Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Lord of the Glens

    It was a fine morning as we cast of from our berth at Fort Augustus and started our descent of the four locks clustered there. These locks lie at the heart of the tiny village, with the swing bridge at the bottom. Through we sailed in our stately passage, past the former fort, later occupied by a 19th-century Benedictine Abbey and past a historic pepper-pot lighthouse before entering the waters of Loch Ness itself. This 23-mile long body of fresh water is the largest in Britain by volume, and follows the line of the Great Glen Fault which crosses Scotland from south-west to north-east. No sightings of the infamous Loch Ness monster were reported on this occasion, but real enough were the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle on the shore of the loch. A stronghold has stood on its promontory since prehistoric times, and the present masonry dates from the early 13th century, until it was destroyed in the 1690s to prevent it falling into rebel Jacobite hands. Then we sailed out of Loch Ness into Loch Dochfour and the last stretch of the canal up to Inverness. This was lined with pretty cottages and tiny exquisite gardens and our final berth gave us spectacular views over Inverness below.

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  • Sailing the Caledonian Canal

    This morning we had a choice of two options: Join Emily on an excursion to Glenfinnan or stay on the ship and sail up Neptune’s Staircase. Whatever our choice, it was a fabulous day!

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  • Oban Distillery, Dunollie Castle & Corpach

    Another beautiful day today! After breakfast we walked into the town of Oban to tour the local distillery. With our eyes and noses, we experienced the whisky-making process and with our palettes, we tasted the resulting product along the way. Also this morning, a group of walkers trekked up to the top of town for a panoramic view and exploration around a historic folly.

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  • Iona and Duart Castle, Isle of Mull, Scotland

    All was still and calm as we stole away from our berth at Tobermory at 6 a.m. this morning, heading down the Sound of Mull to Craignure, where we boarded our bus to take us to the sacred island of Iona. Traversing Mull on narrow single-track roads in our comfortable bus brought memorable views of the villages, lochs, mountains and moorlands of the island. Shaggy Highland cattle in all colors from black to golden were a bit of a showstopper, some placidly sitting at the roadside watching the world go by. Gannets were demonstrating their spectacular plunge diving in Loch Scridain, fishing for mackerel and sand eels, and a white-tailed eagle was also spotted soaring over the scene. Arriving at Fionnphort at the far end of Mull, we boarded the local ferry for the short hop across the Sound of Iona to our morning destination.

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  • Isle of Eigg & Tobermory on the Isle of Mull

    It was pouring rain this morning and Inverie was shrouded in clouds. As we sailed to the Isle of Eigg, the rain ceased but the clouds remained and I thought Eigg had been scrambled. (Hehe.) But a miracle happened and the clouds started to lift and Eigg emerged like a Caribbean jewel – without crowds and without heat, but with stunning colours of the sea, sand and greenery.

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  • Eilean Donan & Clan Donald Centre, Isle of Skye

    Today was a beautiful day to begin out journey through the Highlands and Islands of Scotland! After a delicious breakfast we split into two groups – one heading off to the Isle of Skye for a hike and the other to see castles.

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  • Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

    After a windy afternoon at sea yesterday and a convivial musical night at the remote village of Inverie, this morning dawned calm and sweet in the sheltered waters of Loch Nevis. Soon we were making our way out over the tranquil Sound of Sleat to Armadale. At this spot at the south-western tip of Skye, Clan MacDonald built a fine mansion in 1790 and over the years expanded it and surrounded it with beautiful gardens. Today it is a picturesque ruin, a spectacular focal point for the extensive grounds which, because of the influence of the Gulf Stream, contains many exotic trees and plants (such as monkey puzzle trees, gunnera and hydrangea) thriving in the mild conditions. A walk amongst its paths and terraces led us to the Museum of the Isles, which presents the story of the clans from their first emergence more than 1500 years ago, to the Jacobite rebellions, the Clearances and the diaspora of Gaelic-speaking peoples around the world.

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  • Tobermory and Inverie on the Knoydart Peninsula

    We woke up to a morning in Tobermory—one of the prettiest places on our trip. The multi-coloured houses put you in a great mood as soon as you see them. Which is why some of us decided to go for a wee walk around the town, with some shopping along the way.

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  • Isle of Mull, Iona & Duart

    Today was an absolutely fantastic day! The morning began as we sailed away from Oban across the Firth of Lorne in clouds and rain. We passed a few castles and spotted seabirds before docking at Craignure on the Isle of Mull. Here we hopped onto a bus and had a lovely hour and a half drive across the island. We passed mountains and lakes, shorelines, waterfalls, small white farm houses, and fields under clearing skies before arriving at a small ferry terminal. We boarded the ferry and zipped across a small channel to the island of Iona.

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  • Corpach and Oban, Scotland

    Flotillas of mallards observed us as we left Corpach Basin and entered the sea lock, bidding farewell to the Caledonian Canal which has been our home since the start of our voyage. Now we were at sea, or at least in an arm of the sea known as Loch Linnhe (In Scotland a loch can be either a freshwater lake or a saltwater fjord). As we sailed out, Konia, our cultural specialist, gave a talk on the lighthouses of Scotland. Several generations of one family of engineers – the Stevenson’s – were responsible for the construction of these life-saving beacons around the coastline over a period of 150 years. Their most famous son, Robert Louis Stevenson, was something of a disappointment to the family as he did not follow in their engineering footsteps. Soon we were passing Corran Lighthouse, which was completed by the Stevenson’s in 1860.

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