‘Round Britain Tour Sailing through Scotland & Orkney
- Vessel: Bessie Ellen
- Where: Oban, Scotland
- Duration: 24 days
- Embark: North Pier, Oban - 18 May 2024, 12:00
- Disembark: Aberdeen, Scotland - 12 June 2024, 10:00
Discover the West coast of Scotland under sail with Bessie Ellen as she sails from Oban to Aberdeen, via the beautiful Orkney Islands.
Join Bessie Ellen as she spends her 2024 season sailing around the British Isles to celebrate 120 years of heritage sailing. Built in 1904 and meticulously restored, Bessie Ellen stands as a testament to the golden age of maritime exploration, brimming with captivating tales from the past.
Split into fourteen legs, she will encompass the landscapes and seafaring heritage of the UK, from the enchanting coasts of Cornwall to the rugged shores of Wales and Scotland, including the mystical Orkney Islands and back down the East Coast. As part of this magnificent journey, she will also celebrate the esteemed French maritime festival of Brest before returning to Cornwall and the breathtaking Isles of Scilly.
This sailing adventure through the Hebrides sails from Oban to Ullapool and onwards over the top of Scotland to the Orkney Islands before heading south again to Aberdeen. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a hands-on sailing experience that will transport you back to a bygone era. Discover the rich history of this remarkable vessel, take the helm, and learn the art of hoisting the sails with traditional rope work. Engage in the fascinating practice of celestial navigation, allowing you to connect with the ancient methods of guiding a ship through the stars.
- Leg 5 & Leg 6
- Traditional Tall ship Sailing
- 120 years anniversary tour
- Fully Skippered
- Friendly Crew
- Coastal Sailing
- Great for solo travellers
- All-inclusive Board
- 530 nautical miles
Your Sailing Area
Oban to Ullapool, Scotland
Step aboard Bessie Ellen as we set sail on an unforgettable maritime adventure from the picturesque town of Oban to the charming harbour of Ullapool. Navigate our way through breathtaking landscapes, visiting iconic destinations such as the Isle of Skye and the enchanting Small Isles along the way.
Setting the sails through the Sound of Mull, we will set course for the captivating archipelago of the Small Isles: Rum, Eigg, Muck, and Canna. Each island holds its unique charm and beckons with its own distinct allure. Discover the dramatic landscapes of Rum, adorned with soaring peaks and hidden lochs, or explore the captivating island of Eigg, where the Sgurr offers panoramic views that will take your breath away. With its gentle and verdant surroundings, Muck invites you to explore its tranquil beaches and experience the tranquillity of island life.
The Isle of Skye is a sailors’ paradise with many sheltered bays, hidden coves and unique anchorages to discover. Be captivated by the dramatic Cuillin Mountains, their peaks piercing the sky, as we approach the island’s rugged coastline. Explore the charming harbour town of Portree, with its colourful buildings and bustling quayside, or venture further afield to discover the mystical Fairy Pools or the iconic Old Man of Storr. Skye’s raw beauty and ancient history will leave you in awe.
Our sailing adventure culminates in the picturesque harbour town of Ullapool, nestled on the shores of Loch Broom. Soak in the tranquillity of the surroundings and revel in the warm Highland hospitality that awaits.
Ullapool to Aberdeen, Scotland
Onward north on this nautical adventure with Bessie Ellen over the top of Scotland and through the enchanting Orkney Islands. As we head out to sea, the magnificent landscape unfolds before us, and we anchor in the early evening at Tanera More, the largest island of the Summer Isles. In this tranquil bay, you’ll be immersed in the abundance of birdlife while exploring the shores lined with flora and fauna. Take a leisurely walk through the heather, gazing out towards Achiltibuie and the majestic silhouette of Suilven, creating a truly dreamlike experience.
The following day, we’ll set a new course towards the captivating Handa Island. Its sheer beauty, stunning stacks, pristine beaches, and birdlife make it a place of unparalleled magnificence. We’ll spend time here, allowing you to delve into the remote wilderness and immerse yourself in the island’s awe-inspiring surroundings.
With favourable weather conditions, we’ll continue our journey towards the legendary Orkney Islands, taking on the challenge of navigating around Cape Wrath. The name itself is a testament to the untamed power of the sea, with strong tides and winds that can create challenging conditions. Our experienced crew will ensure a safe and comfortable passage as we sail towards Stromness, our destination in Orkney.
Our arrival in Stromness is a sight to behold as we sail past the iconic Old Man of Hoy, a towering pinnacle of rock shaped by the relentless forces of the ocean. The charming harbour town of Stromness welcomes us, setting the stage for our exploration of these historically significant islands.
After an awe-inspiring exploration of the Orkney Islands, our nautical journey continues as we set sail towards the city of Aberdeen. Leaving Orkney’s rich history and captivating landscapes behind, we embark on an exhilarating voyage that will further unveil the wonders of Scotland’s rugged east coastline.
Aberdeen is known for its rich maritime heritage, bustling harbour and stunning coastal scenery. As we make our final approach, take a moment to reflect on the memories and experiences gained throughout the voyage. The bond formed with fellow adventurers, the stories shared, and the breathtaking sights witnessed will create a lasting connection to the sea and the beauty of Scotland’s northeastern coast.
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
Step aboard Bessie Ellen, a classic tall ship with over 120 years of history, and embark on a sailing holiday that takes you back to a bygone era. As one of the last West Country trading ketches, Bessie Ellen has a remarkable past. She sailed through the turbulent times of both world wars, and has since been recognised for her historical significance, as she proudly graces the National Historic Ships Register, signifying her importance as a vessel in need of conservation.
Today, Bessie Ellen has transitioned into a vessel that sails the waters of the British Isles and Europe, offering unforgettable hands-on sailing holidays. With a warm and experienced crew, she provides guests with a comfortable and authentic tall ship experience.
Life on board Bessie Ellen
Sail alongside skipper Nikki and her crew as they navigate the stunning coastlines of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides and St. Kilda. Discover unique landscapes, encounter abundant wildlife, and enjoy delicious food sourced locally and prepared on board. Joining on this maritime adventure is Bracken, the spirited and seaworthy ship dog, eager to accompany you on your voyage!
Choose from a range of sailing experiences on Bessie Ellen. Opt for a traditional sailing weekend break, delve deeper into the maritime experience with a weeklong trip, or embark on a 10-day exploration to remote destinations. Whichever journey you choose, you can be certain that you will be transported to a world where the wind fills the sails, the sea beckons, and the echoes of history resonate with every nautical mile.
Sailing on Bessie Ellen is more than just a holiday; it is an opportunity to embrace the authenticity of a bygone era. As you step aboard this historic vessel, you become part of her living legacy, connecting with the spirit of seafaring that has endured for over a century. Book your voyage with Bessie Ellen today and embark on an extraordinary journey through time.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 120 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. Whether you’re a solo traveler yearning for exploration or an adventurous couple seeking a unique journey, sailing aboard Bessie Ellen promises to create lifelong memories. It’s no wonder that guests return year after year, captivated by the ship’s allure.
The crew actively encourage guests to get involved with all aspects of sailing on a traditional vessel – it really is an all-hands-on-deck attitude. This all-hands-on-deck approach ensures an engaging and inclusive experience for everyone. Even if you have no prior sailing experience, the crew’s expertise and guidance will have you hoisting sails, taking the helm in open waters, mastering basic rope work, and even picking up some navigation skills. Bessie Ellen welcomes adventurers of all backgrounds, provided they have a love for adventure and the natural world!
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 its 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 an incredible cook using locally sourced produce everywhere possible.
Become part of her maritime history…
In addition to the incredible experiences mentioned above, Bessie Ellen offers the unique opportunity to embark on her round Britain sailing tour marking her 120th birthday. These voyages take you on an enchanting journey around the breathtaking coastlines and historic ports of Britain. From the rugged beauty of Cornwall to the mystical allure of Scotland’s lochs and islands, each voyage unveils the diverse wonders of Britain’s coastal heritage. Prepare to embark on an extraordinary voyage through Britain’s sailing legacy on board Bessie Ellen, where every moment is infused with the spirit of seafaring tradition and warm camaraderie.
- 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)
- A self-catered stay on board while in port between the two legs.
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.
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.
From: North Pier, Oban
To: Aberdeen, Scotland
To see where the ports are, along with your likely sailing area, please view the sail area & highlights.
Oban train station is about a 5-10 minute walk from North Pier. Trains run six times a day to Glasgow Queen Street Station where there are good travel links to the rest of the UK. Visit First ScotRail for times and fares.
Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports require taking a train from Oban (approximately 2-3 hours). Flights are direct to Stansted Airport.
There are direct links from the airport to the train and bus terminals for onward travel to Oban.
STAY IN OBAN:
There are plenty of places to stay in Oban. Try Witchwood House, The Scot or Perle Hotels Oban.
Aberdeen train station is centrally located and close to the main port area with regular services to Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh with onward connections.
Megabus operates coaches from Aberdeen bus station which is centrally located and close to the port area.
The airport is well-connected to Aberdeen by bus, rail (the nearest train station is Dyce) and taxis. It is about a 20-minute drive away.