Islands on the Edge 18th to 25th July 2020
This trip is on request only... please contact for availability
You will be collected from your accommodation by our minibus (we don’t provide this accommodation but can advise on accommodation to suit you).
8.30am – Depart Inverness and head down Loch Ness, stopping to check if Nessie is about.
We visit Eilean Donan, where we have a guided tour. This iconic castle on Loch Duich has seen a lot of action over the years and lately like much of Scotland has become a frequently used film set.
We continue through Kyle of Lochalsh and over the Skye Bridge, with plenty of photostops.
Lunch of soup and sandwiches is provided in Portree where you will get a chance to explore the old harbour with it’s colourful buildings.
Heading north from Portree, we will stop for views of The Old Man of Storr, (recently made more iconic by Game of Thrones) and to look out to Kilt Rock. At Skye's most northerly telephone box we will stop and there will be a chance to walk out to the Lookout (3km round walk) with it’s amazing views over the Minch and Rubha Hunish. We head down the west side of the peninsula, taking in Duntulm and other views, arriving in the tiny port of Uig, from where we get the ferry to Harris.
7pm – Our ferry departs for Harris, dinner is available on the ferry, CalMac fish and chips have sustained many generations of islanders on there journeys, but they also have a range of dishes to suit all tastes (not included)
8.40pm – We arrive in Tarbert on Harris and head north to Lewis and our meeting point for the CUMA. This will take about an hour but depends on photostops as it will be light until 11pm.
Sunday to Thursday
We are on board the MV Cuma. Our plan is to travel down the coast taking in the islands of
Scarp - Inhabited until the 1970's was the the most westerly inhabited island after the St Kildans were evacuated. It was also the site of the famous Rocket Post. There is a lovely hill on the west, remains of the village with long house and school. There is the most photogenic of Bays between Scarp and Harris, there are more shades of blue and turquoise than you can imagine.
Taransay - Made famous by the reality Tv programme Castaway, Taransay was inhabited until 1974. There will again be a chance to explore and a walk to the highest point, with views out to Seilebost, Hushinish and Harris.
Monachs - These low lying islands were attached at low tide to North Uist until the 17th century. The last families left in 1942. There is plenty to explore with an old village, hidden well, lighthouse and amazing machair land.
The MV Cuma can anchor off these island and we are transferred to them by Tender. You will be able to explore the islands at leisure and there will be a guided walk available for those who want to join this.
We will then head out to St Kilda which towers out of the sea. We will tour the islands taking in Hirta, Stac an Armin, Stac Lea and Boreray. We will anchor in Village Bay on Hirta where there will be a chance to go ashore and explore the island and village, this is the only St Kilda island we can land on. If conditions allow, we will spend the night anchored in Village Bay, soaking in the solitude as the sun sets.
Our journey back will be via the Flannan isles, with its lighthouse immortalised in the poem about the disappearance of the lighthouse keepers in 1900
There will be a chance to get off, walk and explore the islands (not the Flannans). All have amazing and very diverse landscapes. There are long histories for the islands on the edge, all having had populations in the past who have left them due to their harsh environments. Some like Hirta have very unique flora and fauna, due to their isolation, all have large bird populations.
Whilst this is our plan unfortunately the weather and seas are not under our management. We will make the most of what nature throws at us and make every effort to get you safely and comfortably around the islands. This may be a once in a lifetime trip but getting out to St Kilda at any cost is not going to make it a good experience. The stats are that about 40% of people who try to get to St Kilda get there the first time, Murdo and the Cuma got 14 of their 16 trips out last year. If we don’t get to St Kilda we will take you to other amazing places, there is never a boring day out on the Edge, the skies team with birds like Gannets, Gulls, Skua, Cormorant, Puffins and more, and the water is filled with Dolphins, Porpoise, Minke Whale, Orca, Basking Shark, all just waiting to be spotted. To give you the best chance of getting to St Kilda we may have to change the order we do the islands in, and we may not get to all of the islands, we need to make the most of any weather windows we get.
All meals are provided during this time, wine and beers are provided with meals. There will be Aperos before dinner and Whisky after dinner. Dinner will be Aperos, Main, Cheese and Dessert. We will introduce you to as much Scottish and local fare as we can. Lunches will be simple sandwiches, fruit, crisps and biscuits, they will be done as packed lunches if we are off exploring islands.
Our evenings on the boat will include a few info sessions, we will do a Whisky tasting, learn some Gaelic, learn about St Kilda through film and music and a lot of stories.
8.30 am departure from the Cuma after breakfast.
We will head to Callanish and the Standing Stones, where you will have time to soak in the atmosphere and explore the visitor centre. Then on to Carloway Broch before heading to Stornoway for the ferry back to the mainland.
2pm our ferry departs. We will have a picnic lunch provided by the Cuma which you can have whilst taking in the Minch crossing. We arrive back into Ullapool at around 4.40pm and you will have a chance to explore the beautiful fishing port for an hour or so before we have a final supper together (included). We head back to Inverness, which is about an 90mins drive East and you will be dropped off at your accommodation (not included).
MV Cuma accommodation
The MV Cuma was initially constructed for scientific marine research. The hull is of timber and was built by Samuel White of Cockenzie in 1967 to Lloyds+100 A1 specifications. The vessel was converted and upgraded for commercial diving and cruising charter operations and complies with Maritime & Coastguard Agency Code of Practice Regulations. The vessel is 18.5 meters long and is powered by a 200 horsepower Gardner engine, which is renowned for its reliability. Ample 240 Volt power is delivered by a quiet running generator.
Comfortable accommodation is provided for 10 persons in two berth cabins each with hot and cold water. There is also separate crew accommodation. There is a large deck saloon with ample seating and large viewing windows. There are also 2 toilets and two showers. The accommodation is centrally heated throughout. Berths are sailing style, the upper one has limited headroom and you stand on the lower to get to the upper. The toilets are pump driven heads and a bit noisy.
The salon area is fitted with 3 tables and has bench style seating, there are windows all round the salon. There is drinking water available from the water cooler in the salon. There are viewing areas to the front and rear of the boat and you are welcome to be out here when we are travelling at sea (appropriate clothing and safety equipment should be worn)