Explore remote lochs beneath some of Britain’s most untamed mountains, wander between bizarre rock formations of Skye’s Quiraing, watch for whales, dolphins, otters and seals, or land at an island reserve that is home to red deer and white-tailed sea eagles. Kayakers will be introduced to their craft and will be briefed for their adventures, before picking up paddles to circumnavigate tiny islets or paddle deep into narrow waterways that intersect this rugged terrain, while hikers may opt for panoramic views from summits and ridges.
You may have the chance to sample single malt whisky at a distillery, or marvel at Fingal’s Cave, where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Mendelssohnn’s Hebridean Overture.
The rugged island of Skye, named after the Norse word for cloud, is a hikers’ paradise. It is a centre of Gaelic culture, and some islanders still speak the language.
Hope to explore the plethora of options on other smaller islands to the west of Scotland, such as Barra, the Isle of Rum, Iona, and also visit some fascinating spots along the coast of the Scottish mainland.
Exposed to the full ferocity of Atlantic gales, the inhospitable volcanic stacks of St Kilda boast Britain’s highest sea cliff (430 metres tall), and were once home to one of Britain’s most remote communities. The settlement’s last 36 residents were evacuated to the Scottish mainland in 1930, when the Scottish Office ceased to subsidise the community. The islanders had eaten seabird eggs, dried gannets and fulmars for winter food, and used their feathers, oil, bones and skins for fuel, tools and shoes. In favourable sea conditions it’s possible to land on Hirta, the largest island (2 miles by 1 mile), to visit derelict crofts and the ancient chape. One of Europe’s most significant seabird breeding colonies, with over 200,000 breeding pairs of all species, St Kilda is home to Britain’s largest colonies of gannets, fulmars and puffins. It remains home to Soay sheep, perhaps brought here by Stone Age man over 5000 years ago.
Plan to visit some of Shetland's best preserved and most complex archaeological sites of brochs, or fortified Iron Age towers, as well as some of the world’s largest colonies of sea birds.
Puffins, ScotlandA bird watchers’ paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight-paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. It attracts common species and also eastern rarities such as the lanceolated warbler. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins, and it is an excellent place to view seabirds at close range, especially puffins. The island also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. You’ll be welcomed by the hospitable villagers and may take a hike or visit the museum.
Among Orkney’s archipelago of 70 windswept islands, lying 6 miles north of the Scottish mainland, a rich tapestry of archaeology, history and wildlife awaits. Follow the passage of time – from 5000 year old World Heritage neolithic sites, past relics from wandering Vikings and reminders of World War 2 occupation, to present day crofting communities. Imposing sea cliffs teem with seabirds and cliff top paths and bleak moors beckon the keen hikers aboard, while kayakers use paddle-power to explore sections of Orkney’s fascinating coastline.
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