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Home » Destinations » Europe » England » Hurtigruten British Isles – Picturesque Ports, Isolated Islands and Wonderful Wildlife
Embark on this ultimate voyage sailing from Dover as we discover the splendours of the British Isles. With over 127 years’ experience of expedition cruising, we will expertly take you to often inaccessible places in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland. We visit picturesque villages and towns, isolated islands and discover wonderful wildlife on our adventure.
Before joining your ship today, perhaps take some time to explore the coastal town of Dover with its magnificent, medieval castle.
Your comfortable expedition ship MS Maud will be ready and waiting for you in the port of Dover. Once you board the ship and check-in, you’ll receive your complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket which may come in handy with the unpredictable weather. There’ll be time to settle into your cabin and explore a bit of the ship before attending a mandatory pre-departure safety drill.
And with that, we’ll be away! MS Maud will set sail from Dover, making our way along the south coast, bound for an adventure all the way up to Hebrides, around the diverse islands and coastline of the British Isles and beyond.
Enjoy an idyllic day at sea with plenty to do. You’ll have plenty of time to unwind and really get into the mood for this expedition cruise. Admire the views from MS Maud’s expansive Observation Deck, settle into a good book together with a freshly baked pastry from the Fredheim restaurant, or take full advantage of the gym and hot tubs.
You’ll also be invited to talks hosted by the Expedition Team, experienced explorers who will happily share their extensive knowledge of the British Isles with you. Topics will change each day and often be relevant to the area you are sailing in so today you might be learning about Welsh history or the Pembrokeshire coast. These added insights will enhance your experience, filling out your sense of discovery with delicious detail. Our professional onboard photographer will also be available to give top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos.
Our first port of call on our exploration of the British Isles, between the Preseli Hills and the Pembrokeshire coast, is the charming fishing village of Fishguard. Split in two by a steep, winding hill, Lower Town is home to the original hamlet and harbour, while the ‘new’ town sits on a clifftop, commanding spectacular views.
Fishguard has the accolade of being the infamous site of the ‘Last Invasion of Britain’, by the French in 1797. The local library houses a 100-foot-long commemorative, ‘Bayeux’ style tapestry, depicting the invasion.
The area is also home to a number of Iron Age hillforts, settlements and Neolithic burial mounds. About 30 minutes from Fishguard, you’ll find the reconstructed roundhouses of Castell Henllys, where costumed guides share the history of the local Demetae tribe.
Sitting just off the north coast of County Antrim, with rugged cliffs, lakes and vast, natural grasslands, Rathlin Island boasts Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony.
At just six miles long and one mile wide, this L-shaped island, home to just 140 inhabitants, is ideal for exploring by bike or on foot. Choose from scenic clifftop walks or the many rambler trails where you can admire the natural beauty and enjoy the tranquillity. Stroll to Mill Bay where you might catch seals frolicking in the water or basking on the rocks.
Visit the RSPB Seabird Centre and the working “upside-down” lighthouse perched on the cliffs. Here, you’ll enjoy close-up views of the seabird colonies, as well as spectacular coastal panoramas.
Famed for its mystical Christian associations, Iona is a peaceful little island off the coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. The restored Abbey remains a place of pilgrimage and peace, but there’s much more to see here including picturesque beaches, wonderful wildlife and the beautiful St Columba’s Bay.
Iona has been a centre for Christian worship since the sixth century, but the Abbey was sacked several times by Vikings between 795 and 825. Today you can explore this sacred site, including the restored church. There’s said to be 48 early Scottish kings buried in the graveyard, as well as Irish and Norwegian kings – see if you can find them!
There’s only one way to describe tiny, rocky St Kilda: wild. As such, our visit to this storm-tossed archipelago, with its breathtaking sea cliffs and boiling seas, is totally weather-dependent.
As a UNESCO double World Heritage Site and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the National Trust for Scotland, visiting St Kilda is an unforgettable experience. The outlying stacks and islands, which are the remains of a volcanic crater, provide ledges for thousands of nesting seabirds. What’s more, it’s frequented by Minke whales. If you’re lucky, you may catch sight of one in the swirling waters surrounding the rocky outcrop. Once home to Britain’s most remote island community, in 1930, after 4,000 years of continuous habitation, the people living on St Kilda’s Hirta Island were evacuated at their own request. The tiny museum that remains is a record of how hard life was on this exposed outcrop.
Stornoway is the capital of the Isle of Lewis & Harris, an island famed for its pristine beaches, Neolithic sites and tweed workshops. Be prepared to step back in time as you investigate ancient ruins and gaze in wonder at the mysterious Callanish standing stones, as well as exploring the bustling waterfront and streets of island’s main town.
Originally a Viking settlement, Stornoway is the main town on Lewis & Harris – a single island with two names, denoting the north and south parts. It’s the largest and most northerly island in the Outer Hebrides, aka the Western Isles. Check out Lews Castle, an impressive Gothic-revival style which overlooks Stornoway harbour. As well as visiting its museum, you can wander round the grounds and get unbeatable views of the inky blue seas. Or why not drop in for a wee dram in the castle’s very own whisky bar.
We sail into Loch Linnhe and enjoy the beautiful environs of its mountains, islets, estuaries and lochs. We anchor at the highland town of Fort William, dominated by the views of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain. Known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK, with some of the most spectacular Highlands scenery in Britain, it’s an ideal location from which to explore the area.
Around Fort William High Street are several local points of interest like pretty St Andrew’s Church, St Mary’s Church, and the West Highland Museum. While the museum may appear small, you’ll discover a fascinating archive of local history, crammed full of artefacts documenting the Jacobites, commandos stationed here in WW2 and highland life. And, of course, there’s the now-familiar local whisky distillery, offering its own take on the national tipple.
Fire up your spirit of adventure and step onto an island famed for its whisky, wildlife and woolly garments.
Islay isn’t called ‘whisky island’ for nothing. There are nine working distilleries here, and you’ll find their peaty single malts sold around the world. One of the larger isles, there’s 130 miles of coastline here, and numerous quiet, sandy beaches. Superb cliff-top walks await, and there’s a rather beautiful and famous yet difficult golf course on the Oa Peninsula.
Bring your camera and head out on deck as we sail in to Douglas – the scenic approach is not to be missed! We pull up alongside the capital of the Isle of Man, a quirky island that’s full of character. Learn about the island’s Celtic and Viking heritage, trace its development as a Victorian tourist resort, or discover its stunning rugged coastline.
In recognition of its diverse marine and coastal ecosystems, and socio-economic characteristics, the Isle of Man has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, ‘a learning place for sustainable development’. Discover the geology, marine life and maritime history of its shorelines on the island’s three Blueways Trails.
Holyhead is an ideal destination for us to explore the charm and history of North Wales, whether on foot or by car. Enjoy a visit to Holyhead Breakwater Country Park with its wildlife and industrial exhibitions, lake Llyn Llwynog and explore the Rocky Coast. Renowned for its lighthouse and large colonies of seabirds South Stack island is also home to the RSPB visitor centre in Ellins Tower. Why not walk part of the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path exploring the sea cliffs and enjoying magnificent views stretching across to Ireland. Head back into the ancient town centre, built around Saint Cybi’s Church which dates back to 550AD and stands on the site of a Roman fort with the original fort wall still surrounding it. Holyhead Maritime Museum, located at the oldest lifeboat station (dating back to 1858), showcases an enthralling maritime history and is amongst just some of the historical interest in this charming town. Before heading back to the ship take a stroll around the town and be sure to enjoy some traditional Welsh cakes at one of the many local cafés.
*Due to port congestion, 1 August voyage will overnight in Douglas (Isle of Man) where you will have the opportunity to enjoy the delightful seaside town in the evening and spend an extended time ashore. The following day will be spent at sea making our way towards the Isles of Scilly whilst our onboard team of experts will prepare you for the upcoming days as well as share their vast knowledge of the destinations visited.
This enchanting archipelago 30 miles off the tip of Cornwall is home to outstandingly beautiful, uncrowded and unspoilt islands and islets. It’s been likened to a tropical paradise, but the waters around it can also be choppy. If sea conditions and weather allow, we will spend the day here. Covered in heathland, with magnificent sandy beaches, the islands are surrounded by turquoise waters and reefs and offer picturesque coastal walks.
Ideal for exploring on foot, the island of Tresco is home to the famed Tresco Abbey Gardens with its 20,000 plants, many of them subtropical species. You can also explore the castle ruins, the Valhalla Museum – which contains a quirky collection of ships’ figureheads – or stroll along the white sandy beaches. Should conditions allow, we aim to do a beach clean-up on this charming island.
Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the beautiful, historic harbour town of Fowey rests on the west side of the Fowey Estuary, a flooded valley cut by meltwater after the last Ice Age.
Explore this delightful location on foot and wander down to the panoramic Gribbin Head on the west side where the Gribbin Headland Daymark went up in 1832 as a navigation aid. There are many other walks available, including the “Hall Walk” along the Pont Pill creek or along the esplanade to Readymoney Cove and St Catherine’s Castle.
Located at the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, an area renowned for its natural beauty and historical heritage, Portland is a destination bursting with intrigue and history. With quiet coves, disused quarries, a rich and fascinating history with some of the best views in Britain as well as being a haven for wildlife.
A tied island, the Isle of Portland is situated on the southernmost point of the county of Dorset. A barrier beach called Chesil Beach joins Portland to the mainland and the resort town of Weymouth. With nearly 300 species of bird, over 30 species of butterfly and 720 species of moth, Chesil Beach and the Fleet lagoon are of international conservation importance. As a significant migrating point for birds, Portland provides bird watching enthusiasts with the prospect of glancing rare species.
We pass the white cliffs of Dover during the early morning hours and dock at the city’s harbour. After breakfast, it’s time to leave your home for the past couple of weeks.
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