Short Break | Kyles & the Isles 3-night Cruise
Departing Tuesday September 29th 2015
The exceptional autumn weather in Scotland had tempted me to take a short break on the west coast and I found myself aboard “Splendour”, on a gloriously sunny late September afternoon. We were setting off from Holy Loch, only an hour from Glasgow, but in another world of serene scenic beauty with the surrounding mountains reflected in the mirror calm waters of the loch.
After a welcoming glass of bubbly and some delicious canapes, we set off down the Clyde estuary, with lots of wildlife easily seen in the unruffled waters; seals, porpoises, cormorants, rafts of guillemots and hundreds of gannets diving around the boat. One of the attractive aspects of the boat layout is the spacious outdoor decks; the upper aft deck is perfect for wildlife watching and relaxing in the sunshine, with the option to wander into the roomy wheelhouse to chat to Skipper Iain and even take a shot at the wheel. The lower forward deck has kayaks stowed with room for cycles and windsurfers for guests who want to take advantage of the opportunity for activities on the water and onshore.
Our evening stopover was pretty Kilchattan Bay on the southern tip of the Isle of Bute, looking out eastwards to the Cumbrae Isles. As we settled down to our first dinner on board, we were treated to a magnificent pink and blue sunset. The meal, cooked by onboard Chef Mike, was delicious, starting with canapes of black pudding bonbon in tempura batter on red onion chutney and goats cheese mousse with roasted beetroot. This was followed by duck breast served with celeriac and colcannon and topped off with a dessert of lemon posset with Eton mess. During dinner, the sunset had settled onto a deep red and yellow and by the time we were tucking into some local cheeses, the moon was shining brightly on the water. Sitting on deck, with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, all I could hear was the slight movement of water against the hull and the calls of the geese on shore.
The following morning, we awoke cocooned in a thick mist! We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of porridge, fresh fruit and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs to wait for the mist to clear. Skipper Iain decided our best option was to cruise to Arran for time ashore and at midday, we found ourselves in Brodick Bay, with the mist promising to clear. After a lunch of butternutsquash soup and sandwiches, we went ashore in the tender to land on the beach with a clear blue sky above. I opted for a walk up the path to Goat Fell, the highest hill on Arran, while other guests chose to visit Brodick Castle and its Gardens, both accessible just a few hundred yards from the beach. The walk was very scenic with the path lined with blue scabious, purple knapweed and purple heather and fabulous views of Brodick Bay, and over to Holy Isle.
Back on board, we headed back up the coast of Arran, soaking in the sunshine and the scenery which we had not fully appreciated on the way down that morning because of the misty conditions. Several porpoises were spotted and we had a few hints of the presence of Basking Sharks, (Chef Mike would place his hand on his head to indicate a fin could be seen!) which frustratingly didn’t stay on the surface. Then suddenly Mike’s hand was on his head again and a large basking shark could be clearly seen right by the boat with both fins and the snout above the water. The Shark then swam below the boat so that every detail could be clearly seen.
Reaching Lochranza, we moored up for another delicious dinner of halibut on spinach with a tomato sauce, to the sound of the stags rutting in the hills and another glorious sunset. The dessert of crème caramel in an orange sauce was pure perfection and I had to resist actually licking the plate clean!
The mist had returned the following morning, so instead of going ashore at Lochranza, the decision was made to head for the Kyles of Bute, after another delicious breakfast featuring eggs benedict. On the way, a rock pipit hitched a lift on deck. We reached Tighnabruiach as the mist lifted and after a tasty lunch of a wonderful choice of salads, I opted for the four mile woodland walk along the coast to Caladh Harbour, part of “The Cowal Way” walk. The coastal views along the walk were stunning, with traces of mist giving an added dimension. It was such fun as I reached the end of the walk to see “Splendour” steaming towards me to pick me up!
Everyone enjoyed a leisurely scenic cruise through the Kyles of Bute in glorious sunshine and on mirror-calm waters before heading up the coast of the Cowal Peninsula in the late afternoon light.
Our final dinner on board, locally – sourced roast fillet of Argyll hill beef was a fitting end to a perfect short break.
For your perfect short break away in 2016 we have many 3-night cruises throughout the season, please view our cruise calendar to find out more…