A UK wildlife watchers dream - during this 3-night cruise in the Hebrides you will be helping gather cetacean sightings data for our friends at the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) who will be receiving a donation of 15% of the proceeds of this trip. There will be eagles, puffins and lots more too!
Fundraising cruise for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.
Sailing in some of the best waters in Europe for spotting whales and dolphins, not to mention Scotland.
Learn how to become a citizen scientist and log sightings data into the Whale Track app.
Visit the Shiant Isles - home to the UK's second largest puffin colony and thousands of other seabirds.
Spend the nights in remote and quiet anchorages whilst enjoying shore excursions to explore.
Spectacular Outer Hebridean scenery and seascapes.
This dedicated whale and dolphin watching cruise will give you the very best chances of spotting these wonderful creatures in Scottish waters, which are also recognised as some of the very best in Europe.
Whilst on board we will show you how to log the sightings data into an app developed by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust called Whale Track. This helps them gather citizen science data from all over the region from visitors and locals alike, widening the pool of information they have available which is invaluable. With these new skills you will be able to download the app yourselves and use it on any future visits to the area at the coast, on a ferry or another boat ride. (N.B. The Ullapool - Stornoway ferry route is well-known as very good for spotting cetaceans so do keep a watch out as you travel to and from the islands.)
We will take you through the best areas we know from Broad Bay to the North, down to the beautiful Shiant Isles to the south, criss-crossing the waters of the Minch and following the coastine of the Hebridean Isle of Lewis which will give great views as we travel. You will also be able to spot the Isle of Harris to the south, and on the far side of the Minch you will see the west coast of the Scottish Highlands as well as the northern tip of the Isle of Skye.
Join us on shore excursions at our overnight anchorages where we will explore and look for more wildlife and take some walks to stretch our legs. Here you may find eagles, deer, otters, orchids and maybe even hear a cuckoo calling - always strange in this land with very few trees.
This is a fundraising cruise for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and so we will be making a 15% donation of the proceeds to them, and you will be eligible to receive a free 1 year's membership if you wish so you can learn more about their work, the wonderful world of Hebridean whales and dolphins, and how to support them further.
You can view their website at www.hwdt.org
Depart Stornoway approximately 2.30pm and head north towards the cetacean shore-watching hotspot of Tiumpan Head at the tip of the Point Peninsula. From here we enter the area known as Broad Bay, a real magnet for whales and dolphins, including a number of rarer sightings each year. Apart from the resident minke whales, common and Risso's dolphins, and harbour porpoise, the bay plays host every year to humpback whales, fin whales and even orca sometimes too - will we be lucky?
We will anchor in Broad Bay overnight, enjoying our first meal on board and then watching the sun go down whilst watching for any last fins or whale spouts.
Leaving Broad Bay in the morning after breakfast, we will have one last look around before heading south. These waters have recently been ratified as the North East Lewis Marine Protected Area, and play host to a well-studied Risso's dolphin population in particular. These lovely animals are often seen by our guests and if we do observe them we will take lots of photographs to help researchers identify individual animals and behaviours.
Our destination is the coastal village of Marvig for our second night. Located on the east coast of the Isle of Lewis, it is a lovely quiet area with chances to spot other coastal species perhaps like seals and otters along the shorelines perhaps. White tailed eagles are also always worth looking out for as there are several territories all along this eastern coastline, with the occasional golden eagle making an appearance also.
Our third day sees us head further out into the Minch on a course for some higher areas of the seabed known as banks, where the currents become more confused and small fish tend to get concentrated making for good hunting grounds for the whales, dolphins, porpoises and the thousands of seabirds that will be breeding at the nearby Shiant Isles. We will spend time carefully searching these areas and may also spot pelagic seabirds such as shearwaters and petrels, before heading for the Shiant Isles themselves and the magnificent sights of the seabirds colonies of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags and several others. We will be able to take a walk ashore and enjoy having a look around at these ancient islands before relaxing back on board and taking in the sights and sounds of the seabird activity all around for our third night spent at anchor here.
There will be time for more exploration of the Shiants in the morning, both on-shore and also perhaps taking our dinghy along the coastline and maybe even through the natural sea arch if the tide and conditions are suitable! Being close to the water gives you an even more incredible eye to eye view of the puffins and their friends paddling around you.
Back on the boat we will circumnavigate the islands to show you the other seacliffs with their breeding colonies of guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes, a superb spectacle. You will also be able to spot the tell-tale signs of the former occupants of the islands with ruined bothies and field systems visible in certain places.
From here we will head across the mythical stretch of water known as the 'Stream of the Blue Men' - worth Googling for some local history and background before you come. This can be a good feeding area once again for cetaceans and seabirds, with the turbulent currents concentrating and confusing fish like sandeels and herring and making them easy prey.
Our destination this time is Loch Shell (Sealg), a lovely dramatic sea loch where we can anchor in splendid isolation amongst the hills where eagles, seals and birds like black-throated divers are often seen. We have a favourite walk here to a beautiful waterfall which also gives great views back down the sea loch, past a ruined bothy to the MV Monadhliath at anchor awaiting your return. Watch out for wildflowers here also such as orchids which can be found along the path sometimes.
Our last morning on-board and after another hearty breakfast we will start our journey back northwards along the Lewis coastline towards Stornoway. This is still a great area for minke whales, common and Risso's dolphins and harbour porpoise so we will be keeping our eyes open all the way.
We will arrive back around midday, passing Lews Castle as we reach the harbour and leaving plenty of time for those catching the afternoon ferry back to Ullapool. The terminal is only a short 5-10 minute through town.
**Please note that whilst we try to make these trips accessible to everyone, the boat is not suitable for anyone with mobility issues due to the compact spaces and steep stairs descending to the cabins.
**Under 14s must be accompanied by a responsible adult on our overnight expeditions.