Wild and Ancient Britain

Nature and History of the British Isles Aboard Le Dumont d'Urville


On this adventure to the British Isles, 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 you 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.

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.


Days 1-2, May 11-12, 2020
Fly to London

Fly to London, England, arriving on Day 2. Upon arrival, check into the hotel, with the rest of the day at leisure to explore the city on your own. In the evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3, May 13, 2020
London / Portsmouth / Embark the Le Dumont d’Urville

After breakfast, depart via train for Portsmouth. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before a tour of this famous port city. This afternoon board the Le Dumont d’Urville.

Day 4, May 14, 2020
Falmouth / Penzance

This morning take a stroll through Trebah Garden, a beautiful subtropical garden with a stunning coastal backdrop. After lunch on board, take a tour of the Eden Project in Penzance. This innovative complex of domes houses plants from around the world, with each emulating a natural biome. Or, take a walk through the expansive Trelissick Garden, noted for its impressive collection of camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas. The garden also offers glorious views of the Fal River and distant rolling hills.

Day 5, May 15, 2020
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 board local boats and cruise to Tresco to visit the ruins and exquisite subtropical gardens at the medieval Tresco Abbey.

Day 6, May 16, 2020
Ballinskelligs, Ireland

The Ballinskelligs Priory was founded in the 12th century by monks who moved to the mainland from Skellig Michael after numerous Viking attacks. A number of buildings still survive, including a church, tower house, parts of the cloister, a large domestic hall, and cemetery, most of which date from the 15th century. On a clear day, views across the bay are simply spectacular.

Day 7, May 17, 2020
Dunmore East / Waterford / Saltee Islands

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

Day 8, May 18, 2020
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 9, May 19, 2020
Portrush, Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland / Isle of Islay

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. After lunch, go ashore on the Isle of Islay for a tour of the world-famous Ardbeg Distillery.

Day 10, May 20, 2020
Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland / Iona

Weather permitting, spend the morning 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.

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. Visit the monastery site; the nearby cemetery of St. Oran, where numerous Scottish kings are buried; and the 12th-century Iona Abbey.

Day 11, May 21, 2020
St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides / Flannan Islands

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.

Day 12, May 22, 2020
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

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 known for its runic hieroglyphs left by visiting 12th-century Vikings. 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. Return to Kirkwall for an afternoon walking tour of this charming city.

Day 13, May 23, 2020
Lerwick, Shetland Islands / Isle of Noss / Mousa

This morning 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 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 14, May 24, 2020
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, join some of the 70 islanders at their community center for tea and cakes, and a visit to the local museum.

Day 15, May 25, 2020
Aberdeen / Disembark / Edinburgh

Disembark in Aberdeen this morning, and enjoy a scenic train ride to Edinburgh. Check in to the Balmoral Hotel for a special farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 16, May 26, 2020
Edinburgh / Depart

Transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day, or join the post-cruise extension to Scotland.

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.



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


Length: 16 days
Cost From: $12,480  
Arrive: London, England
Depart: Edingburgh, Scotland
Lodging: 2 nights hotels, 12 nights aboard 184-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 (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Small Ship Cruising, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

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