Wild & Ancient Britain with Ireland
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Depart USAMay 11
Board your independent overnight flight to London.
London, EnglandMay 12
Check in to the Hilton London Paddington Hotel, with the rest of the day at leisure to explore the city on your own. Gather at the hotel this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.
London / Portsmouth / Embark Le Dumont d'UrvilleMay 13
After breakfast, depart overland for Portsmouth. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before a tour of this famous port city. This afternoon board Le Dumont d'Urville.
This morning take a stroll through Trebah Garden, a beautiful subtropical garden with a stunning coastal backdrop. After lunch on board, take a tour of the Eden Project. This innovative complex of domes houses plants from around the world, with each emulating a natural biome.
Isles of ScillyMay 15
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 board local boats and cruise to Tresco to visit the ruins and lush, subtropical gardens of the medieval Tresco Abbey.
Ballinskelligs, IrelandMay 16
The Ballinskelligs Priory was founded in the 12th century by monks who moved to the mainland from Skellig Michael after numerous Viking attacks. A number of buildings still remain, including a church, tower house, parts of the cloister, a large domestic hall, and cemetery, most of which dates from the 15th century. On a clear day, views across the bay are simply spectacular.
Dunmore East / Waterford / Saltee IslandsMay 17
From the village of Dunmore East, drive through scenic countryside to Waterford. Options today include a visit to the renowned House of Waterford Crystal to watch master craftsmen at work, or enjoy a tour of Mount Congreve, a magnificent estate with exquisite gardens. Return to the ship for lunch as you cruise toward the privately-owned Saltee Islands. These islands attract a variety of birds to their craggy masses; on Great Saltee Island (permission pending) search for puffins, murres, razorbills, gannets, and more of the 47 bird species recorded here.
Port St. Mary, Isle of ManMay 18
After breakfast, disembark in Port St. Mary on the Isle of Man. Board the Isle of Man Steam Railway, the single remnant from the extensive Victorian system that served the main centers on the island. Ride through quaint and picturesque villages to the southern resort of Port Erin.
Portrush, Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland / Isle of Islay, ScotlandMay 19
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. After lunch, go ashore on the Isle of Islay for a tour of the Ardbeg Distillery.
Staffa, Inner Hebrides / IonaMay 20
Weather permitting, spend the morning 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.
In 563 AD the Christian missionary, St. Columba, built a monastery on Iona and spread Christianity throughout Scotland. Though the monastery suffered repeated attacks by Vikings over the centuries and the original was destroyed, it was rebuilt each time and some of these later buildings still stand. Visit the monastery site; the nearby cemetery of St. Oran, where numerous Scottish kings are buried; and the 12th-century
St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides / Flannan IslandsMay 21
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. Spend the afternoon cruising among the Flannan Islands; puffins, fulmars, murres, and kittiwakes should be plentiful.
Kirkwall, Orkney IslandsMay 22
Arrive in the capital city of Kirkwall on Mainland Island in the Orkneys today for visits to the magnificent St. Magnus Cathedral and some of the island’s major archaeological sites. 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. Return to Kirkwall for an afternoon walking tour of this charming city.
Lerwick, Shetland Islands / Isle of Noss / MousaMay 23
This morning 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 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 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.
Fair IsleMay 24
One of the most isolated settlements in the British Isles, Fair Isle 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, join some of the 70 islanders at their community center for tea and cakes, and a visit to the local museum.
Aberdeen / Disembark / EdinburghMay 25
Disembark in Aberdeen this morning, and enjoy a scenic drive to Edinburgh. Check in to our hotel for a special farewell dinner and overnight.
Edinburgh / USAMay 26
Transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.