Ullapool – Oban

From Ullapool we set sail for the Inner Hebrides all the way south to Oban. Along our way there are many amazing stops, some are weather depending and some are always an amazing shelter. We will set sail in September, nearly October, winds tend to be stronger although the temperature should still be mild.

Out of the way on a course less steered, full of mystery and legends, hidden away in a fog or just behind the horizon. The Shiants or as the name gives away, “enchanted” Isles are situated 4 miles south east of Lewis, in the Minch. The Shiants are outliers of Skye, although they are closer to Lewis. The rock formations are similar to those of Staffa, the Giant causeway, and parts of Mull- columnar basalt. Forming spectacular cliffs of over 120 meters in height! This is relatively young rock. The north shore of Garbh Eilean boasts of a beautiful natural arch.

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History of the Shiants

Local history goes back further than the beginning of time. The Shiants are often described as a resort for fairies and elves. The feared Blue Men of the Minch are known to visit the place. With their craving for poetry they scare innocent fishermen. The legend might have been brought over by slaves from Africa taken by the Vikings in the 9th century. A more earthly account of inhabitation goes back to the middle ages. Fishermen used the Islands as a summer home while a shepherd and his sheep took to the grassy hills. In later years a church was erected with the accompanying grave yard. This suggests permanent habitation. Small crops of corn were grown while cows and sheep grassed at the hill. In the early 19th century only a shepherd and his wife were living on the island. They collected birds and their eggs to extend their income. One day the shepherd was lowering his wife down the face of one of the cliffs when the rope parted. The helpless wife tumbled down the cliff into the icy sea. The shepherd realized his wife never learned to swim but the dead birds she collected kept her afloat. Just long enough for her husband to see the tides carry her away forever into the Minch. An extended description of the Islands and their history is given by Adam Nicolson in his book, Sea Room. His father, Nigel Nicolson bought the Islands in 1937and passed them down to his son. Before him Comton Mackenzie (author of Whisky Galore and The Monarch of the Glen) owned the Shiants. These day the Group in uninhabited. Except for summer visitors who take refuge in the restored cottage on Eilean an tigh and Biologists who count the birds nesting in the barrows. 

Skye

After the Shiants the possibilities are numerous, rounding or nearly rounding the isle of Skye is one of them. Skye not just known for their excellent whiskey, also for their beautiful nature. Skye is the biggest but one of the Islands of the Hebrides. It has over 550 km of coastline! Enough to explore and not even get to see everything. In Autumn you will spot the Otters playing with the new generation. The Golden Eagles might be spotted, as well also some seals. This voyage will give you a combination of sailing and walking. Exploring villages or historic sites in the morning and then sailing on to the next bay.

Wildlife

2 percent of the world’s puffin population breed on the Shiant Islands. Together with Kittiwakes, Guillimots, Razorbills, Fulmars, Shags and the Great Skuas and many more species have been seen. A spectacular sight is the Eagels who nest on the northern side. Strange inhabitants are the survivors of an ancient ship wreck, the black rats. They are protected by law and are free to plunder the hill in search of young puffins. There is a common seal colony and the waters around the Isles are often frequented by porpoises, basking sharks, blue sharks, and Minke whales.

tecla at anchor st kilda

Legends
A rime by the ghostly legends of the storm kelpies or Blue Men:
Blue Chief: Man of the black cap what do you say
As your proud ship cleaves the brine?
Skipper: My speedy ship takes the shortest way
And I'll follow you line by line
Blue Chief: My men are eager, my men are ready
To drag you below the waves
Skipper: My ship is speedy, my ship is steady
If it sank, it would wreck your caves

Ullapool and Oban

Neither harbour has an airport, but public transport is well organized. You can reach Ullapool by flying to Inverness and then taking the bus to Ullapool.
Oban has a train station with trains connecting to Edinburgh, Glasgow or even Ford William.

Next stop Tobermory. Departing early we may leave the Small Isles to starboard at noon and creeped around Ardnamurchan point after lunch. We can drop anchor at Tobermory Bay and had a good look at the picturesque and colourful village. The excellent whiskey brewery has a very good tasting menu for those wanting to visit the brewery. otherwise there are some splendid walks in the hills of the island, into the woods, with a pub or two in the village to warm yourself afterwards.  Next morning we will set sail for Oban. The scenic passage through the sound of Mull is something you do not want to miss. In the bay of Oban we will again drop anchor in the lee of Kerrera Island. You will be brought ashore with the Dinghy. 

Inner Hebrides voyage

15 - 25 years old € 700
25>years old €945

25 Sept -7 of October