Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Kyle of Lochalsh

    We sailed “over the sea to Skye” during breakfast, out of Loch Nevis, with the town of Mallaig on the mainland and the Isle of Eigg on our port quarter. An hour’s sailing brought us to the pierhead at Armadale on the Isle of Skye, the largest of the Hebridean islands, rich in history and with a varied landscape that has made it a mecca for hillwalkers. From our mooring, we could walk to the Clan Donald center where the excellent museum offered a revision course in some of the major themes in Scottish history covered on our voyage—the arrival of the Gaels from northern Ireland to the Hebrides in the middle of the first millennium, the coming of Christianity from Ireland, the establishment of the medieval thalassocracy known as the Lordship of the Isles. There was time to enjoy the gardens, filled with many specimens brought back to Scotland by the Scottish plant hunters of the early 19th century.

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  • Tobermory – Eigg – Inverie

    Brilliant sunshine, sparkling waters, and glowing green hillsides greeted us in Tobermory. Yet the weather is always changing in Scotland. Showers moved in by breakfast, and the rain came and went throughout the day.

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  • Iona

    It was a cool, bracing start to the day but we had brilliant visibility as we slipped our moorings in Oban and made for the Isle of Mull, one of the largest of the Inner Hebrides and one with an exceptionally long, indented coastline. It is an island celebrated for its wildlife—golden and white-tailed eagles, shorebirds, and rich offshore marine life, including minke whales, an orca pod, and seasonal basking sharks. We disembarked at Craignure and drove in a diagonal across the island, along a single-track road with passing places, to Fionnphort where we met the ferry for Iona.

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  • Banavie & Oban

    This morning we completed our traverse of the Caledonian Canal, beginning with the descent of Neptune’s Staircase. The staircase is a series of eight locks that lower the ship 19 meters (62 feet) over a quarter of a mile. After passing through swinging bridges, we paused in the small village of Corpach to wait for the tides to reach an optimal level for our exit from the canal. This gave us the opportunity to walk the tow path and enjoy the morning bits of sunshine.

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  • Glenfinnan

    Our day started on the shore of Loch Ness with a strong northeasterly blowing across the loch. Our onward progress was further delayed by traffic coming downstream through the Fort Augustus flight of locks, but this afforded an opportunity for a quick stroll into the village for those who wanted to stretch their legs after breakfast. Our passage up the locks took about an hour and a half with the outer decks crowded for a regal view of this small canal-side settlement. From the top of the locks our passage through the canal was smooth and timely, and we heard two presentations from staff as we traversed Lochs Oich and Lochy before lunch. Loich Oich is the highest point of the canal at 160 feet.

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  • Inverness | Culloden | Clava Cairns

    Our first day aboard Lord of the Glens held a full itinerary that included nature, culture, and even a bit of whisky tasting. We started off with a visit to the Culloden Battlefield outside of Inverness, site of the devastating defeat of Bonnie Prince Charles in his campaign to regain the throne for the Stuart Dynasty. Here in 1746, the government troops defeated the Jacobites in a brutal battle which was followed by a suppression of Highland culture. The award-winning Culloden Visitor Centre gave us a detailed history of the battle and events leading up to the final conflict. Then we had a chance to walk the battlefield, a graveyard where many of those killed in the fight are buried. It is only a remnant of the boggy moorland the soldiers dealt with during the battle, having been drained and planted over decades past. On a happier note, the skylarks were out, singing as they soared above us.

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  • Inverness

    We began our descent of the flight of locks in Fort Augustus during breakfast before entering Loch Ness. Strategically situated halfway across the loch, Urquhart Castle has stood guard since Norman times and is built on the remains of a Pictish hill fort dating back to the Iron Age. It was here that Columba engaged with the Pictish leaders as he moved through the Great Glen with the Christian gospel to converting the Picts. Medieval hagiography required that a saint perform a miracle and the one supplied Columba by his biographer was that he banished a monster into the depths of the loch. The legendary stories of Nessie thus date back as early as the sixth century. Loch Ness is the largest body of fresh water in Britain, reaching depths greater than any in the North Sea. From the northern end of the loch, we reentered the Caledonian Canal, which runs beside the fast-flowing River Ness all the way to Inverness.

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  • Corpach, Fort Augustus

    Today we started our northeast journey up the Caledonian Canal to Inverness. The canal is 60 miles long, consisting of both natural lochs and constructed stretches, with a total of 29 locks. We began our travels up the canal by climbing Neptune’s Staircase, a series of eight locks that raise the canal by 19m (62ft) over a quarter of a mile. The warm, sunny weather provided an ideal morning for watching the locks in operation as we made the ascent.

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  • Corpach

    Tidal considerations necessitated an early departure from Oban this morning as we had to arrive at Corpach where the Atlantic sea lock of the Caledonian Canal is situated at the top of the tide. The Caledonian Canal was engineered in the opening decade of the 19th century by the great Scottish engineer Thomas Telford. It was a government-funded project at the time of the French Revolutionary Wars, designed to enable the more rapid exchange of naval vessels from the North Sea to the Atlantic. By the time the canal was completed, the wars had ended and the age of sail had been replaced by the age of steam. The larger steam-powered vessels were unable to navigate the canal and its commercial future looked unviable. Today, the bulk of the traffic on the canal is recreational and our ship, Lord of the Glens, is the largest vessel plying its tranquil waters. The canal runs through the Great Glen, a route from the earliest times, and links a sequence of freshwater lochs, including Loch Ness—the largest body of fresh water in Britain. 

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  • Tobermory – Iona – Duart – Oban

    An early morning rumble of engines provided our wake-up call, as Lord of the Glens prepared to sail from Tobermory to Craignure, a ferry port on the west edge of Mull. Once at Craignure, we disembarked and traveled by coach across the rugged, green Isle of Mull, one of the larger islands of the Inner Hebrides, with a population of just over 3,000 people. The bus took us to the small village of Fionnphort on the far side of Mull, where we had a short ferry ride across the channel to Iona.

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