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British Isles: Wildlife and History Cruise

from £6,695 excluding flights

  • 12 nights
  • May
01737 214 250
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Call us: 01737 214 250
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11 Small ship cruises

20 Species of whales & dolphins seen

scotland inner hebrides sea spirit offshore of staffa pos

British Isles: Wildlife and History Cruise

from £6,695 excluding flights

  • 12 nights
  • May

Customers rate Discover the World

Average score 4.9/5

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Highlights

In pictures
Sunrise at the Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Islands

Visit four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Ring of Brodgar

Bass Rock gannet colony

Witness the world’s largest colony of northern gannets

Mount Tryfan, Snowdonia National Park

Take a scenic journey through Snowdonia

Tresco Castle, Isles of Scilly

Explore botanic gardens and historic sites on the Scilly Isles

Bottlenose dolphin, Scotland

Keep your eyes peeled for seals, dolphins and basking sharks

Skara Brae, Orkney Islands

Visit an Iron Age broch and the Stone Age village of Skara Brae

Why this trip...

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Small Ships

Immerse yourself in your surroundings and access remote places whilst enjoying a safe and friendly atmosphere onboard

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Expertly guided

In-depth knowledge and expertise will enrich your experience on this trip

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Style of vessel

This holiday is based on a ship ideally suited to the areas visited and the conditions

Overview

From the Scilly Isles to the Outer Hebrides, via the Irish coast and the mountains of Snowdonia, you’ll encounter fascinating marine wildlife and prolific birdlife, delve into centuries of history, and visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Giant’s Causeway, Conwy Castle, and the Orkney Islands’ Skara Brae. This unforgettable journey will reveal the most wild and ancient corners of the British Isles.

As you travel you’ll have the chance to pick up tips and skills from the on-board photography expert, and learn more about the islands’ natural and human history from the knowledgeable expedition team.

This expedition-style voyage sails from Plymouth to Edinburgh and offers the chance to visit some of the British Isles’ most historically significant and wildlife-rich destinations. Cruising this spellbinding yet familiar coastline by small ship is the perfect way to explore our remote islands and bays, and to uncover the intriguing stories behind our unique landscapes.

Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation in Plymouth, England

Plymouth’s rich maritime heritage sets the tone as you board the expedition ship this afternoon. After a little time to settle into your suite, head up on deck as you sail out of the historic harbour.

Plymouth’s rich maritime heritage sets the tone as you board the expedition ship this afternoon. After a little time to settle into your suite, head up on deck as you sail out of the historic harbour.

Day 2 Tresco & the Scilly Isles, England

The Isles of Scilly lie just off the coast of Cornwall and boast mild weather, secluded beaches, enchanting wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle. On the sand-fringed island of Tresco, Bronze Age burial sites and romantic 17th-century castle ruins reveal a long and dramatic history. On the hallowed grounds of a Benedictine abbey is the exquisite Tresco Abbey Garden, with its spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world. Here you’ll also find the Valhalla Museum, a collection of colourful figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks.

The Isles of Scilly lie just off the coast of Cornwall and boast mild weather, secluded beaches, enchanting wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle. On the sand-fringed island of Tresco, Bronze Age burial sites and romantic 17th-century castle ruins reveal a long and dramatic history. On the hallowed grounds of a Benedictine abbey is the exquisite Tresco Abbey Garden, with its spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world. Here you’ll also find the Valhalla Museum, a collection of colourful figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks.

Tresco Castle, Isles of Scilly
Golden pheasant at Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Valhalla Museum, Isles of Scilly

Days 3-4 Saltee Islands & Waterford, Republic of Ireland

Visit the privately owned Saltee Islands, which make up one of the world's major bird sanctuaries. The islands provide a haven for seabirds including gannets, gulls, puffins and Manx shearwaters, as well as numerous migratory bird species. Further west, head ashore on the mainland, where you can take a guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal. Nearby is Mount Congreve, a magnificent 18th-century Georgian estate with extensive botanical gardens.

Visit the privately owned Saltee Islands, which make up one of the world's major bird sanctuaries. The islands provide a haven for seabirds including gannets, gulls, puffins and Manx shearwaters, as well as numerous migratory bird species. Further west, head ashore on the mainland, where you can take a guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal. Nearby is Mount Congreve, a magnificent 18th-century Georgian estate with extensive botanical gardens.

Day 5 Llandudno & Snowdonia, Wales

Travel north across the Irish Sea to the vibrant seaside town of Llandudno in North Wales, from where you will embark on a scenic tour of Snowdonia National Park. Drive through some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes in Britain to discover craggy mountains, stunning waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, dense woodlands and flowering meadows. Snowdonia is also renowned for wildlife including otters, water voles, wild ponies and rare birds such as dotterel and peregrine falcon. There should also be time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Conwy Castle, dating back to the 13th century.

Travel north across the Irish Sea to the vibrant seaside town of Llandudno in North Wales, from where you will embark on a scenic tour of Snowdonia National Park. Drive through some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes in Britain to discover craggy mountains, stunning waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, dense woodlands and flowering meadows. Snowdonia is also renowned for wildlife including otters, water voles, wild ponies and rare birds such as dotterel and peregrine falcon. There should also be time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Conwy Castle, dating back to the 13th century.

Mount Tryfan, Snowdonia National Park
Llandudno beachfront
Conwy Castle, Llandudno

Day 6 The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Today you will visit another UNESCO site, the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. This geological masterpiece of around 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns descends like a staircase into the sea. Legend claims it was built by giants, but the scientific explanation points towards volcanic activity instead. Here you may spot various seabirds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot and razorbill.

Today you will visit another UNESCO site, the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. This geological masterpiece of around 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns descends like a staircase into the sea. Legend claims it was built by giants, but the scientific explanation points towards volcanic activity instead. Here you may spot various seabirds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot and razorbill.

ireland giants causeway pos

Day 7 Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Weather permitting, you may be able to explore the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides. This volcanic island is easily recognised by its striking colonnade of basalt pillars and most famous feature, Fingal’s Cave. Reaching deep into the island, the undulating sea plays upon the stunning matrix of columnar basalt to create an eerie melody which was the inspiration for Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. The rugged island also provides nesting sites for seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and puffins.

You may also visit beautiful and serene Iona, home to the historic Iona Abbey which was founded in 563 AD. The Abbey is one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites, and one of the oldest Christian religious centres in Western Europe. The adjacent graveyard is said to be the final resting place of numerous medieval kings, including Macbeth.

Weather permitting, you may be able to explore the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides. This volcanic island is easily recognised by its striking colonnade of basalt pillars and most famous feature, Fingal’s Cave. Reaching deep into the island, the undulating sea plays upon the stunning matrix of columnar basalt to create an eerie melody which was the inspiration for Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. The rugged island also provides nesting sites for seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and puffins.

You may also visit beautiful and serene Iona, home to the historic Iona Abbey which was founded in 563 AD. The Abbey is one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites, and one of the oldest Christian religious centres in Western Europe. The adjacent graveyard is said to be the final resting place of numerous medieval kings, including Macbeth.

Zodiac landing at Staffa, Inner Hebrides
Puffin, Inner Hebrides
Fingals Cave, Staffa, Inner Hebrides

Day 8 Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, are a chain of dramatically rugged islands off Scotland’s west coast. The most isolated of these is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Kilda. This remote and storm-ravaged island was continuously inhabited for at least two millennia, but now lies abandoned. Evidence of past life can be seen in the form of rough stone buildings set amidst dramatic island scenery. Nature-lovers will be delighted to find hundreds of thousands of seabirds, two early types of sheep, and over 130 species of flowering plants.

The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, are a chain of dramatically rugged islands off Scotland’s west coast. The most isolated of these is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Kilda. This remote and storm-ravaged island was continuously inhabited for at least two millennia, but now lies abandoned. Evidence of past life can be seen in the form of rough stone buildings set amidst dramatic island scenery. Nature-lovers will be delighted to find hundreds of thousands of seabirds, two early types of sheep, and over 130 species of flowering plants.

St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Day 9 Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Today you will embark on an overland tour of Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands. Attractions such as the well-preserved 5000-year-old village site at Skara Brae and the ancient Ring of Brodgar are also UNESCO designated, and showcase the world-class cultural heritage of the island. In the charming village of Kirkwall you will find the impressive Saint Magnus Cathedral, built in the Romanesque style by Vikings in the 12th century.

Today you will embark on an overland tour of Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands. Attractions such as the well-preserved 5000-year-old village site at Skara Brae and the ancient Ring of Brodgar are also UNESCO designated, and showcase the world-class cultural heritage of the island. In the charming village of Kirkwall you will find the impressive Saint Magnus Cathedral, built in the Romanesque style by Vikings in the 12th century.

Ring of Brodgar , Orkney Islands
Exploring the Orkney Islands
Skara Brae, Orkney Islands

Days 10-11 Shetland Islands, Scotland

On the uninhabited island of Mousa is the famous Broch of Mousa, the finest preserved Iron Age fortification in the British Isles. The island itself supports a rich diversity of plant life and is also known for grey and common seals, Arctic terns, and a significant colony of storm-petrels.

Head ashore at Lerwick for a tour of Mainland, taking in the historic lighthouse at Sumburgh Head and the fascinating archaeological site of Jarlshof. Here you’ll find beautifully preserved stone structures spanning 5,000 years of human settlement, including Bronze Age oval houses, Pictish wheelhouses, an Iron Age broch, a Viking longhouse and a mediaeval farmhouse.

Fair Isle is an isolated island of rolling moorlands and rugged coastlines, home to historic crofts, picturesque lighthouses, and friendly locals. The island is famous among birders for its abundance of British birds and for its numerous records of eastern rarities and migrants. Fair Isle is also notable for the abundance and diversity of its wildflowers, while seals are commonly seen in its bays.

On the uninhabited island of Mousa is the famous Broch of Mousa, the finest preserved Iron Age fortification in the British Isles. The island itself supports a rich diversity of plant life and is also known for grey and common seals, Arctic terns, and a significant colony of storm-petrels.

Head ashore at Lerwick for a tour of Mainland, taking in the historic lighthouse at Sumburgh Head and the fascinating archaeological site of Jarlshof. Here you’ll find beautifully preserved stone structures spanning 5,000 years of human settlement, including Bronze Age oval houses, Pictish wheelhouses, an Iron Age broch, a Viking longhouse and a mediaeval farmhouse.

Fair Isle is an isolated island of rolling moorlands and rugged coastlines, home to historic crofts, picturesque lighthouses, and friendly locals. The island is famous among birders for its abundance of British birds and for its numerous records of eastern rarities and migrants. Fair Isle is also notable for the abundance and diversity of its wildflowers, while seals are commonly seen in its bays.

Fair Isle
Fulmar, Shetland Islands
Landing on Fair Isle

Day 12 Bass Rock, Scotland

Bass Rock is an uninhabited island in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. This bastion of volcanic rock plays host to over 150,000 northern gannets in the breeding season, making it the world’s largest colony of these magnificent birds.

Bass Rock is an uninhabited island in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. This bastion of volcanic rock plays host to over 150,000 northern gannets in the breeding season, making it the world’s largest colony of these magnificent birds.

Day 13 Disembarkation in Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland

After breakfast bid farewell to your fellow travellers and disembark in Edinburgh’s port of Leith.

After breakfast bid farewell to your fellow travellers and disembark in Edinburgh’s port of Leith.

Accommodation

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sea spirit cabin
sea spirit lounge area

Sea Spirit

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Complimentary Photography Programme

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This expedition voyage offers a wealth of subjects for photographers of all levels and interests. The on-board photography program gives you the chance to learn and practice your skills alongside a professional photographer.

Zoom out to capture the dramatic landscapes and rugged coastlines of Wales and Northern Ireland, go macro to detail the beauty of wildflowers on the shores of the Shetlands, and practice the art of architectural photography as you visit medieval castles.

From colourful puffins to historic monuments, there’s plenty to see that will make a photographer out of anyone. The ship’s onboard photography expert will be on hand throughout the voyage to help you capture the highlights of your journey through your viewfinder.

Prices and Departures

Price from £6,695 excluding flights

Airfares are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

What's Included

  • Shipboard accommodation
  • All breakfasts, lunches & dinners on board
  • Tea & coffee available around the clock
  • Welcome and farewell cocktails
  • All Zodiac transfers, cruising & shore landings
  • Presentations by the Expedition Team and guest speakers
  • Complimentary photography programme
  • Expedition jacket - yours to keep
  • Loan of rubber boots during voyage
  • Complimentary wi-fi on board
  • Voyage log (digital)
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

2021 Departures

Prices are per person, based on a twin cabin

Departure Duration Vessel Prices from (pp)
10 May 2021 13 days Sea Spirit £6,695

Offers

Meet our expert

worldwide team jo cooper bw
One of our specialists
Meet Jo C

11 Small ship cruises

20 Species of whales & dolphins seen

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