Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Across Loch Ness to Inverness

    Fort Augustus was named for the Duke of Cumberland, commander of the victorious Hanoverian army at the Battle of Culloden, that momentous turning point in British (and indeed, European) history, when Britain confirmed its position as a leading protestant power. The fort was built to pacify this central part of the Great Glen, and its remains are still visible, incorporated into the foundations of a gym for a new resort complex on the site of the former Abbey School. Fort Augustus today relies heavily on tourism, especially the summer pastime of watching boats and yachts navigate the flight of locks around which the modern settlement is clustered. The previous settlement, known by the Gaelic name Kilchuimen, was erased in the clearances that followed Culloden; only its burial ground remains. We visited the site on a hike last evening.

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  • Corpach to Fort Augustus

    This morning we started our journey up the Caledonian Canal following the Great Glen’s natural fault line up to our final destination of Inverness. Thomas Telford engineered the Canal, which was constructed between 1803 and 1822 and includes 22 miles of manmade canal, 38 miles of open lakes, and a total of 27 locks to pass through. The morning started with a climb up Neptune’s Staircase, a series of eight locks that raise the canal by 19m (62ft) over a quarter of a mile.

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  • Oban to Corpach

    A safe anchorage for yachts, a fishing harbour, a railway terminus (trains to Glasgow) and port of departure by ferry to islands in both the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Oban bustles as a commercial and administrative centre for Argyll, the land of the Gaels. A visit by Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort aboard the royal yacht Victoria and Albert in August 1847 launched modern tourism in the town which today markets itself as Scotland’s seafood capital. The town’s setting is spectacular, sheltered by the island of Kerrera with its conspicuous memorial to David Hutcheson who started ferry services from in the town with his brother-in-law David MacBrayne in 1851 a few years after Queen Victoria’s visit to the town. Guarding the entrance to the harbour is Dunollie Castle, ancestral seat of the MacDougalls. Overlooking the town is McCaig’s Tower, a vainglorious but spectacular folly commemorating the McCaig family and using up a considerable portion of the family fortune; the monument remains incomplete but affords remarkable views over the bay.

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  • Tobermory – Iona – Duart Castle – Oban

    The rumble of the Lord of the Glens’ engine provided our wake-up call this morning. During breakfast, we sailed from Tobermory to Craignure, with sunshine lighting the way. A bus ride across the Isle of Mull, with its green slopes and rugged terrain, kicked off the day’s activities, with a lively, joke-filled commentary from our bus driver. Mull is one of the large islands of the Inner Hebrides, with a population of just over 3,000. On the far side of Mull, we left the bus to take a short ferry ride over to Iona.

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  • Isle of Eigg

    We sailed early from Inverie on the mainland, in calm waters and light airs for a two-hour passage to the Isle of Eigg, most populous of the Small Isles with over 100 inhabitants. At the turn of the nineteenth century some 500 souls lived on the island. It has always been regarded as the parent island of a group that includes Canna, Rum and Muck, with the schoolmaster and clergy (both Catholic and Protestant) based on the island. The passage enabled us to hear a presentation on Scottish nature and prepare for the onshore activities, a more strenuous hike in the direction of An Sgurr, a massive column of pitchstone, as explained by our geologist who led this activity. A gentler walk along the shoreline covered history and botany and van transport took the photographers to the Bay of Laig on the remote northwest coast. By the end of the morning the sky was blue and we were basking in warm sunshine. 

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  • Eilean Donan, Armadale, Inverie

    Our first full day on the Lord of the Glens started with a bright, breezy morning at Kyle of Lochalsh. We had the difficult choice of either heading off for a hike in the Cuillins of Skye, or visiting Eilean Donan castle. Either outing promised an interesting, beautiful introduction to the nature and culture of the Highlands. 

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  • Isle of Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh

    Our morning sail brought us to the Isle of Skye, where we pulled in at Armadale and set off for the Clan Donald Centre. The Centre’s Museum provides an excellent history of the Lord of the Isles, starting the story with the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, which lasted from about 500-1000AD. Dalriada included lands in Ireland and Scotland, and is considered by many to be the birthplace of modern Scotland. In ensuing years, the Lord of the Isles developed, a line of nobility from a mixed Viking-Gaelic ancestry that ruled over the west coast and islands of Scotland until the 15th century. 

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  • Tobermory and Eigg

    Despite the wet weather, the colorful village of Tobermory appeared as picturesque as a postcard as everyone bundled off the Lord of the Glens, dressed for rain and ready to explore. The fishing village of just over 1,000 inhabitants is home to a third of the population of the Isle of Mull. It holds a range of unique and wonderful attractions, including a catch-and-release aquarium, bespoke silver shop, soap shop, and its very own distillery. 

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  • Inverary

    We awoke at Corpach in very boisterous conditions as Storm Hector moved through the west of Scotland. The Finish markers for the Three Peaks Yacht Race had blown away overnight and all island ferries had been cancelled as weather warnings had been issued. It was quickly determined that it was not going to be possible to move out of the sea lock from our protected berth and Plan B was activated: we were to depart by coach for a visit to Inverary Castle. 

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