Off to the Shiant Isles on our one-night cruise.
That's all we need to convince you that our wildlife watching cruises from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, are the best way to spend part of your time when visiting the islands, or perhaps a good reason to visit for your holiday in the first place.
Our one night "Shiant Isles" cruise leave Stornoway in the early afternoon (after the ferry has arrived if you are travelling over that day), follows the coastline down to the stunning Shiant Isles and their seabird colonies which are located in the Minch and within sight of the Isle of Skye. We cruise through waters that are rich in food for cetaceans and seabirds, and our skilled guides are constantly scanning for interesting wildlife to point out and inform you about. That could be white tailed sea eagles patrolling the cliff tops, little puffins with their colourful bills scurrying across the surface like a manic paddle steamer, or perhaps some Risso's dolphins or even a minke whale looking for food.
The coastline scenery itself is something to enjoy too with interesting geologic folds in the rocks, small hidden coves, ledges with nesting seabirds and sea lochs winding their way back into the landscape. Keep your eyes peeled (pun intended!) for the signs of 'lazy beds', the old crofters fields for potatoes that appear as rows of straight lines on gentle hills and slopes to help with drainage.
Reaching the Shiant's, also known as the Enchanted Isles, is always a pleasure. You can see the rocky outcrops from a long distance away that steadily grow on the horizon until you are gliding past the sea cave arch of Toll a' Roimh on Garbh Eilean, and into the midst of a bustling seabird melange that contains one of the largest puffin colonies in Europe. There may be the chance to go ashore if the conditions allow but it cannot be guaranteed, safety first! Also it is only fair to point out this is really just for the more active guests as you need to be able clamber down onto our small dinghy first, and then we can only land on a rocky beach that requires some nimbleness to avoid a wet foot!
From there we cruise back over the the Isle of Lewis where our captain will select a suitable sheltered anchorage for the night in one of the many sea lochs or inlets that break their way into the rocky landscape. You will usually only have the seals, gulls and shorebirds for company, but there is always the chance of an eagle, some inquisitive deer or maybe even an otter if you are really lucky. Sunset and then sunrise are magical times - try to be outside to see at least one of them if you can. Dinner is a communal affair in the saloon lounge, with plenty of stories to share of the days sightings and maybe a nightcap before retiring to your cabin for a good nights rest.
After a hearty breakfast, our captain will get us underway once more, following the coastline back up towards Stornoway and looking for more wildlife of course. We never know what might turn up and so every cruise is an adventure for us too! Dolphins, whales, eagles, seals, puffins - just wait and see! We get back into port around midday, leaving you time to make it to the afternoon ferry if you are on your way home.
We sincerely hope you will join us on one of our overnight cruises this year, we also run 3 and 5 night cruises also which roam much further afield in search of a great range of wildlife and particularly different cetacean species and sightings.
** You can find all the information you need and book your trip on our website at www.hebrideanadventures.co.uk .