Day 1: Glasgow/Greenock
The bustling metropolis of Glasgow is the economic engine of Scotland—and an architectural delight. After a walking tour we’ll depart via coach, and travel onward to Greenock. Originally a small fishing community, Greenock grew with industrialization and boasts the site of the first dock on the River Clyde. The community 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. This island lies only forty kilometres from the Irish coast. Islay is a haven for seabirds, thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.
We will visit Loch Finlaggan historic site, home of the Lords of the Isles and Clan Donald, along with a visit to Gruinart Nature Reserve, a thriving habitat for barnacle goose, hen harriers and corncrakes.
Islay is world-famous for fine whisky, thanks to clear waters, fine peat and barley.
Day 3: Iona & Staffa
The isle of Staffa is famed for basaltic formations and numerous caves. The best known of these is Fingal’s Cave, a spectacular geological feature named for the Celtic hero. Originally known in Gaelic as “the melodious cave”, it provided the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s overture, The Hebrides.
St. Columba established his monastery at nearby Iona—the burial place of kings. The restored Iona Abbey complex preserves two outstanding eighth-century crosses and a splendid collection of sculpture.
Day 4: Isle of 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 Cullin Mountains. We will hike the western shore and revel in the view.
Day 5: Outer Hebrides
At times referred to as the Long Isle or the Western Isles, the Outer Hebrides are a fantastic collection of over 100 islands 70km off Scotland’s west coast. Known today as a leader in renewable energy and a Gaelic stronghold, The Outer Hebrides have a colourful history. Here we find the oldest evidence of human habitation in Scotland with Pictish, Norse and Scots 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 World Heritage Site, protecting fascinating ruins as well as natural heritage features.
Seabirds thrive on the island of Hirta—notably, puffins, fulmars, and the largest gannet colony in Britain (and the second-largest in the world). Hirta 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. Harris Tweed has its headquarters on Lewis. Its product is hand woven exclusively in the Outer Hebrides by weavers working at home. We’ll visit Stornoway, the island’s capital.
On the west side of Lewis is Callanish, 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 Magnus Cathedral, dating from 1137. This is the final resting place of the famed Orcadian Arctic explorer, John Rae.
We’ll visit the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, we’ll find the 4,000-year-old Ring of Brodgar and The Hall of Clestrain, the childhood home of John Rae!
Day 9: Foula & Papa Stour
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: Aberdeenshire
Scotland’s northeast coast features seaside towns, rolling fields, stunning coastlines and countless historic points of interest. The gentle landscape makes it perfect for walking and exploring by foot. We’ll spend our day exploring the vibrant region outside of Aberdeen.
Day 11: Aberdeen
The Ocean Endeavour arrives in Aberdeen in the morning. You may choose to extend your stay in Scotland on your own or make your way home from here.
The Ocean Endeavour arrives in Aberdeen in the morning and our Scotland Slowly cruise comes to an end. You can choose to extend your stay on your own or make your way home.