Idyllic Islands- Mull, Iona and the Treshnish Islands: 6-night cruise
Report by Wildlife Guide Lynsey Bland
Saturday 5th May 2018
The sun shone for the first day of Emma Jane’s new season as the crew, James, Phil, Pip and Lynsey welcomed our guests aboard with prosecco and delicious canapes. With a couple of returning guests remarking on the changes to our vessel we steamed south out of Oban and towards our first anchorage of 2018, the Isle of Seil. Common seals were spotted en route and an otter was briefly seen as we dropped the anchor. Guest Peter was the first of 2018 to enjoy the delights of the hot tub whilst enjoying a drink and taking in the scenery. Chef Pip treated us to a fabulous first dinner of crab and radish bruschetta followed by a main of sea trout and potted shrimps with lemon new potatoes. Much to James and Lynsey’s delight dessert was a lemon posset- a definite favourite! Everyone went off to bed well fed and happy, excited about the adventures and wildlife that awaited.
Sunday 6th May
This morning we were blessed with a beautiful day as we lifted the anchor and began steaming west towards the island of Iona. En route, gannets, kittiwakes and common guillemots were spotted. We were treated to wonderful views of the steep cliffs that make up the Ross of Mull. On reaching the sound of Iona, unfortunately the swell was just a little too much to allow us to launch the tender and land on Iona. We changed direction and made our way around to Bunessan for the evening. The guests and Lynsey went ashore with some tea and a delicious chocolate and ginger flapjack. We navigated the bogs and enjoyed lovely views of Ben More whilst listening to a number of skylarks overhead. Dinner this evening was chicory and fennel salad with buttered crab claws, followed by salmon with a sweet and sour beetroot and a pear and almond tart.
Monday 7th May
Thankfully the wind and swell had dropped by next morning and with the sun shining again we left Bunessan and made our way north towards the Treshnish Isles and the Isle of Staffa. En route, we kept our eyes open for whales, dolphins and porpoises and we got lucky on the approach to Fingal’s Cave with a stunning view of harbour porpoise coming very close to Emma Jane. Guests enjoyed a front row view of the magnificent Fingal’s Cave before Skipper James was informed of some marine beasties in the area. We decided it was worth a wee look and we made our way back to the south, towards Iona. Sadly, no dolphins were spotted but we discovered that it was now safe enough to drop anchor and go ashore on Iona, which turned out to be a firm favourite for all, with beautiful white sandy beaches and blue skies. All guests heard the iconic call of the male corncrake but as is often the case no one caught a glimpse of the elusive bird. As we made our way back to Emma Jane we were welcomed by a pod of bottlenose dolphins which spent some time swimming around the vessel, a great sight! On leaving Iona, we made our way north again in the hopes of spotting a slightly less elusive bird, the puffin. We landed on Lunga, aka ‘Puffin Island’ and everyone spent a magical afternoon in the company of thousands of the iconic and slightly humorous seabirds. We spent the evening on the north shore of Ulva and enjoyed another fabulous meal cooked by Chef Pip.
Tuesday 8th May
After a soggy start to the morning, Lynsey and the guests went ashore to explore the beautiful island of Ulva. We explored Sheila’s cottage and took in some of the stunning woodland and shore views that the island has to offer. We spotted some red deer and heard the call of the cuckoo and tawny owl as we ate lunch in the sun. Before heading back to Emma Jane, we visited the Ulva Boathouse for a well-earned cup of tea. The sun continued to shine as we made our way around to Tobermory, keeping an eye out for marine beasties en route. A female white tailed eagle was spotted in Bloody Bay and all on board enjoyed good views. This evening, Pip treated us to mushroom, thyme and blue cheese gallettes followed by pan roasted chicken with lentils and a divine chocolate tart.
Wednesday 9th May
Unfortunately, the weather was against us today but everyone on board still enjoyed a day exploring Tobermory and relaxed in the comfort of Emma Jane. The rain had abated a little by mid-afternoon and guests had the opportunity to stretch their legs in slightly drier conditions. We left Tobermory after afternoon tea to spend the evening in one of our favourite anchorages, Loch Na Droma Buidhe.
Thursday 10th May
Thankfully after yesterday’s rain the skies had cleared for us and we made our way round to Croig on the north shores of Mull where guests and Lynsey enjoyed a lovely walk to Port Na Ba beach. We kept our eyes open and were lucky enough to spot a small group of dunlin and ringed plovers and a beautiful great northern diver in summer plumage.
A white-tailed eagle put in an appearance as we steamed south down the sound of Mull todays Port Ramsey, Lismore for our final night, and what a night! Dinner was a feast of hand dived local scallops, and a venison casserole. We were just finishing up an amazing dessert of brown bread and whisky ice cream as the sun began to set and we all marvelled at the sight. A fantastic evening to end the first trip of the season.