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.
These uninhabited islands have a very special atmosphere all of their own. WIth monastic 'bee-hive' structures from the 6th Century AD, visited by St Brendan the Navigator, this peaceful place looks across at mainland Scotland, Mull, and the firth of Lorne.
Staffa is home to the famous Fingal's Cave. The basalt columns that make up this island are spectacular; as are the acoustics in the cave...need we say more?!
Iona is another very special place, with white sands, turquoise waters and the dominating abbey. Iona has a welcoming community of 170.
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.
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 pontoons 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 pier in the early afternoon and sail out of the bay, heading south-west down the Firth of Lorne. This takes us to the Garvellach Islands; we pass through the narrow gap betwen the rocks and anchor in this Lady-sized harbour!
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, with our musical crew and two sail-with tutors to encourage you nd to make sure the tunes keep going.
We depart the Garvellachs in the morning, sailing along the south coast of Mull. We have seen eagles on the ridges here in the past; and these waters are rich with dolphins and whales, so it's worth keeping our eyes peeled.
We continue into Iona Sound where we drop an anchor in the early afternoon.
Our first local tutor joins by dinghy here; clearing the tables in the saloon, we have the opportunity to learn a new song or tune; and gain a bit of local culture.
We go ashore in the evening after dinner for a pint and a session in one of the pubs here in Iona.
We sail at 0800, heading north; by 0930 we are off Staffa. Launching our dinghy, we run boat trips into Fingal's cave. The brave may bring an instrument along - we're informed that tunes or songs in B flat resonate particularly well in the cave!
Once we've had our turn around the cave, we recover the dinghy and sail back through the Sound of Iona, anchoring in the beautiful Traigh Gheal bay at Erraid. This is the bay that features in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel 'Kidnapped' - where David Balfour makes shore after his brig is wrecked on the Torran Rocks.
There is a stunning beach at the head of the bay - you may choose to take an instrument shore, or go for a swim; tunes are played aboard the Lady and ashore as we enjoy the rest of the day here.
After dinner the tunes and songs go on back in the Lady's saloon.
We pick up anchor in the morning and sail the 18 miles to Colonsay. 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 Colonsay in the afternoon; our second local tutor joins us and runs a workshop aboard the Lady, giving us a taste of island culture.
In the evening we have the chance to go ashore where we join local musicians for some tunes in the pub.
We depart Colonsay, sailing towards the north end of Jura, and the famous Gulf of Corryvreckan, where tides rip through at over 8 knots forming whirlpools and standing waves at springs.
We pass into the gulf at slack water, hanging a right into Bagh Gleann nam Muc. Here we drop an anchor, safe and still but locked in for the next six hours whilst the Corryvreckan runs past a few hundred metres from us.
Inspired by this, we run a tune/arranging session with our two sail-with tutors and our musical crew. You may like to put a set of tunes or a song together with one of your shipmates; we will have the chance to perform some of our music in Easdale tomorrow.
We depart Baigh Gleann nam Muc at 1120 when the tide slackens, heading north towards Easdale Island, a small community island with a disused slate quarry which is the scene for the world stone-skimming champinships every September.
Arriving at this unique place in the afternoon, we get ready for the party this evening - rehearsing our music, or wandering ashore and getting to know Easdale.
We join the community at night in the local hall, performing the music we have prepared and joining with the local community in a few tunes or maybe a dance!
It’s the last morning; we depart at 0730 and head back to to Oban, 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!