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Dinghy at Gigha © Moll Scanlon

Inner Hebridean Isles Explorer Cruise

From £2385 per adult

Departure days

  • M
  • T
  • W
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  • F
  • S
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September — September

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Exploring the Inner Hebrides – Southern Skye, the Small Isles, Mull & Iona, Coll & Tiree, in search of Vikings and Celts. A gentle cruise where we take advantage of the natural shelter of the islands and their anchorages.

Dates: 14th to 23rd September 2023
Walks planned daily to explore ancient sites, from prehistoric tombs, stone circles, brochs, duns through to medieval chapels and castles. In addition this is also great time of year for a variety of seabirds, raptors and cetaceans.

Destination:  Guests join the MV Hjalmar Bjørge around 1530 on Thursday 14th September in Oban. Our departure shortly thereafter will see us on anchor for our first evening meal aboard, most likely off Loch Sunart.

The itinerary is dependent on the weather – balancing shelter with reaching our preferred destinations, landing and exploration of some of the following:

  • Canna: Monastic Enclosure, Tarbert, the Viking ship burial, the Souterrain, Coroghon Castle, Dun (Sanday). Read more here
  • The Viking Ship Canal and dock, Rubha an Dunain, South Skye: his is an extraordinary site overlooking Soay Sound at the foot of the Cuillins. Read more here
  • Soay: The Shark Factory ruin of Gavin Maxwell and Tex Geddes post war venture into hunting basking sharks, read Harpoon at a Venture (Gavin Maxwell, ISBN: 9781899863280).
  • Rum, Eigg, Muck: Depending on weather conditions we may include a possible landing on one of these islands, (Kinloch Castle, Kildonnan Chapel). Read more on Muck here
  • Inch Kenneth: This small grassy island on the west side of Mull was named after St Kenneth who founded a small monastery on the island. It was visited by Johnson and Boswell on their grand tour and until the early 1960’s was home to the Mitford family. Inch Kenneth Church has some wonderful gravestones and reputably was the burial site of Scottish Kings if passage couldn’t be made to Iona. More information here
  • Iona & Erraid: Known as “The Sacred Isle”, Iona lies just off Mull. Columba, an Irish prince, landed on Iona in AD 563 bringing Christianity to Scotland, the famous abbey which was restored by the Church of Scotland in 1902 – 1910, its adjoining buildings continue to be rebuilt and restored. It is said that there are over 60 kings buried in St Oran’s cemetery on Iona. The lovely and oft neglected tidal island of Erraid is famously the location of the novel ‘Kidnapped‘, by Robert Lewis Stevenson. He was based whilst the nearby lighthouse at Skerryvore was constructed. Read ‘The Lighthouse Stevensons’ by Bella Bathhurst.
  •  Colonsay & Oronsay:  We’ll anchor off Oronsay and hopefully land guests on the beautiful beach there to explore this wonderful tidal island. Oronsay has a rich history, with Mesolithic middens, a viking ship burial and Oronsay Priory with it’s celtic cross and carvings. An evening on anchor here is one of our seasons highlights, especially with clear skies and uninterrupted views of Jura and Islay.
  • Lochbuie, Isle of Mull: Another rarely visited site, yet some of the greatest historical riches on the island lie here. Moy castle dates from the 1450’s and is the ancestral home of the clan MacLaine of Lochbuie, adjacent to this Lochbuie house was also visited by Johnson & Boswell. Behind the house in wonderful natural amphitheatre, lies a stone circle. On the other side of Laggan beach lies the MacLaines Mausoleum, again rarely visited but worthwhile the effort.
  • Isles of the Sea, or the Garvellachs:are inhabited today only by sea-birds, sheep and seals, are also known as “The Isles of The Sea”, a literal translation from Gaelic is “Rough Islands”. On the main island of Eileach an Naoimh you can see the remains of an old monastery and “beehive houses” where the monks used to live. St Columba’s mother is reputedly buried here, this is reputably one of the oldest monastic sites in Scotland. If possible we’ll also try and land on Dun Chonnuill to explore this, the smallest island of the Garvellachs but also the site of the great castle that was sited here.

On the final day we head back into Oban for your departure after breakfast on Saturday 23rd September

For our wildlife watchers, sightings and findings from previous similar cruises: Arctic skua – Arctic tern – basking shark – black guillemot – bottlenose dolphins – buzzard – chiff chaff – common butterwort (insectivorous) – common dolphins – common tern -cormorant – corncrake – dunnock – eider duck – fulmars – gannets – golden eagles – great northern diver – great skuas – guillemots – hare – heron – jackdaw – kittiwakes – Leach’s petrels – long-tailed skua – Manx shearwaters – minke whales – orchids – osprey – otters – oystercatcher – peregrine – pied wagtail – pomarine skuas – porpoise – puffins – razorbills – red deer – red-throated divers – rock pipit – sea eagles – seals – shag – shelduck – short-eared owl – storm petrels – sundew (insectivorous) – swallow – thrift – wheatear – white-beaked dolphins – wren – yellow flag iris. 

Contact details

Northern Light Cruising Company
14 Francis Street
IV40 8DT
Bespoke Private Small Group (1-16)
Adventure History Island Hopping Landscapes Outdoor Activities Photography Wildlife

COVID-19 facilities

  • Advance booking essential
  • Capacity limit
  • Deep cleaning between visitors
  • Online booking only
  • Outside seating

Tour prices


  • £2385 Per Adult
Book now

Prices are subject to change depending on season

Tour company information

Northern Light Cruising Company

The Northern Light Cruising Company is based in Oban and offers scenic and wildlife-watching adventures cruises around Scotland's Highlands and Islands, primarily the Inner and Outer Hebrides including the favourites of St Kilda, Mull and the Isle Skye. Enjoy a small-boat (11 guests max), slow-travel experience as you island-hop some of Scotland's most beautiful, historic and remote locations. Meanwhile enjoy the whales, dolphins, seals, otters, eagles and seabirds like puffins and gannets, and explore quiet locations on shore excursions each day. Private charter is available - please ask.

Opening times

Our Scottish cruising season is from April to October.
Booking office open year-round for enquiries.
We are part of the Hebridean Adventures group.

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