Friday, 27 October 2017

The Delights of Ardgowan House

Ardgowan is a beautiful late 18th century house which stands at the mouth of the River Clyde, looking across to the hills of Argyll, and south-west to the islands of Bute and Arran. Its predecessor, an ancient keep - now a romantic roofless ruin in the garden - stands testament to the strategic importance of the site, which was much fought over during Viking invasions and later during Scotland’s Wars of Independence.



The house in the early 14th century, once taken by Robert the Bruce, became one of a string of west coast royal fortresses until in 1403 it was given by King Robert III to his natural son, John, whose descendants have lived there ever since.

In the late Georgian period the family (now called Shaw Stewart) decided to build a new neo-classical house here which a follower of Robert Adam, named Hugh Cairncross, designed for them. It consists of a pedimented main block, which originally centred on an elegant curved double flight of steps, with wings linking to Venetian-windowed pavilions. The sea-facing garden fa├žade is configured differently, with a central bow rising into the roofline. The main reception rooms are on the first floor and retain their original contents - Gillow furniture supplied when the house was completed in 1801, family portraits of its successive owners, including a run of pictures by Henry Raeburn, paintings and sculptures collected on various Grand Tours and some curious Napoleonic relics including the Emperor’s hat. In the library with its tall well-stocked Gillow bookcases there survives an extensive archive of material relating to the completion and furnishing of the house and a large assembly of family letters and journals. These reflect the boisterous happy life lived within these walls by generations of Shaw Stewarts which has given Ardgowan the distinctive family atmosphere much commented on by visitors today.


The 350 acre policies were laid out in the same year that the house was built. The River Kip was re-routed to flow in a new paved course through the park, groves of trees were planted and winding picturesque walks were devised through the woods to the shoreline to take advantage of the spectacular scenery. The mild Gulf Stream climate encouraged the growth of tender trees and plants in both parkland and the garden which was designed in the 19th century. The house is positioned at one end of an extensive estate which stretches from the hills behind Inverkip to the high ground to the back of Greenock and Port Glasgow. The farming operation is carried out on a number of tenanted farms; there are also forestry and livery businesses run on the estate. Lucinda Chetwode (formerly Lady Shaw Stewart) runs residential educational courses from Ardgowan too, studying the art collections of Scotland and using her own archive and collection to analyse the social history of the 18th century country house. She also runs her antiques business - Ardgowan Antiques - from here.

She, her second husband Christopher, and her son Ludovic are always delighted to have Hebridean Princess groups visit the house.

Hebridean Princess is due to visit Ardgowan House on the following cruises in 2018:

>> Argyll's Secret Coast commencing 1st March 2018

>> Treasures of Argyll and Bute commencing 13th March 2018

>> Architectural Gems of Argyll and the Isles commencing 30th October 2018

>> Argyll's Secret Coast commencing 6th November 2018

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Hebridean's Rising Star

The Cruise Trade News’ Rising Star awards shine a spotlight on the brightest and best talent in the cruise holiday sector and celebrate the achievements of outstanding younger members working within the industry.



The awards are open to employees who are 35 years and under on 15th September 2017.  Some join the Cruise industry a little later than others and then make a real and significant impact, so for 2017 a new category that covers over 35s who have under 5 years’ experience in the sector as of 15th September 2017 has been added.

Earlier this week Cruise Trade News announced the shortlist for this year’s Rising Star Awards.

Hebridean was delighted to receive the news that, in the Cruise Line Sales Rising Star, its newest member of the Skipton shore based team, Abigail Stevens has been shortlisted for the award.

You may recall reading about Abbie earlier this year in both The Hebridean Times and our online news hub.

>> Click here to learn more about Abbie

On hearing the news Abbie commented:

"I am absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted in the 2017 Rising Star Awards - it is so exciting and I am so much looking forward to travelling to London in November to discover who the overall winners will be.  I shall keep my fingers crossed!"

Sales and Marketing Manager for Hebridean, Jonathan Moffatt remarked:

"Abbie is a talented, enthusiastic and enchanting individual that always gives 101% in everything she does.  Since becoming part of the Hebridean team 18 months ago, she built strong relationships with guests and colleagues alike and has created systems for varying administrative procedures that have benefitted all our small team in Yorkshire.

The Rising Star Awards was an ideal way to recognise her dedication outside of the office and therefore a nomination was inevitable!  Everyone at Hebridean is rooting for her."

The full shortlist can be seen below and the winners will be announced at the Rising Star Awards lunch on November 17th at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, London, where of our shortlisted Stars are invited as our VIP guests.

>> The Rising Star Awards Shortlist 2017

Friday, 6 October 2017

Hebridean Road Show

Over the next few weeks, Hebridean will be exhibiting in conjunction with a select number of its travel agency partners. 

If you're in the area, we'd love to see you.

Cruise Select Cruise Show - Sunday 15th October - Sharnbrook Hotel, Bedford


October is National Cruise Month, and Cruise Select is holding its annual Cruise Show on 15 October 2017 at the  Sharnbrook Hotel. During the day, you will be able to meet with Hebridean Island Cruises and travel professionals from various cruise and river lines.

Cruise Select says the top reasons to come along are:

1) Your chance to discover various styles of cruising including river, small ships, expedition and luxury

2) Take advantage of National Cruise Month special offers

3) Exclusive offers only available to Cruise Select

Doors open at 10:30 am until 3:00pm.

>> Click here to register for your FREE places


Northumbria Travel Cruise Show - Wednesday 18th October - Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham

Northumbria Travel is hosting a Cruise Show supported and attended by 12 Cruise Lines, including Hebridean Island Cruises, all showcasing their ships and itineraries on the day. There will be an opportunity to attend a short presentation by each cruise line in addition to talking to the representatives from each company throughout the day.

Exclusive Offers will be available on the day.

This event is on Wednesday 18th October at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham and starts at 10am and will run until 4.30pm

Parking is free of charge.

Call Northumbria Travel on 01670 829922 to secure your complimentary tickets or email info@northumbriatravel.com

Please note spaces are strictly limited and subject to availability.


Ponders Travel Cruise Show - Sunday 22nd October - Hallmark Hotel Bar Hill, Cambridge

October is National Cruise Month, so Ponders have invited the big names in cruising and river cruising, including Hebridean Island Cruises, to join them under one roof to showcase the very best of their National Cruise Month Offers.

You will have a chance to discuss your holiday ideas with an array of travel professionals.

With a luxury prize draw on the day and exclusive holiday offers you really need to put this event in your diary.

When: Sunday October 22nd 2017
Where: Hallmark Hotel Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8EU
Time: 11am to 3pm

>> Click here to register for your FREE places



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Richard Wilson’s Highland Fling - Broadcast date announced - More4 19 October 9pm




During June of this year Hebridean Princess welcomed a small film crew on board for the filming of a special documentary. 

STV Productions were commissioned to make a documentary for More4 following actor, director and broadcaster Richard Wilson as he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to explore the Highlands and Islands of his native Scotland.

The sixty minute programme followed Richard as he returned to Scotland to embark on a once in a lifetime tour of the north of the country. At 80, the voyage proved a fascinating journey of discovery and personal reflection. The one-off documentary captured Scotland’s hidden gems as Richard travelled in style from Edinburgh to Mull – first by train on the iconic Royal Scotsman, before taking to the water on Hebridean Princess with visits to Oban, Iona, Rum and Skye.


The STV programme titled ‘Richard Wilson’s Highland Fling’ will be aired on More4 on 19th October at 9pm.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Meet our newest sales team member

Abigail Stevens - Sales Consultant



Abigail is the newest member of the reservations team. Born and bred in Yorkshire, she studied Travel and Tourism at Craven College in Skipton. Abigail originally joined Hebridean as maternity cover in February 2016 and was offered a permanent position later the same year.

Since joining the team Abigail has become one of our travel experts, booking flights, trains, hotels and chauffeur cars on behalf of guests, as well as taking cruise reservations and completing many of the administrative tasks within the sales department.

Abigail has a close family connection with Hebridean as our Reservations Manager Lisa White is her auntie! Abigail has previous experience in a customer service environment having worked in a number of local restaurants whilst studying at school and college.

What have been the most enjoyable aspects of the job so far?

I enjoy talking to guests on the telephone and also the opportunity of meeting as many guests as possible at events such as the Ilkley Literature Festival and cruise shows.

I also greatly enjoyed the opportunity to visit Hebridean Princess last year, it makes the job much easier when you have experienced the product. I took great pleasure from the atmosphere and ambience of the ship, the delicious cuisine and meeting all the crew, in particular Chief Purser Dave Indge and his bad jokes!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to keep fit at the local gym after work and also enjoy travelling abroad, dining out
and music festivals. I have recently passed my driving test and love driving my new car around the scenic Yorkshire roads.

What do you think are the most rewarding aspects of the job?
The most satisfying part of the job for me is building a rapport with the guests and helping to ensure that they have a truly memorable holiday and return to cruise with us time after time.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Acclaimed British Actor On Board Hebridean Princess

During June of this year Hebridean Princess welcomed a small film crew on board for the filming of a special documentary to be shown on More4. We were approached by STV Productions seeking a unique filming opportunity that would showcase some of Scotland’s beautiful highland attractions, whilst at the same time focussing on a well-known television personality fulfilling a long-held ambition to explore his native Scotland.




Just like the audiences of fly on the wall documentaries, we were intrigued by the proposal put forward by STV Productions and after a series of meetings and ship visits in Oban the cruise chosen for the shoot was 20th June – Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens.



We were asked to keep the identity of the personality close to our chests until filming had ended, but can now reveal that this was Greenock born Richard Wilson, best known for his role as Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave and Gaius, the court physician of Camelot, in the BBC drama Merlin. During the cruise, Richard visited gardens, historic castles and the holy Isle of Iona, with the cruise culminating in a Champagne farewell reception at Duart Castle on the island of Mull.

Finally, our grateful thanks go to all our guests who gave their kind permission to be filmed as part of the documentary, as well as all the crew on board Hebridean Princess.

The STV programme titled ‘Richard Wilson’s Highland Fling’ will be aired on More4 on 19th October at 9pm.

--PRESS RELEASE--

STV Productions were commissioned to make a documentary for More4 following actor, director and broadcaster Richard Wilson as he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to explore the Highlands and Islands of his native Scotland.

The sixty minute programme, 'Highland Odyssey with Richard Wilson', followed Richard as he returned to Scotland to embark on a once in a lifetime tour of the north of the country. At 80, the voyage proved a fascinating journey of discovery and personal reflection. The one-off documentary captured Scotland’s hidden gems as Richard travelled in style from Edinburgh to Mull – first by train on the iconic Royal Scotsman, before taking to the water on Hebridean Princess with visits to Oban, Iona, Rum and Skye.



Mick McAvoy, head of documentaries at STV Productions, said: “Richard is one of Britain’s most recognised actors with a successful career spanning several decades. This documentary for More4 gave him the opportunity to explore a part of the world where he has always wanted to spend time, while giving the viewer an insight into the unique history and stunning scenery, all through the eyes of the iconic actor.”



Lizi Wootton, Commissioning editor for Features at Channel 4 adds: “It’s wonderful to have Richard back on our screens, with a project that’s especially personal to him. This promises to be a loving exploration of one of the most captivating expanses of the British Isles.”


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Boutique Cruise Line of the Year - WINNERS

On Monday evening (18th September 2017), Food & Travel Magazine held its annual Reader Awards ceremony in the elegant surroundings of the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London.

It was a great night for Hebridean Island Cruises as we scooped the accolade of Boutique Cruise Line of the Year.


We were up against strong competition, but every vote from the Food & Travel Magazine readers counted and we would like to thank every one of them for casting their vote, helping us to secure this prestigious award.

Ken Charleson, Managing Director for Hebridean Island Cruises commented:

"We are delighted to win this fantastic award at such a respected event - this really does illustrate our commitment to providing the best cruise holidays in a truly unique and elegant way and is testament to our officers, crew and staff both on board and ashore."

Pictured: Jonathan Moffatt (Sales & Marketing Manager), Lisa White (Reservations Manager) and Louise Pratt (Sales & Marketing Consultant).


Friday, 8 September 2017

Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2018


 
Image result for berlitz guide to cruising 2018


We are delighted to announce that Hebridean Island Cruises has been awarded a Star Performer Top Ten rating in the highly-revered Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Guide 2018. Based on ratings by the eminent expert author, Douglas Ward, Hebridean Princess ranked 6 in the Boutique Ships category.

Managing Director Ken Charleson commented; "The Berlitz Guide has been the cruise industry bible for thirty three years so we are very pleased to receive this accolade.  It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all our staff and crew, both on board and ashore."

The 2018 Berlitz Guide to Cruising boasts a number of new features, updates and expansions, including:


·       Enhanced user-friendly design


·       Expanded Star Performers section


·       More independent reviews and scores


·       More colour photographs


·       New information about destination excursions

·       New information about thirty new cruise ships coming in 2018 and 2019

·       Expanded Frequently Asked Questions


Copies of the guide can be obtained from all good major book shops.


Friday, 18 August 2017

Hebridean launches 2018 European River Cruise Collection

We are delighted to launch our 2018 European River Cruise Collection on board Royal Crown, our seventh season of relaxing itineraries which transport you to the very heart of the continent. Our 2018 river cruise collection has been meticulously planned to allow you to discover the highlights of the meandering Dutch and Belgian waterways, the majestic Main and Rhine and the serenely scenic Moselle. All itineraries are enriched by entertaining and renowned guest speakers, in addition to our very own Cruise Director, Tour Manager, Chief Purser and Musician to ensure you are cared for in true Hebridean style.

To add that extra special ingredient, each of our 2018 cruises feature a ‘Hebridean Gem’ – a truly unique and exclusive experience to further enhance your enjoyment of the holiday, such as private visits, receptions and recitals in inspiring locations. Not only will you experience the highest standards of service and comfort, each Hebridean river cruise is fully inclusive. Carefully thought out flight and rail options make joining and departing the ship as stress free as possible. Not only are the travel arrangements included in the cruise fare, you will be accompanied by Hebridean’s own representatives, meaning that you can relax safe in the knowledge that you are taken care of from the very start to the very end of your cruise.

 
 

All of our 2018 cruise have been designed to offer the opportunity to combine cruises with the minimum of repetition, presenting guests with a selection of stunning Grand Voyages that discover the very best of what Europe’s majestic waterways have to offer. With just four exciting new itineraries in 2018 demand is expected to be high and we are delighted to announce that we have extended our launch offers until 30th September 2017 so all new bookings will qualify for an early booking saving of 10% on the published cruise fares.

RIVER CRUISE LAUNCH OFFER OF 10% OFF PUBLISHED FARES
EXTENDED UNTIL 30th September 2017

>> LAND OF WATERWAYS AND WINDMILLS - 20th-27th May 2018 - Amsterdam to Amsterdam

>> HISTORIC CITIES OF THE LOW LANDS - 27th May-3rd June 2018 - Amsterdam to Amsterdam

>> FROM BAVARIA TO THE MOSELLE - 13th July-24th July 2018 - Regensburg to Trier

>> THE MOSELLE TO THE BLACK FOREST - 24th July-3rd August 2018 - Trier to Basel

>> GRAND VOYAGE 1 - 20th May-3rd June 2018 - Amsterdam to Amsterdam

>> GRAND VOYAGE 2 - 13th July-3rd August 2018 - Regensburg to Basel

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Visit us at Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace – FREE Tickets available

We’re delighted to announce that from 3rd to 6th August Hebridean Island Cruises will be exhibiting at Countryfile Live.










Packed with wholesome countryside fun, BBC Countryfile Live returns to the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace for four days of live arena shows, hands on activities, animal displays, debates, food, drink and shopping.

With a whole host of exciting new attractions for 2017, the show brings together everything visitors cherish about our countryside, from wildlife and farming, to outdoor pursuits and food, for everyone to enjoy.

Hebridean has a very limited number of FREE tickets available for each day of the event (£30 per person on the door), so should you wish to come along please use the link below and follow the instructions provided.  TICKETS MUST BE DOWNLOADED BY MIDNIGHT ON MONDAY, 24 JULY 2017.
 >> DOWNLOAD FREE TICKETS WORTH £30 PER PERSON

Select the date you would like to attend
Select RSVP from the drop-down box

Use promotional code t97egextqi

We look forward to seeing you on stand C09 (Shedding Units).
 
 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Hebridean Island Cruises Nominated for Prestigious Awards

The small luxury cruise ship operator, Hebridean Island Cruises, is proud to announce that it has been nominated for several major awards.

Ken Charleson, Managing Director for Hebridean Island Cruises, remarked

“Being nominated for these three prestigious awards is testament to the hard work and dedication our staff, both on board and ashore, have given to the company over the past twelve months.  We are committed to providing the best possible cruise experience to our guests and to be nominated in this way is a true accolade and reward for everything we do.  I hope as many of our guests and partners will take this opportunity to cast their votes to help us secure a win.”

Hebridean Island Cruises has been nominated for:-

BRITISH TRAVEL AWARDS 2017

Hebridean has been nominated for BEST LUXURY CRUISE LINE in the prestigious 2017 British Travel Awards (BTAs).  The winners will be determined by the consumer, who has until 30 September to cast their vote, with the successful companies announced at the BTA Gala Awards Dinner, being held in London on 29 November 2017.




CRUISE INTERNATIONAL AWARDS 2017

Hebridean has been nominated for BEST LUXURY CRUISE LINE and BEST BOUTIQUE CRUISE LINE in the UK’s most prestigious cruise industry awards.  The Cruise International Awards 2017 are your chance to vote for your favourite cruise lines, travel agents, destinations, holiday extras and blogs which have impressed you during the past 12 months.




FOOD & TRAVEL MAGAZINE AWARDS 2017

Hebridean has been nominated for BOUTIQUE/ADVENTURE CRUISE LINE of the year.  From the basis of thousands of entries, Food & Travel Magazine has compiled the shortlist for our 2017 Reader Awards.  Now it’s the final voting round to decide who will be the winners. Simply choose your favourites from the shortlisted candidates, and those with the greatest number of votes on the closing date will be crowned the winners at our presentation ceremony in September.

>> Click here to vote for Hebridean Island Cruises in the Food & Travel Magazine Awards 2017

Friday, 23 June 2017

Hebridean’s Agency Partners enjoy their On Board Experiences


Over the past twelve months, Hebridean Island Cruises has had the pleasure of showcasing both Hebridean Princess and its European river cruise programme on board Royal Crown to a number of selected travel agency partners.

Such invitations, to experience a Hebridean cruise first hand, allow our partners to advise guests on all aspects of cruising with us.



Amy Wright from Cruise Select in Bedford (pictured) enjoyed our whisky themed cruise last year on board Hebridean Princess.  From reading her review we’re sure you’ll agree that she enjoyed her Hebridean experience. 


>> Read Cruise Select Amy’s Review


More recently, Ann Bolland from Blue Water Holidays (pictured far right), based in our own home town of Skipton, enjoyed several nights on a Hebridean river cruise on board the 1930’s style river cruiser Royal Crown.  Again, you'll see from her Blog that she thoroughly enjoyed her Hebridean experience.

>> Read Blue Water Ann’s Review

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Hebridean Launches 2018 Cruise Directory for 30th Season


Hebridean Princess Celebrates 30 Seasons with cruises to the South Coast of England, Northern France and, for the first time, Belgium.
Hebridean Princess, the unique and luxurious small cruise ship, renowned for her voyages to the off the beaten track destinations in and around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, will celebrate her 30th cruising season in 2018.
Hebridean Island Cruises says that its 30th anniversary season will not go unmarked and therefore the company will be replicating itineraries from its inaugural year of 1989, along with cruises from its tenth season of 1998 and the twentieth season of 2008.
Ken Charleson, Managing Director commented:
"Whilst 2018 will be an exciting year for us, our Pearl Anniversary celebrations will not just be confined to cruises from seasons gone by. During the summer of 2018 our out-of-area cruises will witness Hebridean Princess venturing to the south coast of England, calling at Dublin and the Isles of Scilly en route. We are also voyaging to the Channel Islands, Northern France including Brittany and Normandy, and a maiden time a visit to Belgium. Furthermore, two cruises of the River Thames to the iconic Tower Bridge are additional highlights of our southern sojourn."
For the more energetic, there will be four new Footloose walking itineraries, and for the first time in many years, a dedicated cycling cruise to be accompanied by Olympic Cyclist, Chris Boardman. A very special, extended cruise to St Kilda will delight lovers of wildlife as Hebridean Princess explores the natural world of the Hebrides, home to some of the finest bird and marine life in Europe.
The 2018 Hebridean Princess Cruise Directory is available now and all 37 itineraries are available to view on Hebridean's website www.hebridean.co.uk

For more information visit www.hebridean.co.uk or call 01756 704 704.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens

Star of the BBC Scotland series Lady Lairds, Joanna Macpherson, will be joining Hebridean Island Cruises’ (www.hebridean.co.uk / 01756 704 704) luxury cruise ship, Hebridean Princess, on the Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens cruise commencing on 20 June 2017.

The rich history of the deeply rooted region of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is unwrapped with this seven-night cruise of stunning ancient castles and breath-taking, early summer gardens carried out in true Hebridean Princess style.  This spectacular itinerary culminates with a Champagne reception at Duart Castle, Isle of Mull, hosted by Sir Lachlan MacLean, Chieftain of the Clan MacLean.

Other highlights include one of the finest rhododendron gardens in Scotland at Colonsay House, the Benedictine Abbey on Iona and the subtropical garden at Inverewe.

Attadale Gardens will also be visited, where Joanna Macpherson moved almost 5 years ago with her husband Alec.  Attadale had belonged to her grandfather so she has always spent holidays there since a baby.

Joanna will give us an insight into the running of the Attadale Estate, the making of the Lady Lairds documentary and the organisation ‘Discover Scottish Gardens’, a network of gardens which have come together to promote their rich diversity, a number of which we will visit on this cruise.

The Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens cruise starts from £3,875 per person and departs from Oban (Scotland) on 20th June 2017 for 7 nights.

Prices includes transfers between Glasgow and the ship or free valet car parking in Oban, all meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, shore excursions and gratuities and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

For more information and to book visit www.hebridean.co.uk or call 01756 704 704.


Friday, 10 March 2017

Hebridean Princess starts new season with new cabins

In 2015 Hebridean unveiled the newly refurbished public rooms on board Hebridean Princess which were designed by John Dick and Son using bespoke furniture and richly textured, locally manufactured fabrics to create a subtle Scottish feel. Universally admired, the results were stunning, comfortable and luxurious.

During the recent winter refit of 2016/17, John Dick and Sons have once again been working hard to transform over a third of the guest cabins on board.

Managing Director, Bruce Dick, commented: "We have used a contemporary woollen plaid
from Mulberry as a base fabric which gives continuity throughout the cabins. Inspired by the plaid we specified various complementary colours and textures as accent fabrics to give each cabin its own identity. Respecting the age of the ship and working with luxurious linens and weaves we
have brought the cabins up to date with a comfortable contemporary twist."

Ken Charleson, Managing Director for Hebridean Island Cruises added: "We are delighted with the the work carried out on 11 of our cabins by John Dick and Son.  The designers have really embraced our brief to create cabins with a true Scottish feel which I am certain will be enjoyed by our guests during the 2017 cruising season and beyond".



Friday, 3 March 2017

New season sees the return of our popular Cruise Log


On Wednesday 1st March we left the refit yard at James Watt Dock and sailed the short distance down the Clyde to Greenock Ocean Cruise Terminal to embark our first complement of guests in 2017.

Over one third of the guest cabins have been refurbished this winter and the essential maintenance of the ships engines and machinery have kept our crew and contractors busy for the last few months.

With everything shipshape the guests were welcomed on board by Captain Heaton, his officers and crew, to the sound of bagpipes.  We set sail on our Clyde Island Explorer as guests settled in to their cabins and enjoyed their first taste of Hebridean hospitality at dinner.  We spent the first night at anchor in Rothesay Bay off the Isle of Bute in readiness for the visit to Mount Stuart House the following morning.

As the new season is now up and running, so too is our online Cruise Log.  This is an illustrated daily diary of each cruise as it unfolds to help bring each itinerary to life.    You can read the story so far here and also look back on any of last years voyages in our 2016 archive.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Spotlight on the Isle of Arran


Often referred to as ‘Scotland in Miniature’ due to the remarkable diversity of its landscapes, the Isle of Arran is the seventh largest, and one of the most southerly Scottish islands, lying in the Firth of Clyde.
 
Lochranza
Although culturally and physically similar to the Hebrides, Arran is separated from them by the Kintyre peninsula. The Highland Boundary Fault between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland divides the island almost exactly in two; the north is ruggedly mountainous and sparsely populated, the south is softer, more undulating and home to the majority of the population. The highest point on the island is Goat Fell and the profile of the northern hills viewed from the Ayrshire coast is known as the ‘Sleeping Warrior’ due to its resemblance to a resting human figure.


Holy Isle
Arran has two smaller satellite islands; Holy Isle is a two mile spine almost blocking the entrance to Lamlash Bay, creating a natural sheltered harbour, which houses a retreat and meditation centre for Buddhist monks from Samye Ling in Eskdalemuir. Pladda island lies a mile off Kildonan and is the haunt of seals, seabirds and some rarer migrant commuters.
 

Holy Isle
Arran has been continuously inhabited since the early Neolithic period and the fascinating Bronze Age remnants of the Machrie Moor Stone Circles and surrounding prehistoric burial cairns can be explored on the west coast of the island. From the 6th century onwards, the Irish Scots colonised the island and it became part of the Kingdom of Dalriada. During the troubled Viking Age, Arran became the property of the Norwegian crown before becoming formally absorbed by the kingdom of Scotland in the 13th century. The 19th century clearances led to significant depopulation and the end of the Gaelic language and way of life.
 
King’s Cave is a seafront cave near Blackwaterfoot which was formed where isostatic change resulted in a raised beach. Robert the Bruce is said to have sheltered here when returning to free Scotland from the English; the cave is also said to have been occupied by Fingal, Fionn MacCaul.
 

Brodick Castle
Brodick Castle played a prominent part in the island’s medieval history and is one of Scotland’s most battlescarred castles which has been rebuilt many times. The site of the ancestral seat of the Duke of Hamilton was a fortress even in Viking times. It was captured by English forces during the Wars of Independence before being taken back by Scottish troops in 1307. It was badly damaged by action from English ships in 1406 and sustained an attack by John of Islay, the Lord of the Isles in 1455. Originally a seat of the Clan Stewart of Menteith, ownership of the castle passed through various hands before it came into the possession of the Hamilton family in 1503. The castle is said to have several ghosts, the most benign figure usually seen in the library wearing breeches, a long green jacket and a powdered wig!
 
The walled garden at Brodick Castle dates from 1710 and has been restored as a Victorian garden; the woodland garden contains one of Europe’s finest collections of Rhododendrons. In the Country Park you can explore the 11 miles of waymarked trails among waterfalls, gorges and wildlife ponds. The castle and grounds, together with nearby Goat Fell are owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
 
Lochranza lies 2 miles southwest of the northern headland, the Cock of Arran, and is the largest settlement in the north of the island. Lochranza Castle is a romantic ruin on the tidal flats dating from the 13th century and is reputedly where Robert the Bruce landed on his return from Rathlin Island. Lochranza is also home to the only working distillery on Arran where you can enjoy a tour of the visitor centre and tasting of a wee dram.
 
Arran is renowned for its wildlife and many species are a common sight. Red deer are numerous on northern hills and there are populations of otter, red squirrels and badger. Offshore there are common seals, harbour porpoises, basking sharks and various species of dolphin. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded on the island including black guillemot, eider, peregrine falcon and golden eagle. The warm Gulf Stream gives Arran a rich and unusual plant life and nothing indicates the mild climate more than palm trees thriving outdoors.
 
Hebridean Princess is due to visit the Isle of Arran on the following cruises in 2017:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Prices from £1090 per person based on 2 people sharing an inside double/twin cabin.