Mittwoch, 29. Oktober 2014
|Reisebeschreibung Hebriden Entdeckertour I|
Termin: 26. Mai - 05. Juni 2015
This sailing voyage leads to practically uninhabited and rugged areas that will be appealing to nature lovers. At the coast of Scotland we find deep lochs and small fishing-villages. The hundreds of islands of the Hebrides have their own character, are very isolated and therefore entirely self-reliant. This area is rich in seabirds, which usually breed on the steep cliff walls. With the ‘Oosterschelde’, a relatively small ship, we will visit unique places that cannot be reached over land.
During the crossings between the different islands the chances are big that we will spot whales and seals. Included in the programme is famous St. Kilda. During the voyage we ill sail as much as possible. There will also be enough time to go on land to explore the coasts, culture and animal life.
The crew will welcome you onboard. The cabins will be assigned and you will meet the other quests. The captain will explain everything on board and give you the safety instructions. The rest of the evening is for everyone to spend freely.
We leave early and sail out of the Sound of Mull. At the West coast of Mull we find a lot of small rocky islands. The island of Staffa will emerge as a steep, volcanic rock cliff. This island is home to numerous birds. Mendelssohn got inspiration for his Hebrides-overture on Staffa. We will visit Fingal’s Cave, a deep basalt cave, by dinghy. We will go ashore for a walk and in the afternoon we will set sail towards the Outer Hebrides.
Our destination is Miughalaigh and Bearnaraigh. We hope to anchor at the cliffs at the west side of Mingulay in the morning. Except for a mass of Auks, Kittiwakes and Northern Fulmars, the island is only inhabited by the lighthouse keepers. In the evening we will sail to the island Barra and will moor in Castle Bay. At this bay there are a couple of shops, hotels, a small church and Kismull Castle. This castle, built in the 12th century, is to be found on a rock formation in the bay where we are anchored. During the night we will stay here to taste a real Scottish whisky in a local pub.
In the following morning we will set sail for St Kilda. The crossing is approximately 80 miles and we expect to arrive within a full day. Underway we might spot cetaceans and dolphins. Some dolphins love to swim along with ships. Maybe we will come across Sperm whales, but also Killer whales, Minky whales and Long-finned pilot whales.
At sunrise we expect to catch a glimpse of the 7 islands and rocks of St. Kilda. The cliff Ard Uachdarachd of Conchair is the highest of the British Islands. We will anchor at the main island Hirta. Twenty species of birds are breeding at St. Kilda, with over a million birds with about 300.000 nests. On Boreray and the Stacs a fourth of all the Gannets of the North Atlantic, about 60.000 pares. The most common seabird in the archipelago is the Atlantic Puffin, in the past there were millions of pares. Special is the St. Kilda Wren, with a larger than average beak and a different song; with an estimate 250 pares. No other seabird island can be compared to St. Kilda. We will stay anchored and go to shore.
At the beginning of this century the St. Kildans were still living very primitive compared to the rest of Europe. They lived of sheep, some farming and mostly bird catching. Once a year a ship with knives, needle and thread sailed to the islands and traded the products for dried birds and tweed.
St. Kilda lies approximately 40 sea miles west of the Outer Hebrides. Hirta is the biggest of the islands and has been inhabited by the Celts as long as people can remember. In 1957 the National Trust for Scotland became the owner and made St. Kilda a nature reserve. In 1986 St Kilda became part of the Unesco World Heritage List. For millennia the Celtic community on St. Kilda has been dependant on whatever the island group had to offer. Sheep, birds and some cows. Meat, fat, eggs and wool. Then thousands of birds were caught every year, especially Auks, Northern Fulmars and Northern Gannets. Dangerous tours were made to climb the cliffs; especially the i islands in the north (Boreray, Stac and Stac Armin) consist of nothing more than steep rocks. At the end of the 17th century, when there lived about 180 people, they had one boat of 16 el. As far as we know they have never made boats of their own.
The St. Kildans lived in houses made of boulders with roofs made of turf and hay, without chimneys or windows. In the 1830’s wood and glass were introduced. The old houses became stables and stores. The old feudal Celtic community of St. Kilda was gradually destroyed by the influence the Angelsaksians from the mainland. Strict Christianity and education came first, later on stone houses with sanitary, charity and tourism. On August 29th 1930 the British government removed the last 39 inhabitants. Bulldozers destroyed most of the old houses. The National Trust has stimulated the tourism on St. Kilda and has restored some of the houses, the church and the school.
We will leave St. Kilda for another long crossing. 40 miles to the northeast lay the Flannan Islands, which we will pass on our way to the Northern Cape, the so-called Butt of Lewis. We will sail close to the rugged coast with deep lochs, bays and beaches. A spectacular place to watch seabirds. Also Killer Whales are often seen here.
We will anchor in Stornoway, which is the only town on the Outer Hebrides and has 8000 inhabitants. There is a museum that displays the life on the island, in the harbor is a colony of Grey Seals and around Lewis Castle is a forest with the only Rook-colony of the Hebrides.
Today we have Dunvegan, on the island Skye, on the program. Gaelic is the most spoken language on Skye, as on many of the other islands of the Hebrides. The inhabitants give a poetic description of the island: ‘The island of mist under the shadow of the high mountains’. Dunvegan is quite touristic. There is a 13th century castle and there are a few 18th century gardens, which are open for visitors.
We sail out the bay of Dunvegan. On one of the rock islands in front of the coast there is a seal colony we will probably see. Then we will sail to the island of Rhum, which raises 800 meters out of the water. Since 1957 this island has been a National Nature Reserve. It is covered with grass, heath land, lichen and forests. There is a research station, which is aimed at red deer’s and reintroducing White-tailed eagles. And maybe we will find some Golden eagles and Peregrine falcons here.
Today we will sail between the islands Eig, Eileen nan Each and Muck towards the Sound of Mull. If we have enough time, we will make a stop on one of the islands. During the afternoon we will sail on to our final destination: Oban. Our cook will prepare a nice farewell dinner for this evening.
Busy Oban lies in a sheltered bay. The harbor is being used by fishermen and ferries depart for the various islands nearby. After breakfast the bags will be packed and some of the quests may want to buy souvenirs in Oban. We say our goodbyes and leave the ship.
This description is meant to give you an impression of how a voyage could look like. Depending on wind and weather conditions the travel plan could be altered, however we always try to sail as much as possible.
On this voyage you will have to arrange your transfer yourself. Prices depend on availability and time of booking.