Discover the North coast of Scotland and sail the wonders of the Orkney Islands on tall ship Bessie Ellen.
Join tall ship Bessie Ellen in the Scottish port town of Ullapool for a sailing holiday to remember! 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, exploring the Scottish coast before making landfall in these beautiful island archipelago. With excellent sailing and wonderful wildlife, what could be a better way to travel.
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.
Setting the sails
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 Handa. This amazing island is too good to pass by for her amazing stacks, beaches and birdlife and because of the remoteness and sheer beauty, we will spend a bit of time exploring here.
From here, before nightfall, we set out for Orkney where a decent weather forecast is integral for the journey around Cape Wrath. The clue is in the name where 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.
Our landfall will be a sail past of the Old Man of Hoy, a pinnacle of rock beaten by the ocean and a challenging climb for those brave enough to arrive in the pretty harbour town of Stromness – a perfect way to start our exploration of these fascinating islands, steeped in history ranging from Neolithic to WWII, every inch of every island and islet has a story to tell.
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 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!
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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.
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.
Ullapool is a small town so parking is limited. There is a large, free carpark (Latheron) by Tesco that cars can be left at the owners risk or try your luck with on-street parking.
Garve is Ullapool’s closest station. Trains run 1 – 4 times a day from Inverness to Garve. Inverness has good rail and air links from the rest of the UK.
Inverness Airport is about 1 hour 30 minutes to Ullapool by taxi. There are direct flights to Inverness from the major London airports.
STAY IN ULLAPOOL:
There are plenty of places to stay in Ullapool. Try Creagan Guesthouse, Rosslyn Cottage or Harbour House.