Sail to one of the most remote parts of the UK, stroll barefoot on deserted white sands, take the helm and raise the sails for an adventure of a lifetime.
Join tall ship Bessie Ellen in the Scottish harbour town of Oban for a sailing holiday to one of the most remote parts of the UK. Experience the the magic and solitude of the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda as you shake free from modern life and take off on an adventure at sea.
Life at Sea
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.
St. Kilda which is also a world heritage site lying out in the Atlantic, 45 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. This isolated and volcanic archipelago was once home to Britain’s most isolated community. The history of the people, its inaccessibility and amazing wildlife make the islands an exceptionally desirable destination for anyone interested in natural history.
Due to weather and swell conditions, sailing to St Kilda is never a guaranteed destination however, if both are favourable Bessie Ellen will sail overnight to arrive in Village Bay in the early morning. On landing, guests will be able to walk around the abandoned village before taking a more energetic climb to the edge of the steepest cliffs in Britain, passing hundreds of small stone huts known as cleits used for storing the Guga. Rare Soay sheep roam here, a primitive breed of today’s domestic sheep. Before returning aboard make sure you get a St. Kilda stamp in your passport!
Back on board, Bessie Ellen will then tour the archipelago, heading for Stac Lee and Boreray to visit the largest gannet colony in the world. This majestic sight will entrance you, millions of sea birds circling the cliffs coming in to nest on the sheer rock face.
The Outer Hebrides
Leaving St Kilda behind, Bessie Ellen will make for the Monach’s, a silent and special cluster of islands that hold the honour of being a nature reserve for the undisturbed machair and their Grey Seal population. About 10,000 come ashore each autumn, making it one of the largest such colonies in the world. With shoes in hand, wander through the flowers and herbs relishing in the tranquil beauty here.
The rest of the voyage will navigate guests to some of the most stunning scenery in the world, from white sandy beaches with crystal clear water to stark rocky hills patched in purple heather. Each day there will be time to walk ashore, climb a mountain or wander along these perfect beaches before heading back for a cosy evening on board.
Turning back towards home, the Shiant Isles and the large puffin colony will entrance before sailing towards the imposing peaks of Skye. Rounding Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly of mainland Britain, Bessie may anchor in Tobermory before the long day sail back towards the final night, moored at Kerrera just outside of Oban.
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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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
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.
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.