Ideas for exploring Scotland’s islands with CalMac

A CalMac Ferry at the jetty in Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull . Picture: Robert Perry

A CalMac Ferry at the jetty in Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull . Picture: Robert Perry

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THERE is nothing better for reviving the spirits than a day out on a ferry and sailing on Scottish waters has to be one of the finest experiences available.

The sense of expectation rises as you leave the port in your wake and the open water beckons. Then, the breathtaking vistas of the land and sea work their magic as you progress towards your destination. It can seem like a big adventure but it needn’t be. Alongside its regular sailings, CalMac offers a host of day trips, allowing you to explore Scotland’s dramatic west coast from Lewis in the north to the Kintyre peninsula in the south. With prices starting from under £10, a CalMac day trip can be a fun-filled day out for all the family or an indulgent personal immersion in our most spectacular environment.

Picture: TSPL

Picture: TSPL

There are indoor and outdoor options and wildlife, history or cultural activities on offer. Whether you want to relax or be adventurous, a day out on the west coast is easy to arrange with a quick phonecall to the CalMac Port Office at the tour’s departure point or by visiting a CalMac Tourshop. Then there are no limits to your adventures.

Being at sea is great for spotting some of the stars of our waters. Basking sharks, whales, dolphins and seals are often companions to CalMac’s fleet of ferries as they ply their regular routes linking the island communities. The Whalewatch Explorer day out from Oban takes you to Mull to join a wildlife boat where expert guides will help you explore the rich marine life more closely. Expect to encounter sea birds including white-tailed and golden eagles.

On the Swim with Seals and Lagoon Tour you can explore the crystal clear waters of Mull with a guided snorkelling, swimming or kayaking expedition or simply soak up the environment from the boat. With wildlife experts on hand to explain what you encounter and tell you more about the seals and the lagoon’s other creatures like sand eels and nudibranchs, both these boat trips return to Tobermory in time to reach Craignure for the ferry back to Oban.

A family day out to the Arran Heritage Museum is a great option from Glasgow, with the frequent crossings from Ardrossan just an hour’s drive from the centre of the city. The museum is a window on the past life and times on the largest of the Clyde’s islands. There’s a 1920s classroom and plenty of hands-on exhibits to entertain even the youngest explorer.

On a day out from Uig on Skye you have time to explore Lewis and Harris. Not only is it a chance to drink in the breath-taking scenery of the Outer Hebrides, but also visit the ancient Callanish Stones and Dun Carloway Broch or stroll around Stornoway. There’s also an option to visit the newly opened Harris Distillery in Tarbet.

Whenever you travel on a CalMac ferry there is the bonus of excellent Scottish food and drink on board. CalMac is the first ferry company to sail with VisitScotland’s Taste Our Best seal of approval. In Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015, CalMac is sourcing more route-specific ingredients and products than ever before with menus featuring Barra-landed haddock, salmon from the Argyll Smokery in Dunoon, as well as burgers made with meat from Argyll.

An excellent way to indulge in these culinary treats is with the Kintyre Sunday Lunch Cruise from Ardrossan. Travel to Campbeltown on the stunning Kintyre peninsula while you enjoy a leisurely Sunday lunch. But don’t be surprised by the side dishes of wonderful wildlife and panoramic views that will be served up as well.

• Find out more and book your trip at www.calmac.co.uk/daysout

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