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Highlands & Islands - Scotland

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Explore the Hebrides and then cruise around the northern shores of Scotland to Orkney, Shetland and Fair Isle. So many of these places are difficult, if not impossible, to access by land. Spring in the Scottish islands and coastal regions is a fantastic time for birds. As well the archaeological sites of St. Kilda, Dun Carloway broch, Ring of Brodgar and Jarlshoff, to mention a few, tell the story of a complex and tenacious history. These remote areas are a delight to wander through as the lifestyle here seems to have managed to retain some of the slower pace of yesteryear
 

Day 1:
Sunday, May 16 (Scotland)
Embark in the charming highland town of Oban.

Day 2:
Monday, May 17 (Inner Hebrides)
Located on the Isle of Mull, Duart Castle stands proudly on a cliff top historically guarding the Isle of Mull for the clan MacLean. At the exit from the Sound visit the charming waterside town of Tobermory and its whisky distillery.

Day 3:
Tuesday, May 18 (Inner Hebrides)
The lure of Fingal’s Cave on Staffa has brought travelers from around the world. Weather permitting, Zodiac cruise or walk into the cave to perhaps experience what inspired Mendelssohn. Iona is recognized as the birthplace of Christianity and still today has an overwhelming sense of peace and
tranquility.

Day 4:
Wednesday, May 19 (Inner Hebrides)
On the south coast of Isle of Skye visit Loch Scavaig to search for a seal colony and to see dramatic views of the Cuillins, long felt to be the spiritual heart of Skye. The afternoon’s visit to Rum is light-hearted with a visit to the quirky Kinloch Castle.

Day 5:
Thursday, May 20 (Outer Hebrides)
The harsh lifestyle of the crofters who live on St. Kilda is apparent throughout the village. The last of the St. Kildans were evacuated in 1930, but still today the birds remain – including Puffin, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Razorbill. In the sea stacks of Boreray and the other islands of this archipelago are 65,000 nesting pairs of northern gannet. This double UNESCO world heritage site is one of the most remarkable on the planet.

Day 6:
Friday, May 21 (Inner Hebrides)
Reaching the northern coast of the Isle of Skye, come to Dunvegan Castle,
seat of the clan MacLeod. Off the northwest of the Isle of Skye lies the small island in Loch Dunvegan, Isay, abandoned during the Highlands Clearance to make way for sheep grazing. Eider and Shelduck may be seen in these waters.

Day 7:
Saturday, May 22 (Isles of Lewis)
Landing at Stornoway, the focus today is on archaeology. Visit the standing stones of Calanish, the Dun Carloway broch and the traditional blackhouses of Gearrannan.


Day 8:
Sunday, May 23 (Scottish Highland Coast)
Across the water from Poolewe is Interewe Gardens with surprising flora at this northern latitude due to the Gulf Stream. Further north along the coast lies the island of Handa, managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust with over 200,000 birds returning each year. The high cliffs of the sandstone Stack an Seabhaig (hawk’s stack) is the most densely populated area.

Day 9:
Monday, May 24 (Orkney Islands)
The Orkney islands are home to many bird species, fine local craftsmanship and exquisite archaeological and historic treasures – plan to visit Ring of Brodgar, standing stones of Stennes, Skara Brae, and more recent 13th Century, Magnus Cathedral in the town of Kirkwall.

Day 10:
Tuesday, May 25 (Shetland Islands)
Foula (population 30) is one of Britain’s most remote inhabited islands and leaves a lasting impression on everyone who visits. The crofting townships on the narrow coastal strip are dwarfed by the island’s five dramatic peaks. Just off the west coast of the mainland island is the small island of Papa Stour with the most impressive sea caves of Britain along with rock arches, stacks and skerries. It is also an internationally important colony of Arctic tern, is often visited by seals and has several archaeological sites. As with all these coastal areas, there is a possibility of whales and porpoises in the surrounding waters.

Day 11:
Wednesday, May 26 (Shetland Islands)
The day starts with an early morning visit to Mousa Broch. Landing on the mainland of the Shetland Islands, visit the archaeological sites of Jarlshoff and Old Scatness. There is time after this to amble the cobbled streets of Lerwick.

Day 12:
Thursday, May 27 (Fair Isle)
Occupied since the Bronze Age, today about 60 crofters work the land of this
most isolated inhabited island. It is also home to a permanent bird observatory. Fair Isle is famous for its knitted jumpers (sweaters).

Day 13:
Friday, May 28 (Scottish mainland)
Disembark in the “City of Discovery” (Scott’s exploration ship), Dundee.

 

Note:

All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife.