Picture Yourself in a Land of Islands, Rugged Beauty, Isolated Shores, Castles, Kilts, Clans – and Whisky
Get ready for a journey not many have taken and few have sailed. Exploring the wild nature and historic sites of the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, Hebrides or the multitude of islands off the western Scottish coast is an adventure unlike anything else. There are treasures everywhere, from the hidden to the ones in plain sight. Here, you find some of the largest wilderness areas in Europe. The isolated environment creates amazing habitats for an enormous number of birds sailing across endless skyscapes, including goldens eagles. In the ocean, mink whales breach and otters tumble along the shore.
The history of the region is equally exciting. There are hundreds of castles scattered around, from small and plain to elaborate and majestic, from ruins to still occupied by its owners. And old battlefields that once set the scene for the destiny of a great nation.
Isle of Mull. The island was inhabited around 6000 BC and a great deal of archaeological evidence support this. It was invaded by Vikings and was a part of the Kingdom of Norway until it was reclaimed by Scotland around 1158. Experience this large island of sweeping moors, tiny hamlets and castles. You may also visit Tobermory which is recognized as the island’s capital. You can stroll through this delightful deep-water fishing harbor with brightly painted Georgian houses.
St. Kilda Archipelago. This is truly a distant, lonely and wild archipelago with breath-taking sea cliffs and endemic wildlife. The population was evacuated in 1930 at their own request after 5,000 years of continuous habitation. Here, you will experience UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the National Trust for Scotland. The outlying islands provide nesting ledges for thousands of seabirds and you will have a good chance of spotting minke whales around the swirling waters of the archipelago.
Orkney Island. Modern Stromness hasn’t changed dramatically since the turn of the last century and stone houses still stand over cobbled streets, but Orkney’s main historic claim is the rich legacy of Neolithic sites and artefacts found here. It was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 under the title “Heart of Neolithic Orkney.” The most famous of these monuments is probably the settlement of Skara Brae, once a small village of 50-100 people living together near the shores of Skaill Bay.
Dublin. Atmospheric cobbled streets, with buskers scraping fiddles and characterful pubs inviting passersby inside, is Dublin in a snapshot. A city of irrepressible energy and lust for life, Ireland's capital is as welcoming a place as you'll find. Horse-drawn carriages plod along cobbled centuries-old streets, blending with an easy-going, cosmopolitan outlook. Known for its fun-filled gathering of pubs, any excuse works to enjoy a celebratory toast and chat among good company.
Fair Isle. Lying mid-way between Shetland and the Orkney islands, Fair Isle is a tiny jewel in the sea. Famous for birds, knitwear and historic shipwrecks, the island offers a warm and friendly welcome to visitors. With a population of only around 70 people this island is truly a beautiful setting and is one of Britain’s most successful communities. View the cloudy light turquoise water as it drifts out to sea beneath the breath-taking Sheep Rock, rising over 100 metres, which is almost an isle of its own.
Stronoway. Scotland's Outer Hebrides can be rainy, remote and cold – yet their inhabitants rank as the happiest people in the UK. What is their secret? One trip to the lovely port of Stornoway and you’ll soon understand why.
Oban. The name means ‘Little Bay’ and this humble town swells dramatically in size during summer when it welcomes thousands of visitors to revel in its serene setting amid some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. Three storeys of elegant slate-roofed buildings gather before the inky expanse of the Firth of Lorn offering a warm welcome to the lochs fantasy castles and green and gold glens of the Highlands. The unmissable granite curve of McCaig’s Tower stands high over the town and beautiful views unravel down below it.
Edinburgh. Edinburgh is to London as poetry is to prose, as Charlotte Brontë once wrote. One of the world's stateliest cities and proudest capitals, it's built—like Rome—on seven hills, making it a striking backdrop for the ancient pageant of history. In a skyline of sheer drama, Edinburgh Castle watches over the capital city, frowning down on Princes Street’s glamour and glitz.
Fort William. Flanked by the UK’s tallest mountain on one side and Loch Linnae on the other, Fort William – or “Bill” to the locals – is what you imagine when it comes to Scottish Highland towns. Verdant moors stretch as far as the eye can see, pastel painted houses front the water and it is not unusual to see pipers in kilts on street corners.
Isle of Man. The Isle of Man, situated in the Irish Sea off the west coast of England, is a mountainous, cliff-fringed island and one of Britain’s most beautiful spots. Measuring just 30 miles by 13 miles, the Isle of Man remains semi-autonomous. With its own postage stamps, laws, currency, and the Court of Tynwald (the world’s oldest democratic parliament), the Isle of Man is rich with history and lore.Inhabited from Neolithic times, the island became a refuge for Irish missionaries after the 5th Century.
Skellig Islands. The magnificent Skellig Islands lie 8 miles (12 km) off the coast of Portmagee in South West Kerry. Rising majestically from the sea, Skellig Michael towers 714ft. (218 metres) above sea level. On the summit of this awe-inspiring rock you will find a remarkably well preserved sixth century monastic settlement now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Small Skellig is equally renowned in matters of ornithology as the home of some 27,000 pairs of gannets – the second largest colony of such seabirds in the world.
Galway. Galway is a city in the West of Ireland in the province of Connacht. It lies on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay and is surrounded by County Galway. It is the fourth most populous urban area in the Republic of Ireland and the sixth most populous city in the island of Ireland. It is both a picturesque and lively city with a wonderful avant-garde culture and a fascinating mixture of locally owned speciality shops, often featuring locally made crafts.
If you’re after a small ship cruise or an expedition ship cruise to the British Isles Wild Earth Travel can help you find a trip of a lifetime. We are ready to guide you through our range of different options with impartial advice so you can experience the very best of this unique destination. Our team are all passionate expedition & small cruise ship travellers and our knowledge and stories come from our own personal experiences.