Explore Scotland’s heartland harbours, villages and islands. It’s history of ages past, whilst making your own history viewing brochs, standing stones and castles. Isles where the wildlife is in abundance. A land where the people are waiting to welcome you to their unique culture – a culture which may reflect threads of your own heritage.
Check out the highlights from our 2018 tour here; www.wildearth-travel.com/highlights-from-our-Scotlandin-Depth-2018-trip/
• Share a dram of whisky - the water of life - at one of Islay’s historic distilleries
• Spot puffins, gannets, razorbills and guillemots
• Discover Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum
• Visit St Kilda: a mystical island with UNESCO World Heritage site status for its natural and cultural significance
• Discover the delightful Orkney Islands Standing Stones
• In Stornoway explore the stone age “Callanish”
• Explore historic Iona Abbey, on the island of Iona
• Walk the wild shores of Loch Courisk
• Visit Mousa Broch - the best preserved broch in the world
• Visit Fair Isle famous for its knitters and puffins
We start our Scotland In-depth voyage in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, which features modern architecture beside Italiante steeples, neo-gothic towers and the Art Nouveau designs of Glasgow’s own Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Take the time to explore the Willow Tea Rooms and the Glasgow School of Art.
Our accommodation tonight is at a centrally located hotel where we will meet for dinner with our fellow travellers and guides as we commence our discovery of Scotland.
Depart Glasgow and travel overland to Oban, passing the beautiful famed shores of Loch Lomond, the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain. Take in the views as we pass Ben Lomond, a munro, rising to 974 metres (3196 feet), before continuing through the mountains to Loch Awe. We will visit the Inveraray Castle and connect with Clan Campbell as we walk around the beautiful grounds and explore the castle.
When we arrive in Oban, a lovely seaside village with cobbled streets and stone houses, we will board the Polar Pioneer.
The southernmost isle of the Inner Hebrides, Gigha is one of the smallest populated Islands in the Hebrides. Meaning Good or God Island, the highest mountain is Creag Breahn. Nestled in woodland and extensive gardens Achamore House was built in 1884 for
Lt-Col William James Scarlett, the 3rd Lord Abinger. One of the warmest places in Scotland, the gardens of Achamore House was purchased by the people of Gigha in 2002. Operated as a trust they represent the plant collector’s love and the garden designer’s eye.
The earliest documented record of distilling in Scotland occurred as long ago as 1494, in the tax records of the day, the Exchequer Rolls. The entry lists “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor where with to make aqua vitae” (water of life). This afternoon, be part of history and share a dram of whisky, the water of life, ashore at one of Islay’s historic distilleries: Lagavulin Distillery.
Our visit to Staffa features the hexagonal basalt cliffs which culminate in Fingal’s Cave- a spectacular natural feature named by the Celts as ‘Uamh-Binh’ or “the Cave of Melody”. Abundant puﬃns, razorbills and guillemots use the island for breeding and accessing the surrounding rich marine environment.
This afternoon we visit Iona. The centre of the Celtic world in 563 AD, the Irish missionary St. Columba went into exile and established a small monastic community there, its basic layout is known through the writings of Abbot Adomnan in the 600s. Driven out of Iona by Viking raids, most of the monastic community moved to Kells in Ireland around 800. In more peaceful times, around 1200, a Benedictine abbey and nunnery were established on the site. It is these buildings (heavily restored) that we see today
Isle of Skye’s southern coast is remote, mainly uninhabited and home to the Cuillin Mountains. Loch Courisk is nestled securely in the landscape’s folds of the Cuillin Ridge. A freshwater lake, Loch Courisk is separated from the sea by the River Scavaig. Our walk along this river gives access to the Loch, or the adventurous can take the opportunity to explore the Loch further. Later in the quiet Isle of Rum, Kinloch Castle greets us. Built of Isle of Arran sandstone the castle took three years and upwards of 300 craftsmen to build. One craftsmen was unique for the time – an electrician – and this was the first private residence in Scotland to have electricity. The electricity was derived from a hydro dam constructed on the Coire Dubh Burn. Now under the care of the Scottish Natural Heritage its restoration is a work in progress.
Remote and battered by the Atlantic seas, St Kilda is a near mystical island with dual UNESCO World Heritage site status for its natural and cultural signiﬁcance. St Kilda is deemed Europe’s most important seabird colony – with abundant puﬃns, fulmars and the largest colony of gannets in Britain.
Inhabited till 1930, the 19th century village layout still remains, allowing us to envisage life on this island where the bird life provided sustenance for the villagers. Enjoy the privilege to visit St Kilda and look out across to Village Bay.
Stornoway is the main town on the Isle of Lewis with just over 6,000 people, about a third of the island’s total population - home to a mix of traditional industries like ﬁshing, Harris Tweed and farming. Arriving at Stornoway, we land in this Gaelic heartland to explore the Stone Age ‘Callanish’, the primordial conﬁguration of standing stones. Crossing the gentle troughs and rounded tops of the landscape we explore the cultural Gearrannan Blackhouse Village and meet the people of this area.
As we stroll the alleyways of Stornoway, check out the local tweed or wander the pathways of Lews Castle gardens we are sure to discover the secret of timelessness in the Hebrides
From Bronze Age man, Iron Age people, Vikings and World Wars – time has left its mark on the Orkney Islands, the green isles. We will land in the seaside town of Stromness, a past safe haven for Vikings, whaling and ﬁshing, and now a ferry gateway to Scotland.
Highlights of visiting Orkney Island include Kirkwall, formally known as the site of the ancient Norse town founded 1000 years ago. We will make our way to the historic village of Skara Brae. In the winter of 1850, a great storm battered Orkney, the grass was stripped from a large mound, then known as ‘Skerrabra’. The outline of a number of stone buildings was revealed - something that intrigued the local laird, William Watt of Skaill, he embarked on an excavation of the site. Today, Skara Brae, as it has become known - survives as eight dwellings, linked together by a series of low, covered passages. We will also ensure we have time to visit the famous Ring of Brodgar Henge, a neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.
North Ronaldsay is renowned for its beautiful coastal scenery, abundant birdlife and its famed sheep. After a short Zodiac ride ashore there will be the opportunity to meet with some of the 60 residents of the island to learn more about their unique lifestyle and especially the unique North Ronaldsay Sheep which have evolved over generations to the particular conditions of North Ronaldsay and which are farmed collectively. Others may choose to join our naturalists on a nature walk searching for some of the many bird species which are both resident and vagrant visitors.
We will also enjoy time in the Fair Isle, famous for birds, knitwear and historic shipwrecks, Fair Isle is a tiny jewel of an island lying half-way between Orkney and Shetland. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it’s one of Britain’s most successful small communities, pioneering projects in wildlife tourism, wind power and sustainable management of the environment. The island is
an internationally important seabird breeding site. From April to August the cliffs are busy with the sound (and smell!) of thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots, gannets, shags and puﬃns, while skuas and terns ﬁercely defend their nests on the moorland. The 70 or so islanders mostly live in traditional crofts
on the more fertile and low-lying southern third of the island. The northern part is largely rough grazing and rocky moorland, rising to the 217 metre Ward Hill.
Lerwick is the Shetland Islands capital. Its cobblestone streets once ﬁlled with the rush created by ﬁshing and ship building, today this port town charms as you wander the same streets of the town
and waterfront. We spend the morning discovering Mousa Broch, standing 13 metres high, it is Scotland’s most impressive and best surviving Iron Age tower or broch. Today we know brochs were built in Shetland around 400-200 BC, the quality of stone, the workmanship and overall size of Mousa are believed to contribute to why it has survived so well.
Afterwards, we head to the south of Lerwick to Jarlshoff where we delve into more than 4,000 years of human settlement in the same location. Neolithic people ﬁrst settled this site in Shetland around 2700 BC, and it remained in use until the AD 1600s. Discoveries made here include oval-shaped Bronze Age houses, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, Norse longhouses, a medieval farmstead, and a laird’s house dating back to the 1500s
Today we ﬂy to Scotland’s medieval capital of Edinburgh with the local airline. Here, we enjoy a city tour where we explore the cobbled streets, hilltop castle, and many of the top attractions before heading to our hotel for your ﬁnal night with the group.
After breakfast and farewells, continue on with your travel arrangements, whether that is more time in Edinburgh, south to England, further aﬁeld or directly homeward bound.
NOTE: Itinerary, landings and all other activities during the cruise depend strongly on weather conditions and are subject to change at the discretion of the expedition leader or captain of the vessel.
The 71mtr/232ft expedition vessel Polar Pioneer is a great way to explore the polar regions. Originally built in 1982, she was a research vessel designed to navigate the polar regions with heavy sea ice thanks to her reinforced hull. She has been refurbished in 2022 and takes 48 passengers. She has 29 comfortable cabins ranging from the Captain’s Suite, mini-suite, twin cabins with private facilities, and twin and triple cabins with shared facilities. The Polar Pioneer is crewed by experts with decades of experience in polar waters and has a medic and clinic on board.
The Polar Pioneer has 6 zodiacs so that all guests can go ashore simultaneously, and boots are provided when going ashore. After being out in the cold, guests can warm up in the sauna. Her large deck space has raised areas ideal for photographers. There is no shortage of incredible photography opportunities, from penguins, whales, breath-taking glaciers, and much more in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are vegetarian and vegan food options, beer, and a wine selection.
Join us and our team of passionate and highly experienced, professional polar guides as we venture to the far flung corners of the world by foot, zodiac, kayak and on skis.
> 9 nights accommodation on board the Polar Pioneer > Pre-cruise hotel night in Glasgow with dinner and breakfast > Post-cruise hotel in Endinburgh with dinner and breakfast > Meals during voyage > House wine, beer & soft drinks with dinner > Gratuities > Internal ﬂight to Edinburgh > Touring & excursion as mentioned in the itinerary
> International ﬂight and transfers to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh airport > Travel Insurance > Souvenirs > Additional spending money > Breakfast and lunch on day 1, lunch and dinner on day 12
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