2018 Cruise

I will be guiding an Exploring the Isles of the West cruise aboard Hjalmar Bjorge from June 2-11 of 2018, a trip that will focus on the islands to the south and west of Oban. Depending on the island, I'll lead guests on a short walk near the landing place, followed by a longer, and more strenuous walk further afield. (Note that some walks may involve crossing trackless, rough, steep, and boggy terrain. As such, they may not be suitable for all guests, and sturdy, waterproof footwear may be required.) As usual with these cruises, if you wish to explore on your own you’re more than welcome to do so. For more information, and to book, please see the Northern Light website.

Departing Oban on June 2, we aim to make a grand circuit around Jura and Mull. If conditions allow, we’ll venture as far south as Cara; a route that opens up a large selection of fascinating islands to visit.

The Garvelachs (The Isles of the Sea): On Eileach an Naoimh lie the ruins of St Brendan’s monastery, including the largest surviving corbelled-stone beehive cell dwelling in the Hebrides.

Monastic Ruins - Garvellachs

Beehive cells - Garvellachs
Belnahua: A historic island whose slates have roofed the world. The ruins of the quarry are still in place, just as they left them 100 years ago.

The slate quarry - Belnahua
Scarba: The guardian of the Corryvreckan whirlpool. If the wind and tides are right the whirlpool is an amazing sight. If we manage to land, an extended hike to a whirlpool viewpoint is possible.

Eilean Mor (MacCormaig Isles): A fascinating island, once the hermitage of St Charmaig. Sites to see are its pilgrim chapels, Celtic crosses, St Charmaig’s effigy, and his hermitage cave.

St Charmaig’s Chapel and Cross – Eilean Mor
Cara: Once an outpost of St Fionnlugh, Cara is still home to the mysterious Brownie. If he lets us get ashore we’ll sit in his giant chair.

Jura: With its vast raised beaches, Jura’s West Loch Tarbert is one of the most remote places in the Southern Hebrides.

Raised beaches - Jura
Oronsay: We hope to land on Oronsay to visit the priory ruins, including the magnificent Prior Colin’s Cross. Also to see here is one of the best collections of carved medieval grave-slabs in the islands.

Prior Colin’s Cross - Oronsay
Inchkenneth: Another important outpost of the early Celtic Church. Sites to be seen are the ancient burial ground, Celtic Cross, and the ruins of St Kenneth’s Monastery.

Inchkenneth chapel and burial ground
Texa: Also with connections to St Kenneth, Texa, with its medieval chapel, may have been an important outpost in the early Celtic Church. the island is exposed to the open sea and rarely visited.

Treshnish Isles (Cairnaburgs and Lunga): The castles on the tiny Cairnaburgs once controlled the seaways. They were pummeled by cannon during the Jacobite battles of 1715, but substantial remnants, and a solitary chapel, are still to be seen. Lunga is famous for its puffins, but not to be missed is Dun Cruit (Harp Rock), home to a vast assortment of other seabirds. A must read before visiting Lunga is Fraser Darling's Island Years, which describes his experiences living there in 1937. And for those who like spelunking, we'll walk through Darling's Cave; a dark subterranean passage that leads from the centre of the island to the shore.

Ulva/Gometra: A good selection of walks are available on Ulva. On Gometra a walk to Baileaclaidh is possible, one of the largest clearance villages in the islands.

Erraid: The island base used by the Stevenson’s for the construction of Dubh Artach lighthouse. Another Stevenson connection is Robert Louis Stevenson’s use of the island in Kidnapped, where he briefly strands David Balfour - until David realizes the island is connected to Mull at low tide.

Coll: If time permits we’ll venture out to Coll; its waters are prime for whale watching.

Skipper Mark and Seven (AKA Fatty) at the sparkling waters of Erraid’s Balfour Beach

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