Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Fort Augustus, Corpach, and Glenfinnan

    Today we continued southwest down through the Caledonian Canal. Our morning sail took us over the highest point of the Canal at Loch Oich, 106 feet above sea level. The journey included the narrow, tree-lined stretch of Laggan Avenue, and the Moy Swing Bridge, the last hand-cranked bridge along the canal. The weather remained nice enough so we could enjoy the sights from the deck, although not quite as warm and sunny as yesterday.

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  • Culloden, Loch Ness, and Fort Augustus

    Bright sun, warm temperatures, light breeze. In Scotland? Yes! On a rare summer day of heat and endless blue skies, we enjoyed a variety of outings and activities, starting with the Culloden Battlefield.

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  • Fort Augustus, Culloden and Clava Cairns

    Over breakfast we cast off at the top of the flight of five locks around which the small settlement of Fort Augustus has grown up to descend 40 feet into Loch Ness. Loch Ness is the largest body of inland water in the British Isles and is deeper than the North Sea. Fort Augustus is named for the brother of King George II who led the victorious army against the Jacobite forces at Culloden.

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  • Banavie – Fort Augustus

    Today we began our two-day journey up the Caledonian Canal to Inverness. Our morning started with a climb up Neptune’s Staircase, a series of eight locks that took us into a stretch of the canal between the sea and Loch Lochy. Ben Nevis towered above, the highest mountain in the UK. Cloud and mist shrouded the summit, making the peak look like a mighty massif.

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  • Oban and Glenfinnan

    We woke up in Oban on the Northern Lights Pier. A shuttle took us in groups to the Oban Distillery for a tour of its historic facilities, in situ since 1794. The town has much to offer as a service centre for the people of Argyll and the Hebridean Islands, with its large Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal always busy and local fishing boats coming and going throughout the day. Oban is a sheltered harbour with a dramatic setting affording wonderful views.

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  • Iona and Duart Castle, Isle of Mull

    Over breakfast we sailed from Tobermory to Craignure, where our coach was waiting to take us across the Ross of Mull to meet the ferry for Iona. The inimitable Samuel Johnson (sometimes knows as Dr. Johnson) referenced Iona in his classic account of a journey taken in these waters in 1773, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, in which he makes the classic case for travel in any age: “That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warm among the ruins of Iona”. 

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  • Inverie-Eigg-Tobermory

    This morning we enjoyed sunshine and blue skies as we sailed from Inverie to the Isle of Eigg. On our way, Eric gave a presentation about iPhone photography.

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  • Kyle of Lochalsh – Armadale – Inverie

    Shortly after breakfast, two blue coaches pulled up to the boat to take us on our morning outings. One group ventured off with Robin and Eric into the heart of the Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye. The Cuillin Mountains are volcanic and they were formed over 60 million years ago. The Black Cuillins are made of dark volcanic gabbro and the Red Cuillins are made of rusty-red granite. Our path went between the Black and the Red peaks, traveling up the Sligachan Valley. Bright yellow bog asphodel, lavender bell heather, and white cottongrass splashed color across the valley. A few sundews grew along the trail, an insectivorous plant that can make a hearty meal of the midges that accompanied us for part of the walk. 

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  • Kyle of Lochalsh

    The Clan Donald Center, the ancestral home of Clan Donald, was the focus of our morning in Armadale. The small but informative museum provided a historical overview of the Lord of the Isles, a line of nobility from a mixed Viking-Gaelic ancestry that ruled over the west coast and islands of Scotland until the 15th century. The ruins of the Armadale Castle are not far from the museum. Constructed in 1815, the castle was burnt down in the 1850s. The center also has fine gardens and nature trails, providing us with a peaceful place to stroll throughout the morning.

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  • Tobermory – Armadale

    Morning found us enjoying the pleasant town of Tobermory, with its cheerful waterfront display of multi-colored buildings. A few guests set off on a coastal trail with Eric and Robin, walking out to a waterfall, while others explored the area independently. The coastal vegetation is an example of the Atlantic rain forest, a lush forest dripping with moss and lichen that’s made possible by the Atlantic Gulf Stream that buffers the climate for Scotland, giving milder winters and cool summers.

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