Category Archives: Scotland

Boat Tour From Oban

I was lucky enough to be invited on a boat tour out of Oban by St Hilda Cruises. They operate two boats out of Dunstaffnage marina, one sailing boat and one motor boat. The cruises vary from local 5/6 day trips up to 11/12 day trips to the Outer Hebrides.

The trip i was on would take me along the Sound Of Mull, with stops at Tobermory, Loch Aline, Loch Spelve, and a trip to Duart Castle. Cruises around these parts are always weather dependant so be prepared for the schedule to be updated !

The trip starts from Dunstaffnage marina which is about 3 miles noth of Oban, a short taxi ride away. You are welcomed aboard and given a guided tour and safety briefing of the boat. You soon leave the quayside and head out to your first anchorage on your trip.

Dunstaffnage Marina –

SeaHorse 2 – an ex-Norwegian fjord ferry boat now converted to take 10-12 guests in comfort –

Looking out from the marina –

One of the many lighthouses on the west coast of Scotland –

After our first night at anchor we headed for the main town of Tobermory on the Isle Of Mull. Originally a fishing village it now mainly relies on tourism. With only a couple of bars and hotels, and a couple of cafes theres enough to feed and accomodate the visitors !! Theres an aquarium and the original Tobermory distillery which was founded in 1798.

The small town of Tobermory – Isle Of Mull –

Multi coloured buildings on the sea front –

Tobermory Distillery –

Tobermory distillery

View from the small marina to Tobermory –

View from the top of Tobermory out to sea –

Go fishing they said, throw a line over they said, enjoy yourself they said…………

After the night in Tobermory we headed off to have the morning at Duart Castle. The castle was home to the Maclean clan and dates back to the 13th century. It has been used a few times for TV and film work icluding tge films When Eight Bells Toll and Entrapment. It is currently undergoing restoration after a 2014 appeal was launched to raise funds for irs survival.

Being dropped off at Duart Castle –


View out from Duart castle back to Sea Horse 2 –

Duart castle

After the third day we heard warnings of another one of the big storms coming in. This was storm Ali coming in from the Atlantic.

With warnings of up to 30-40 knot winds we took shelter back in Oban where we could tie up safely to the quayside. Some of the guests went to the local castle in Oban and some toured around town.

We returned to our base in Dunstaffnage marina after our 5 day/5 night tour. Even with the inclement weather (it was late September !) we all enjoyed the tour. Theres stunning scenary to be scene everywhere you look.

Back at the marina in Dunstaffnage – the sun came out on our return (just)!!

Back To Scotland And The Caledonian Canal

The boat had spent its summer in Norway and needed to return to Troon on the west coast of Scotland. I flew back to Stavanger to rejoin boat, this time with another crew member who had originally helped in bringing the boat over. The weather forecast was good so we didn’t hang around and set sail after a couple of days.

The wind averaged 15-20 knots and was on the beam all the way so was ideal for sailing. We saw a few oil rigs, wind farms and a few boats but it wasn’t as busy as I thought it might be. Two days and two nights later we were there.

Once we reached Inverness in the early hours of the morning it was time to enter the Caledonian canal. This would take us from north east to south west Scotland, a total of 60 miles including 29 locks, 4 aquaducts and 10 bridges. We called ahead and the lock was open waiting for us.

In the first lock of the Caledonian canal looking back –

Caledonian canal scotland

Looking out from the lock –

Caledonian canal scotland

Waiting in the lock whilst the skipper does the formalities – you have to pay a fee to use the canal.

Caledonian canal scotland

Caledonian canal scotland

Only a third of the canal is man made, the rest being formed by four different lochs, the most famous being Loch Ness of course.

Entering Loch Ness early morning –

Entering Loch Ness

Our stop for the first night at Fort Augustus at one end of Loch Ness – Fort Augustus scotland

Approaching another lock –

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Approaching one of the many swing bridges along route –

Caledonian canal scotland

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The start of Neptunes staircase, a total of 8 locks which take at least 1 and a half to 2  hours to get down.

Neptunes staircase Caledonian canal

End of the Caledonian canal looking out to sea near Fort William –
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Out to sea and through the strong currents between many of the islands on the west coast –

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Approaching the sea lock at the start of the Crinan canal that goes between Crinan and Ardrishaig in Argyll and Bute –

Crinan canal scotland

Entering the lock with another boat –

Crinan canal scotland

Looking back out to sea from within the lock –

Crinan canal scotland

Exiting the first sea lock looking back –

Crinan canal scotland

Approaching the first lock –

Crinan canal scotland

Following another boat as one of the swing bridges opens, these are still turned by hand –

 Crinan canal scotland

Squeezing into the narrow locks two-by-two –

Crinan canal scotland

Our stop for the night part way through the canal –

Crinan canal scotland

The last lock,  big drop down and then out to sea !! Turn right and the bashing waves were waiting for us right on the nose –

Crinan canal scotland

Our pen ultimate stop was at Portavadie, a marina with some interesting history behind it. It was completely blasted out from the rock in the 1970’s, the government gave the go ahead as it chose the site to build new oil rigs.  They also built quite a few houses nearby to house the workers who were going to work at the yard. Unfortunately the new oil rigs never happened and the site along with its many new houses lay empty for many years. That was until the Bulloch family bought the site and in 2010 the new marina was opened along with 5 star luxury apartments, saunas, restaurants and conference suites.

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The last day saw us make the short hop from Portavadie to Troon in some great weather.

The boat was safely returned to the marina at Troon for the winter –

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