“It’s a beautiful day,” a man says as we pull up to the dock. “Feels like California!” I beam. “I’m from California!” I cry, throwing my hands in the air in celebration. And it really does feel like home. Which surprises me, since I’m in Scotland and I didn’t expect to spend a week sailing in the Scottish Hebrides without seeing a single cloud in the sky.

Week Sailing in the Scottish Hebrides

Week Sailing in the Scottish Hebrides

But I’ve lucked out. My skipper says he hasn’t seen a weather forecast like this in four years, and I settle in for a gorgeous week. I’ve come with friends for a sailing trip in Scotland’s isles, and although we’d been told that the last week of May holds the best chance of sun, we’d braced ourselves for worse.

Sheep on Coll, Scottish Hebrides

Clear sky overhead, we depart Dunstaffnage marina near Oban on Monday morning after a night’s sleep on board our boat. The area is considered the gateway to the Hebrides, with lots of sailboats and ferries taking passengers everywhere from the nearby Isle of Mull to the famous Isle of Skye.

Dunstaffnage Marina, Scotland

Our itinerary depends on weather and wind, the latter of which picks up to a hefty gale and doesn’t stop blowing until the last day of our trip.

Lunga, Scotland

Dorlin

On our first morning at sea, the wind takes us up the Sound of Mull to Dorlin, which is actually on the mainland. It’s a remote corner of the west coast, and has a secluded mooring near the shore. Once on land, we hike along the coves of the coast and up to the top of a hill for views of the islands in the distance. It gives us a great taste of what’s ahead, and we head back to the boat eager for the next day’s sail.

Dorlin, Scotland

Coll

A beautiful sky takes us out of Dorlin and over to Coll, an island off the northwest coast of Mull.

Coll, Scotland

Coll is sparsely inhabited and amazingly desolate, and our mooring in a bay with a castle is as romantic as anything I’ve seen on my travels.

Sheep on Coll, Scotland

Once on shore, we hitchhike into town in search of seafood and WiFi (we had no idea how little mobile data there would be out here), availing ourselves of both at a hotel on the coast.

Seafood, Coll, Scotland

Afterwards we make our way back to the south of the island, where we find sweeping views of a beach from a sheep-studded hilltop. It’s a breathtaking sight, and the perfect way to end our day on Coll.

Beach on Coll, Scotland

Lunga

The next morning we’re off to Lunga, a place I’ve been excited to visit since my boyfriend regaled me with tales of puffins and bluebells from his last trip sailing in the Hebrides. Lunga is one of the Treshnish Isles, and is famous for its puffins and guillemots, among other birds.

Puffin on Lunga, Scotland

It’s easy to explore Lunga in an hour, but we linger as long as we can to take in the magical spectacle of the puffins. They’re so small and sweet and completely unfazed by humans watching them from a surprisingly close distance.

Puffins on Lunga, Scotland

We lie on our stomachs on the cliffs, observing at eye-level as they waddle about and fly in from the sea, their mouths full of fish. Between them and the bluebells, Lunga is so beautiful I can hardly believe it’s real.

Seagull on Lunga, Scotland

Ulva

Tearing ourselves away before the tide strands us, we board the boat and continue our week sailing in the Hebrides with a stop on the Isle of Ulva. Just off the west coast of Mull, it has a gorgeous bay of islands where we anchor for the evening.

Ulva, Scotland

A walk along the shore takes us past an old mill and up a hill with gorgeous views of the rocks in the sea. It’s my favorite view of the trip, and I could stay all night—I really could, as it stays light so late at this time of year that darkness hardly touches the shores. But we return to the boat in time for sunset, which lights up the sky magenta and orange for hours. Even as I turn in for bed, the rugged hills are fringed with pink.

Foxgloves, Ulva, Scotland

Iona

The next morning we’re off to one of the most legendary islands in the Hebrides. After a quick stop to see the famous cave on Staffa, we sail to Iona, known for its connections with Saint Columba and his 6th-century monastery.

Monastery on Iona, Scotland

We anchor beside the row of houses and buildings on the busy eastern side of the island, then hike across to the western side. It’s relatively deserted here, and we soak up the Caribbean-blue water of the beaches as the sheep graze in flowery pastures behind us. Once again I feel I’m in a different world, and I want to stay forever.

Beach on Iona, Scotland

Hiking back over the hills to the busier side of Iona, we hit the tourist trail. There are sweet little shops, the ruins of a nunnery, and the famous Iona Abbey that so many have come by ferry to see. But the highlight for me is the walk to the northern beaches, which have fine white sand and turquoise water. It’s so unexpected I have to keep reminding myself I’m in Scotland.

Iona, Scotland

Isle of Mull

We stay so long on Iona that we barely make it to Mull before the sun starts to sink in the sky. We anchor in a bay along the Ross of Mull, the long arm of the island that reaches out into the sea. In the morning we sail along the southern side of the island, making our way to Loch Spelve where there’s a mooring at a mussel farm.

Loch Spelve, Isle of Mull, Scotland

We spend the afternoon and evening walking along a beautiful wooded stream and up into the hills, then make our way into the port town of Craignure. We walk along the waterfront there, soaking up the beautiful flowers and foraging for wild garlic. Eventually we hitchhike back to the loch, where a dinner of mussels from just outside the boat goes down a treat.

Gorse on the Isle of Mull, Scotland

Dunstaffnage

The next morning we’re up and out early, spying on sea eagles in the trees as we make our way out of the loch and back to the marina in Dunstaffnage. It’s the first cloudy day of the trip, which helps alleviate the sadness that our Hebridean adventure has come to an end.

Isle of Mull, Scotland

Back on the mainland, we wave good-bye to the boat and start our journey home. But the trip sticks with us as we drive away, both in the sensation of our bodies swaying as if we’re still at sea and in the sound of our recaps of all the things we’ve done and seen during our week sailing in the Scottish Hebrides.

Seafood, Coll, Scotland

It’s been a truly magical trip, and if it wasn’t for the feelings and stories, I might wonder if I dreamed it. Regardless, I know I’ll travel back again to prove to myself that this unbelievably beautiful part of the world is real, and to see a lot more of it.

Lunga, Scotland

Have you been to the Hebrides? What was the highlight of your trip?

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Week Sailing in the Scottish Hebrides

22 Comments on Lady’s Week Sailing in the Scottish Hebrides

  1. Arianna
    June 6, 2016 at 6:42 am (11 months ago)

    These pictures are so beautiful! There is so much nature and those animals are adorable! And that food.. thank you so so much for sharing this wonderful experience and landscapes!

    Aria

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 6, 2016 at 6:50 am (11 months ago)

      You’re welcome! It was a really amazing place to travel.

      Reply
  2. Katharina
    June 6, 2016 at 7:22 am (11 months ago)

    Oh you ate making me muss my old home. I always feel so nostalgic when I read about Scotland. I haven’t been to the he brides though. You were incredibly lucky with the weather. It’s unlikely to get that much sun for more than two weeks in a row up there.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 6, 2016 at 7:28 am (11 months ago)

      Yeah, we were very lucky with the weather!

      Reply
  3. Matthew Pike
    June 6, 2016 at 8:37 am (11 months ago)

    It’s so nice up that way, you caught some lovely nature shots.

    I was recent up in Jura, not to far away from there. Have a look if you’re interested.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 6, 2016 at 8:44 am (11 months ago)

      Thanks! Your trip to Jura sounds amazing, too!

      Reply
  4. Tila
    June 6, 2016 at 9:34 am (11 months ago)

    Brilliant blog! How do I jump on one these trips?

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 6, 2016 at 9:43 am (11 months ago)

      Thanks! Chartering a boat is the best way to do it.

      Reply
  5. becky @ casacaudill
    June 7, 2016 at 7:41 pm (11 months ago)

    What an amazing adventure in such a beautifully amazing place! I didn’t know you could sail through the Hebrides but you bet I’m now looking into it. We’ve visited Islay in the Inner Hebrides for four days in 2013 and I fell in love with that island landscape. I’d love to go back and visit the other islands someday.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 7, 2016 at 7:50 pm (11 months ago)

      Yeah, you would love it. It’s definitely worth looking into.

      Reply
  6. Dannielle
    June 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm (11 months ago)

    It’s funny you just did this because I’ve been looking into it for possibly next year! It’s like another world up there.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm (11 months ago)

      Yeah! You should definitely go next year. You’ll love it!

      Reply
  7. Dee HS
    June 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm (11 months ago)

    HI there …..what stunning photos….and you will have sailed up past the lighthouse at the of my island home on the Isle of Lismore…and all the glorious little bays along the Coast…we just took my Mum flying over Lismore, Oban and Mull for her 90th birthday on 6th June so we probably flew over you, not knowing you were on such a special odyssey. When you have wall to wall sunshine, like you did, initially, there is no better sailing ground in world than the west coast of Scotland. Well done on your blog promoting the islands.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm (11 months ago)

      Thanks! I agree that the islands are beautiful. It’s hard to believe!

      Reply
  8. Meg
    June 13, 2016 at 11:52 am (10 months ago)

    How lucky you were with the weather! Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures; I especially love the one with the foxgloves. Question: how much motion was there on your sail. I get seasick, but I would love to do a tour like this one.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 13, 2016 at 1:44 pm (10 months ago)

      Yeah, I was really lucky with the weather. There were varying degrees of motion during the week. It really depended on the wind. I didn’t get seasick, but a few of my friends did on one of the days when it got really windy. I hope that helps!

      Reply

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