The first day of the trip was off to a sunny start with blue skies and sunshine. In the morning, guests chose from a guided hike in Kyle of Lochalsh or a trip to Eilean Donan Castle. Mild weather ensured that both groups enjoyed spectacular scenery. On the guided hike, guests followed a trail up to a viewpoint of the Cullin Hills, while those who chose the trip to Eilean Donan learned about the castle’s rich history. The castle we saw today is the fourth version. In the 13th century, Alexander II built the first castle in an attempt to protect the area from Viking incursions.

Once back on the ship, we sat down for a delicious lunch as we sailed south towards the Sleat Peninsula. Known as the Garden of Skye, the Sleat Peninsula is influenced by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate and vibrant plant life. We experienced this firsthand when we visited the beautiful gardens at Armadale Castle and explored the network of paths that loop through the fauna.

We followed the paths to both the castle ruins and the museum at Armadale, which provided a fascinating overview of Clan MacDonald, Western Scotland, and the Highland Clearances. There was so much to learn, and we took our time absorbing as much information as we could about Scottish history and culture.

Following our visit to the grounds, we returned to the ship and sailed toward Inverie, a locally owned community on the Knoydart Peninsula. After dinner, we heard from Jackie Robetson, a local who has lived on the Knoydart Peninsula for over 30 years. She told us what life is like in a rural community and shared stories about customs and culture. Finally, we finished the day with an evening stroll and a wee dram.

Written by Anna Longton