DAY 1: GLASGOW/GREENOCK, SCOTLAND (Note: June 4-14, 2023 tour runs in reverse, begins in Aberdeen and ends in Glasgow)
After meeting in Glasgow we’ll depart via coach, and travel onward to Greenock. Greenock has a rich maritime history and was a major shipbuilding and import centre. Here, we'll board the Ocean Endeavour, our home for the next ten nights.
DAY 2: ISLAY
The Queen of the Hebrides, Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides, known for its fine whisky and as a haven for seabirds.
We will visit Loch Finlaggan historic site, home of the Lords of the Isles and Clan Donald, and visit Gruinart Nature Reserve, a habitat for barnacle goose, hen harriers, and corncrakes.
DAY 3: IONA AND STAFFA
The Isle of Staffa is famed for basaltic formations and numerous caves, the best known being Fingal’s Cave. Originally known in Gaelic as “the melodious cave,” it provided the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s overture, The Hebrides.
We then visit nearby Iona, where St. Columba established his monastery—the burial place of kings. The restored Iona Abbey complex preserves two outstanding eighth century crosses and a splendid collection of sculpture.
DAY 4: SKYE
This is a fabulous day for birders, photographers, and hikers. We will cruise the southwestern shore of Skye to visit Loch Coruisk, a freshwater loch accessed through Loch Scavaig. Here we find one of the finest mountainscapes in Britain, backed by the Cuillin Mountains.
DAY 5: OUTER HERBRIDES
The Outer Hebrides are a fantastic collection of over 100 islands seventy kilometers off Scotland’s west coast. Here we find the oldest evidence of human habitation in Scotland with Pictish, Norse, and Scottish influence. We’ll search out the rich marine and bird life of the islands as conditions permit.
DAY 6: ST. KILDA
The archipelago known as St. Kilda was inhabited until 1930. Today, St. Kilda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protecting fascinating ruins as well as natural heritage features.
Seabirds thrive on the island of Hirta, which is also home to feral sheep left by the departing islanders. Enormous cliffs offer dramatic ocean views for our hikers!
DAY 7: ISLE OF LEWIS
Lewis is the largest of the Hebridean Islands and a Gaelic stronghold. We’ll visit the island’s capital, Stornoway, where one can purchase the Island’s famous tweed, as well as one of Britain’s most important Stone Age sites. Callanish’s standing stones are said to be giants who were punished by St. Kieran for refusing to convert to Christianity.
DAY 8: KIRKWALL, ORKNEY
Kirkwall is dominated by the massive St. Magnus Cathedral, dating from 1137. We’ll visit the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where we’ll find the 4,000-year old Ring of Brodgar and The Hall of Clestrain, the childhood home of Arctic explorer John Rae.
DAY 9: PAPA STOUR AND FOULA
Marine and bird life flourish at Papa Stour among cliffs, caves, sea stacks, and blowholes. We will have a morning Zodiac cruise exploring the coastline’s rugged beauty!
Twenty-three kilometres west of the Shetland Islands, Foula is the most remote inhabited island in the UK. Here, a few dozen folk make their homes, many preserving traditional methods of agriculture and subsistence. Arctic terns, red-throated divers, and great skuas may be found here.
DAY 10: FAIR ISLE
Once a Viking hub, Fair Isle is now an idyllic island colony of artists and shepherds. The island boasts 350 bird species, including puffins and great skuas in substantial numbers. The local museum is dedicated to preserving island heritage.
DAY 11: ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND
The Ocean Endeavour arrives in Aberdeen in the morning.