Hebridean Exploring around Mull & the Isles
- Vessel: Bessie Ellen
- Where: Oban, Scotland
- Duration: 7 days
- Embark: Oban - 15 July 2023, 12:00
- Disembark: Oban - 21 July 2023, 10:00
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 exploring the Isle of Mull, Iona and Staffa. 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 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.
- Traditional tall ship sailing
- Island hopping
- Remote locations
- Great for beginners
- Perfect for solo travellers
- All-inclusive board
- Sail area & highlights
- Life on board
- Sample menu
- Travel planning
- The boat
- What's included
- Boat schedule
YOUR SAILING AREA
The Inner Hebrides, Scotland
The Isle of Mull is renowned for its abundant wildlife, from dolphins to whales, to sea eagles and puffins on the island of Lunga, there is plenty to watch both from the water and on the land. The coasts and surrounding islands of Mull make for some great sheltered sailing with the Treshnish Isles and the small paradise island of Iona sitting just off the North Westerly side of Mull. Think remote anchorages away from the tourist hustle and bustle as you anchor up and take the tender ashore as you sit amongst the “sea parrots” (puffins) or try your best singing voice in the basalt columns of Fingals Cave.
The Small Isles sit slightly North of Mull and comprise of four very different inhabited islands each boasting their own unique charm and personality. Relax in sheltered anchorages and watch picturesque sunsets, and if we are blessed with dark skies, the stargazing from the deck is breathtaking. A typical day sailing with Bessie Ellen sees a few hours of sailing before finding a tranquil anchorage where you can spend plenty of time exploring ashore.
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!
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 European waters, offering hands-on sailing holidays. With an experienced and hospitable crew, Bessie Ellen provides her guests with a comfortable and authentic tall ship sailing 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.
Read more about Life on board Bessie Ellen here >
Sail with Bessie Ellen and Nikki, around Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides and St. Kilda, 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
Life on board Bessie Ellen
Sailing with traditional tall ship Bessie Ellen is certainly an experience you will never forget. From the moment you board, you can feel the 100 years of sailing history this magnificent classic has under her sails. Faithfully restored over many years by her owner and skipper Nikki, it’s clear to see how dedicated she is to the rich maritime history and authenticity of sailing such a tall ship.
Bessie Ellen is perfect for those looking for an immersive traditional sailing experience while enjoying Nikki’s famous hospitality, great food and team spirit. From solo travellers, to adventurous couples, sailing with Bessie Ellen will leave you with life-long memories and you’ll quickly see why her guests return year on year.
The crew actively encourage guests to get involved with all aspects of sailing such a traditional vessel – it really is an all-hands-on-deck attitude. They are well-versed in having beginners on board and are always on hand to show guests the ropes. From hoisting the sails together, taking the helm in open waters, basic rope work and even some navigation pointers, you soon feel at ease and part of the team! Believe it or not, you don’t need any sailing experience to join Bessie Ellen, just a lust for adventure.
The other important crew member is ships dog Bracken! A small border terrier who is well-versed in life on board, loves watching for dolphins, exploring ashore and sleeping while under sail.
Sleeping and relaxation
Below decks, guests are indulged in a spacious saloon with original wooden beams, comfy open bunks and two toilet/wet-rooms where you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you were even on a boat! Each bunk has it’s own light, full bedding and a privacy curtain. A tiny galley sits tucked mid-ships and you will be in awe and wonder of the meals that come out of this space.
Nikki is not only a competent skipper but also incredible cook using locally sourced produce everywhere possible and has spent many years in both Cornwall and Scotland networking a myriad of local suppliers.
- All-inclusive (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Soft/hot drinks)
- All bedding (pillow, sheets & duvet)
- Full crew plus tuition
- Marina and fuel fees
- All tender trips to and fro the boat
- Offshore sailing jacket and trousers for emergencies (these are not permitted to be taken ashore)
What’s not included
- Wash and/or swim towel
- All flights
- Transit hotels
- Travel to and from the boat on the day of joining/leaving
- Travel insurance
- Sailing Insurance (Please read our Sailing Insurance page for more information)
- Crew tips
- Personal expenses
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.
Please read more information on our Insurance guidelines page.
This voyage will not be more than 12miles offshore.
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.
To see where the ports are, along with your likely sailing area, please view the sail area & highlights.
Glasgow OR Edinburgh Airport both require taking a train onto Oban which takes approximately 2-3hours. Flights go direct from Stansted 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).