In a few weeks’ time, I will be making another pilgrimage to the Scottish islands. Although nothing can beat the thrill of visiting the islands, I really enjoy planning the trip and working out the route I am going to take. This year, I am going to be focusing on visiting some of the Orkney Islands that I have yet to visit and returning to some that I have.
I will be visiting the islands for 2 weeks. After an overnight stay at Helensburgh, I will be driving past Loch Lomond (although I am tempted to take the trip to the isle of Inchcailloch on Loch Lomond – time permitting) and around Lochgilphead to take me to the Slate islands. Firstly, I will traverse the famous ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ and then move on via a short Ferry journey to the Isle of Easdale. If time allows, I may try and fit in a quick jaunt to one of my favourite islands, Luing. From here, I will undertake a tour to see the Corryvreckan Whirlpool (the 3rd largest in the world) at its wildest and then stay on the isle of Seil (with a chance of a quick ale or two at the Oyster Bar at Ellanbeich) or possibly drive up to Oban.
Early in the next morning, I will be completing the three island tour from Oban, which involves visiting Mull, Iona and Staffa. The early bird option looks like the best bet as due the early start, there are less people there. I have visited all of these islands before, but I am travelling with a friend (for 4 days) who has never visited any Scottish islands before. Therefore, what better way to introduce him to the wonders of the islands, than by a trip to three of the best of them.
Once back in Oban, we will then drive up to Fort William and stay the night there. In the morning I have a choice of travelling to the Isle of Skye via road (and probably Eilean Donan Castle) or taking the Ferry from Mallaig to Armadale. Either way is fine with me and once we get to Skye, I will be completing a trip that I have always wanted to do. The trip is from Elgol and takes you to the magnificent natural environment of Loch Coruisk, which is inaccessible by road.
The next day, I will say goodbye to my companion and I will move on up to the Summer Isles and take a trip to the largest of them, Tanera Mor. I have been past the Summer isles on the ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool, but as of yet, I have not visited, so I am really looking forward to this trip. From here, it will be onwards and upwards to the crossing for Orkney.
I am hoping to spend around a week on Orkney. I am focusing on some of the smaller islands such as Egilsay, Wyre, Flotta and Graemsay. I am also hoping to find the time to visit other islands such as Stronsay, Sanday or Eday. I will probably not be able to fit them all in, as some of the islands, such as Graemsay, are difficult to visit due to the Ferry times.
There are tours available on Eday and on Sanday, so I may well book these tours as I believe that Local Guides are the best way to visit islands when time is restricted. I will probably take the car over to Stronsay as there are currently no tours available there.
I often find that some of the smaller islands are much more interesting than many of the larger islands that attract lots of tourists. Islands such as Little Cumbrae, Muck, Grimsay, Berneray, Fair Isle and Papa Westray have a uniqueness that lingers in the memory, long after your visit has ended.
After my time on Orkney, I am tempted to drive down the east coast of Scotland and visit islands near Edinburgh such as the Isle of May and Bass Rock, as well as the grandeur of Inchcolm (know as the ‘Iona of the north’. This could even lead to a trip out to the Farne Islands in Northumbria (islands with a fascinating history).
I will be taking copious amounts of photos and video and will be sharing some of these on social media. I will also be writing notes to complete Blog posts for when I return. To say I cannot wait is an understatement!