Sessions and Sail 2023 - Lochaber and South Skye

July 16th - 22nd 2023

Price: £1245 per person, including all food, accommodation, sessions and workshops.

Join award-winning fiddler Charlie Grey and the rest of the Sessions and Sail team aboard Lady of Avenel for this musical exploration of the Lochaber region of Scotland.

Sail the spectacular coast of the West Highlands and experience views of the spectacular coastline from the sea.

You will learn tunes from the rich local tradition under the guidance of some of Scotland’s best musicians in the bright saloon aboard Lady of Avenel; later, we will walk ashore to a local pub or village hall to play sessions with local musicians and meet the communities.

Throughout the trip we will enjoy locally sourced food, beautifully prepared by our on-board chef.

Some of our likely destinations are outlined below;

We look forward to having you join us!

Mallaig

This fishing town is where you will join the ship; a harbour that gives access to some of the most beautiful islands and coasts of Scotland.

Loch Scavaig

This spectacular bay at the 'back o the Cuillins' is only viable in certain weather conditions. If we are able to visit, Loch Coruisk and the River Scavaig , nestled under this spectacular mountain range, is awe inspiring.

Arisaig

Centred on the sheltered shore of Loch nan Ceall on the west coast, Arisaig is a pretty village boasting superb scenery.

This lovely collection of largely white-painted buildings scattered between the harbour and the line of the road to Morar is situated on an inlet in the Morar peninsula at the western end of the legendary Road to the Isles.

The landscape is characterised by a rocky coast, blue seas and particularly white sand which all make the village a good base for exploring the scenic surrounding countryside. The views out to the islands of Rum and Eigg can be breathtaking, especially at sunset.

Inverie

In the stunning Loch Nevis, the village of Inverie is considered the UK's most isolated village. On the Knoydart Peninsula, and reachable only by sea or by a long hike over the hills, we have enjoyed many good sessions in the famous Old Forge Inn or in the Knoydart Community Hall.

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.

Who is the trip aimed at?

If you are a keen musician playing at any level - whether beginner, intermediate or expert - with an interest in the traditional and folk music of Scotland, this trip is for you.  No sailing experience is necessary, but those keen to participate will be encouraged to join in the sailing of the ship should they wish to, whether steering, helping set and trim the sails, or even climbing the mast for the finest view of all.

Likely Itinerary 

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. 

 

Day 1 

You meet the ‘Lady of Avenel’ alongside the pier in Mallaig 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 pier in the early afternoon and sail into Loch Nevis, passing through the Sgeir an t-Sruith once the tide has flooded enough to allow the Lady to pass through.

We anchor at the head of Loch Nevis and learn some local tunes from Charlie.

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 more tunes and songs. 


Day 2 

We depart at 0800, riding the ebbing tide back out into the outer part of Loch Nevis.

We sail north up the Sound of Sleat and into Loch Hourn, playing tunes as we go, and drop anchor in late afternoon at remote Barrisdale Bay.

Here we have the chance to learn some more tunes or styles from the Sessions and Sail crew and tutors.

 

Day 3

This morning we sail across to Skye, arriving in time for lunch at an anchorage - Isleornsay, or possibly Armadale, on the Sleat Peninsula.

Here our first local tutor joins us, coming out by dinghy and teaching a workshop in Lady of Avenel's saloon.

In the evening, after a dinner onboard, we head ashore by dinghy for a session in one of the local pubs.

 

Day 4

We pick up anchor in the morning and sail with Skye on our starboard side. By now you are becoming familiar with the ship and this is a great chance to learn more about how the sails and the ship work.

We arrive at Loch Scavaig in the afternoon; there is a chance to go ashore here by dinghy, and explore the loch and the wild shore beneath the spectactular mountains.

In the evening we play tunes in the Lady's saloon.

 

Day 5

We depart Scavaig, sailing past the Small Isles - Canna, Rum, Eigg and Muck. These waters are rich in dolphins, and we have often seen minke whales, basking sharks and more here.

We head towards the mainland and Loch Moidart, making a 27 mile passage and sailing up the loch towards Castle Tioram in the early evening. During the passage there are good opportunities to work through some of the new tunes we have learned, to work on a technique with Charlie or Carol, or to put a new set of tunes together with some of your shipmates.

Once anchored, we play tunes on the deck as the sun sets.


Day 6 

We pick up anchor at 0800 and sail for Arisaig, arriving at the channel there by 1000.

Anchored off Arisaig, we collect a tutor from ashore; in the afternoon we have a workshop onboard where we learn a new tune or song and get to know more of the local musical tradition.

We then have the opportunity to go ashore, exploring the village or heading to one of the local pubs for a tune session.


Day 7 
It’s the last morning; we depart Arisaig ay 0800 and head back to to Mallaig, having breakfast together on the way. A last tune or a farewell before leaving the Lady and it's time to set off on the next adventure!

Travel 

Mallaig is connected by bus via Fort William http://www.citylink.co.uk, one of the world's most scenic rail journeys can take you there direct from Glasgow Queen Street Station www.thetrainline.com/www.scotrail.co.uk or, if you feel like adding to the experience, you could take the Jacobite steam train from Fort William. http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm 

We recommend confirming flights and travel arrangements as early as possible to avoid price rises and availability problems.