Sailing the Outer Hebrides & Orkney Islands
- Vessel: Bessie Ellen
- Where: Scotland
- Duration: 10 days
- Embark: Ullapool - 17 July 2021, 15:00
- Disembark: Ullapool - 26 July 2021, 10:00
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Discover and sail the wonders of the Orkney Islands and North Rona on tall ship Bessie Ellen.
This year, for the first time in her 115 years, Bessie Ellen will head to the seas North of Scotland to discover the wonders of Orkney and the outstanding wildlife there. This 10-day passage-making voyage will enhance our closeness to nature and the sea while exploring the rugged beauty of North Rona and Sula Sgeir before making landfall in this beautiful island archipelago. With excellent sailing and wonderful wildlife, what could be a better way to travel.
Starting from Ullapool after an induction from the ships’ crew, you will help set the sails as we head out to sea, getting used to the sails and rigging before anchoring in the early evening at Tanera More, the largest island of the Summer Isles. This small island, once an important herring port, was home to Frank Fraser Darling who experienced remote living during the war that led to his acclaimed book ‘Island life’. This quiet bay is plentiful in birdlife while ashore the flora is in abundance and to walk along the shore in the heather looking out towards Achiltibuie and the rounded peak of Suilven beyond is a dream.
The following day, our Captain will organise the voyage crew into ‘watches’ as we alter course up the coast towards Stornoway for a wee stopover before the leg out to North Rona. This amazing island along with Sula Sgeir lying to the west is too good to pass by for birdlife. this stunning rock outcrop and Gannetry is featured in numerous documentaries about the annual Guga harvest by the Men of Ness. Please note: Landing on here is extremely difficult and may only be attempted in the most settled of weathers.
From here, before night falls, we set out for Orkney a decent weather forecast is integral to the journey around Cape Wrath the clue is in the name, strong tides and winds can whip up a nasty sea making a passage by boat extremely uncomfortable. Allowing 24 hours for the passage including a night sail should see us arriving in Stromness during the following afternoon. Should the weather not be in our favour, Scotland and the Outer Hebrides encompass a multitude of islands, beaches and lochs each with their own unique history and character just waiting for you to explore.
On arriving in Stromness, we begin our wandering around the island group, feeling our way gently through the tides to discover the land the Norsemen. left behind. The vagaries of the weather will determine the anchorages and islands that we visit rather than a set itinerary.
Highlights will include
- Old Man of Hoy (if he’s in)
- Ring of Brodgar (Neolithic stone circle)
- Skara Brae Neolithic village
- Scapa Flow
- North Ronaldsay Sheep Wall
- Plenty of the smaller islands
Having immersed ourselves in prehistory and the solitude of these islands, departure will be imminent as the ship heads towards home. With time in hand, a few nights in remote lochs of Lewis will provide a stunning finale to our Northern adventure.
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!
All voyages for Bessie Ellen
Guest berths: 12 Rig: Gaff Rigged Ketch
Step aboard Bessie Ellen, a classic tall ship with over 120 years of history, and embark on a sailing holiday that takes you back to a bygone era. As one of the last West Country trading ketches, Bessie Ellen has a remarkable past. She sailed through the turbulent times of both world wars, and has since been recognised for her historical significance, as she proudly graces the National Historic Ships Register, signifying her importance as a vessel in need of conservation.
Today, Bessie Ellen has transitioned into a vessel that sails the waters of the British Isles and Europe, offering unforgettable hands-on sailing holidays. With a warm and experienced crew, she provides guests with a comfortable and authentic tall ship experience.
Life on board Bessie Ellen
Sail alongside skipper Nikki and her crew as they navigate the stunning coastlines of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides and St. Kilda. Discover unique landscapes, encounter abundant wildlife, and enjoy delicious food sourced locally and prepared on board. Joining on this maritime adventure is Bracken, the spirited and seaworthy ship dog, eager to accompany you on your voyage!
Choose from a range of sailing experiences on Bessie Ellen. Opt for a traditional sailing weekend break, delve deeper into the maritime experience with a weeklong trip, or embark on a 10-day exploration to remote destinations. Whichever journey you choose, you can be certain that you will be transported to a world where the wind fills the sails, the sea beckons, and the echoes of history resonate with every nautical mile.
Sailing on Bessie Ellen is more than just a holiday. As you step aboard this historic vessel, you become part of her living legacy, connecting with the spirit of seafaring that has endured for over a century. Book your voyage with Bessie Ellen today and embark on an extraordinary journey through time.More about Bessie Ellen
Travel insurance notes
As this is an active adventure holiday, we advise that everyone has the appropriate personal accident travel insurance whilst onboard in addition to standard travel insurance which would cover you in the time between making your booking and departing for your adventure. These policies can sometimes be combined so please check with your travel insurance provider.
Are all meals included?
Yes, all meals on board are included in the price. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and hot drinks)
Can you cater for dietary needs?
Yes, please let us know at the time of enquiry.
Are there any added extras?
There's an honesty bar for soft drinks and alcohol.
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. Each bunk has its own reading light and privacy curtain.
Is there a porthole in my berth?
There are portholes within the saloon for natural light but not in each berth.
How many toilets/showers does she have?
Bessie Ellen has two toilets/showers for guests.
Are bedding and towels included?
All your bedding (duvet and pillow) is provided but please bring your own towels (washing and/or swimming).
Is there a hairdryer on board?
No, please do not bring one. The sea breeze makes a great natural alternative!
Will I be able to wash my clothes?
No, Bessie does not have laundry facilities on board.
Is there heating on board?
Yes there is heating if needed!
Do I need to tip the crew?
Tips are not mandatory but are welcomed by the crew!
What language is spoken on board?
Is there WIFI?
No! It's time to disconnect from the modern tech and reconnect with nature! When within shore range, you should be able to reach 4/5G. Please make sure you have international roaming set up on your data plan if needed.
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.
What is the currency on board?
GBP - Pounds Sterling.
Are there life jackets provided?
Are waterproofs available?
No. Please bring your own. There are a few oilskins spare for emergencies only.
Do I need sailing experience?
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.
Does the boat have any water toys?
Will I be sea sick?
Everyone reacts differently but we recommend if you are worried to take some medication 24 hours before travelling.
Is there an 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.
To see where the ports are, along with your likely sailing area, please view the sail area & highlights.
There is a direct bus to/fro Inverness, Bus Station to/fro Ullapool, Ferry Terminal. Services depart twice daily and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 1h 20m. Inverness is the nearest Scottish city with good train and airport links to the rest of the UK.