Scottish Island Adventure - by land and ferry
Maximum ten guests plus leader from our resident team.
'My favourite Heatherlea holiday anywhere in the world'
Ian Ford, Heatherlea Guide since 1999.
This eight-day, eight-island tour is something really new, including the very best birdlife, sealife, flora and local history, as we visit North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula, Berneray, Barra and Eriskay plus three nights on Coll and Tiree. With the machair grasslands coming into full bloom, Corncrake rasping, Snipe drumming, Redshank, Arctic and Little Terns vociferously guarding their territories, and Basking Sharks, Common Seals and a variety of cetaceans around the white sandy shorelines, this holiday is a wonderful celebration of Scottish island wildlife. The islands also hold a wide variety of interesting and rare flora, including Hebridean orchid species and sub-species.
Day 1 Monday
We meet and board our morning ferry in Oban, and pass the Isle of Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsula as we head westwards, keeping our eyes open for Harbour Porpoise, Bottle-nosed, Common and Risso’s Dolphins, Minke Whale and a host of auks, Gannet and Manx Shearwater. Upon arrival, we explore the island of Coll, spending time listening for Corncrake, and searching for Basking Shark and Otter along the coasts, and enjoying the tranquillity of this picturesque, sandy island. Overnight Coll.
Day 2 Tuesday
After a final tour of Coll, we take the short ferry journey to the island of Tiree. Tiree is home to more calling male Corncrakes than anywhere else in Britain, and we will fully explore the variety of habitats on this under-visited outpost. Tiree has a nationally important population of breeding waders, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Snipe and Ringed Plover are all in evidence. Pintail is a rare breeder, and rare sounds at night could include the buzzing songs of Grasshopper Warbler, the bizarre calls of Water Rails, the liquid “wet-my-lips” song of a Quail and the “whip-lash, tap-drip” calls of a Spotted Crake. Overnight Tiree.
Day 3 Wednesday
We continue to explore Tiree, traditionally the most fertile Hebridean island, seeking out Corncrake, waders and ducks across the 12-mile long landmass. On the surrounding sea, auks, shearwaters, divers, Eiders and terns can be seen feeding, and an increasing number of Basking Sharks are beginning to gather in the unspoilt bays. We enjoy the machair grasslands, which will just be beginning to come into bloom, creating a lush carpet of colour around the island, which due to its lack of height is one of the sunniest, and least rain-soaked places in Britain! Overnight Tiree.
Day 4 Thursday
We bid farewell to Tiree, and catch the ferry onward to the island of Barra. En route we hope to see more cetaceans, sharks, auks, divers, and diving Gannets. We travel round the island before dinner, and afterwards may visit a beautiful machair beach, walking amongst rare orchids, listening to Corncrake, and possibly seeing Otter playing in the long evening, with seals wailing on the skerries offshore. Overnight Barra.
Days 5-7 Friday to Sunday
After breakfast, we ferry to the small island of Eriskay, from where we drive to larger South Uist, our base for the next three nights. From South Uist, via strings of causeways over the sandy inlets and shallow lagoons, we explore Benbecula, North Uist and Bernaray. Over these days we aim to see Otter, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Red-necked Phalarope, terns, skuas, auks and waders, with more opportunities for Corncrake, Great Northern Diver, Common Redpoll, and Black Guillemot. Rarities could include Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon, a lingering Glaucous or Iceland Gull, or Snowy Owl. All the islands have different features, and we shall enjoy the beauty of each as we explore the machair clad farmland and old crofting meadows.
Day 8 Monday
Early in the morning we take the ferry from South Uist via Barra to Oban. We pass the Small Isles - Canna, Rhum, Eigg and Muck, and keep our eyes open for more cetaceans and seabirds, possibly including the diminutive Storm Petrel, Great and Arctic Skua, shearwaters, auks, Kittiwakes and Gannet. We arrive back in Oban in the early afternoon.
Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).
Field Notes Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Cold winds and rain are possible. Bring warm clothing, waterproofs, and walking boots or shoes. Walking will generally be easy. Bring binoculars and a telescope if possible. A camera may be useful too! You don't need flasks for hot drinks or wellies. Biting insects might be encountered.
- Seven nights comfortable accommodation on Coll, Tiree, Barra and South Uist. Please note that on some islands accommodation can be somewhat basic, though always clean and people are friendly!
- Full Scottish breakfast, packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
- Eight days wildlife watching with guidance from a Heatherlea Group Leader.
- All transport by comfortable minibus. All access and ferry fees. Drivers can leave vehicles safely parked at The Mountview Hotel.
- Checklist to record sightings and notes.
What's not included in your Scottish Island Adventure holiday price
- Extra night in Oban area at beginning of holiday.
- Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.