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|Operator:||St Hilda Sea Adventures|
|Price From:||960 GBP|
|Ideal Age Range:||Suitable for Children (under 15), High School (15 to 18), 19 to 30, 31 to 50, Over 51|
|Fitness Needs:||Light Impact|
|Program duration:||7 days|
The Isle of Mull is the heart of the Inner Hebrides and this is a magical Scottish islands cruise, which makes a circumnavigation of the island to visit the famous islands of Staffa and Iona.
Iona, the birthplace of western Christianity was where, in AD563, Saint Columba founded an abbey when he traveled over from Ireland. Iona has been for centuries a place of Christian pilgrimage and here the early abbey monks created the wonderful Book of Kells. Saint Columba and 48 Scottish kings, including Macbeth, as well as some Irish and French kings, are buried on Iona. One can walk in peaceful solitude along the island paths away from the Abbey.
Staffa has one of the world’s most spectacular natural marvels in Fingal’s cave – one of the islands many sea caves. The soaring beauty of the island and the cave’s towering, six-sided basalt columns are famously captured by Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture.
As we travel around the Isle of Mull we can see incredible wildlife – soaring sea and golden eagles, basking sharks, minke and killer whales, porpoises, dolphins, seabirds and seals. On board our small cruise ships you can do as little or as much as you want.
Sit back and enjoy the trip as you travel through the island’s picturesque Sounds and sea lochs; view the spectacular mountains of Mull including mighty Ben More; marvel at the headland lighthouses and castles and get involved in working the ex-tall ship St Hilda, our wee ship Seahorse II, or our new Gemini Explorer – it is all up to you. We are also pleased to offer our passengers a complimentary visit to the famed Iona Abbey.
This cruise can be a six or eight-night itinerary depending on the dates you choose to travel. Guests can choose to book St Hilda (maximum 6 passengers), Seahorse II (maximum 11 passengers) or Gemini Explorer (maximum 7 passengers). St Hilda is a traditional, wooden ex-Tall Ship. Seahorse II is an ex-Norwegian Ferry. Gemini Explorer is an ex-Cruising Lifeboat.
All three ships have been converted to cruise the western islands of Scotland in comfort and style. The roomy deck saloons aboard our small ships are where everyone dines and socialises and the outdoor decks are perfect for spotting wildlife, relaxing and eating al fresco and, throughout the cruise, you will have the services of your own skipper and cook. The small ships’ tenders can also take you ashore for some wonderful, serious coastal and cliff walks or you could just wander along the shore beachcombing and examining the pretty seaside rock pools.
Oban: Your departure point will be Oban (Dunstaffnage Marina), the gateway to the Hebridean isles. After a short introduction to life on board our small ship we lift anchor and set sail to our first destination.
Tobermory: One of the most picturesque towns in the Hebrides. If you wish, we can make time to visit the local distillery or visit eagles (Mull is the best place in the UK to see eagles).
Soribay Bay, Loch Tuath: Keeping well clear of Caliach Point we head down towards the Treshnish Isles, breeding grounds for seals and puffins, to Loch Tuath. Our destination is a pretty anchorage in Soribay Bay where we see, in the distance, the mountains of Mull dominated by Ben More (963 m) and close-by, across the Loch, is the picturesque Eas Fos waterfall tumbling into the sea.
Lunga, Treshnish Isles: Lunga, one of the Treshnish Isles, is a site of Special Scientific Interest because of the plants which grow there and the wildlife. There are seals and it is especially famous for the breeding colonies of kittiwakes, Manx shearwaters, guillemots, razorbills, storm-petrels and the colony of puffins which, in the breeding season, allow you to approach very close.
Coll and Tiree: The two islands are called the ‘sunshine isles’ because of their unique climate. Tiree is more populated and famous for its miles of clean, white sandy beaches that are renown throughout the world by surfers and wind surfers. In contrast Coll is rugged and mountainous and indented with deep, but sandy coves. The islands are some seven miles off the west coast of Mull and on passage we can see dolphins, Minke whales, and basking sharks. If conditions are right we can drop anchor and appreciate the tranquility of its sweeping sandy beaches, the cry of the corncrakes and the gentle pleasure of being 'away from it all'.
Fingal’s Cave, Staffa: It may be difficult to anchor off the island because of the lack of sheltered anchorages but we can sail close to the island to see all of its natural beauty. If time we can head up to Loch Na Keil with its great views of mighty Ben More, to circle round the Island of Eorsa before we head south to the north side of the Ross of Mull. Dolphins and porpoises often follow us into our secluded anchorage in Loch na Laithaich near the little village of Bunessan.
With our new sea kayaks, guests can explore the incredible Fingal's cave on the Isle of Staffa.
Loch Spelve: Up anchor and travel down the Sound of Iona. This a special Sound where the clear blue waters flow over the white sand and where the Abbey tower is used as a navigational mark to denote a safe passage. Out of the Sound, the dangerous Torran Rocks have to be avoided as we travel along the rocky southern shores of the Ross of Mull to enter remote Loch Spelve. A narrow entrance leads us into the tranquil waters of Loch Spelve with its surrounding ancient oak forest. The anchorage gives us a different perspective than our previous views of the wonderful mountains of Mull. There are resident otters along the loch's shoreline.
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Length of Trip: 2 weeks