Wild and Ancient Britain

Nature and History of the British Isles Aboard the Sea Adventurer

Wild and Ancient Britain route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $10,480  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: London, England
Depart: Edingburgh, Scotland
Lodging: 1 night hotel, 12 nights aboard 110-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Small Ship Cruising, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: 13-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours, excursions by Zodiac


  • Witness some of Europe’s largest seabird colonies—puffins, gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes, and more
  • Visit Giant’s Causeway where some 40,000 closely-packed hexagonal columns descend like a staircase into the sea
  • Discover important Neolithic monuments—the Standing Stones of Stenness; the Ring of Brodgar; Skara Brae, a well-preserved Stone Age village; and Maes Howe, a tomb dating from 3500 BC
  • Explore a variety of architectural wonders, from Mousa’s Iron Age broch and 12th-century Iona Abbey to the magnificent St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

On this adventure to the British Isles, we explore remote and isolated coastlines where windswept cliffs and promontories teem with some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe, all at the height of their breeding season. Exhilarating walks bring us through heather-clad moorlands and among the ruins of fortress-castles that echo the lore of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons. From the lovely sub-tropical gardens on the Isles of Scilly and the geological wonders of Giant’s Causeway to the sacred sites of the Inner Hebrides and the stark beauty of the Fair Isle, this exciting expedition captures the ancient spirit and wild heart of Britain.


Days 1-2
Fly to London

Fly to London, England. Upon arrival, check into our hotel, with the rest of the day at leisure to explore the city on your own. In the evening we gather for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3
London / Plymouth / Embark the Sea Adventurer

After breakfast, we depart by train for the famous port city of Plymouth. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit an Elizabethan house built in 1631, as well as the City Museum and Art Gallery where painter Joshua Reynolds’ work is displayed in the Cottonian Collection. Birders can visit Dartmoor National Park, known for its blanket bogs, upland heath, and oak woodlands. In the afternoon, we board the Sea Adventurer.

Day 4
Isles of Scilly

Warmed by the North Atlantic Drift, the Isles of Scilly have given their fortunate inhabitants the luxury of turning a passion for growing flowers into a major industry. This morning we board local boats and cruise to Tresco to visit the ruins and exquisite subtropical gardens at medieval Tresco Abbey.

Day 5
Skellig Islands, Ireland

The wonderfully remote Skellig Islands are one of Europe’s most impressive seabird citadels. Little Skellig is home to the second-largest colony of gannets in the world. Other seabirds found here include kittiwakes, razorbills, Manx shearwaters, and nesting puffins. Depending on weather and permission to access, we visit nearby Skellig Michael—the site of an important 6th century Anchorite monastery and now a World Heritage Site.

Day 6
Dunmore East / Waterford / Saltee Islands

From the port city of Dunmore East, we drive through scenic countryside to Waterford. Options today include a visit to the renowned Waterford Crystal glassworks to watch master craftsmen at work, or a tour of Mount Congreve, a magnificent estate with exquisite gardens. Return to the ship for lunch as we cruise toward the privately-owned Saltee Islands, which attract nearly three million birds to their craggy masses. On Great Saltee Island we search for puffins, murres, razorbills, gannets, and more of the 47 bird species recorded here.

Day 7
Port St. Mary, Isle of Man

Enjoy a leisurely morning on board, as the ship cruises to Port St. Mary on the Isle of Man. We board the Isle of Man Steam Railway, the single remnant from the extensive Victorian system that served the main centers on the island, and ride through quaint and picturesque villages to the southern resort of Port Erin.

Day 8
Portrush, Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland / Rathlin Island

Disembark at Portrush and travel overland to the World Heritage Site of Giant’s Causeway. This three-mile section of coastline is a geological masterpiece—some 40,000 closely-packed hexagonal columns of varying heights line the coast and descend like a staircase into the sea. In the afternoon we visit the rugged cliffs of Rathlin Island, where we are greeted by colonies of guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, and puffins.

Day 9
Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland / Staffa

In 563 AD the Christian missionary St. Columba built a monastery on Iona and spread Christianity throughout Scotland. Though it suffered repeated attacks by Vikings over the centuries and the original was destroyed, the monastery was rebuilt each time, and some of these later buildings still stand. We visit the monastery site; the nearby cemetery of St. Oran, where numerous Scottish kings are buried; and the 12th-century Iona Abbey. Weather permitting, we spend the afternoon exploring the uninhabited island of Staffa by Zodiac and its most famous feature, Fingal’s Cave. The cave’s peculiar rock formations and unusual coloring are a delight to behold, and the wonderful echo of the sea from within served as the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture.

Day 10
St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides / Flannan Islands

We spend the morning at St. Kilda, once home to a small community, evidenced by abandoned houses and cleits, beehive-shaped cells where goods were stored. Cruising among the Flannan Islands this afternoon, puffins, fulmars, murres, and kittiwakes should be plentiful. Of special interest to birders is the Leach’s petrel colony on the grassy slopes of Eilean Mor beneath the lighthouse.

Day 11
Kirkwall , Orkney Islands

We arrive in the capital city of Kirkwall on Mainland Island in the Orkneys for visits to the magnificent St. Magnus Cathedral and some of the island’s major archaeological sites. Maes Howe, a chambered tomb dating from 3500 BC, is also noted for its runic hieroglyphs left by visiting 12th century Vikings. We then visit the enigmatic Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, and Skara Brae, a remarkably well-preserved Stone Age village buried in sand some 4,500 years ago. This afternoon, we enjoy a walking tour of charming Kirkwall.

Day 12
Lerwick, Shetland Islands / Isle of Noss / Mousa

This morning we enjoy a guided walking tour of Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands, which are steeped in Norse heritage. After the tour there will be free time to stroll the narrow streets and browse the many shops, or raise a pint at the local pub. After lunch on board, cruise by Zodiac to the Isle of Noss, where spectacular cliffs support a large and diverse seabird colony, home to 80,000 seabirds—guillemots, razorbills, gannets, shags, and more. This evening we go ashore at Mousa to view one of Britain’s finest Iron Age ruins, an unusually well preserved 40-foot broch, a dry stone structure, dating from about 200 AD.

Day 13
Fair Isle

One of the most isolated settlements in the British Isles, this island is renowned for the quality and intricacy of its handmade sweaters using local wool. It is also famous as a haven for seabirds including gannets, murres, black-legged kittiwakes, numerous gull species, and a large colony of puffins. After a short walk, we join some of the 70 islanders at their community center for tea and cakes and a visit to the local museum.

Day 14
Isle of May / Bass Rock / Leith

The Isle of May is another of Scotland’s great seabird islands. Conditions permitting, we board Zodiacs to visit the small bird observatory on the island. The number of birds is staggering, with puffins by the thousands, kittiwakes blanketing the cliffsides, shags on every available rock, and eider ducks at your feet. En route to Leith, we circumnavigate Bass Rock, renowned for its 100,000 resident gannets—the largest gannet colony in the world. Arrive in Leith this evening, the port for Edinburgh. The Sea Adventurer remains pier side overnight.

Day 15
Leith / Edinburgh

After breakfast on board, transfer to Edinburgh airport for departure on homeward-bound flights, or continue your explorations on our Wild Norway & Svalbard.

Note: This cruise is not an exclusive Wilderness Travel departure. The itinerary, lecturers, and other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the ship operator.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

2016 Cruise Collection

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What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated 1+, Easy. For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You will need to climb into and out of Zodiacs for excursions ashore and walk one to three miles over sometimes rough terrain such as cobblestones and uneven, rocky beaches. Shore excursions have been designed to accommodate both those who wish moderate strolls and those who prefer more active hikes. In May, temperatures will range from the low 50sF–mid-60sF, cooling slightly as you travel north. Flexibility is a must, as itineraries are subject to change, and landings may be tidal or weather dependent.

Explanation of Trip Levels



Future dates have not been set for this itinerary. Please contact us if you would like to be notified of trip dates once they are available.

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Category 1 $10,480
Category 2 $11,480
Category 3 $12,780
Category 4 $13,480
Category 5 $15,480
Category 6 $16,480
Suite $20,480
Owner's Suite $22,880
Single Category 2: $14,380
Single Category 4: $15,980
Additional singles may be available in other categories at 1.6 times the share rate.

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 25% of trip cost
130 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $750 per person
120-180 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
60-119 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
59 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Deck Plan


Cabin Descriptions

  • Twin cabins on Main and A-Deck are similar in amenities and average about 136 square feet; all cabins on Promenade Deck are slightly larger and average 165 square feet; suites are 211 square feet.
  • All cabins have a bathroom with shower, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, an intercom system for announcements, European-type outlets (two round sockets) at 220 volts, ample wardrobespace, full length mirrors, locked drawer, emergency buttons to call reception, desk and chair, and hair dryer.
  • All cabins have two twin lower beds. A few triple cabins are available.
  • Ocean view: cabins on A-Deck have two portholes, 12 inches in diameter; cabins 200-211 have one porthole, 12 inches in diameter; cabins 212-231 have one window, 24 inches by 17 inches; and cabins on Promenade Deck and the suites have one window, 22 inches by 16.5 inches.


Trip Cost Includes:

  • All gratuities
  • Accommodations in hotel and on board the Sea Adventurer as outlined in the itinerary
  • All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard
  • Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
  • Services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows
  • All group activities and excursions
  • Landing and port fees
  • $50,000 of medical expense coverage and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages except as listed, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.

Expedition Details

A valid passport is required for this trip. Be sure to check the expiration date. Your passport must be valid for three months after the conclusion of your trip. It is a good idea to carry photocopies of your passport photo page in case your passport is lost or as an additional piece of identification, as well as two extra passport photos.

No visa is required for US Citizens traveling to the UK and Ireland.

We recommend checking the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov should you have any international health concerns.

No inoculations are currently required for Europe.

Sea Adventurer

The 110-guest Sea Adventurer is an expedition ship equipped with stabilizers and an ice-strengthened hull that allow her to navigate easily in the most rugged environments. Each cabin has an ocean view, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, an in-room music system, and en suite bathroom facilities. Public spaces on board include a window-lined dining room that seats all guests at leisurely single seatings, a spacious lounge, polar library, gift shop, laundry, and small gym. A fleet of Zodiacs permits landing anywhere nature or curiosity dictates.

Expedition Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Colleen Batey

Dr. Colleen Batey’s childhood passion for archaeology led her to Durham University where she received her doctorate. Her research interests focus on the settlement and burial of Scandinavian settlers and she has excavated extensively on Viking and Late Norse sites in Northern Scotland, ...
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Russ Evans

Russell Evans is a 6th generation Falkland Islander who grew up working on farms on Pebble and Saunders Islands. In the mid 1990s, Russell left farming to pursue his interest in the sea and small boats (especially sail boats), and he went to work crewing and skippering commercial work boats for ...
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Peter Harrison

A professional birder, artist, author, and screenwriter, Peter is widely considered the world’s foremost authority on seabirds. Often credited with having seen more seabirds than anyone, past or present, Peter has written and illustrated over a dozen books, of which Seabirds: An ...
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Shirley Metz

Shirley is a modern-day adventurer and explorer. In 1989 she became the first woman, and one of the first Americans, in history to ski overland to the South Pole, a journey of over 800 miles. That same year she was awarded the prestigious Soviet Polar Award. Shirley is a cofounder of Zegrahm ...
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