Canna and Eriskay

Our Zodiacs entered Canna harbor, a sheltered anchorage between Canna and Sanday, two islands linked by a narrow footbridge. Fields to the south are protected by high ground to the north which rise to form impressive cliffs. We explored from below by Zodiac, where we discovered puffins, razorbills, and other interesting sea birds. From tracks along shore, we watched eider ducks with their chicks, as well as oystercatchers. High on the hillsides were golden eagles.

There was history too. There is an impressive 9th century cross, with mystical animals, a lively horseman, and the adoration of the Magi. At the stark stack of Chroghon Castle, a 16th century fortification, we also found sea birds and flowers. The churches of Canna brought unexpected discoveries, particularly the current restoration of one as a centre for Gaelic research. The stone carvings are dramatic.

Botanists identified an unusual assemblage of plants on a small mound on Sanday. Our archaeologist pointed out that the localised habitat was the top of a small Bronze Age burial cairn. The plants included mountain everlasting and spring squill. There was a fascinating mix of plants which enjoy base-rich soils and those preferring very acid soils. We were excited by this example of multi-disciplinry exploring. We saw an island with a long sense of history and an immediacy of its natural history.

It was overcast on Canna and the colors were subdued. Scotland's weather can change quickly and our arrival at Eriskay coincided with a period of brilliant sunshine. Many visited the shop and post office and enjoyed the chance to talk with local residents, who gave us special insights into island life. A straw poll of guests assures us that the colors, birds and flowers of this small island were something that they would not have missed for anything. This was a memorable day with many photographs of that iridescent landscape of the western isles that we hope our cameras have captured successfully.

The Caledonian Star is a perfect tool, enabling us to visit these small and isolated islands. With her fleet of Zodiacs, we can land almost anywhere. Also important are the crew and officers who make our lives easy and comfortable. Whatever the sea conditions, our hotel manger with his waiters serve us three great memorable meals every day. There is sense of travelling in an atmosphere of international conviviality of cuisine and friends.