EXPLORE SCOTLAND’S BEWITCHING LANDSCAPE UNDER SAIL
The sensational Scottish islands (all 750 of them) are considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of Scotland’s immense coastline, with remote islets, secluded sea lochs and sheltered coves, many of which are inaccessible by land.
Whether you want to island-hop, go off-grid, wildlife watch, or gourmet dine, our tailored Scottish sailing holidays in the Hebrides, will ensure memories that last a lifetime.
THE WESTERN ISLES
Absorb the Hebridean magic aboard Steady.
From early summer, the Western Isles bathe in long warm sunny days and are home to ideal sailing conditions. When the wind decides to blow in from the Atlantic, your skipper will know plenty of sheltered bays or long winding lochs to continue your adventures.
From Iona’s white sands to the enchanting isles of Arran, Rum, Staffa, Iona, Jura and Islay, the Sea of the Hebrides beckons to its remote landscapes, historic monuments, local cultures and magical wildlife. Once anchored, there is plenty of time to explore ashore, climb a high point, swim off the boat or explore remote white sandy beaches.
A highlight for wildlife enthusiasts is a visit to the puffin colony, where you will be welcomed among their burrows. Other birds of prey including Buzzards, Kestrels, Sparrow hawks and Peregrines can also be spotted on the beautiful Scottish coastline. Hebrides sailing trips can also offer unforgettable encounters with Common, Bottlenose, Whitebeak and Risso dolphins. There are plenty of whales in this part of the world too; including the resident pod of Orca, many have been lucky enough to see gliding elegantly through the waters.
In the spotlight: The most visited islands in our sailing area.
Many of our voyages explore Mull and her surrounding smaller islands, and for good reason: she’s really rather beautiful. Mull is just a short passage from Oban and relatively large – 338 square miles inhabited permanently by just under 3,000 people. The island has an undulating coastline; 300 miles of rocky moorland peninsulae make for stunning coastal views and fantastic wildlife spotting. Sandy beaches and dramatic rock formations add further interest to Mull’s rich geography. Additionally, her epicentre hosts several large peaks, the highest of which is a very climbable munro, at over 900 meters high.
Mull’s patchwork history has been woven through centuries of invasion by everyone from the Vikings to the Irish. Bitterly fought over by rival Scottish clans throughout the 12th – 16thcentauries, home to legendary shipwrecks and used a WWII naval base, Mull’s history is deep and varied – and discoverable for yourself at the Mull Museum.
The brightly colored fishing port of Tobermory is Mull’s capital, made famous by the UK children’s TV programme ‘Balamory’ in the early 2000s. Tobermory boasts a distillery (this goes unmentioned in ‘Balamory’, perhaps unsurprisingly) and several bars and restaurants, in addition to a theatre and cinema. Guests on our VentureSail cruises often get the opportunity to explore this enchanting town, as the harbour provides a sheltered anchorage at the start of the sound of Mull.
The name ‘Iona’ has Gaelic connotations meaning ‘blessed’ and this sandy little island has retained its deep spiritual feeling, perhaps due to its far-reaching religious history – Iona’s famous Abbey dates back to 563AD, making it one of the oldest places of worship in the UK.
Iona itself is tiny, lying like a little pebble next to the great boulder of Mull. She’s just a mile wide and four across, making a half day of exploration wholly doable, unless you’d rather relax on the wide sweeping beaches, or search for elusive green serpentine stones among the shoreline.
She’s home to just 125 permanent residents and in the summer it’s hard to see why that’s so – what with her cloudless skies and sparkling sea – but Iona is exposed and windswept during the harsh Scottish winters. But worry not – our voyages are seasonal, and we aim for the good weather in the summer so you can experience Iona’s beauty at its very finest.
Puffins are perhaps the friendliest of all seabirds, and the sea cliffs of Staffa and the surrounding Treshnish Isles are rammed with them during the breeding season. These little guys get up close and personal when you visit them, making for some awesome photo opportunities. Watch out for other seabirds such as kittiwakes and shags too.
Staffa’s rock formation looks like a very well made soufflé – it just pops vertically up, with very straight walls and a nice, rounded top. Unlike a soufflé, however, Staffa is entirely volcanic. The different rates of cooling of the rock make for incredible pillars, caves and stacks, explorable in the dinghies all of our ships possess.
Staffa is completely uninhabited, even by grazing livestock, which makes way for local flora such as wildflowers to thrive.
George Orwell finished writing ‘1984’ in isolation on the Isle of Jura, in a cottage that still stands in a remote location to the north. Legend has it that he and his adopted son nearly died on a rowing trip, after being trapped in the famous whirlpool at the northern tip. The whirlpool is still just as dangerous today, but our skippers know the tides and times to avoid it!
Besides being a literary pilgrimage for dystopia fans, Jura also offers a distillery, producing the famous Jura Single Malt, and a small settlement called Craighouse on the western coast where you’ll find a hotel and a few shops.
In terms of size and geography, she’s a relatively large island at 142 square miles but very sparsely populated thanks to the enormous area covered by peat bogs. Jura is mountainous, defined by the three ‘paps’ – peaks that all reach well over 2,300 feet and are formed of quartzite, contributing to their jagged appearance. They’ll be the first things you spot from the water when you sail there.
Like many Hebridean islands, culture, music and language are celebrated here too. Jura hosts a music festival every September, which celebrates traditional Scottish song and poetry, attracting visitors from around the globe.
Just South of Jura we find the island of Islay, which is home to about 3500 people. With 9 functioning whisky distilleries, the stunning landscape, astonisching wildlife and very friendly people Islay makes for a five star destination.
Featured in many poems and folk songs (which you might get to know during your time on board), Skye is the largest island in the Hebrides and arguably one of the most beautiful. The Cullin Ridge constitutes the backbone of the island; 12 km of dramatic peaks and troughs that only the most experienced outdoor enthusiasts should attempt to traverse. There is however, plenty more (slightly more relaxed) exploring to be done, from Viking ruins to sections of rocky coastal walking.
On that topic, Skye’s coastline, much like Mull’s, is peninsula-based and is large enough to have quite different levels of precipitation from one end to the other, making sure that there will be a sheltered anchorage somewhere close. There is always something to see from the water too, so grab a pair of binoculars when you take a break from rope-work. Wildlife is rife here, and many native maritime invertebrate species are critical to other local fauna, which include salmon and sea otters, among other bird-life.
Skye is home around 10% of the 100,000 or so island inhabitants in Scotland, making it one of the more populous islands. Crofters still work the land here, an ancient way of living which is no longer as profitable as working for tertiary industry, hence the rapid decline in croft numbers– yet a bold few still persevere. However, ancient fishing trade continues to thrive and is based in Portree, Skye’s main port. Your skipper might decide to pick up something delicious for dinner, fresh off the boats that come in each day.
Skye is one of those places where words simply don’t do it justice. You must visit, on, before or after your sailing adventure.
THE SMALL ISLES; RUM,EIGG, MUCK EN CANNA
Rum is the largest of the Small Isles, which should make it a Medium Isle, but that doesn’t quite have the same ring. Rum is 40 square miles in area, and conceals the main village of Kinloch to the east, where just over 30 people reside and a small primary school educates the handful of island children.
The rest of the island is uninhabited by humans but a huge population of red deer are free to roam, studied intensely by field ecologists in various areas of academia. Watch out for them (the deer, not the field ecologists) and the wandering wild goats and ponies too.
One of Eigg’s greatest qualities is its eco-friendliness: it generates all of its power from reusable sources and has a traffic light system of power usage, so its 105 inhabitants know when the reusable power is at its most abundant (think windy days or blazing sunshine) and when it’s at its most scarce.
This clean energy powers a microbrewery, producing 7 distinct ales and lagers, and a restaurant, bar and several craft shops – quite remarkable for an island of relatively small inhabitancy and stature. It’s just 12 miles square.
Historically, Eigg has been tossed and tumbled through the hands of various clans, religious sects, invaders and wealthy landlords – relics from these eras including churches and chapels can still be found dotted all over the island. Eigg’s tumulus history makes for some fascinating reading. At present, Eigg belongs to its own heritage trust, but political murmurings still cause the occasional tremor, as natives feel they are unfairly treated in comparison to the friends and family of the trustees.
Muck is the baby in the family of the Small Isles. It’s just 2.2 square miles; less than the distance from the Houses of Parliament to the British Museum! She’s famous for her porpoises and seals – even the name ‘muck’ is derived from ‘mouch,’ meaning ‘swine’. The ancient word for porpoise was ‘mereswine,’ so the island was likely to have been named after its first maritime inhabitants – a rarity in terms of ancient place names, which normally derive from geographic features.
Muck has a permanent population of 27 people, and has several holiday cottages and a hotel. It’s the only inhabited island without a post box.
Canna’s population could easily double if a couple of small tourist boats arrived on the island at once; she’s home to just 18 people! Being mile across and 4 miles wide means Canna is long and thin, which makes for an amazing coastline habitat for a plethora of wild birds, including peregrine falcons and merlins. Rare butterflies reside inland, which benefits from relatively little human footfall.
Canna harbours some of the best-preserved Bronze Age relics such as huts, walls and pottery – a perfect place for archaeology lovers to engage in some of their own detective work.
She’s linked by land to the isle of Sanday, which is walkable when the tide permits.
Dear Mariëlle and Jan Willem,
When my partner picked up your brochure in Hoorn at your boot I had had 3 days to decide if I join him at a trip through the Inner Herbrides. I never regret this decision it was a great week at your Steady. The accomodatin, the boot in a very good condition, the meals, the sailing and the islands and of course you made this week unforgatabel. Many thanks for this outstanding week, I will never forget this.
In April 2018 we have been visiting Hoorn, the home of the Steady. What a beautiful looking yacht inviting us for a sailing holiday.
Mariëlle was on board and painting to keep the boat in best condition. After a chat we got some more information about the “Steady”.
The following year we have booked our trip and started in July 2018 from Oban to explore many of the stunning places and islands in Scotland.
Jan-Willem (the Skipper) and Mariëlle have been working hard to give us the best value of our trip. Mariëlle’s cooking was outstanding, you could taste that the food has been prepared with love.
The crew is highly professional, kind and very sympathetic.
Many thanks to both of you, we have enjoyed every moment …
There is nothing better than to smell the see, feel the wind, watch the clouds and “YES”respect the power of the nature … it makes you feeling better …
Hi Marielle, Jan
Looking forward to sail in 2021 again with you
My review as following…
It‘s easy to say something about the experienced couple and the ship
I can use a lot of words or just say STEADY
Save sailing, smiling crew
Tasty food, good healthy kitchen
Enjoy the stay in a fantastic area
Activities for everybody, nice photos
Dolphins, Puffins and lots more
Yes, that’s holiday – anytime again