Highlights
  • Witness some of Europe’s largest seabird colonies—puffins, gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes, and more
  • Visit Giant’s Causeway where some 40,000 closely-packed hexagonal columns descend like a staircase into the sea
  • Discover important Neolithic monuments—the Standing Stones of Stenness; the Ring of Brodgar; Skara Brae, a well-preserved Stone Age village; and Maes Howe, a tomb dating from 3500 BC
  • Explore a variety of architectural wonders, from Mousa’s Iron Age broch and 12th-century Iona Abbey to the magnificent St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall

On this adventure to the British Isles, we explore remote and isolated coastlines where windswept cliffs and promontories teem with some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe, all at the height of their breeding season. Exhilarating walks bring us through heather-clad moorlands and among the ruins of fortress-castles that echo the lore of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons. From the lovely sub-tropical gardens on the Isles of Scilly and the geological wonders of Giant’s Causeway to the sacred sites of the Inner Hebrides and the stark beauty of the Fair Isle, this exciting expedition captures the ancient spirit and wild heart of Britain.

Cities & Attractions
Flights & Transport
  • Only ground transport

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Wild and Ancient Britain

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Itinerary

Days 1-2: Fly to London

Fly to London, England. Upon arrival, check into our hotel, with the rest of the day at leisure to explore the city on your own. In the evening we gather for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3: London / Plymouth / Embark the Sea Adventurer

After breakfast, we depart by train for the famous port city of Plymouth. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit an Elizabethan house built in 1631, as well as the City Museum and Art Gallery where painter Joshua Reynolds’ work is displayed in the Cottonian Collection. Birders can visit Dartmoor National Park, known for its blanket bogs, upland heath, and oak woodlands. In the afternoon, we board the Sea Adventurer.

Day 4: Isles of Scilly

Warmed by the North Atlantic Drift, the Isles of Scilly have given their fortunate inhabitants the luxury of turning a passion for growing flowers into a major industry. This morning we board local boats and cruise to Tresco to visit the ruins and exquisite subtropical gardens at medieval Tresco Abbey.

Day 5: Skellig Islands, Ireland

The wonderfully remote Skellig Islands are one of Europe’s most impressive seabird citadels. Little Skellig is home to the second-largest colony of gannets in the world. Other seabirds found here include kittiwakes, razorbills, Manx shearwaters, and nesting puffins. Depending on weather and permission to access, we visit nearby Skellig Michael—the site of an important 6th century Anchorite monastery and now a World Heritage Site.

Day 6: Dunmore East / Waterford / Saltee Islands

From the port city of Dunmore East, we drive through scenic countryside to Waterford. Options today include a visit to the renowned Waterford Crystal glassworks to watch master craftsmen at work, or a tour of Mount Congreve, a magnificent estate with exquisite gardens. Return to the ship for lunch as we cruise toward the privately-owned Saltee Islands, which attract nearly three million birds to their craggy masses. On Great Saltee Island we search for puffins, murres, razorbills, gannets, and more of the 47 bird species recorded here.

Day 7: Port St. Mary, Isle of Man

Enjoy a leisurely morning on board, as the ship cruises to Port St. Mary on the Isle of Man. We board the Isle of Man Steam Railway, the single remnant from the extensive Victorian system that served the main centers on the island, and ride through quaint and picturesque villages to the southern resort of Port Erin.

Day 8: Portrush, Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland / Rathlin Island

Disembark at Portrush and travel overland to the World Heritage Site of Giant’s Causeway. This three-mile section of coastline is a geological masterpiece—some 40,000 closely-packed hexagonal columns of varying heights line the coast and descend like a staircase into the sea. In the afternoon we visit the rugged cliffs of Rathlin Island, where we are greeted by colonies of guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, and puffins.

Day 9:Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland / Staffa

In 563 AD the Christian missionary St. Columba built a monastery on Iona and spread Christianity throughout Scotland. Though it suffered repeated attacks by Vikings over the centuries and the original was destroyed, the monastery was rebuilt each time, and some of these later buildings still stand. We visit the monastery site; the nearby cemetery of St. Oran, where numerous Scottish kings are buried; and the 12th-century Iona Abbey. Weather permitting, we spend the afternoon exploring the uninhabited island of Staffa by Zodiac and its most famous feature, Fingal’s Cave. The cave’s peculiar rock formations and unusual coloring are a delight to behold, and the wonderful echo of the sea from within served as the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture.

Day 10: St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides / Flannan Islands

We spend the morning at St. Kilda, once home to a small community, evidenced by abandoned houses and cleits, beehive-shaped cells where goods were stored. Cruising among the Flannan Islands this afternoon, puffins, fulmars, murres, and kittiwakes should be plentiful. Of special interest to birders is the Leach’s petrel colony on the grassy slopes of Eilean Mor beneath the lighthouse.

Day 11: Kirkwall , Orkney Islands

We arrive in the capital city of Kirkwall on Mainland Island in the Orkneys for visits to the magnificent St. Magnus Cathedral and some of the island’s major archaeological sites. Maes Howe, a chambered tomb dating from 3500 BC, is also noted for its runic hieroglyphs left by visiting 12th century Vikings. We then visit the enigmatic Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, and Skara Brae, a remarkably well-preserved Stone Age village buried in sand some 4,500 years ago. This afternoon, we enjoy a walking tour of charming Kirkwall.

Day 12: Lerwick, Shetland Islands / Isle of Noss / Mousa

This morning we enjoy a guided walking tour of Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands, which are steeped in Norse heritage. After the tour there will be free time to stroll the narrow streets and browse the many shops, or raise a pint at the local pub. After lunch on board, cruise by Zodiac to the Isle of Noss, where spectacular cliffs support a large and diverse seabird colony, home to 80,000 seabirds—guillemots, razorbills, gannets, shags, and more. This evening we go ashore at Mousa to view one of Britain’s finest Iron Age ruins, an unusually well preserved 40-foot broch, a dry stone structure, dating from about 200 AD.

Day 13: Fair Isle

One of the most isolated settlements in the British Isles, this island is renowned for the quality and intricacy of its handmade sweaters using local wool. It is also famous as a haven for seabirds including gannets, murres, black-legged kittiwakes, numerous gull species, and a large colony of puffins. After a short walk, we join some of the 70 islanders at their community center for tea and cakes and a visit to the local museum.

Day 14: Isle of May / Bass Rock / Leith

The Isle of May is another of Scotland’s great seabird islands. Conditions permitting, we board Zodiacs to visit the small bird observatory on the island. The number of birds is staggering, with puffins by the thousands, kittiwakes blanketing the cliffsides, shags on every available rock, and eider ducks at your feet. En route to Leith, we circumnavigate Bass Rock, renowned for its 100,000 resident gannets—the largest gannet colony in the world. Arrive in Leith this evening, the port for Edinburgh. The Sea Adventurer remains pier side overnight.

Day 15:Leith / Edinburgh

After breakfast on board, transfer to Edinburgh airport for departure on homeward-bound flights, or continue your explorations on our Wild Norway & Svalbard.

Dates & Pricing
Checking price

Price From

$ 10,480

Price Per Day:

$ 699 per day
 
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • All gratuities
  • Accommodations in hotel and on board the Sea Adventurer as outlined in the itinerary
  • All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard
  • Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
  • Services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows
  • All group activities and excursions
  • Landing and port fees
  • $50,000 of medical expense coverage and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance
Trip Excludes
  • All air transportation
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Airport arrival and departure taxes
  • Transfers for independent arrivals and departures
  • Passport and/or visa fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Items of a personal nature 
Meals Included:

All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group
Start City
London
End City
Edingburgh

Trip ID#: wilandwil

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