Explore the Inner Hebrides around Mull, Staffa and the Small Isles under sail with classic boat Bessie Ellen. Perfect for wildlife watching and discovering hidden anchorages.
Join tall ship Bessie Ellen in the Scottish harbour town of Oban for a sailing holiday to remember! The sea around the West coast of Scotland offers some of the most stunning cruising grounds found anywhere in the world. Our departure from the highland town of Oban opens up a world of spectacular cruising and adventures, never lacking in great sailing whatever the weather.
Life at Sea
This voyage is perfect for those wanting to experience the magic of Scotland under sail and venture to anchorages off the beaten track, away from the tourist hustle and bustle.
The time at sea is yours to make your own and guests are invited to become as involved as much as they like by taking the wheel, navigating or hauling the ropes. Bessie Ellen is a traditional tall ship with not a winch in sight so it’s certainly a case of all hands on deck. No experience is needed and new comers are always welcome but a lust for adventure is a must! This hands-on adventure will take you where the wind blows, visiting unique islands, hidden lochs and the amazing array of wildlife there is up here inner seas and skies. There is just so much to take in and to make the best use of the wind and enjoy the full experience of sailing, we do not run to specific itineraries and the islands you visit may vary.
The Magic of the Hebrides
Tacking westward through the Sound Of Mull we could head out beyond Ardnamurchan Point and alter course to the north, south or westwards to Barra and beyond. The Small Isles; Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna lie beyond whilst on the far horizon the Southern Outer Hebrides beckon.
If the wind favours the southerly heading then Bessie Ellen will follow the majestic coastline of Mull down past Treshnish and on to Staffa, where a visit to Fingal’s cave is a must, but landing is very much dependent on swell. Continuing on south to Colonsay, the ship will stop for the night alongside the pier so guests can walk through one the town and sample some great ales from smallest island brewery in the world.
Take a look at our rough guide to the sailing area for this adventure. Please remember that the wind will dictate the direction we go and the islands we can visit.
The Small Isles
Rum is a National Nature Reserve and is the largest island, home to the architecturally remarkable Kinloch Castle, and of course some wonderful wildlife. The island’s most famous residents are sea eagles (re-introduced in the 1980s), red deer and the hardy Rum ponies. There is plenty of exploring to be had on the Isle of Rum, taking in the stunning mountain and coastal scenery.
Eigg is the most populated but still only has under 100 residents and is the most welcoming of the Small Isles. Offering Britain’s largest pitchstone ridge, eagles soaring over stunning white beaches and the worlds first fully renewably powered electricity grid, we’re sure you’ll love Eigg as much as its locals.
Muck is the smallest and most southerly island. Its low-lying mostly treeless landscape offers dramatic perspectives and panoramic views of sandy beaches and rocky shorelines. Watch out for Golden Eagles!
Canna, looked after by the National Trust since 1981, is one of the prettier islands. With its high basalt cliffs and dramatic volcanic landscapes, the views here are breathtaking. You might even be lucky enough to see Minke Whales from the high cliffs, soaring Sea Eagles and nesting Puffins.
Wildlife in the Hebrides
A sailing holiday in Scotland comes with guaranteed wildlife watching and not a week passes without seeing at least three of the Big five – Red Deer, Otter, Seal, Golden Eagle and of course the Red Squirrel. It is possible to stand amongst puffin burrows whilst watching the to-ing and fro-ing of the parent birds as they feed their young with mouths full of eels. Whales and dolphins are often seen out to the North of Colonsay and Canna, mostly Minke but Orca have also been known to visit these waters, so keep those eyes peeled!
As with all Bessie Ellen’s sailing holidays, your ticket price includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and Drinks. Curtained bunk berths are in the spacious shared open saloon below decks with bedding provided – you just need to bring your own towels.
Simply click “Enquire Now” to reserve your berth.
|Voyage||Set Sail||Days||Cost p/p|
|Hebridean Exploring around Mull & the Isles||17 June 2023||7||£1,250.00||Enquire now|
|Hebridean Exploring around Mull & the Isles||24 June 2023||7||£1,250.00||Enquire now|
|Hebridean Exploring around Mull & the Isles||15 July 2023||7||£1,250.00||Enquire now|
All voyages for 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 Denmark, 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. Nikki and her crew are also joined by salty sea dog Bracken, who will love to go on you adventures with you!
Choose from weekend breaks, weeklong trips, or 10-day explorations for a truly unforgettable holiday.
More about Bessie Ellen
What COVID policies are in place for sailing with Bessie Ellen?
There are currently no Test & Sail policies in place for the 2022 season.
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 tip the crew?
Tips are not mandatory but are welcomed by the crew!
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 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.
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.
Glasgow OR Edinburgh Airport both require taking a train onto Oban which takes approximately 2-3hours. Flights go direct from Stanstead Airport for around £30 return. There are good links direct from the airport to the train and bus terminals for onward travel to Oban.
Oban station is only a 5-10 minute walk to North Pier. Trains run 6 times a day from Glasgow Queen Street Station. Visit First Scotrail for times and fares.
If you are travelling by coach to Oban you can visit the Citylink website for timetables or call 08705505050.
For long stay secure parking we recommend Stoddarts of Oban on 01631 564176 . We advise booking early as they can get busy! Another option is to take your chance in an un-metered residential area but Oban is a small town and the summer months can get busy. OR try yourparkingspace.com where you can park in the Tesco car park for £2 per day (2022 price).