Polar ship M/V Polar Pioneer, plus Zodiacs for shore excursions.
Details may vary depending on departure date. Please choose
Explore Scotland’s wild islands, home to some of the world’s largest seabird colonies, including adorable puffins and noisy Arctic terns. The Scottish isles are a bird watchers’ paradise with species such as fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets and shags, too. Your ship will get you as close to the highlights as possible, but you can also take to the water in Zodiacs and kayaks to really get the most out of your wildlife experiences - seals will frolic near to you, and whales and dolphins will swim around you. Back on land, discover ancient sites, huge monoliths and remote, picturesque villages in the Hebrides, Shetlands and little-visited, tiny isles surrounding the mainland. This is a diverse exploration of rugged and remote Scottish islands from a unique vantage point.
Explore by Zodiac, and have whales and dolphins swim alongside you
Photograph some of the world's largest sea bird colonies; including cute little puffins
Discover picturesque villages and medieval hamlets on some of Scotland's least-visited tiny islands
From golden beaches to jagged peaks, bleak moors and heather clad hills, and from abandoned settlements to picturesque villages, your days in the Hebrides will be packed with variety.
You’ll explore remote lochs beneath some of Britain’s most untamed mountains, wander between the bizarre rock formations of Skye’s Quiraing, watch for whales, dolphins, otters and seals, or land at an island reserve that is home to red deer and white-tailed sea eagles.
You may have the chance to sample single malt whisky at a distillery, or marvel at Fingal’s Cave, where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Mendelssohnn’s Hebridean Overture.
The rugged island of Skye, named after the Norse word for cloud, is a hikers’ paradise. It is a centre of Gaelic culture, and some islanders still speak the language.
Hopefully, there will also be the time and right conditions to explore options on other, smaller islands to the west of Scotland, such as Barra, the Isle of Rum and Iona. It may also be possible to visit some fascinating spots along the coast of the Scottish mainland.
Island hopping north and east, we aim to visit tiny specks of land that bear the brunt of ferocious Atlantic storms. If weather and seas permit, you will be able to explore Saint Kilda, a World Heritage Site, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of hardy islanders that once dried seabirds for winter food. On Lewis, there's the chance to visit Carloway Broch, and stroll among a mini stone henge at Callanais. Home to breeding seals and vast seabird colonies, Flannan, North Rona and Foula boast spectacular cliffs, fantastic rock stacks, hidden beaches and luxuriant heaths where sheep once grazed.
Exposed to the full ferocity of Atlantic gales, the inhospitable volcanic stacks of Saint Kilda boast Britain’s highest sea cliff (430 metres tall), and were once home to one of Britain’s most remote communities. The settlement’s last 36 residents were evacuated to the Scottish mainland in 1930, when the Scottish Office ceased to subsidise the community. The islanders had eaten seabird eggs, dried gannets and fulmars for winter food, and used their feathers, oil, bones and skins for fuel, tools and shoes. In favourable sea conditions it’s possible to land on Hirta, the largest island (3.2 kilometres by 1.6 kilometres), to visit derelict crofts and the ancient chape. One of Europe’s most significant seabird breeding colonies, with over 200,000 breeding pairs of all species, Saint Kilda is home to Britain’s largest colonies of gannets, fulmars and puffins. It remains home to Soay sheep, perhaps brought here by Stone Age man over 5000 years ago.
Britain’s most northerly islands lie almost 160 kilometres north of the Scottish mainland, at a similar latitude to the southern tip of Greenland, or Bergen in Norway. Kept relatively warm by the Gulf Stream, Shetland’s 100 islands experience almost 24 hours of daylight in summer. They abound with nature reserves and archaeological sites, and offer a taste of traditional island life.
We plan to visit some of Shetland's best preserved and most complex archaeological sites of brochs, or fortified Iron Age towers, as well as some of the world’s largest colonies of sea birds.
Mid way between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station, and is also famous for knitwear and historic shipwrecks. About 4.8 kilometres by 3.2 kilometres, it is surrounded by impressive cliffs. The 70 or so islanders mostly live in traditional crofts on the more fertile low-lying southern part of the island.
A bird watchers’ paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight-paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. It attracts common species and also eastern rarities such as the lanceolated warbler. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins, and it is an excellent place to view seabirds at close range, especially puffins. The island also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. You’ll be welcomed by the hospitable villagers and may take a hike or visit the museum.
Among Orkney’s archipelago of 70 windswept islands, lying 9.6 kilometres north of the Scottish mainland, a rich tapestry of archaeology, history and wildlife awaits. You follow the passage of time – from 5000 year old World Heritage neolithic sites, past relics from wandering Vikings and reminders of World War II occupation, to present day crofting communities. Imposing sea cliffs teem with seabirds and cliff top paths and bleak moors beckon keen hikers.
Upon arrival in Aberdeen, disembark and continue homewards.
Included meals: Breakfast
Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended, either for operational reasons or in response to feedback from customers. Please ensure you have read the latest Tour Notes before booking or travelling on your tour.
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