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2021 Sailing the Summer Isles to the Small Isles

  • Vessel: Bessie Ellen
  • Where: Scotland
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Embark: Ullapool - 28 July 2021, 15:00
  • Disembark: Oban - 6 August 2021, 10:00
Single berth£1,400 £350.00

Sail South from Ullapool to Oban discovering & exploring the magic of the Hebridean Islands.

As we bid farewell to Ullapool, it feels exciting to be heading south again. Our journey will be packed full with some of the most remote and beautiful locations in the UK with plenty of wildlife to boot. A short hop from Ullapool lies the Summer Isles, picturesque and secluded, providing a first night anchorage away from it all. After learning the ropes, a quick romp ashore is a must before returning for a fantastic supper of local produce.

Lying halfway across the Minch, Shiant provides a welcome break in the passage across, haunted by the mournful song of the seals. This is a birds paradise where seabirds breed in their thousands; puffins, guillemots and razorbills fill the bay while ashore the Gret Skua protectively guard their nests. A walk along the southern shore to the old village and lie down amongst the wildflowers, look out across a pewter sea towards Skye and your mind dream.

The Outer Hebrides are beckoning with the purple peaks of Harris hiding the perfection of the white strands and turquoise waters running down the western coasts of these islands.  Taransay is a favourite along with Ensay for a night stop on the edge of the Atlantic before exploring the magic and seclusion of Loch Skyport, where a long climb up Hecla tempts the most sturdy of walkers. At the head of the loch, the remains of the old cattle drovers pier remind us of the past when drovers would come across from the mainland to collect the island’s cattle from the Uist’s and Benbecula before loading them onto boats to cross the Minch.

Windows of the past are still clear where small stone crofters houses still stand with just four walls remaining. A reminder of what once stood before the clearances. Ridges in the bracken depict what was once barley and potato fields.  Today, farming, fishing and tweed are still the main industries on these harsh lands.

Crossing the Minch from the ‘Outers’, the wee island of Canna provides good shelter and wonderful hospitality all connected with the real magic that makes up the Small Isles. Canna is your perfect island with lush green fields and steep cliffs all sewn together with a good deal of history.  John Lorne Campbell purchased the island along with his American wife, Margret Faye Shaw and between them, collected a vast collection of gallic songs and stories before the language was lost. After a good day sailing, there is a lovely walk in the quiet walled garden behind Canna House on the shore of the bay, sheltered from the winds by plantation woodlands under basalt hillsides. Later, meet up for a cold beer at the Canna Cafe as Rum slowly descends into darkness.

The Small Isles, made up of Rum, Eigg, Muck & Canna lie off the coast between Ardnamurchan & Mallaig.  All are very different both geologically and culturally.  All the islands now have thriving communities with Canna & Muck retaining old agricultural ties and Rum and Eigg turning to craft skills and small crofting.

Each island has a character of its own. Rum, dark and foreboding offers a safe haven in stormy weather while Eigg dominates with the Sgurr, a great walk for superb views. Muck is very charming indeed, gentle and verdant with awesome views back towards Rum. Ponies and cows roam the white sandy beaches and its not unknown for the laird to bid you good-day from his old tractor. Whatever your island odyssey, there is a place for all here.

As the Small Isles fade astern, Ardnamurchan Point with her dominant lighthouse beckons us into the shelter of the Sound of Mull.  At 25NM long, the sound offers plenty of sailing in flat water with magnificent views of Mull and Sunart and plenty of sheltered bays.  Although Tobermory is a favourite for the charismatic street of painted cottages, fab fish ‘n’ chips and not forgetting the famous Mishnish inn, w prefer the quiet of Na Drom Buidhe, a small bay sheltered by Isle Ornsay on the Drimnin peninsular, a haven for otters and often a White-tailed eagle flies overhead.  The Autumn brings in the mackerel and the pool here can be teeming with them!

The sound opens up to the beginning of the great glen, at the western end of  Lismore you can see, stretching far into the distance, the magnificent mountain range culminating in Ben Nevis, Britains highest peak. This ‘great glen’ cuts across Scotland, divided by Loch’s Ness, Oich and Lochy all joined by the Caledonian canal and terminating at Inverness on the North Sea coast.  Our journey, however, ends here at the gateway to the Isles and the bustling port of Oban. Our final night is spent close by  but a promise of a final anchorage in a secluded loch offers a farewell to the magic of Scotland and all that draws us back time after time.

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!


VoyageSet SailDaysCost p/p
2021 Sailing the Summer Isles to the Small Isles28 July 202110£1,400Enquire now

Bessie Ellen

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.

More about Bessie Ellen


  • 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.


From: Ullapool

To: Oban


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.



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.

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