18 April 2017
As it's likely that many more Brits will be staying in the UK for their holidays this year, AFerry have come up with some great stay-cation ideas north of the border in Scotland.
Without doubt, the Scottish Islands are some of the most beautiful places in the UK to visit. Caledonian Macbrayne (CalMac) offer excellent services to 22 of the islands, with the Shetlands and Orkneys also served by Northlink Ferries and Pentland Ferries. CalMac Ferries operates a fleet of 31 ships, which includes large cruise ferries for the major, long duration routes and smaller, environmentally friendly hybrid vessels for routes to the smaller islands. We have chosen just three islands in the Inner Hebrides to give an idea of the choices available.
The Inner Hebrides. Perhaps one of the most amazing - and lesser known - attractions of the Hebrides is the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. The best time of year for this is in winter. The low light pollution of the islands makes it a perfect location from which to see the Northern Lights without having to leave the UK. However with the spring and summer holidays approaching, there are plenty of other things to attract the visitor in these delightful isles.
Mull is a fascinating island. Also known locally as Eagle Island, it is a great place for bird watching - particularly the White-tailed and the Golden Eagles. Not just birds but also creatures of the dramatic seas such as Eurasian Otters and Basking sharks are often seen as are the Killer and Humpback Whales. If you prefer your wildlife indoors, then the Aquarium is the newest visitor attraction on the island. There are also some lovely walks where you can admire the natural beauty of the landscape.
Talking of beautiful landscapes, then the geological features of Staffa are a must with its amazing basalt columns as are the nesting sites for the puffins and guillemots all over the island.
Fingal's Cave is perhaps their best known attraction - a feature that has been distorted and curved, weathered by the wind and water. This cave was made even more popular when the German composer Mendelssohn famously travelled to Staffa to see it in 1829. It made such an immediate impression on the composer that he wrote the first few bars of his Fingal's Cave overture just a few hours later, exclaiming in a letter to his sister, "how extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me".
For the history buff, the holy island of Iona makes a very interesting visit as it is a testament to Scotland's religious roots - both Christian and Bronze Age. Visit the Augustinian Nunnery, the Abbey founded by St Columba in 563AD and the Hill of Angels where ritualistic and traditional ceremonies took place. Iona holds a unique place in the story of Scotland and over the centuries, many have lived, worked and worshipped on this tiny, beautiful Hebridean island.
Book your ferries to and between the islands with AFerry.co.uk. Current prices (may be subject to change with fluid pricing) from Oban on the Scottish mainland to Craigmure on the island of Mull are £19.90 per person based on two people sharing a car. From Mull you may visit others of the Inner Hebrides - it takes just ten minutes from here to Iona and costs just £6.60 per person. (No cars allowed on the island). Prices of crossings from mainland Scotland to the Orkneys start at £140 for a car and two people (St Margaret's Hope - Gill's Bay).
STOP PRESS: With a recent Halifax Survey highlighting the Orkneys - an archipelago of over 70 islands in northern Scotland - as the best rural place to live in the UK for quality of life, why not go visit soon and see what makes them tick? There are many places of archaeological interest, including some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, earning Orkney a place on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. Orkney also has much to offer the nature-lover such as Auskerry, a nesting ground for the Arctic Tern and the Strom Petrel. For those who love Scuba Diving, the scuttled German fleet at Scapa Flow provides the diver's playground and for whisky drinkers, it's home to the famous Highland Park, Scotland's most northerly distillery.
For 2017 too - there are many events to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Magnus, Orkney's patron saint who died in 1117 on the island of Egilsay.
Why travel via ferry?
- No luggage restrictions - the kitchen sink can travel with you!
- Fido can come too!
- Huge range of routes and companies to choose from.
- Book on the move via AFerry.co.uk's apps for both Android and iPhone.
- With families expanding more, it's often more cost effective to travel by car and ferry than by air plus there's no baggage fees.
- Bookings can be amended or changed on the road with AFerry's app and iPad app access.
- Want to know what it's like to travel via AFerry.co.uk? Check out the review section; perfect for