This exciting journey through the Inner Hebrides takes you to seven beautiful islands, Canna, Eigg, Muck, Mull, Staffa, Lunga and Iona. You will also spend a day on the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula, and travel through the scenic west coast between Mallaig and Morvern, a wild area of outstanding natural beauty. The wildlife in this area in summer is truly outstanding, and our days will be filled with seabirds, eagles, Otters and cetaceans. The holiday is relaxed, and we stay at three centres as we make our way south from Mallaig to Mull.
We depart from Nethy Bridge after breakfast, and you may join the tour here or in Fort William in the late afternoon (though would miss any sightings in the morning). Your guide will select key wildlife stops in remote Highlands glens on the way, with superb natural history and scenery throughout. We drive through beautiful West Coast scenery to the small fishing town of Mallaig, our base for the next two nights.
We take an early morning ferry to Canna via the island of Rum, looking for Basking Shark, Minke Whale, Manx Shearwater, Harbour Porpoise and more during the journey. We spend the rest of the day exploring remote Canna on foot. The island has been a bird sanctuary since 1938, and it’s green meadows, basalt cliffs, sea caves, stacks and sandy shores support over 20,000 breeding seabirds, including Puffin, Razorbill and Guillemot. We enjoy a full day here, taking dinner on Canna, returning to Mallaig late on a summer evening. A full and magical day around half of the Small Isles.
Sunday: Eigg and Muck
Today we visit the other half of the Small Isles, taking a smaller ferry to Eigg (a brief stop) and then on to Muck. We hope to see Basking Shark, Grey and Common Seal, Manx Shearwater, Black Guillemot, Raven, and maybe Common Dolphins, Harbour Porpoise, and a tiny darting Storm Petrel ensure a wildlife day to remember! We may also see ‘real’ Rock Dove, Hooded Crow, Red-throated Diver, and perhaps eagles and skuas, plus thousands of Guillemot, Razorbill, a few Puffin, lots of Gannet, Kittiwake... birds all the way! We will call at Eigg in both directions, and stay longer on Muck, where we have time to walk and enjoy views across to Rum and listen for the elusive Corncrake, breeding here in small numbers.
Monday: Ardnamurchan Peninsula
One of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. North of Mull, west of Fort William, this often overlooked peninsula is blessed with dramatic scenery and iconic wildlife. Rugged coastline and mountains, vast moorland and lovely sea lochs with achingly beautiful sandy beaches, this place has everything! We also expect excellent views of Golden Eagle and White-tailed Eagle, Red Deer, both seals, Raven, Hen Harrier... quiet parts of western Scotland hold very special wildlife!
Mull is a wildlife paradise, becoming ever more popular with birdwatchers. It’s easy to see why, with more Golden and White-tailed Eagles than anywhere else in Britain, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Raven and a range of northern moorland species. The fields hold lots of waders, including Snipe, Golden Plover, Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher, and we also intend to spend time Otter watching. All this amongst magnificent scenery, featuring towering mountainous cliffs, picturesque shorelines, rocky foreshores and beautiful pristine beaches. Butterflies can be excellent here, with ten species recorded on previous trips, with Dark Green, Small Pearl-bordered and the occasional late Marsh Fritillaries with Large Heath all at the same site! Botanists will also be delighted with a wide range of orchids and scarce upland flowers.
Wednesday: Treshnish Isles and Mull
The coastal habitat is extra special, and we enjoy a thrilling boat trip, first visiting the Isle of Staffa, where we have enough time to visit Fingal’s Cave and also scan for Great Skua. Next, on to the tiny Isle of Lunga, where the ‘Puffin therapy’ is one of the best wildlife experiences in the British Isles, as we pass right by the burrows (the birds are tolerant, and a careful birder can enjoy views from a few feet). Further along auks, Shag and gulls can be safely appreciated at eye level just yards away. Photographers will love this! A quiet walk away from the main cliffs and we may hear Twite singing. Many Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and Shag are present, with Black Guillemot, Manx Shearwater and perhaps tiny Storm Petrel, Great Skua, Arctic Tern and ‘real’ Greylag Goose offshore.
As well as thoroughly exploring Mull itself, including a special place or two rarely visited by birders, we visit the small island of Iona. Any lingering Great Northern Diver will be superb in summer finery, and an absorbing day should once again include both eagle species and Red Deer. On Iona at this time the grassy fields around the ancient Abbey hold Corncrake. There can be up to 20 males calling, and although we can’t guarantee a sighting, we should hear the birds rasping, and are usually rewarded with a glimpse or two!
We head home in the morning, birding as we go, arriving in Fort William late morning and continuing our courtesy transfer back to Nethy Bridge late afternoon making a few stops in remote Highland glensas we travel.
This holiday can be combined with:
SCOTTISH ISLAND ADVENTURES
Outer Hebrides and the Shiants, North-west Highlands.
More Holiday Information
Accommodation is en-suite, in comfortable hotels.
Food There is a choice of evening meal, and vegetarian, vegan and other diets are welcome. On most days breakfast may be chosen from a full Scottish menu. You don't need flasks for hot drinks.
Walking will be moderate, you need a reasonable level of fitness. Access to some of these islands can be tricky so a walking pole is recommended. Landing on Lunga is on to coastal rocks rather than a jetty and at low tide this can be very slippery. Walks along Staffa and Lunga are on paths but these are steep and narrow at times. Guests can remain on the boat if they are not confident in these circumstances. On Canna we have 6 hours to explore, all of which is done on foot, though any walks here are optional.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Blazing sunshine and rain are equally likely, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing. Hat and gloves are essential for boat trips. Strong winds can be a feature on the islands.
Biting insects can be encountered in muggy and still conditions, though rarely a problem on the coast. A good repellent is recommended nevertheless.
Group size maximum 7 clients.
Optics You should bring binoculars. A telescope will be useful, though your Guide will carry a scope for group use. A camera would be useful too!
Getting here is easy!
BY CAR/RAIL You may join this holiday at our Hotel in Nethy Bridge, and leave your vehicle securely parked free of charge. Transfer to Mallaig on the first day of the holiday is included and indeed the transfer day will include lots of natural history spotting before we arrive at Fort William!
Alternatively you may join the group at either Fort William or Mallaig later in the afternoon. If joining the group from Fort William we will pick you up at 4.30 pm. At the end of your holiday we will drop you off at a central location in Fort William at midday in time for rail connections to Glasgow.
You can travel to Fort William or Mallaig by train via Glasgow on the West Highland Line, one of the most scenic rail journeys in Scotland.
BY AIR. There are regular flights from London airports to Glasgow airport where a rail connection to Fort William or Mallaig can be made.
What's included in your holiday price
* Seven nights comfortable accommodation at three centres. All rooms are en-suite. Single guests are never expected to share, though a single supplement is payable as above. Single guests might be upgraded to double room accommodation at no extra charge.
* Full Scottish breakfast on 6 days, continental breakfast on Canna day, packed lunch, and a delicious dinner. Meals are included from Dinner on the first day until breakfast on the final day.
* Six full days wildlife watching.
* Guidance from a professional Group Leader.
* All transport by comfortable minibus.
* All ferry fees and boat trips, including boat trip to Eigg and Muck, boat trip to Staffa and Lunga and ferry access to Canna, Mull and Iona.
* A checklist specifically prepared for your holiday to record your sightings and notes.
* Drop off to Aviemore on the Saturday morning of departure.
What's not included in your holiday price
* Transport to Fort William or Mallaig, unless you join us in Nethy Bridge.
* Extra night in B&B before and after your holiday. B&B in Nethy Bridge can be arranged for you if requested at time of booking.
* Meals, accommodation and transport outwith the holiday as described above.
* Collection from Aviemore the day prior to the start of the holiday.
* Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.
WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA FOR YOUR SCOTTISH ISLAND ADVENTURE?
Heatherlea is THE company for top quality birding holidays in Scotland, chosen by more and more birders each year. Relax and enjoy first-rate birding with Scotland’s best guiding team, as we do all the planning! Our fully inclusive guided holidays concentrate on the real experience, and we take time to ensure that each of our guests enjoys everything we do. Above all, we make it our business to show key wildlife to you.
These popular holidays are carefully designed to explore the beautiful and wildlife-rich Scottish islands and far west coast. Many itineraries are unique, designed to give you the best of island wildlife at the best time of year. All are run at a leisurely pace, though we might move a little faster when rare migrants and vagrants are in our sights!
* We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for 27 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* Heatherlea Scottish Island Adventures have a maximum ratio of 7 clients per guide, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
* Heatherlea are Mainland Scotland’s FIRST ‘5-Star Wildlife Experience!’ This is the highest available grading, classified as ‘exceptional’ by visitScotland.
* Single guests are never expected or invited to share.
* Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance packed lunch and tips to hotels.
* Heatherlea hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
* Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland. We are also registered to pay VAT, which is included in your holiday price as quoted on this page.
* Once your holiday is confirmed in writing by us, we promise not to surcharge the price for any reason.
Enjoy an excellent birding and wildlife holiday with Heatherlea.
Mainland Scotland’s FIRST ‘5-Star Wildlife Experience!’