, the latter staying at Dunollie Castle on the outskirts of the town. A visit to the Oban Distillery, conveniently but unusually located in the center of town since it was opened in 1794, was followed by a tasting session. We cast off at noon and enjoyed a lunch of the fresh mussels we had collected the previous day at Inverlussa on the isle of Mull. Heading along Loch Linnhe toward Fort William, we had time for a presentation on Scottish history before arriving at Corpach to enter the Atlantic sea lock of the Caledonian Canal.

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  • Iona

    We enjoyed true Scottish liquid sunshine—hey, things could only improve!—as we slipped our moorings in Tobermory at dawn and set course for Craignure along the Sound of Mull, the second largest of the Hebridean islands with some 300 miles of highly indented coastline. It is an island celebrated for its wildlife—golden- and white-tailed eagles, shorebirds, and marine life, including the minke whales we observed yesterday, on orca pod, and seasonal basking sharks. From Craignure, we drove in a long diagonal across the island, along a single-track road with passing places, to Fionnphort where we met the ferry for Iona.

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