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British Isles: Legendary History and Wild Nature

Voyage to England, Ireland, and Scotland Aboard the Sea Spirit

Overview

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 Orkney Islands and the stark beauty of the Fair Isle, this exciting expedition captures the ancient spirit and wild heart of Britain. Exhilarating walks bring you through heather-clad moorlands and among the ruins of fortress-castles that echo the lore of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons. You'll also 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.

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.

Itinerary

Day 1, May 8, 2022
Arrive in London

Welcome to England and the start of your British Isles cruise! Your included pre-cruise hotel night at the Hilton Garden Inn, near Terminal 2, is designed to allow for a relaxing motorcoach transfer to Portsmouth the next morning. You'll receive information about the time and place to meet the motorcoach at the hotel.

Day 2, May 9, 2022
Embarkation in Plymouth, England

Look for the ship representative in the hotel lobby who will direct you to the chartered motorcoach that will take you to the port city of Plymouth in southwest England. Considered the home of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth’s rich maritime heritage sets the mood for the beginning of your exciting voyage. In the afternoon you are welcomed aboard the luxury expedition ship Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get settled in your comfortable and spacious suite. Then head to the deck and feel the sense of adventure build as you slip the moorings and sail out of the historic harbor.

Day 3, May 10, 2022
Tresco, Scilly Isles, England

The Isles of Scilly is a group of small islands off the coast of Cornwall boasting mild weather, secluded beaches, enchanting wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle. On the lovely, 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 you'll discover the exquisite Tresco Abbey Garden with its spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world. Here you will also find the Valhalla Museum, a collection of colorful figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks. Delightful cafés and local shops enrich your experience even further.

Days 4-5, May 11-12, 2022
Republic of Ireland

Dunmore East is a popular tourist and fishing village in County Waterford on Ireland’s southeastern coast. From here it is a short journey through scenic countryside to the House of Waterford Crystal. Here you can take a guided tour of the factory to see the master craftsmen at work as well as the world’s largest collection of their wares. Also nearby is Mount Congreve, a magnificent 18th-century Georgian estate and botanical gardens containing thousands of plant species on 70 acres of intensively planted woodland and a four-acre walled garden.

Day 6, May 13, 2022
Llandudno, Wales

The port for today is the vibrant seaside town of Llandudno in the north of Wales. From here you'll embark on a scenic overland tour of Snowdonia National Park. You'll drive through some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes in Britain as you'll 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. You'll enjoy a delightful stop at the charming and distinctively Welsh town of Betws-y-Coed in the Gwydyr Forest.

Day 7, May 14, 2022
Northern Ireland

Today you'll disembark at the small seaside resort town of Portrush in Northern Ireland. You'll travel overland to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. Here you'll discover a geological masterpiece—40,000 closely packed hexagonal basalt columns of varying heights descending like a staircase into the sea. According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. In this area you are also able to spot various seabirds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot, and razorbill.

Day 8, May 15, 2022
Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Weather permitting, you will visit the uninhabited island of Staffa. This island of volcanic origin is easily recognized by its striking colonnade of hexagonal basalt pillars. Here you can explore the island’s 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.

Today you'll also explore beautiful and serene Iona, a small island in the Inner Hebrides just off the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. At the gorgeous Iona Abbey, founded in 563 AD, you'll be spellbound by one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites and indeed one of the oldest Christian religious centers in Western Europe. The adjacent graveyard is said to be the final resting place of numerous medieval kings, including Macbeth. In addition to its historical and religious significance, Iona is well known for its soul-soothing tranquility, white sand beaches and excellent birdwatching.

Day 9, May 16, 2022
Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, are a chain of dramatically rugged islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The most isolated of these is St Kilda. This remote and storm-ravaged island was continuously inhabited for at least two millennia by peoples of extraordinary hardiness. But as the modern world closed in after World War I, the remaining inhabitants chose to evacuate. Now you'll find only their rough stone buildings and distinctive storehouses called cleitean, all set amid some of the most dramatic island scenery in the British Isles. Nature-lovers will be delighted, as the island is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, two early types of sheep, and over 130 species of flowering plants.

Day 10, May 17, 2022
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

Upon arrival at the historic port of Kirkwall you’ll embark on an overland tour of Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands off the northeastern coast of Scotland. Attractions such as the well-preserved 5000-year-old village site at Skara Brae and the ancient Ring of Brodgar within the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” showcase the world-class cultural heritage of the island. Back in the charming village of Kirkwall you'll also find the impressive Saint Magnus Cathedral, built in the Romanesque style by Vikings in the 12th century.

Day 11, May 18, 2022
Fair Isle, Shetland Islands

On Fair Isle—an isolated island of rolling moorlands and rugged coastlines—one is easily enchanted by 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 one of Europe’s best places to watch seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Additionally, the island is notable for the abundance and diversity of its wildflowers. Seals are also commonly seen in its bays. Finally, during your visit it will be possible to see and purchase articles hand-knitted in the intricate and distinctive style for which Fair Isle has been celebrated for hundreds of years.

Day 12, May 19, 2022
Isle of May and Bass Rock, Scotland

Both of these uninhabited islands are in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. The Isle of May is a national nature reserve and includes significant colonies of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, cormorants, and terns. Harbor seals and gray seals can be spotted along the shores. There are also some historic architectural sites, including St. Ardin’s Chapel, the lighthouse, and the Low and Light Cottages.

The island known as “the Bass” plays host to over 150,000 northern gannets in the breeding season, making it the world’s largest colony of these magnificent birds. The island’s steep walls are white with guano and the sky all around is darkened by the vast multitude of seabirds in flight. This voyage is perfectly timed to coincide with this amazing spectacle—truly one of the wildlife wonders of the world.

Day 13, May 20, 2022
Disembarkation in Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland

After breakfast on board Sea Spirit, say farewell in Leith, Edinburgh’s vibrant port district. Transfers are provided to the airport or to Edinburgh city center if you wish to spend more time in the wonderful capital of Scotland.

Highlights

Highlights

Explore Outer Hebrides, home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, two early types of sheep, and over 130 species of flowering plants
Visit Skara Brae and the ancient Ring of Brodgar on Scotland’s Orkney Islands
Experience Ireland’s world-famous Giant’s Causeway, 40,000 closely packed hexagonal basalt columns of varying heights descending like a staircase into the sea

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6095  
Arrive: London, England
Depart: Edinburgh, Scotland
Lodging: 11 nights aboard a 114-guest vessel, 1 night airport hotel
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Photography, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

12-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours, excursions by Zodiac