Start and end your voyage in Oban, gateway to the Hebrides! Known for its beautiful bay, regular CalMac ferries, a lively music scene, and the colloseum-esque MacCaig's Tower on the hillside, Oban is the ideal place to set out from.
At colourful Tobermory, we may find somewhere to play a tune or two... >coughMishnish<.
Accommodation on board
You will be allocated a berth in one of our six double cabins. For solo travellers, cabins will be allocated on a same-sex basis; if two people travelling together wish to share a cabin, we recommend booking early to ensure availability.
There are two showers and three toilets in the accommodation; these are shared.
Meals are prepared in the modern upper deck galley; these are of a high standard and prepared by our own chef. Meals, tea and coffee are included in the price of the trip.
The upper deck saloon provides an ideal place to socialise and, with the tables cleared away, will be the perfect session space for the evenings we spend aboard. Should the weather be fair enough, we may be able to play sessions on deck.
The following itinerary is a only a suggestion of how the trip may take form; all destinations are subject to change, are weather dependant, and are at the discretion of the Captain.
You meet the ‘Lady of Avenel’ alongside the pier in Oban harbour, where the crew will welcome you aboard; you are given a tour of the ship and a briefing from the Captain; and are shown to your cabin where you can stow your gear and settle in for the week.
We depart the pontoon in the early afternoon and sail out towards the Sound of Mull, passing imposing Duart Castle and watching the yachts and CalMac ferries that ply this pathway to the Hebrides.
We drop an anchor in sheltered Loch Aline and after a drink on deck and a tasty dinner we clear the tables in the Lady’s saloon and get to know each other over a few tunes and songs.
We sail from Loch Aline to the mouth of the Sound of Mull, hanging a right up Loch Sunart. This spectacular loch cuts deep in to the Highlands, with the Ardnamurchan Peninsula to port, and the Morvern Peninsula to starboard.
A four-hour sail takes us to Loch Salen, where we drop an anchor. in the afternoon, you may choose to take a run ashore - or learn a new tune or technique from our onboard tutors.
In the evening, we have dinner and tunes around the saloon table.
There is the chance for a climb, hike or to explore the village at Salen in the morning; by lunchtime it is time to sail on.
We (under sail if possible) head to Tobermory, anchoring in the bay before the colourful bulding facades or possibly tying up at the new marina here in front of the town.
We've been made welcome at more than one of Tobermory's pubs in the past and we will aim to set up a good going session ashore in the evening.
We aim to sail as much as possible today, giving you the chance to learn more about how the Lady of Avenel, and square-rig sailing vessels in general, operate. Help set the sails, take a turn at the wheel, help man the braces as we trim the ship for best performance depending on the wind direction.
If weather is fine we can play tunes on deck as we sail along; or perhaps in the deckhouse. It's a good chance to work out a new set or a song that could be played at the last-night party on Friday evening.
We drop anchor wherever the wind takes us; the islands of Coll and Tiree lie ahead, and we may head out to these islands, with their sandy beaches and numerous anchorages; we also have the northwest and west of Mull as an option; we may reach stunning, remote Ulva; or, if the weather is very settled, anchor amidst the Treshnish Islands.
We raise anchor early; we're headed for Iona Sound. If the weather is kind, we can plan to swing by Fingal's Cafe on Staffa en-route, ideally getting there ahead of the trip boats so we can have the cave to ourselves.
Arriving at Iona Sound by early afternoon, we head ashore; we have a session organised here with local friends, as well as ample time to ecplore the village, the cathedral, and the chapel with its incredible acoustics (vocal harmonies and/or fiddles may sound particularly good in here!)
We keep the session going back aboard the Lady of Avenel in the evening.
We have a few miles to cover today - the whole South coast of Mull is ahead of us. We set off after breakfast, hopefully with a good breeze to fill our sails.
We leave the Sound of Iona passing through the Steamer Passage then leaving Erraid - the island Robert Louis Stevenson had David Balfour cast away on in 'Kidnapped' - to port. The spectacular cliffs unfold as we sail along the coast. It's a good chance to learn another tune or two from our tutors, or to make sure that one-to-one happens before the end of the week.
We arrive at our destination by late afternoon in time to head ashore for a last-night party, playing tunes at Easdale or Kerrera; musicians from the community may be excited to join us and a larger session can take place.
Back aboard we play a few quieter tunes as a crew.
It’s the last morning; we depart early for Oban, having breakfast together on the way. A last tune, and a farewell before we leave the Lady and set off on the next adventure!
Oban is connected by bus from Inverness/Fort William and Glasgow – see Citylink for more information. http://www.citylink.co.uk
There are trains daily from Glasgow www.thetrainline.com/www.scotrail.co.uk
If you choose to drive, a parking space in Oban is best organised in advance.
We recommend confirming travel arrangements as early as possible to avoid price rises and availability problems
We recommend you bring the following:
- Warm jumper/fleece
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Long trousers
- Boots/waterproof footwear
- A soft bag (no suitcases please!)
- Thermal layers
- A waterproof cover/case for your instrument
- Thick socks
- Sufficient cash to last the week
You may also be glad to have:
- Midgie repellent (we like Smidge)
- Sun Cream
- A RYA logbook if you have one.