Oban, Scotland to Aberdeen, Scotland
From the Hebrides in the west, to inhospitable windswept specks of land like St Kilda and Foula, and to the Orkney and Shetland islands in the north, we’ll explore the intriguing diversity of Scotland’s wild islands. We plan to take in Neolithic sites scarcely changed in 5,000 years, and ponder the mystery of huge monoliths that marked seasonal change. We visit picturesque villages and haunted castles that once were strongholds of the Scottish clans; birders will delight in Europe’s largest sea bird colonies and the Orkney Islands will please whiskey amateurs with a wee dram of Scotland’s finest!
Day 1 – Oban, Scotland
Our staff welcome you aboard Polar Pioneer in Oban.
Days 2 to 3 – Inner & Outer Hebrides
Overnight, we travel to Iona, birthplace of Christianity in Britain and burial ground of early Scottish kings. At Staffa, we visit Fingal’s Cave, set amidst spectacular basalt columns, and learn why it inspired Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. In the Cuillin Hills, spiritual heart of Skye, we follow a lonely track to Rubh’an Dunain, an ancient passage grave with a nearby Iron Age fort and stone lined canal, possibly built by Vikings. If conditions allow, we may take longer walks into the hills. Canna offers golden and sea eagles, basking sharks, dolphins, grey seals and puffins.
Days 4 to 6 – St Kilda
Conditions permitting, we land on Hirta, in remote St Kilda, home to Europe’s most important seabird colony and Britain’s highest sea stacks. We learn of the incredible islanders, who survived here for nearly 5,000 years, and their heroic courtship rituals. On Lewis we visit the Callanish Stones, sombre slabs placed upright nearly 3,000 years ago to mark burial sites. A Zodiac cruise takes us to pure white beaches where the brave might swim and Bostadh’s reconstructed Iron Age house. We aim to visit Sula Sgeir and North Rona, tiny islands with dramatic coastlines, inhabited by breeding seals and seabirds.
Days 7 to 8 – Shetland Isles
Closer to Norway than Scotland, the Shetland Isles played a strategic role in Viking conquests. We visit the capital, Lerwick, and explore the complex Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof. On Mousa, we walk to the world’s best-preserved Iron Age structure known as a ‘broch’ and our historian recounts its importance. Foula’s five dramatic peaks dwarf its crofting hamlets and its cliffs are alive with kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and skuas. Papa Stour’s coastline offers Zodiac exploration of dramatic caves.
Days 9 to 10 – Orkney Archipelago
Blessed with red, fertile soil, the Orkney archipelago has welcomed people since ancient times. From Kirkwall, we visit 5,000-year old archaeological wonders like Skara Brae, excavated less than 100 years ago. We view relics of Viking occupation and World War II curiosities, including the exquisite Italian Chapel, built from scrap by Italian POWs. We sail past the giant sea stack ‘Old Man of Hoy’. On Papa Westray we see the Knap of Howar, the oldest standing dwelling in Europe before continuing on Fair Isle, a birdwatchers’ paradise, where the few inhabitants still live in traditional crofts and welcome us to admire and buy their exquisite knitwear.
Day 11 – Aberdeen
In Aberdeen, we disembark and bid farewell to Polar Pioneer staff and crew and fellow passengers.
NB: The above itinerary may be varied according to conditions and advice.
22nd June – 2nd July 2019
- 1-year membership to National Trust of Australia, including entry into over 300 properties within the UK
- Accommodation on the Polar Pioneer in your chosen cabin category with daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- All shore excursions and Zodiac (inflatable boat) cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from our expert team
- Access to our on-board doctor and basic medical services
- A custom-designed polar expedition jacket to keep
- Free gumboot hire during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Professionally produced voyage journal (one per booking)
- All entry fees to historic landing sites
- All port taxes and charges
Download Trip Dossier (PDF) – 2019
To make a booking please contact us to enquire about availability.