Discover some of the most magical sailing grounds in the Hebrides aboard tall ship Bessie Ellen
Majestic Mull and her outlying islands are certainly one of the highlights of Scotland and perhaps one of the most geologically interesting and spectacular of all the island groups. With ever-changing scenery from the high peaks of Ben Mor, the famously picturesque painted village of Tobermory or to the perfection of saintly Iona, there truly is a special place for everyone.
Our journey will take you to some of the most remote anchorages in Scotland where tranquillity and isolation, where nature is King, showing the serenity and magic that is Scotland.
Hidden on the eastern shore, at the heart of Mull lies Loch Spelve, a classic sheltered sea loch. Accessed through a tight narrow channel and a tumbling tide, the entrance defies the beauty that lies within. Rising steeply from the golden shores, soft verdant fields reach up to the high rocky peaks that tower above. A walk along the quiet road leads to the freshwater loch where Golden eagles can be easily spotted once you know where to look. Otters like it here too. Freshwater and clams are just what they like and for those of you that like the peace and quiet on deck, keep watch for the rippling of the water where a sweet smooth otter head may appear. Whatever the weather, rain or shine this is one of our favourite anchorages.
As Mull rises steeply from the ocean floor, we can stay relatively close inshore as we sail to the west and this is a fascinating coastline. Sheer cliffs with high waterfalls tumbling to the sea give way to a much more gentle landscape of rose granite infused with hidden bays. Onwards, we pass Torrans Rocks where R L Stevenson’s hero, Davy Balfour was wrecked in a tremendous storm, finally being washed ashore on Erraid.
Little lies beyond the Ross of Mull but the wide Atlantic ocean only broken by the rocky shores of Iona, an emerald isle in a sea of aquamarine. This is such a lovely place and with little amounts of traffic, you can blend in with the community, visit the ancient abbey or walk the crofter’s paths in search of the ever-elusive corncrake.
If you know a bit about Staffa you probably know that Mendelsohn visited the island and was so inspired by Fingal’s Cave that he wrote his Hebrides Overture. This tiny basalt island became an accepted venue on the cultural grand Tour of Europe, with its geological marvels first being made known by the naturalist Joseph Banks who visited in 1772. He wrote:
“Compared to this what are the cathedrals and palaces built by men! Mere models of playthings, imitations as his works will always be when compared to those of nature.”
Treshnish – The Isles of the Sea and in many ways one of the prettiest of the smaller isles with its high basalt cliffs which are home to a vast colony of seabirds including the charming Puffins and noisy guillemots. Spend time lying on the cliff edge amidst the burrows marvelling at these comical creatures as they crash land a few inches away before tumbling off to catch more sand eels. After anchoring for the night we succumb to the tranquillity of the island knowing there is little to do but walk, watch birds and take in the scenery and the hospitality of this special place.
To complete the circuit of Mull, we approach the Western entrance to the Sound of Mull, dominated by Ardnamurchan Point and the sheltered Lochs of the Sound. Tobermory lies at its heart, a colourful and busy centre for the island with always a good Craic at the Mishnish.
As we sail Eastwards up the Sound, the vast mountain ranges either side of the great glen that makeup so much of our Highland landscape offer spectacular views of snow-capped peaks that seem to go on and on. Whatever the weather or time of year, the area never ceases to amaze and is an absolute must to experience by sail.
As with all Bessie Ellen’s sailing holidays, your ticket price includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and Drinks. Curtained bunk berths are int he spacious shared open saloon below decks with bedding provided – you just need to bring your own towel.
Simply click “Enquire Now” to reserve your berth for five days whilst you sort your travel plans. No booking form or deposit is required until you are ready to book!
Guest berths: 12 Rig: Gaff Rigged Ketch
Bessie Ellen offers quality sailing holidays on board a classic tall ship with over 100 years of history, and is now one of the last West Country trading ketches.
This ship worked through both world wars during the last era of wind-powered trade, when ships like Bessie were seen all over England. She is featured on the National Historic Ships Register, which identifies her as a historic vessel that needs to be conserved.
Now, her working life is very different, and she spends her days cruising around British and Spanish waters, offering sailing holidays. With an experienced and hospitable crew, Bessie Ellen provides her guests with a comfortable and authentic tall ship experience. Skipper Nikki occasionally nods back to Bessie’s past by loading her up with cargo for ocean passages, transporting beer from Harbour Brewery and making the most out of the emission-free transport that Bessie offers.
Sail with Bessie Ellen and Nikki, around Cornwall, the Hebrides, St. Kilda, Norway, and Demark, you’ll not only enjoy sailing aboard a tall ship, but experience unique coastlines, abundant wildlife, and excellent food, all sourced locally and prepared on board.
Choose from weekend breaks, weeklong trips, or 10-day explorations for a truly unforgettable holiday.
Are meals included?
Yes - and we pride ourselves on the quality of food served!
Can you cater for dietary needs?
Yes, please let us know at the time of enquiry
Do I need to bring bedding or towels?
All your bedding (duvet and pillow) is provided but please bring your own towels (washing and/or swimming)
What language is spoken on board?
English is the main language spoken, however on occasion we have crew onboard who are multilingual.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
There are 12 comfortable berths in the former cargo hold. This is an open plan area that is also used for meals and relaxing
How many toilets/showers does she have?
Bessie Ellen has two toilets/showers for guests.
Is there WIFI?
No, but you will be able to reach 3/4G when you are close to land.
Is there age limit?
No, but we advise over 16's for scheduled voyages as there is an open saloon sleeping arrangement. There is no limit for private charter.
Can I charge my phone or camera?
Yes. We run generators every day in the morning and evening, which run the 240 volt system of normal 3 pin sockets.
Are there life jackets provided?
Are waterproofs available?
No. Please bring your own. There are a few spare for emergencies only.
Do I need to be a seasoned sailor?
Not at all. We give everyone who joins us on board the choice to do as much or as little as they like, whether the know how to or not.
Do I have to do watches?
During a passage crossings you may be asked to be part of our watch rota, this is not compulsory but is definitely part of boat life that guests enjoy when at sea for long periods.
Will there be time to get off the boat?
Yes on most of our trips we try and explore the areas we are sailing around each day, except for passage crossings where of course we are at sea for most of the voyage.
Will I be sea sick?
Everyone reacts differently but we recommend if you are worried to take some medication 24 hours before travelling.
Head for Queen Street Station, Glasgow with train links from all over UK. Glasgow – Oban then runs 4 scheduled trains a day in the summer.
There is parking space in Oban if you arrive by car. Secure parking can be found at Stoddarts of Oban. Ring Sally on 01631 564176 to reserve your space or take your chances and find parking in a residential part of town.