Shiants and Summer Isles Cruise
Visit the Shiant and Summer Isles on this lovely 2-night cruise from Stornoway to Ullapool during prime whale and dolphin season, making the voyages between locations particularly exciting. You will be able to set foot on both sets of islands to explore these wonderful places that most only see from the ferry!
- 2-night short break away in beautiful Scotland.
- One way Stornoway to Ullapool trip.
- Visit the Shiant Isles and head ashore to explore.
- Set foot on the Summer Isles at the mouth of Loch Broom.
- Good chances to see whales, dolphins, eagles and seabirds.
This 2-night cruise from Stornoway to Ullapool is a fantastic introduction to the delights of small boat cruising around Scotland's highlands and islands. It can fit in as part of a longer tour around Scotland, a nice addition to a stay near to Stornoway or Ullapool, or just as a wonderful short break away from home and life in general!
If you are travelling to Ullapool you can leave your car for free in the long-stay car park there and just catch the ferry one way to Stornoway to join us. Or get yourself to Inverness by train/plane and catch the bus to Ullapool that connects you with the ferry crossing. It's all part of the adventure! We will be waiting to welcome you aboard - its only a short 5-10 minute walk from the boat to the ferry and we can help meet you at the terminal if you like.
Once on board you can get all settled in and have a nice relaxing hot drink before we make our way out into the Minch and start watching out for the wealth of wildlife to be found here. We have binoculars you can borrow on board if you don't have your own, and our two raised observation decks have seating so get comfy and start spotting! Our guides will be there to help identify the species seen and to let the skipper know if any whale or dolphin activity is seen in the distance so we can approach carefully.
While at sea we will be gathering valuable scientific data via the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust's Whale Track app. This records our whole trip, the ocean and weather conditions, and logs each sighting with an id, location and activity to help them and other conservation bodies map, track and understand population dynamics in this important cetacean feeding area. Last season (2019) we logged over 800 individual sightings (of 1 or more animals) with an incredible 50 sightings on our best single day (as part of a 3-night trip). We like to get you involved if you are interested, and will show you how to log the sightings so you can take a turn and maybe download the app on your own phone for any future sea trips in the area on ferries or other boats.
Join us onboard MV Monadhliath in Stornoway where the crew will welcome you and give you a quick safety briefing. You will be shown your cabin and have time to stow your luggage before joining us back on deck ready to leave port with great views of the fishing boats and Stornoway harbour, and the impressive Lews castle on the opposite shore. We will head south along the coast of the Isle of Lewis towards the Shiant Isles which you will just be able to see in the distance. These waters can be very good for whales, dolphins, porpoise and also basking sharks too at this time of year with the warm summer temperatures. The coastline is rugged with plenty of cliffs and a prime habitat for white-tailed (sea) eagles which will see regularly from the boat along with a great collection of seabird species too.
Arriving at the Shiants we will anchor as conditions allow with the plan of going ashore via our tender. These islands have a long and interesting history of habitation by shepherds and crofters, and even the Vikings set foot here too, and you can see ruins scattered around the hills and small coastal plains. There is a bothy that is in use as a rental property, and the small shingle strand that connects two of the islands is a great place to sit and watch the cliffs for signs of a peregrine falcon harrying the local seabirds, or great skuas on patrol looking for an easy meal to steal from someone.
If the weather and tide is good we will stay anchored at the Shiants for the night to enjoy our first evening meal and the sunset before retiring. Alternatively, it is only a short trip back over the 'Stream of the Blue Men', a stretch of water populated by mythical beings between the islands and the coast of Lewis, where we can find shelter in one of the remote and beautiful sea lochs there.
After a hearty breakfast we will up anchor, maybe circumnavigate the Shiants first, and then set course out across the Minch, the channel that separates the Isles of Lewis and Harris from west coast of the Scottish highlands, and recognised as one of Europe's hot spots for cetacean activity! Our guides will be on hand as always to keep watch with you from the observation decks, pointing out any sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Often we will get common dolphins coming to visit us and bow-ride at the front of the boat, obviously enjoying themselves and sometimes turning to swim on one side to have a quick look at who is watching them.This is also a good area for pelagic seabirds that prefer the open water to the coast, such as the other skua species such as pomarine, long-tailed and Arctic, shearwaters and petrels.
We will be heading towards the mouth of Loch Broom and the archipelago of the Summer Isles, that little group of small islands you pass on your way out of Ullapool on the ferry. Each one is different in their own way. Some are home to rare nesting colonies of birds like the storm petrel, some have seal haulouts on them, and other signs of historic occupation from days gone by. We will get you ashore once again via our tender to set foot and explore on one or two of them depending on the tide and weather conditions.
Our second night will be spent here in a quiet anchorage, where maybe we will be able to hear the strange calls at night of the storm petrels, or perhaps the singing and splashing of seals.
We will have a little bit more time in the morning after breakfast to explore the Summer Isles further before we must head to our final destination of Ullapool, a short sail further down into Loch Broom amidst stunning highland mountain scenery dotted with small settlements of cottages and crofts. We will disembark around lunchtime and we can recommend spending a little time exploring the seafront and the range of shops, cafes and restaurants in Ullapool before continuing on your journey.
Mon 3rd - Wed 5th August
Dates for 2021
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**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.