I have pondered long and hard upon the best way to write up 14 days/13 nights of wonderment! How to include it all without putting my readers to sleep?? So, I’ve decided upon Lists and Photos…..Hope you get an idea of how wonderful it was! 😊
PS: you might need a map!!
PPS: All photos are in right section but might not correspond correctly in order of lists!!! ( Sorry )
Islands seen up close or anchored near:
- South Uist
- North Uist
We were all welcome in the Wheelhouse at any time during sailing. It had plenty of room for us to sit or stand, we could check our position on Skipper’s maps & charts, and he patiently answered our questions.. about the sea, the islands, Scotland or the wildlife. He had but 1 rule: if he said we had to leave and go downstairs, because of a crisis or rough weather, we must; immediately!
Anchorages for each night:
- Loch Riddon : Mainland
- Tarbert, Loch Fyne : Mainland
- Campbeltown, Loch Fyne : Mainland
- Glenbatrick, Jura
- Castlebay: Barra
- Lochboisdale: South Uist
- Loch Maddy : North Uist
- Tarbert: South Harris
- Dunvegan : Skye
- Loch Scresort: Rhum
- Loch Na droma budhie : Mainland
- Loch Spelve : Mull
I quickly learnt that there are sea Lochs, not just freshwater, land Lochs! Much care was taken by Skipper each night to secure us a safe, calm, protected anchorage…..In one case , Loch Scavaig, he wasn’t happy with the lack of safety, so we went on to Loch Scresort! Another night, it took nearly 2 hours before he was happy that the anchor was secure….Bad mud apparently!
An event I looked forward to, nearly daily, was our trips ashore, in the Tender. The tender was fun to zoom along in, once we were all sitting in the correct places to balance it, and once we were all wearing our life jackets! Skipper used various methods of landing us ashore…..Up against a boat ramp or little pier was the easiest! Occasionally, we climbed a metal ladder, waded through very shallow water or even walked the plank!! We quickly became accustomed to helping each other, adjusting life jackets and knowing where Skipper wanted us when he said Stern or Starboard! We didn’t all go ashore each trip, it was never compulsory ( although I’m sure Skipper and Chef enjoyed the break from us!!) and it often depended on the terrain which needed traversing. Sometimes we walked along together, other times we went our own ways; oftentimes, I wandered off by myself, but ran into others along the way! I missed 1 excursion, due to the fact I was resting, but enjoyed all the other adventures ashore.
- We went ashore by Stonefield Castle Hotel, on the mainland, which happened to be where Skipper was born and spent the first 12 years of his life. This excursion was in the rain!
- Tarbert, no. 1, on the mainland, was very flash, we didn’t need the tender here….Could walk on or off the Marina at will! A lovely little seaside town.
- At Saddell, also on the mainland, we all walked along to see an ancient Abbey’s ruins, and some amazing ancient standing Stones. I even got to play with a cute little puppy!
- Our attempt to land at Gigha was aborted due to nowhere suitable to disembark….But it was a great Tender ride ,however, due to the fact that we saw seals, Heilan’ Coos, Shelducks including 16 babies, and a Greylag goose and goslings.
- We had a lovely morning’s walk around the little friendly town of Scalasaig, on Colonsay, where I kept telling other tourists recently arrived by Ferry, about the wonders of Argyll Cruising. ( And bought local wool)
- On the same day as Colonsay, we had a very pleasant 3 hours on Iona. I managed to fill that time with tea & shortbread in a garden café, extensive wanderings at the Iona Abbey, (amazing) and a cider with B & B in a pub garden by the sea!
- Also on that glorious day we sailed after dinner to drop anchor near Staffa, where we had a tender ride into Fingal’s Cave. Wonderful! Acoustics were awesome ( we sang to test!)! A remarkable experience!
- Next morning, before breakfast, Skipper took 3 of us ashore on Lunga, so that I could see Puffins up close and personal! I did! It was amazing! Thanks to B & B who coached me over the slippery rocks and up the cliff path to the green grass on top! Taught me how to use walking sticks properly too!
- Had an extended time ashore on Barra, at Castlebay. (4.5 hours) We had had a long and bumpy trip across from Lunga to Castlebay the day before and had to spend most of it in the dining saloon, so it was nice to get out and about! Also, Skipper and Chef changed the sheets, and generally gave the boat its weekly spring clean. 4 of us caught the local bus that took us right around the island, stopping to pick up people at the ferry port and also at the airport. The airport is amazing! The planes land on the sand! A great excursion. I spent the rest of the time trying to find effective WiFi so I could transfer money to withdraw, and as the library was closed that day, this entailed me having cups of tea and a glass of cider and MUCH chatting! Great fun!
- Our next excursion ashore was another Tarbert, on South Harris. Being a Sunday, every cafe, Harris Tweed store, Shop etc was shut!! But we all had a lovely wander to various parts of Tarbert…And I even found a wee pub open near the Ferry terminal that served coffee! Win!
- We dropped anchor near the Shiants, 2 tiny little islands, joined together by a tiny stretch of pebble covered land. B, B & I were taken ashore where we had an interesting and picturesque walk on the more accessible of the 2 islands. We climbed across pebbly beaches, saw some amazing sea anemones, staghorn kelp and many colourful pebbles; climbed most of the way up the small Hill, observing butterflies, birds, a natural spring and many beautiful wildflowers; had a look at the only home on the islands, a very old bothy still used by campers. All this whilst the Sun was shining!
- That same day we anchored near Dunvegan, on Skye, where we had a lovely walk along the coast road into the village, in search of butter for chef. ( And sight seeing) Thankfully, the busy little local supermarket was still open!
- Next morning, we had another, shorter stroll ashore, before setting sail for the day.
- B, B & I ( the 3 stooges, the Skipper called us!) went ashore the next day onto the island of Rhum. A lovely walk through bird-lovers paradise, into a tiny village, passing many campers in a range of accommodations. The Sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the water in the streams burbling….Idyllic! Had a great chat with a young Farmer/volunteer coastguard who is doing up an old cottage for a BnB & made him envious when sharing News of all our wildlife sightings from the Splendour. His wife had a little craft hut, which was self serve- just put in the money and write down what you bought!!!
- That afternoon, 5 of us took the Tender onto Muck…. A smallish island that you could walk across easily in an hour. Only 1 road, so we couldn’t get lost!! Once again, glorious sunshine and wonderful scenery, friendly locals and lots of other visitors arriving at the pontoons. I had a wonderful wander…..Visited the local craft shop which was, once again, self serve/ honesty system. I chatted to an English couple who wished to buy some home made jam, but didn’t have right change. I eventually convinced them that I’d add the jam to my purchases and that would make it easier for me! After they’d gone, I noticed the man had left his jacket behind, so I trotted down to the pontoon with it , just as they were about to leave! I was their favourite Aussie!! After that, I joined R & P at the coffee shop for a restoratative pot of tea! I then trotted on through the farm land, talking to sheep,walkers and B & B ! ( Who had made it across the island!) It was a lovely, sunny afternoon on Muck.
- Our next trip ashore was into Tobermory, on Mull. All 6 of us spent a wonderful 3 hours exploring this quaint and brightly coloured town. Most of us did shoppping! 3 of us even did a spot of Whisky tasting! I was the only one who walked up to the higher part of town where I found a lovely cafe/art gallery/gift shop with excellent coffee, WiFi, and a very helpful, friendly young lady. Just as we headed back to the Splendour it started to rain. Perfect timing!
- Sadly, our next trip in the Tender was our final trip. It was going ashore at Oban at the end of our cruise. ☹️
B & B recorded seeing 53 species of birds on our cruise. Most of these they saw from the boat, but some were seen on their trips ashore. I can’t possibly remember them all but significant birds for me were:
- Golden eagle
- White tailed eagle.
- Shearwaters ( in their 1000s)
- Storm Petrels
- Eider ducks
- Greylag geese
B & B also recorded seeing 20 “significant others” in the wildlife realm. I do think 1 of those 20 was an Aussie, so I’m not sure of the true numbers!! Amazing sightingsfor me were:
- An Orca ( killer whale) Only the 3rd one Skipper’s seen in his life!
- Lots of seals….Sunning themselves on rocks or swimming up to see what we were doing.
- Several pods of dolphins…One lot swam along with us for ages.
- Minke whales.
- Cows ( ashore), including Highland cows.
- Red deer.
- Many sheep of many varieties.
- Breakfast : Everyday there was porridge and toast & jams ( & vegemite for me!) , Pots of tea and coffee, and a cooked breakfast of some sort…. Kippers, eggs in many ways, pancakes, eggy bread & bacon, full Scottish, baked beans, etc etc!
- Elevenses : a freshly baked biscuit each with pots of tea and coffee.
- Lunch : Depending on weather sometimes freshly made soup, freshly made bread, quiche, wonderful salads, cold meats, cheeses, pate, sandwiches, pasta bake, fish patties. Always fruit and tea and coffee and water.
- Afternoon tea : a slice of home made cake with pots of tea and coffee.
- Dinner : either entrée (asparagus,Smoked salmon) or cheese board ( 3 British cheese with oatcakes) dessert most nights but not always: chocolate mousse, mango cheesecake, mixed Fruit crumble & custard, poached pears & spicy chocolate sauce, lemon & caramel posset with raspberries, berries & cream, strawberries & marscapone. Main course always had wonderful, varied vegetables along with a parade of delights: Lamb shanks,Smoked haddock, beef cheeks, roast pork, turkey breasts in yoghurt, roast lamb, venison, salmon, roast pork, Balmoral chicken ( haggis stuffing) , chicken & chorizo tagatelle, duck, beef & chorizo stew.
All meals were amazing, cooked to perfection but best of all, Chef’s portion sizes were perfect!! He quickly remembered who liked small serves, extra gravy, to finish the salad ( me) , no cheese, etc. Amazing! I offered to adopt him and take him home but he doesn’t like the sound of Australia’s wildlife!!!
I know this has been long-winded, but my Hebridean Odyssey was so good! On the last evening of our trip, I sang a little song I’d written about it all to my fellow passengers & crew! This took them by surprise, not knowing it’s something I’d often do in days gone past!! My lovely fellow passengers seemed to enjoy the song, in which they all featured, and they happily joined in with the chorus; but I’m not sure that Skipper & Chef coped terribly well!!!! To finish this Saga, I’ll leave you with the chorus of my corny song, sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda! …..
“Sailing on the Splendour, zooming in the Tender,
Nothing is more wonderful than sailing on this Sea,
I’m so pleased that I came on this Hebridean Odyssey,
Even when that sea gets a little bumpy! ”