Scotland

Hebridean Odyssey

A cruise exploring St Kilda, Iona, Rum, Colonsay, North Uist and much more....

Stretching over 200 miles from north to south, the islands off the western coast of Scotland are a perfect place to explore by ship and, on this special cruise, we plan to visit many of the highlights including the spectacular archipelago of St Kilda.

Travelling on an extremely comfortable expedition ship, our voyage will sail from Troon (near Glasgow) and over the next eight days, the itinerary will take us to iconic locations such as Iona, Colonsay, Staffa, Rum, Skye, North Uist, Lewis, Tiree and the World Heritage Site of St Kilda.

Sailing in the middle of summer, many of the birds will be breeding and we can expect to enjoy the huge gannet colony at Stac Lee (near St Kilda), as well seeing Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars and hopefully both European and Leach's Storm-Petrels. White-tailed and Golden Eagles are both possible and ashore on St Kilda, we plan to look for the endemic subspecies of Wren. The voyage also visits several islands, such as Iona and Tiree, where will hope to find the elusive Corncrake.

Marine mammals should also be a feature of our holiday with Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise, Northern Minke Whale and both Grey and Common Seals possible and we will also hope to find Otters when exploring some of spectacular coastlines.

Tour Dates & Prices

Wed 20th July 2022

Fri 29th July 2022

  • Phone Us to Book

Tour Cost: 10 Days from £4895

Deposit: £1500Single Supp: £600Group Size: 8Leaders:  Chris Collins
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The price quoted above is per person for a deck 4 cabin. For all cabin options please see the "Trip Info" tab. The "single supplement" shown is the difference between a twin on deck 4 and single cabin on Deck 3.

What's Included?

  • nine nights accommodation aboard Heritage Adventurer with a choice of cabin grades on full board basis
  • a choice of restaurants for meals
  • house wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board
  • services of professional expedition team and onboard lecturers
  • all shore excursions and onboard lecture programme
  • use of gym and swimming pool
  • transfers, port taxes and gratuities
  • Limosa leader subject to minimum number of bookings

Cost Excludes

all items of a personal nature including laundry, premium drinks and travel insurance.

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Notes

The voyage will be accompanied by a Limosa tour leader subject to a minimum number of bookings (please see "group size" above for the number required). If this total is not achieved, there are always expert guides aboard the vessel who are there to assist everyone. If the group is sufficiently large a second Limosa leader will also accompany our party.

Please note that for all expedition cruises, Limosa is acting as agent for the ship operator and you will need to sign up to their terms and conditions.

Tour Highlights

  • nine nights on a comfortable expedition ship
  • explore some of the most iconic islands in Scotland including St Kilda, North Uist, Syke, Rum, Tiree and Iona
  • visit the World Heritage archipelago of St Kilda which has the largest seabird colony in Europe
  • sail offshore from one of the largest Northern Gannet colonies in the world on Stac Lee
  • explore ashore looking for both White-tailed and Golden Eagles, and Corncrake
  • expect to see all four UK breeding species of auks - Puffin, Guillemot, Black Guillemot and Razorbill
  • search for Otters and both Grey and Common Seals whilst exploring scenic island bays
  • at sea look for Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise, Northern Minke Whale and Basking Shark as well as Leach's and European Storm-Petrels
  • enjoy amazing scenery with a visit to Fingal's Cave
  • optional excursions to a number of Neolithic sites including "Scotland's Stonehenge", the Callanish Standing Stones
  • accompanied by a Limosa Tour Leader subject to minimum numbers

Outline Itinerary

  • Board expedition ship at Troon near Glasgow

  • Colonsay and Iona

  • Staffa and Rum

  • Loch Scavaig, Skye and Canna

  • Dunvegan, Skye and North Uist

  • Inverewe and Shiant Islands

  • Isle of Lewis

  • St Kilda and Stac Lee

  • Tiree and Tobermory

  • Disembark in Troon

Overview
Itinerary
Trip Info
Atlantic Puffin © Aaron Russ ARR_7207
Atlantic Puffin © Aaron Russ

The islands off the western coast of Scotland stretch over 200 miles from north to south and are a perfect place to explore by ship and on this special cruise, we plan to visit many of the most iconic including Iona, Colonsay, Staffa, Rum, Skye, North Uist, Mull, Lewis, Tiree and the proverbial 'jewel in the crown', the World Heritage Site of St Kilda.

Travelling on an extremely comfortable expedition ship, our voyage will sail from Troon (near Glasgow) and over the next eight days, we will visit twelve islands with a flexible itinerary which on most days will allow us to spend a morning in one location and then transfer over lunch to explore a different island in the afternoon.

Sailing in late July, many of the birds we encounter will be breeding and with long summer days, we will aim to make the most of the daylight and will be able to look for seabirds and cetaceans whilst travelling between islands and after dinner. We can expect to see all four species of auks which breed in the UK plus the multitude of Gannets at the huge colony at Stac Lee (near St Kilda) as well Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars and hopefully both European and Leach's Storm-Petrels.

The UK's two species of breeding eagles, White-tailed and Golden Eagles, are likely and whilst we are ashore on St Kilda, we hope to find the endemic subspecies of Wren. The voyages also visits several islands, such as Iona, Tiree and North Uist, where the elusive Corncrake can be found and we will do our best to find this tricky bird, although hearing it is likely to prove much easier than seeing it !!

Marine mammals should also be an important feature of our holiday with Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise, Northern Minke Whale and both Grey and Common Seals all possible. A number of the places we visit are also known for their Otters and we will make a special effort to find these elusive creatures whilst we explore the spectacular coastlines of the islands. Basking Sharks are another animal we hope to find and there is always the chance of something unexpected such as a Snowy Owl as this species occasionally makes landfall on St Kilda.

For those whose interests extend beyond birds and other wildlife, this holiday also has a fascinating historical angle with opportunities to visit some important Neolithic sites including the Callanish Standing Stones which are believed to date back almost 5,000 years.

St Kilda © Aaron Russ ARR_0640
St Kilda © Aaron Russ

Day 1: Troon, Scotland

Embark Heritage Adventurer during the afternoon with optional transfers from Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow Central Railway Station. Enjoy a welcome drink and dinner as we sail during the evening for Colonsay.

Day 2: Colonsay and Iona

Lying between Mull and Islay, we will spend the morning exploring the island of Colonsay with its craggy, heather-clad hills and sparse woodland. There are some attractive woodland gardens near Colonsay House in the north of the island which we may explore with another potential option being the seabird cliffs on the west side where Razorbills, Guillemots and Fulmars breed.

Colonsay is also the first island on our itinerary where we stand a chance of finding the elusive Corncrake, although we may have a higher chance of at least hearing this tricky species during our afternoon landing on the historic island of Iona.

The beaches on Colonsay are also good for both Atlantic Grey and Common Seals and the island also has a population of Otters, although seeing these tricky marine mammals requires a considerable degree of luck.

The flat Hebridean island of Iona is probably best known as the place which St Columba fled to (from Ireland) in 563AD and is where he established the famous Monastery/Abbey. His followers were responsible for the conversion of much of pagan Scotland and Northern England and the Abbey remains a place of pilgrimage for many people.

We will undoubtedly want to visit this historic location but there will also be time for some birding and as well as looking for Corncrakes in the iris beds, we will also explore the sandy shoreline where we will look for Great Northern Diver, Atlantic Puffin, Shelduck, Oystercatcher and Arctic Tern, whilst Skylarks sing overhead.

Peregine Falcons can be found here too and we will enjoy a leisurely afternoon on this famous island (which is just over 3 miles long) before returning to Heritage Adventurer for another tasty dinner aboard.

Day 3: Staffa and Rum

We plan to arrive off the tiny island of Staffa in the early morning where the perpendicular rock face at the southern end includes an imposing series of hexagonal basalt columns. The most famous part of this is Fingal’s Cave and if the weather conditions are suitable, we will use the ship's zodiacs (rubber inflatables) to explore closer.

It is then about 30 miles sailing to our afternoon destination, the island of Rum, and we will want to spend time on the outer decks looking for wildlife as we cruise northwards. Whilst there are good chances of seeing Guillemots, Great Skuas and Fulmars flying by, we will also hope to find some storm-petrels. We should also see plenty of Manx Shearwaters, as there is a substantial colony of these birds on Rum. We will also hope to find some cetaceans with Northern Minke Whale and Harbour Porpoise amongst the possibilities.

Rum is a National Nature Reserve and we should have plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular island scenery as we go exploring. Both White-tailed and Golden Eagles can be found here, so we will need to keep a careful watch skywards for both but will also want to walk along the shoreline, as there are further chances of finding Otters. Curlew breed on the island and we will hope to hear the beautiful bubbling song of this declining species. We may also see Red Deer and also find some of the Highland Cattle that live on the island.

Day 4: Loch Scavaig and Canna

We will awake this morning in Loch Scavaig on the island of Skye. Just beyond is the freshwater Loch Corruisk with its breathtakingly beautiful view over the Cuillins. This is great walking country and the ship's expedition team will offer a series of hikes for anyone who is interested but there will also be a walk with your Limosa leader (subject to minimum numbers). For those who prefer a less energetic morning, it will also be possible to explore the coast looking for seals.

Over lunch, we will sail the short distance to Canna. This island is run as a farm and bird sanctuary by the National Trust for Scotland and has one of the best natural harbours in the "Small Isles". There are believed to be over 20,000 seabirds breeding on the island including Great Skua, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and Fulmar. We will spend the afternoon ashore exploring this 4 mile long reserve and may wander over to the cliffs on the northern shore which plunge 600 feet to the sea below.

Day 5: Dunvegan and Lochmaddy

We plan to anchor on the northwest side of Skye in Loch Dunvegan where we will use the ship's zodiacs to shuttle us ashore to land near Dunvegan Castle. Parts of this date back to the 1200s and, for those who wish, a tour of the building is available, as well as an opportunity to explore the gardens.

The largest woodlands on Skye are located close to the castle and we may well explore these or follow the coastline as there is often a haul-out of Common Seals nearby and the chance to see White-tailed Eagles.

Returning to the ship, we will sail across the "Little Minch" which separates the islands of Harris and North Uist from Skye with more chances for storm-petrels, auks, shearwaters and cetaceans. We intend to land at Lochmaddy at the northeastern end of North Uist and plan to explore the sandy beaches, dunes and nearby marshy loch. This is another opportunity to look for Corncrake so if we have not yet seen this species, we will make it one of our priorities for the afternoon.

An alternative option will be to join an excursion to visit the Barpa Langais burial chamber which dates back to Neolithic times and the standing stones and stone circles at Fir Bhreige and Pobull Fhinn.

Day 6: Inverewe and Shiant Islands

The day will start with an optional visit to one of Scotland’s premier gardens, Inverewe, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. This botanical garden benefits considerably from the Gulf Stream and includes an impressive collection of exotic trees and shrubs. There is a good-sized heronry and a selection of warblers and woodpeckers are likely to be seen here.

Other options could include exploring along the coastline looking for breeding divers, as well as Otters and White-tailed Eagles or follow the River Ewe inland where Grey Wagtail and Dipper breed.

We will then return to the ship and sail the short distance to the Shiant Islands which are about 13 miles to the north of Skye. This is a small archipelago of five islands which is regarded as one of the more important seabird colonies in Europe with Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots amongst the species which can be found. There are also good chances of Black Guillemot here and we may also find White-tailed Eagle.

Rats were having a severe impact on the breeding success of the seabirds on the islands and a project to eradicate these introduced mammalian predators began in 2014 and five years later, the archipelago was declared 'rat free'. It is anticipated that this should lead to significantly more birds breeding successfully on the islands and the return of European Storm-Petrels and Manx Shearwaters as breeding species.

There are chances for Common Dolphins, Northern Minke Whale and Basking Sharks in the waters around these islands so there are plenty of potential highlights.

Day 7: Isle of Lewis

During the night, the ship will make the short journey north to Lewis and we can expect to arrive at the island capital of Stornoway in the early morning. There will be an optional excursion to the stunning west coast of the island including a visit to the Callanish Standing Stones which have been described as "Scotland’s Stonehenge"; indeed, these stones predate Stonehenge and are believed to have been erected 5,000 years ago and are thought to have been an important ritual site for 2,000 years.

One of the species we will hope to see is Merlin which breeds in good numbers on the island although getting close views of these tiny falcons, as they hunt pipits and other small passerines, can be a challenge.

Returning to the ship for lunch, options for the afternoon could include looking for seaducks around Stornoway Harbour or exploring the woodlands and gardens of nearby Lews Castle which is only a short distance away.

Day 8: St Kilda and Stac Lee

Today will hopefully be one of the major highlights of our holiday as during breakfast Heritage Adventurer should arrive off what is undoubtedly one of the most famous island archipelagos in Scotland, St Kilda.

This remote group of islands is over 40 miles west of North Uist and is one of only a handful of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which is listed for both natural and cultural significance. The local Ranger will join us on the ship before we go ashore to explore on the main island of Hirta. Although first settled by humans over 4,000 years ago, the last of the Gaelic speaking population left in the 1930s and the only people who live there now are those looking after and studying the wildlife plus a small contingent at a radar tracking station.

With craggy sea cliffs including one which is the highest in Europe and the continent's largest colonies of seabirds (thought to number about one million birds), this is a truly remarkable place and somewhere that relatively few people get an opportunity to visit each year.

Amongst the species which breed here are the UK's largest Puffin colony, an endemic subspecies of Wren and over 90% of the UK breeding population of Leach's Storm-Petrels, although we are highly unlikely to see the latter whilst ashore. Occasionally Snowy Owls can also be found here, although we would count ourselves extremely fortunate to see one of these gorgeous birds.

After our time ashore, the ship will head a little to the north where we hope to cruise offshore from Stac Lee and Stac an Armin. These impressive stacks rise 170 metres from the sea and are home to upwards of 60,000 breeding pairs of Northern Gannets.

As the ship cruises away, we will need to remain on the outer decks in the hope of seeing some of the Leach's Storm-Petrels which only return to their burrows during the hours of darkness.

Day 9: Tiree and Tobermory

During the night, the ship will head approximately 120 miles to the south-east for a morning ashore on the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides, Tiree. Known for its shell-sand blown machair grassland, this habitat is excellent for Corncrakes, with the island having one of the highest densities of this species in the UK.

There are also good numbers of waders with Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Snipe and Redshank all breeding, as well as Twite. Both Grey and Common Seals can be found around the coast and there are also chances for Otter.

We will be back aboard for lunch and it should take a couple of hours to reach our final destination of our Hebridean Odyssey with a visit to the port of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. For those who wish, one of the options here will be to follow the coastal path to the Rubha nan Gall lighthouse with final chances to look for seals, otters and eagles before returning to the ship for a final dinner aboard.

Day 10: Troon

We will disembark after breakfast with transfers available to the Glasgow International Airport and Central Station.

Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This could include poor weather (actual or forecast) and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

Razorbills © Aaron Russ ARR_8226
Razorbills are one of the four species of auks we can expect to see on this expedition cruise © Aaron Russ

WHAT TO EXPECT

A nine night cruise on the very comfortable expedition ship, Heritage Adventurer, exploring the Hebrides off Western Scotland. The vessel is a purpose built expedition ship (which was previously known as Hanseatic and Resolute) and has excellent cabins and passenger facilities.

Originally designed to accommodate 184 guests, Heritage Adventurer now carrries a maximum of 140 expeditioners ensuring spacious, stylish and comfortable voyages. There will be a fleet of zodiacs to ensure all guests are able to maximise their expedition adventure.

This tour is not a strenuous one and the big advantage of using a ship for this holiday is that all excursions are entirely optional. We will generally explore one island/location in the morning and then depart in the late morning, travelling over lunch and then have a second landing in the afternoon.

At many places, we will use the ship's zodiacs (rubber inflatables) to go ashore and getting in and out of these should not be a problem for anyone with reasonable mobility and there will be staff both on the ship and ashore to assist you. You will also receive a detailed briefing about the use of the zodiacs. If you have any concerns about this aspect of the holiday, please call the office as Chris Collins has spent many years working with zodiacs and can provide more information.

Assuming minimum number of bookings are achieved (8 clients), the trip will be accompanied by a Limosa Leader (scheduled to be Chris Collins) and he will offer walks ashore exclusive to the Limosa group, although on some occasions we may use the transport laid on by the ship to reach a destination. In many cases, however, we plan to explore directly from the landing site. Should the group exceed 16 we will provide a second Limosa leader.

Walks will be of variable length but will always be taken at a slow pace. On some islands, we may want to go uphill to reach cliff tops to view the seabird colonies, but we do not anticipate any of these will be strenuous. Other islands are relatively flat and on some days we may explore along the foreshore looking for marine mammals as well as birds.

You will also be able to join the full programme of activities/excursions offered by the Expedition Team working on the ship which are all included in the price of the trip.

During the transits between islands, on many occasions, your Limosa leader will offer 'seawatching' exclusively for our group and these activities can be as enjoyable as time ashore with the potential to find other seabirds we do not expect to see ashore (eg storm-petrels), as well as marine mammals (eg dolphins, porpoises and Northern Minke Whale) and possibly Basking Sharks.

THE SHIP

Heritage Adventurer has an "Open Bridge" policy so you are often welcome to observe wildlife from there and watch the Captain and crew at work.

There will be a programme of lectures from the onboard team and any Guest Speakers in the Presentation Theatre and there is also a library, pool, well-equipped gym, enclosed hot tub, sauna and steam room as well as a Bar Lounge.

You will be able to enjoy great opportunities for watching for wildlife and taking in the scenery from many locations around the ship including the Observation Lounge which has 270-degree views.

There is a lift which links all passenger decks.

MEALS

All meals on the ship are included in the price of the holiday. The main restaurant on the ship has windows on three sides and provides an impressive backdrop for meals.

Everyone can be served in one sitting and there will be hearty breakfasts, tasty lunches and multi-course evening meals. Alternatively, you can choose to eat in the relaxed Bistro on Deck 6 which will serve simpler but, nevertheless, delicious meals and snacks.

The Bistro provides great views and opens onto a covered outdoor dining area and is a perfect location for early risers to enjoy coffee, tea and a lighter breakfast.

WALKING

The walking should be mostly easy and will always be taken at a gentle pace but there may be occasions on some islands where we want to climb to enjoy the view or to reach a seabird colony.

You might consider bringing a walking pole if it normally proves helpful to you on uneven ground.

Although most walks will be relatively short in duration, some participants may find it helpful to bring a lightweight collapsible stool.

Comfortable, lightweight walking shoes or boots with stout soles and good grip are recommended.

TRAVEL

The voyage starts in Troon but transfers at a fixed time will be provided from Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow Central Railway Station and these will also be available at the end of the cruise back to the airport and railway station.

CABINS OPTIONS AND PRICES

The full price of the available cabins is as follows but please call us to enquire about any special 'last minute' offers:

Deck 4 Superior - £4,895 per person

Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Deck 5 Superior - £5,495 per person

Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Main Deck Single - £5,495 per person

Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

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