Friday, 29 November 2019

Cruising in a boutique hotel with Hebridean Island Cruises

By Alan Fairfax - Travel Writer, Cruise Journalist and Silver Travel Advisor

Alan was a guest on our Grandeur and Splendour of Argyll and Bute voyage.

Green rolling hills of summer turning to shades of gold, yellow and brown as winter approaches, the sun, low in the sky glistens on open water, as the ship eases from our berth to the sound of the pipes. Yes, Scotland, a land of castles, lochs, clans and tartans, its history dating back centuries and what better way to explore this beautiful country and its islands than on a small unique cruise ship, and unique Hebridean Princess definitely is.

Leaving Greenock, we set course for Rothesay, the main town on the Isle of Bute, its history traceable back to the 13th century, the castle overlooking the town is worth exploring despite much of it in ruins, the beautiful Mount Stuart House standing in magnificent grounds on the banks of the Firth of Clyde. The original house, built in about 1716, was unfortunately destroyed by fire, but in 1877 rebuilding began, the current house is still claimed to be unfinished despite continual building through the 1900s. Entering the house, you arrive in the most magnificent colonnaded marble hall adorned on two walls by pictures, a large tapestry on another and in a corner, the organ that was played at the wedding of Stella McCartney.


Tuesday, 26 November 2019

St Kilda - Islands on the Edge

Hebridean Princess makes two or three visits each year to the UK’s only double UNESCO World Heritage Site; the abandoned and remote archipelago of St Kilda.

On reaching St Kilda it is as though you have reached the ‘islands at the edge of the world’. Situated 41 miles west of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, the archipelago is made up of five islands - Soay, Boreray, Dun, Levenish and the main island of Hirta, as well as two sea stacks close to Boreray, the highest in Britain, known as Stac an Armin and Stac Lee.

It is difficult to describe St Kilda to someone who has not had the privilege to experience this special place; it has an atmosphere all of its own. The islands were inhabited from the Neolithic period up until 1930 when the last 36 residents were evacuated to the Scottish mainland at their own request, leaving the 19th century village we find today on Hirta. Three indigenous species still survive on the island which also boasts an impressive seabird colony.

Traditionally the islands belonged to the Lords of the Isles, but were bought by the Marquess of Bute in 1931, a keen ornithologist, who subsequently bequeathed them to the National Trust for Scotland, an organisation which continues to preserve them today.

St Kilda was inscribed by UNESCO as Scotland’s first World Heritage Site in 1986 in recognition of its Natural Heritage and, in July 2004, this was extended to include the surrounding marine environment. In July 2005 St Kilda was awarded Dual World Heritage Status in recognition of its cultural heritage, making it one of only 28 places in the world and the only one in the UK with Dual Status for both its natural and cultural significance.

Hebridean Princess is due to visit St Kilda on the following dates:

>> St Kilda and the Outer Isles - 19th May 2020

>> St Kilda and Wester Ross - 23rd June 2020

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Cycling Over The Minch

Olympic Cyclist Chris Boardman has written an article for The Telegraph on how his Hebridean Princess cruise changed his focus from road bikes and power metres to more relaxing off-road adventures and photogenic scenery.

Chris says "My brand (Boardman Bikes) supplied some bikes to a cruise ship in Scotland, the Hebridean Princess, and I agreed to go along because it is nice when your hotel moves and you can get off and ride around the Hebrides. But the people who were utilising the bikes were all older and they were stopping and taking photographs. They really calmed me down. They stopped me thinking about just going for exercise. They made me slow down and look around and by the end of the week I was doing things quite differently.

That’s the beauty of cycling: you can always learn something new."

You can join Chris on our Cycling Over The Minch cruise on 30th June 2020.