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Western Isles and St Kilda

St Kilda is the jewel in the crown off the west coast of Scotland. It consists of a group of islands and stacs rising steeply from the Atlantic. It is a world heritage site. It was populated for thousands of years until 1930, and now thanks to the National Trust of Scotland who have restored some of the houses, it is possible to see how life existed on these islands. It has the highest sea cliffs in the British Isles and an abundance of wild life, gannets, fulmars, puffins, great skuas, as well as marine life in the crystal clear waters.

Day 1
Introductions and final preparations are undertaken. A chance to get to know the guests, the yacht, and a safety briefing before sitting down to an evening meal.

Day 2
After breakfast the boat is prepared for sea and a further chance to become familiar with your surroundings. A favourable tide will take us up the Sound of Mull towards Tobermory our first destination. This will be a reasonably sheltered passage where the crew can start to get their sea legs and learn how to sail Aislig Bheag. Tobermory is a picture postcard town situated on the north east corner of Mull within a sheltered bay. This will be last time within a sizeable population, an opportunity for last minute shopping and sample the night life.

Day 3
An early start for a longer passage today, across the Hebridean Sea to the island of Barra. Barra is largest southern island of the Outer Hebrides. We will moor at the south end of the island at Castlebay, the main population of the island and named after Kisimul Castle. Details of Castlebay can be found at www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/barra/castlebay

Days 4-5
Depending on the weather there may be time for exploration. A short day trip to the island of Mingulay, a mini St Kilda, and a chance to explore Barra and the island of Vatersay. If there are strong westerlies blowing the skipper may decide to sail up the sheltered east side of the Outer Hebrides visiting Eriskay, South and North Uist and position the yacht near the Sound of Harris for a shorter trip to St Kilda if the weather improves. However, if the weather is favourable then an early morning passage will see us passing through the islands and heading up the west side of Barra, South and North Uist to visit the low lying Monach islands.

There are amazing beaches all around the west side of the Hebrides and the Monach islands are no exception with beautiful white sands set amongst turquoise waters. The Monach Islands are home to a large grey seal population and a host of bird life. For history look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monach_Islands

Days 6-8
From the Monach islands it's a short 30 mile hop to St Kilda, where hopefully if the weather there will be plenty time to explore the islands, wildlife and history of the islands.

Day 9 - 12
The cruise back from St Kilda may include stops at Loch Maddy on North Uist, Skye, Canna or Rum. Some of the passages may be lengthy depending on whether its a 12 day or 14 day cruise.

However there is plenty of opportunity to view the wildlife, such as dolphins off the bow and basking sharks gliding by.

St Kilda is situated 45 miles west of the Outer Hebrides completely exposed to the Atlantic. It consists of a group of islands of which Hirta is the largest. The only shelter to be found is village bay and even there, fierce downdrafts can occur as well as exposure to the Atlantic swell. The west side of the Outer Hebrides has very little shelter and can be very dangerous to approach in a gale. With this in mind a careful watch on the weather must be kept when undertaking such a trip. Therefore in undertaking the trip 10 to 14 days are required, and in some cases when the weather is unfavourable an extensive cruise of the east side of the Outer Hebrides may be the only alternative. However, this will be at the discretion of the skipper who will position the yacht in such a place that if a window of opportunity occurs St Kilda will be visited.

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